The capital of Andalucía and the largest city in Southern Spain. Follow our footsteps for an idyllic path through the cobbled streets of seductive Sevilla.
Article by Victoria Wood
Once you’ve selected from the plentiful boutique hotels the old town has to offer, such as Las Casas de El Arenal or perhaps the Palacio Pinello, you’ll be waking up to discover yourself fully immersed in the history and deep culture of the city. Before you stop at a plaza-side cafe for your first coffee of the day, take a morning stroll through the Parque de Maria Luisa where you can be overcome by the immense, sculpted bouquets of bougainvillea and stop for a read of the daily paper in a shaded, leafy reading nook.
One of the most celebrated parks in the whole of Spain, the Parque de Maria Luisa is the main “green lung” of the city covering a staggering 34 hectares. Originally created as part of the gardens of the Palácio de São Telmo, the park was eventually donated to the city at the end of the 19th century. It is a simply stunning park with plenty to offer morning, noon and night; duck ponds, water features, little bridges over the water, monuments and statues, as well as historic buildings. Places of note are the Plaza de España, the Museum of Art & Popular Customs (Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares) and the Archaeological Museum of Seville (Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla). There are guided tours available as well as horse-drawn carriage rides, the romance is kicking in thick and fast already!
Once you’ve stocked up on the delights of the park, as well as some breakfast, take yourself on a beautiful boat ride under the shady tiled bridges of Maria Luisa’s very own mini canal, overlooked by her impressive palace. From the central waterfall, hop on a horse-drawn carriage (Sevillanas are proud of the good care they take of their horses) past the Costurero de la Reina where the queen (legend has it) once used to sit and sew, along the river and then into town.
From here, the old town with its cathedral and Giralda, it’s winding cobbled streets and far off sounds of Flamenco, turns your thoughts to steamy nights and adventures about to unfold.
Take time to enjoy a proper wander through the old town and stop and marvel at the world’s largest Gothic cathedral – one of the most iconic churches in existence, the Cathedral de Sevilla. Climb the Giralda (that instantly recognisable tower that is the icon of Sevilla), 104 metres high, to feast your eyes on the city from above as well as the lush landscapes on the other side. Bask in the Baroque beauty of The Church of the Divine Savior (Iglesia del Salvador) and soak up the sincerity of the history surrounding you.
The Real Alcázar de Sevilla, a palace built over a 500-year construction span, originally for the Christian King Peter of Castile, is another must-see when visiting the city. The Mudéjar style edifice covers half a century’s worth of architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance and is famous for its glorious ceramics. The royal family still use the upper levels when they visit Sevilla so parts of it are still a working palace. There are countless beautiful gardens, patios and courtyards to wander through as well as the most famous landmarks within its grounds – the impressive Puerta del León (Lion’s gate), the grand Salon de Embajadores (Ambassador’s Hall), and Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla (Lady Maria’s baths).
Some of the best places to sit and people watch are found in the old town, so be sure to enjoy some local tapas at the same time for a true Sevillana experience. The abundance of restaurants will render you spoilt for choice when it comes to your well-earned lunchtime pitstop. Try an Ensalada Sevillana (traditional salad), Tortas de aceite de Castilleja de la Cuesta (sweet, crumbly pastry), Berza de Acelgas (traditional meat and vegetable stew), Pato a la Sevillana (Seville style duck), Almejas a la Marinera (clams in white wine), Espinacas con Garbanzos (chick peas and spinach) or a classic Bocadillo Serranito (baguette with pork loin, fried green peppers, tomato and spanish ham), if you really want to taste traditional Seville. All these dishes are classic Andalucían cuisine hailing from (or nearby) the city itself so keep your eye open for a menu featuring some of these and you’ll be in for an authentic culinary treat.
You may need to refresh and take a well-needed siesta but when you are ready to push on for the main event, take a stop off at a rooftop bar for an early pre-dinner drink. Sit and envelop yourself in the dusky moment as the lights start to ignite the historic skyline and the next phase of your evening. Try the EME hotel’s stunning rooftop terrace for a cocktail and some of the best views of the city.
Sevilla is no stranger to gourmet food, the dining scene here will not disappoint. The top five finest restaurants, just in case you don’t find that hidden gem of your own, are Abantal, a Michelin star restaurant specialising in traditional Andalucían cuisine. Restaurante San Fernando – highly elegant dining with fountain-adorned courtyard and modern interpretations of the most traditional Spanish dishes.
Then there is El Gallinero de Sandra, a non-pretentious yet super stylish restaurant offering taster menus and modern twists on traditional classics, Abades Triana – an unforgettable setting overlooking the river and idyllic surroundings serving up cutting-edge Spanish cuisine (try the set menu), and let’s not forget the oldest tapas bar in Seville (est. in 1670), El Rinconcillo, try their Andalusian-Mozarabic dishes and be dazzled!
The last thing you must really do while you are in this incredible city is experience a true, authentic Flamenco show. Sevilla IS Flamenco so it won’t be too much of a struggle to locate a performance. Sink into centuries worth of socio-cultural evolution in the form of one of the most evocative, romantic, emotional and powerful arts of expression. This map can point you towards bars and restaurants and plazas that will fulfil your Flamenco fantasies!
Sevilla is straight up sexy. Savour every minute of its glorious offerings and be sure to take home the classic souvenirs; something ceramic, something polka dotted and some vino de naranja (orange wine) – oh, and don’t forget your fan!