Travel blogger Liz Peterson shares her personal favourite things to do and see in her beloved Sevilla.
Ah, Sevilla. How I’ve missed you! During my second visit to this seductive city I was determined to admire her with an objective eye, but there’s something so enchanting about her that I found it simply impossible.
No matter how hard you try to keep your head about you, between the perfect weather, amazing food, and captivating experiences there’s something about Sevilla that I’m sure will cloud your opinion too.
During your visit, make sure to save time for these 7 essential activities:
1. Partake in an Andalusian Breakfast: Tostada, Orange Juice, and Coffee
Days before arriving in Sevilla I was in Granada and I saw a tostada on the menu for breakfast. Next I saw it in Malaga and sensed a pattern.
Turns out ordering a tostada is the way to enjoy breakfast like a local and it’s a tradition I can get behind. Enjoy a toasted french roll smothered in Andalusian olive oil and your choice of tomatoes (puré, not sliced), sea salt, cheese, jamon iberico, or marmalades.
Tip: When in Sevilla you must take advantage of this cheap delicacy at breakfast (also appropriate as an afternoon snack).
2. Lose Yourself in the Moorish Arches of Plaza de España
My first encounter with the magnificent Plaza de España was shock – What is this incredible place?! My second was exactly the same.
Whether it’s her magnitude, color, design, or stunning water elements, seeing the Plaza de España up close will make you want to sit there all day. I officially condone the decision to do so — you can be just like the government officials who hang out inside all day long (best office in the world? Probably!).
Bring a book, grab an ice cream from a street vendor, and perch in an arch to watch the world turn.
Tip: Discover the beauty of Plaza de España and many more of Sevilla’s sweet spots (including the Alcázar Palace, Triana district,Maria Luisa Park, Jewish barrio of Santa Cruz, Royal Tobacco Factory, General Archive of the Indies and more) on this action-packed 3-hour bike tour (tickets just €25).
3. Bike the Abandoned Train Tracks of the Via Verde
Don’t miss the train! A necessary way to experience Andalusia is via nature, so get out of the city for a day and take in the gorgeous Sierra Norte National Park on bike.
I had my heart set on this adventure, but for once in my life I didn’t plan ahead, and now I’ll be forced to go back! I guess there are worse things in life…
To make sure you don’t miss this ride through rarely explored parts of the National Park reserve your bike and tour in advance.
4. Eat at the Feria Market in the Macarena District
For the most authentic tapas experience around, visit the Feria Market in the Macarena district.
At La Cantina you’ll enjoy tapas created from the freshest market ingredients at locals-only prices. Sip on a refreshing tinto de verano and order tapa after tapa after tapa. Be prepared for a no-frills food presentation but the flavors and experience will speak for themselves. When you’re finished, ask for “la cuenta” and your order will be summed using long-form math from your elementary school days on your designated tile.
5. Visit the Water Gardens of Dorne (aka The Real Alcazar of Sevilla)
Upon entering the majestic entry way of the Real Alcazar I thought, “Yep, I could definitely live here.” Too bad Sevilla’s Royal Family beat me to it! Their “official residence” is on the second level to the right as you enter the Alcazar, but they’re willing to share.
Tip: If you’re dying to see how royalty lives, you can check it out via this excellent private tour (which includes essential skip-the-line access).
The reason to visit the Alcazar is the gardens. Yes, the palace itself is stunning, but the gardens are massive and begging to be explored. Game of Throne fans should watch out for Prince Doran and everyone else should watch out for the peacocks and the ducks.
Tip: Definitely book a skip-the-line ticket in advance so you can go straight into the Alcazar without having to waste an hour or two waiting in the blistering heat. If you’re planning on visiting the Alcazar Palace, Sevilla Cathedral and the Giralda Tower then definitely book this fantastic discounted skip-the-line tour for €41.
6. Climb the Espacio Metropol Parasol – aka Las Setas (The Mushrooms)
Admire Seville’s rooftops from the top of a giant wooden mushroom replica? ✓
Walking into the Square of the Incarnation you would never know that less than a decade ago the whole area was home to nothing but a parking lot.
Now it’s a bustling area filled with cafes, bars, shops, and the famous Metropol Parasol created by Berlin architect Jürgen Mayer.
Here’s the secret that no one seems to know: For just 3€ you can take an elevator to the top of the parasols and afterwards enjoy a free beverage at its base.
Tip: Counterintuitively (and maybe reason for the best kept secret in Seville), you need to go down to go up. Take the stairs down to level -1 and you’ll be able to buy your entrance ticket, enter the lift and enjoy one of the best views in the city.
7. Take in a Flamenco Performance by Day and by Night
Andalusia is the birthplace of Spain’s famously rousing music and dance and no trip to Sevilla would be considered complete without catching a flamenco performance!
Patient visitors will be sure to catch a street performer or two outside of Seville’s cathedral, but I was looking for a guarantee and headed to La Carbonería.
Tip: The Museo del Baile Flamenco puts on a intimate nightly show (tickets from €22 here) in its traditional Sevillano courtyard in the heart of Barrio Santa Cruz. If you want serious romance then you can also enjoy ‘dinner, drinks and flamenco’ at the sensational Palacio Andaluz, which is often touted as one of Spain’s finest flamenco venues.
If not looking for it, you’d never find it, and if you did find it, you’d probably walk right by.
La Carbonería is hidden on the quiet street of Calle Levíes (18) and behind the charming cottage-like front room you’ll find the performance hall. It’s a huge, barren space filled with long bar tables and benches where locals and tourists squeeze in every night to watch performers sing and dance from about 22.00 – 2.00.
Tip: If you’re more than a group of 1-2, make sure to arrive early (opening time is 20.00) to snag a spot near the corner dance floor.
Where to Stay in Seville
I hope you’ll take time to experience and savor each of these essential activities while traipsing around Sevilla! Enjoy!