If I had to use one word to describe the Andalusian capital, it’d be ‘romantic’. Seville will sneak into your heart and charm you with its invigorating vitality, and it won’t even take more than a few hours of stepping into its enchanting medieval lanes that you will realise, you’re in love. Seville is seductive, to say the least, and boasts of an appeal that no other Spanish city can claim to match. I visited Spain for 10 days, keeping the last 2 days in Seville, and although I couldn’t have asked for a better end to an already amazing vacation, leaving the city within 48 hours of arriving in it felt like it was the worst decision ever. I could have easily spent more time getting lost in the winding narrow cobbled stone streets, sipping on sangria and enjoying tapas in the outdoor plazas, admiring its fairytale-like architecture, or walking into a cosy, traditional flamenco club to watch an intense yet intimate performance.
I knew before visiting Spain that I’m likely to fall in love with the country and Barcelona, where my journey began, did set the stage for what I knew was going to be a trip of profound emotional experiences more than aesthetic or scenic appreciation. That doesn’t mean Spain isn’t beautiful, it is, in fact, gorgeous, but its beauty is realised in its palpable energy, its passionate connection with history and tradition, and its zeal for the fine arts, including culinary. From Antonio Gaudi’s masterpieces in Barcelona to the Islamic architectural icons such as the Al Hambra in Granada, and the eclectic mix of Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture in Seville, the country is rich in its historical and cultural legacy. And if you’re looking for a scenic retreat, there’s always the stunning Balearic Islands such as Mallorca that will leave you in awe. But the magnetism runs throughout, as does the gustatory enthusiasm.
There isn’t much to see in Seville as there is to experience, and if you’re fortunate to ever make it but cannot spare more than 2 days in Seville, then here’s how I suggest you make the most of your time. Be prepared for hot and sunny days and keep an appetite for the gastronomical delights in some of the most delightful garden or patio cafes. Given how hot the summer gets in the city, it’s best to avoid visiting in July – August but the shoulder seasons (spring or autumn) are manageable. I visited in June when it was already beginning to get very hot, making it a little difficult to explore a city that is otherwise, very walkable.
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2 days in Seville
Day 1: Cathedral de Seville, La Giralda Tower, Royal Alcazar & Barrio Santa Cruz
If you have only 2 days in Seville, then it’s easy to pick the top places that you cannot miss. Seville Cathedral is the perfect place to start because it is one of the most stunning pieces of Gothic architecture and also the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The sheer size is awe-inspiring and its intricate design adds to its beauty. The cathedral was built over what was previously a mosque and still retains the Giralda Tower from the earlier days of when it was an Islamic place of worship. The tower was then a minaret and was converted into a bell tower for the magnificent cathedral that even today, is an elegant and graceful destination for weddings. I was lucky to see one myself and couldn’t imagine a more romantic and dreamy place to get married!
Giralda Tower offers sweeping views of the city if you’re ready to climb the stairs to the top. The cathedral is home to many pieces of art and is also known to house the tomb of Christopher Columbus. One of the highlights of the cathedral is its courtyard with aromatic orange trees called Patio de Los Naranjos. However, even if you’re unable to make it inside the cathedral to admire its interiors, the imposing monument’s exterior grandeur will not leave you disappointed.
Right across from the cathedral is yet another historical architectural marvel, Real Alcázar Palace of Seville. Keep aside at least a couple of hours to explore this sprawling fortress that was constructed little by little starting from way back in the 10th century until almost the 19th century, leading to it being a fantastic mix of architecture from across eras. Luckily, the ticket to the entrance comes with an audio guide that is extremely helpful in navigating the palace’s various halls, gardens and courtyards. It’s best to buy the tickets in advance so that you can skip the massive queues you’re likely to encounter. A lot of the interiors are visually connected to the Nasrid Palaces in Al Hambra, especially the carved walls, doors and ceilings. Nevertheless, the Alcazar of Seville has its own charm and certainly deserves a place in your itinerary if you’re spending 2 days in Seville.
After visiting these two marvellous structures, you’re likely to need a little break and some food. You’re perfectly placed to visit Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville’s Jewish Quarter. This place is best for some aimless wandering, the pedestrian streets are full of patio cafes, restaurants and boutiques. I will not recommend a particular tapas bar here because the whole fun of visiting this charming neighbourhood is in discovering hidden squares and old-school places, churches and local shops.
The area around the cathedral and Alcazar are quite happening at night. It’s a fantastic place to hang around and enjoy the nightlife, with the well-illuminated streets only making it more romantic.
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Day 2: Plaza de Espana, Parque de Maria Luisa & Tirana
Plaza de Espana is undoubtedly the most mesmerising place in Seville. If you’re spending only 2 days in Seville, I would recommend adding this place to your itinerary for sure. The plaza is picturesque and literally makes one feel like they’ve walked right into a fairytale. Situated right next to the famous city park, Parque de Maria Luisa, the plaza features a canal surrounded by a giant Moorish-building, a fountain at its centre and horse-drawn carriages to add to the medieval charm of the place. Boat rides in the canal which pass under four aesthetically-designed bridges bring an almost Venetian-feel to the plaza.
If you’re a fan of parks, you can enjoy a tranquil stroll in Parque de Maria Luisa, especially in the springtime. Alternatively, head to the riverside where you will find numerous patio cafes and bars offering fantastic views. Cross over the bridge to Triana, a lovely former Gypsy neighbourhood with colourful streets and old-school cafes. Home to many famous bullfighters and flamenco performers in the past, Triana is laidback and quieter, and almost feels like another city. You’ll find many homes displaying wonderful locally-made ceramic pieces, which are also available in the various shops here. Head to Mercado de Triana, a lively market where you can buy local goods and souvenirs.
Seville, and especially Triana, take their afternoon siesta quite seriously so don’t be surprised if the streets are isolated and shops empty during the hours after lunchtime. During this time, you can head to the city centre where you can enjoy some shopping (I was pleasantly surprised at the inexpensive shops and great styles available in the stores in Seville) before you make it to the flamenco show in the evening.
Seville is the cradle of flamenco, a passionate and soulful expression of emotion and living art form that was born in Andalusia. This is why I highly recommend visiting a flamenco house that is steeped in the traditional form of the art, where one can immerse themselves in this contagious performance. Even if you’re not a cultural or a dance enthusiast, watching a flamenco performance in Seville is something I would suggest you experience. An intimate and personal show, where the local performers are bound to capture your interest with their high-paced musical strumming, high-pitched, emotional singing and fervent hand clapping and feet stomping, can be found at Casa de la Memoria, one of the most popular places in Seville to watch flamenco and for the right reasons. Do try to book your tickets in advance as the theatre does not accommodate a lot of people and is one of the busiest places in the city.