Spanish cities are famous for their astounding architecture and amazing food. Seville is no different. Seville (or Sevilla as the locals call it) is vibrant with colourful azulejo tiles, flamenco culture and lush gardens with orange trees everywhere you look.
Conquered and ruled by the Moors between 8th – 13th centuries, the Muslim influance is especially evident in the ornate historic buildings dotted around the city. But it also upholds strong Catholic traditions. In April you can experience fantastic processions with floats of religious figures as part of the Semana Santa annual festival (Holy Week leading up to Easter).
The Andalusian capital is ideal for exploration on foot. Below you will find some of the best places for your long weekend itinerary.
What To See
If there is anything you need to see in Seville it’s the Royal Alcázar Palace. Constructed over 500 years the palace is a prime example of Mudéjar architecture, combining Islamic, Gothic and Renaissance influences. Famous for beautiful courtyards and walls covered with colourful, decorative azulejos – glazed ceramic tiles, but more recently it became known as one of the Game of Thrones filming locations.
Alcazar highlights to see are the Patio de las Doncellas (The Courtyard of the Maidens) and Galeria de Grutesco (Grotto Gallery). Allow half a day to take in the seemingly endless rooms and gardens. Book your ticket online in advance to just stroll right in.
Surrounding the Alcazar you will find many narrow alleys and cobblestone streets – this is the Santa Cruz Neighbourhood (Barrio Santa Cruz), formerly the Jewish Quarter. Spend some time walking along these historic streets. There are plenty of small shops and tapas bars around here and in the evening you can also catch a flamenco performance in one of the theatres.
Another fantastic architectural sight is the Plaza de Espana. You might have seen this place featured in plenty of Seville-related promo materials. The Moorish Revival building created for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 features orante, tiled bridges and a moat, where you can take a row boat for a spin. Here you are very likely to enjoy some street flamenco dancers performing al fresco. It’s a great place to visit on a sunday when everything else is closed.
Plaza de Espana is situated in the vast Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), which itself is full of beautiful architecture, lush gardens and orange trees. There are many ways to see the park, but perhaps the most fun is by horse carriage or a four-person quad bicycle.
For a more authentic atmosphere visit the Triana neighbourhood. Its gypsy past and flamenco culture infuse Triana with character. But what it’s most famous for today are the historic pottery and ceramic tile workshops. At Centro Cerámica de Triana and Cerámica Santa Ana you will have an opportunity to shop for some colouful azulejos.
The best way to discover this area is to simply wander its charming streets, but if you must have a destination Calle Betis and Callejón de la Inquisición are a couple of interesting spots. Also, while you’re here visit Mercado de Triana (Triana Market) to look around the fresh and regional produce stalls or stop for some bargain tapas.
There is no shortage of beautiful buildings in Seville, but Casa de Pilatos is high on the must-see list. This palace is the permanent residence of Dukes of Medinaceli and it merges the classical style of Italian Renaissance with Mudéjar elements, specifically an astounding variety of intricate azulejo tiles. You will be able to roam freely on the ground floor, however the top level is by tour only and these occur regularly throughout the day.
A bit off the beaten path and further from the centre is the Andalusian Museum of Contemporary Art (Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo). Take a pause in this serene place when walking through the galleries. Immerse yourself in the history of this wonderful building, which used to be the 15th century Monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas, and later a ceramics factory. You can take a picnic and spend an afternoon by the pond just outside. If you’re lucky you might stumble upon a festival or live music.
Last, but not least is the Metropol Parasol at Plaza de la Encarnación for enthusiasts of more contemporary sights. This very photogenic, mushroom-shaped structure conceived by German architect Jürgen Mayer is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world.
Don’t miss the scenic canopy walk on top of the mushrooms. It’s a unique experience with some lovely views over the city. At the underground level there is also an aquarium and a Roman ruins display and on street level you will find La Encarnación Market.
Where To Eat
Espinacas con Garbanzos is a traditional Seville spinach and chickpea stew and has been a staple since Moorish times. It’s also an excellent option for vegetarians.
You can try this dish at many places in town, but if you’re looking for interesting ambiance go to Casa Morales. It’s one of the oldest abacerías around (a combination of a shop / deli and tapas bar) still run by family with many locals visiting. A particular striking feature are old, gigantic earthenware wine vats, which waiters used in the past to dispense wine. Speaking of which this place is excellent for wines and a great selection of traditional tapas. Another great place to try Espinacas con Garbanzos is the even older El Rinconcillo.
Mercado Lonja del Barranco is a more contemporary dining format. The former fish market designed by Gustave Eiffel himself was renovated in 2014 and turned into an indoor food hall, similar to the many new indoor food markets in London. Although there is some international cuisine on offer like sushi and pizza, the vast majority of food here is typically Spanish and some with a modern twist. La Croqueteria has some imaginative variants of the traditional croquettes. Other things you can try are tapas, empanadas, tortilla, paella all under one roof and pretty much open all day.
Remember that a lot of restaurants in Spain as well as in Seville are closed or not serving food between 16:00 and 20:00, so plan your meals accordingly.
For desserts don’t miss the old-fashioned art deco style patisserie Confitería La Campana. This place is famous for traditional Spanish pastries like yema – a rich dessert made with egg yolks and torta de aceite – a flat, crispy biscuit made with olive oil. Here you will also come across aceitunas de chocolate. These are chocolate-covered almonds that look like olives, which are quite popular in Seville.
Visit Torch Coffee Roasters for a quick coffee break. This bright Scandi-style micro roaster is especially great for coffee connoisseurs and solo travellers. More off-the-beaten path is Paradas 7, a small quiet cafe with a homely feel. If you are craving something healthy, here you can grab some delicious brunch bowls and juices.
If you’re looking for other amazing Spanish destinations check out this guide on the idyllic island of Formentera.