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Things to do in Seville

July 23, 2019
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Branislav Petrovic

From mouth-watering tapas and Moorish-revival architecture, to sultry flamenco and citrus-tinged vermouth, Seville encompasses the very best of what Spain has to offer. Nestled in the Spanish southwest on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, it’s nearly always warm, which means it’s always buzzing. The historic centre is filled with historic gems and the culinary output is simply sublime. Seville is perfect for a city break, the problem is, you’ll never want to leave. Read on for local guide Branislav’s  absolute favourite things to do in his hometown.

Snap photos of Santa Cruz and its secret spots

Flower decorated patio in Barrio Santa Cruz neighbourhood, Seville

One of dozens of pretty courtyards located in the Barrio Santa Cruz neighbourhood, the former Jewish district of the Medieval city of Seville. Photo credit: Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie

In Seville, you can find Kodak moments on every corner. The Santa Cruz neighbourhood in particular is jam-packed with visual delights. Located next to the Royal Palace (Real Alcázar) and the Cathedral, its labyrinth-like streets tell stories of Don Juan, the Plague and the Inquisition. Colourful tiles decorate the buildings, and secret alleyways invite you to have a picnic on their benches in the very heart of the city. Dozens of hidden mosaics keep the secrets of times gone by – can you decipher them? Take a closer look at the intricate balconies, and don’t shy away from peeking through open doorways – enormous atriums with a lish green interior and citrus hues hide behind tiny gates of these supposedly ‘small’ houses. Come late at night, when Santa Cruz empties of visitors and the dim lights uncover its darker side… Some say that ancient spirits awaken to haunt the lonely alleyways!

Visit the Spanish Square and María Luisa Park

Close up of Plaze de Espana architectural detail and tiles

Admire the oh-so-Spanish architecture at the stunning Plaza de Espana, a favourite location of movie location scouts. Photo credit: Shai Pal

Back in 1929, Seville hosted a grand event, known as the Ibero-American Exposition; architectural marvels popped up around the city, celebrating the various cultures of former Spanish colonies. Seville became an open-air museum. Although most of these structures were later removed, some still stand. One of them is the famous Spanish Square, with a garden that’s filled with exotic plants and shaded pathways – perfect to hide from the summer heat. Head to Plaza de España first. Check out the symbolic ornaments there – they represent Spain and its most important historical highlights. Then, roam around the ‘wilderness’ of the majestic 40-hectare María Luisa Park. You’ll encounter hidden tiled squares and numerous sculptures. Eventually, you should reach Plaza de America at the south end of María Luisa Park. At that square, the Museum of Arts and Customs and the Museum of Archaeology host their exhibitions in beautiful, Moorish-Christian style buildings.

Eat and Drink like a local in Triana

Urban Adventures small tour group strolling around Triana Market

Taking a stroll around Triana Market is an absolute must. Photo credit: Seville Urban Adventures

A few minutes away from the city centre, just across the river, lies Triana – an area that was once reserved for those who weren’t welcome in the city such as criminals, witches and even some ethnic minorities. But that was a long time ago. Today, Triana is quite possibly the heart and soul of Seville. Some of the world’s greatest flamenco artists and bullfighters were brought up here, and most of Seville’s characteristic tile-works came from Triana. Nowadays, the locals visit it in search of great food (there are A LOT of great restaurants here), affordable drinks, and the cheerful atmosphere. As soon as you cross the historic Triana Bridge (also known as Isabel II), a vivid pedestrian area will tickle your senses with fried fish, sounds of laughter, and colourful decoration. Fancy something local? Check out Mercado de Triana in the morning (entrance from Plaza del Altozano) and try some authentic cheeses and jamón (Iberian cured ham), or shop for the most old-school spices in the city (some say that Andalusian saffron is the best in the world). Oh and did you know that once upon a time Seville was the seat of the infamous Inquisition? Well, their headquarters were right here, where the market stands today. If you wish, you can visit the museum, which is right at the entrance, and learn all about it. And outside the market, you’ll see a long pedestrian street, filled with cool tapas bars and a lively atmosphere that doesn’t skip a single evening – rain or shine. Just take your pick.

Experience the alternative side of Seville

Metropol Parasol

Check out one of the world’s largest wooden structures, the Metropol Parasol, in Seville’s old town. Photo credit: Seville Urban Adventures

Many of our well-established habits — siesta and snail-eating included — can be traced back to the ages before time was even counted. But there’s absolutely no lack of modernity in Seville. Tucked away from the main tourist attractions, our city features urban art and a thriving hipster culture. Have a stroll around the somewhat controversial Metropol Parasol (the Mushrooms of Seville) and its neighbouring Regina Street, which has everything from cute hippy coffee shops, ecological stores, and wineries, to middle eastern kiosks. After that, make your way to nearby Feria Market and the surrounding area, which is home to a number of ‘undercover’ flamenco clubs and artist communities that live and breathe their art in a state of anti-consumerist rebellion. Don’t miss La Alameda de Hercules – the oldest public park in Europe – which hosts dozens of bars, clubs, and coffee shops that cater to all tastes.

See the city with a local by your side

Close-up of flamenco dancer's shoes, with tour participants in the background

Learning about the art of Flamenco on Urban Adventures’ and New York Times Journeys’ Seville Traditions & trends tour. Photo credit: Seville Urban Adventures

Discover the art of flamenco on a cultural odyssey inspired by the New York Times world-renowned ’36 Hours In…’ column, or discover Seville’s best food and drink on a Sherry, Wine & Tapas tour. Fancy getting out of the city for the day? Explore some of Andalucia’s charming towns and villages, visit a sherry bodega or indulge in an olive oil tasting, the choice is yours on a Create Your Own tour of Seville, you call the shots! Seville has so many stories to tell, let a local Urban Adventures guide help you uncover them, preferably with a plate of tapas or a glass of sweet vermouth in hand.

Have a beer, standing

Betis Street, Seville

Betis Street view. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sevillanos drink from tiny glasses, often while standing up. No armchairs and no pints here. Standing makes it easier to mingle. Having a beer means making friends. It’s all about the love. And the beer is so cold that you’ll sometimes see the taps covered in ice (cervecita fresquita). Interestingly, some of the most famous beer spots are in front of churches. El Salvadór, for instance, has a fantastic local vibe; San Andrés is a bit more upscale, and very pleasant; and Santa Ana offers a local tapas experience. We also like the romantic Betis Street, right by the Guadalquivir River – the views at night are enchanting. And, if you like prawns, look for Cervecería La Grande in Triana (you’ll be given a few prawns as a gift everytime you order a drink!).