Seville Andalusia Spain – A Stunning Spanish City with Sensational Sights
This personal guide by Calum Glenny provides a treasure trove of insight you don’t find in travel guides. It is a deeply personal experience of places and people. Join Calum as he chats with the local proprietors, sharing what he loves about the food, wine, and ambiance of the unique hotels, restaurants, and bars in historic settings.
Arriving From Malaga
Arriving by train at Seville’s impressive Santa Justa station from Malaga the first thing we noticed was the sharp increase in temperature.
A short taxi trip to our accommodation in Santa Paula Pool & Luxury apartments. Sounds very grand, and to be honest, for an Airbnb, it wasn’t far off it, first-class accommodation with a decent-sized bedroom, shaded patio, and pool area plus a large roof terrace with every requirement covered.
The apartment was in a very quiet area of the city near several impressive churches and monasteries.
It’s also steps from Plaza San Marcos, which is like a little village in the heart of Seville. Everything you might need can be found at the square. Leon de San Marcos (Tapas Bar), El Nomada (Pizza etc), and Lo Que Diga La Sol (Tapas Bar) are complemented by a chemist, convenience store, outstanding bakers, and El Rincon Sagrado, an up-market deli. It also must be said that the prices charged in the square are very much less than that in the tourist spots within the city.
The main monuments and attractions are a good 15/20 minutes walk from the apartment but with some interesting areas and sights to be found as you meander through the exceptionally narrow streets.
The square at the head of Calle Sol and Calle Bustos Taveras again houses some great restaurants and bars where you can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner. La Huerta 9, Los Caveles, and Taberna Manzanilla are all recommended. Taberna Manazilla was a great spot for a nightcap on the way home. Staff were incredibly friendly, under the watchful eye of the old lady owner from her seat at the door of the bar.
Just around the corner is the world-renowned El Rinconcillo.
This 17th-century restaurant and tapas bar is always very busy, and people often queue to get in on a one in one out basis. We had a local fino sherry with Iberico ham and local cheese! As Rick Stein said, ‘ the sharp dry Jerez (sherry) just cuts through the ham!’ Some reviews suggest the waiters and bar staff are a bit offhand, but our impression was they were under pressure, always busy, but did their job efficiently. The experience was worth it, and to have the cost of your order chalked on the bar in front of you just added to the buzzing atmosphere. If you’re booking the restaurant, do so well in advance.
Mushroom of Seville
Walking along Calle Imagentowards the Plaza de Incarnation, you will be taken aback by the Setas of Sevilla, more commonly known as the Mushroom of Seville. It’s an amazing wooden structure covering all of the Plaza and includes a rooftop walkway where at night, there is a light show with music. The structure is a very cool architectural landmark in Seville and one which we used regularly to find our bearings and location.
Cathedral of Seville
Keep walking through the narrow streets, and you will eventually burst out into the sunlight and the striking Cathedral of Seville, which is an impressive gothic cathedral containing the tomb of Christopher Columbus. You could spend hours, if not days exploring the cathedral and surrounding area.
Although Italian by birth, Columbus has been adopted by the Sevilanos as Seville was where he studied navigation and was from where he started his expeditions, sponsored by Spanish monarchs. These expeditions resulted in the first known European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
Walking further through courtyards and exceptionally narrow streets, we came across Rosina’s Balcony, which is legendary as being the inspiration behind the iconic opera ‘The Barber of Seville’.
Next is the beautiful gardens and the Royal Alcazar of Sevilla.
Another landmark, this time a Moorish royal palace with fountain-filled gardens, ornate arches, and 16th-century tiles.
Let’s head for a drink and some food while resting these weary legs!
Just outside the gardens is Vineria San Telmo serving some fantastic food and drinks in a great setting with wonderful service by our South American waiter. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch his name. My recommendations are the hummus to start and the Argentinian steak. Just outstanding and a house specialty!
A slow wander back through the narrow streets sheltering in the shade of the high buildings from the intense October heat to Plaza San Marcos, ensured the necessity for a cool beer at Leon de San Marcos.
On checking my steps, it becomes apparent that exceeding 20,000 steps in this stunning city is going to be a daily reality rather than a stretch target!
Plaza de Espana
After a lovely breakfast at La Huerta 9 we wandered through the streets to the very impressive University of Seville and thereafter to the quite incredible and stunning Plaza de Espana.
If you’re in Seville, this is a place you’ve got to visit. The majestic semi-circle curved building is very impressive and well-maintained, no wonder it’s been used in so many movies. Spend some time exploring the huge site; the buildings are accessible by four bridges over the moat, which represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain. Many tiled alcoves feature around the plaza, each depicting the 48 different provinces of Spain. Quite simply stunning and a photographer’s dream location.
Parque Maria Luisa
After the Plaza, we moved on to the welcome shade of the Parque Maria Luisa. Strolling through the large park, which features scenic plazas, landscaped gardens, fountains, and numerous monuments. It’s simply a perfect place to relax away from the bustling tourist areas and a breathtaking contrast. Again a perfect location for filming with a movie being filmed as we walked by.
Torre del Oro
A slow walk back towards the Guadalquivir River finds us at the Torre del Oro, the 13th century military watchtower. If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy the small but great museum inside, which offers a lot of information about the history of the city and the navy.
Sevirama Bus Tour
Trying to get a better idea of the city layout and a good view of the sights, we took the open-top Sevirama Bus Tour (Green Bus). Tickets were valid for 48 hour and included options to hop on and off wherever you want, a ‘romantic’ bus tour at night and a guided walk across the river.
The advert offered 15 sights with headphones providing commentary. To be perfectly honest most of the attractions were viewed from afar but the option was there to get off and walk to the sight if you wished. On some occasions the commentary was out of sync with whatever sight the bus was passing at the time! However, it gave us a good insight into the layout of the city and more confidence in working out our location as we explored. Near the end of the tour, the bus visits the 1992 Expo site which was a waste of time and really not necessary.
The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla is the very impressive grand royal bullring dating to 1761, still used for bullfights today, plus it hosts the museum of bullfighting art.
A very well-preserved bullring and apparently the biggest bullfighting arena in Spain still in use. The season lasts from April until October. Tickets range from 30 to 130 euros, depending on the seat and the toreador (more famous means higher price). Tours outside of the ‘show’ times are guided and informative. Essentially another historical and classy sight but not one for everyone.
We walked across the Puente de Triana, which is a historic metal arch bridge connecting the Triana neighborhood with the centre of Seville. It crosses the Canal de Alfonso XIII, one of the arms of the River Guadalquivir that isolates Triana as nearly an island.
Residents of Triana have been called trainers and identify strongly with the neighbourhood, they consider it different in character from the rest of Seville. Triana has a traditional pottery and tile industry, a vibrant flamenco culture, and its own festivals. Cafe culture is king here.
Mercado de Triana
First stop was the Mercado de Triana. Since 1823 there has been a market here, but the current facility dates from 2001. This fantastic indoor market had absolutely everything you could want food-wise. Fresh produce, fresh meats, desserts, etc, and small restaurants scattered around the market serving great food. Really interesting and colourful, too. I would recommend a visit!
Not the most aesthetically pleasing bar from the outside but the food and service was outstanding! Busy with locals, which really says it all. The staff were friendly, and the food was cooked to perfection. We had the Tomato & Caballa (mackerel) salad and the croquetas. We also tried the Sangria, which was lifted to new levels with the addition of some cinnamon. Highly recommended for lunch or evening meal.
Prior to our Seville visit my ‘assistant’ compiled some excellent research on the sights, restaurants and tapas bars we wanted to visit. This proved of utmost use although our problem was finding some of them, having to navigate around the very narrow streets of the historic areas. You will not feel alone wandering with your phone in your hand, seeking directions!
As a result of this research, below is an honest compilation of the restaurants we visited on our travels.
SedeMexici La Cantina
We didn’t expect to find such a great taste of Mexico in Seville, but somehow we did. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Google maps and some patience, we would have struggled to find this great restaurant tucked away in a corner of the beautiful Plaza de la Alianza.
Some cool drinks on arrival and a table visit and a quick chat with the restaurant owner, who welcomed us and genuinely made us feel valued on our first visit.
A browse through the menu while sipping a very good mango margarita allowed us time to choose starters of pork and octopus tacos plus roasted onions which were incredibly simple but very tasty. We shared a main of chicken and verde sauce with rice which was also good but certainly didn’t beat the taste of the starters. An unexpected and unusual selection of Mexican wines and beers are also on offer.
A nice restaurant in a lovely setting with attentive staff. Worth a visit, even to simply have a night off from Spanish tapas dishes.
We had the best breakfast here and really liked the food and service. Essentially you choose your bread and toppings from a massive selection to make your own breakfast dish. They also have some good ‘combos’ as specials which combine the breakfast sandwiches with coffee, juice and smoothies, all fairly priced.
Overall lovely food, not too expensive, courteous and helpful staff, busy with locals and in a good location near the ‘Mushroom’. We would highly recommend for breakfast.
On our visit, we only stopped for a pre-meal drink, it was busy with locals and the food looked so good so we changed our minds and ordered a meal. We ate outside in what was a perfect evening temperature. Over our two visits, we were served by the same staff, who were pleasant, helpful and obliging.
We agreed that when we return to Seville, we would definitely go back to Casa Paco. It’s casual, relaxed with good food and great service.
Based at Plaza de Hercules, this is perfect for people-watching and a chilled location.
Again on Plaza de Hércules, but more upmarket and undoubtedly the best meal we had in Seville. Very attentive and professional staff, the restaurant is a step above all others we visited.
My vermut as an aperitif was just sublime, and the use of a retro soda syphon typified the lengths the staff go to, to make the step up to perfection.
Our food was just as impressive, a starter of foie gras, which was rich and creamy, two mains of sea bass and lamb with hummus, washed down with a bottle of Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2017. Only one word can describe our meal – delicious!
It was slightly more expensive than the other nearby restaurants but won’t break the bank, a brilliant and memorable experience which can only be highly recommended.
It also has a stunning roof terrace where you can enjoy a drink in the roof before or after dining.
No wonder it has a Michelin star!
Pelayo Bar de Tapas
We stumbled across this bar and only stopped for a drink as there was a free table for two at the window. Quick service, great atmosphere, and the food looked fantastic; unfortunately, we had a booking elsewhere. From a look at the menu, the prices were very reasonable for a really nice tapas bar metres from the Cathedral, and as you exit a brilliant view of the Giralda – the stunning bell tower of the Cathedral.
The couple next to us had the works! Paella, prawns, cuttlefish, octopus, Iberico ham, croquettes, and baked cheese with jam. It was all well presented, and surprisingly with the amount they ordered, all plates were finished!
Next time we visit, we will certainly try the food.
Our 6-night visit to Seville was certainly an eye opener, from the very comfortable train journey to excellent accommodation, lots of walking (which allowed some extra tapas!), to the stunning sights within the historic city certainly appealed to us. The city was especially busy at the historic areas, but not once did we feel at risk. The local people were extremely friendly and helpful, our taxi driver from the station even asked for the accommodation phone number, as it was difficult to find and he wanted to make sure he dropped us off at the front door.
My only negative observation is common to a lot of larger cities, where graffiti can be a problem. Some local shops and bars have countered this problem by contracting local artists to use their shutters or shop fronts as a canvas, this has ensured that graffiti is targeted elsewhere.
Seville – a stunning city with sensational historic sights and sumptuous tapas bars and restaurants. Highly recommended – but make sure you avoid the extreme heat in the months of July and August.
Gourock’s ‘Avid Traveller’
In association with the Rogues Guide by Rogues in Paradise
Rogues in paradise is the upcoming book on the History of the People of Barbados.