Sevilla, SPAIN – one of my favorite places on the planet. If you are looking for a truly Spanish adventure, head south to the smaller cities of Andalucia. The rich history of three cultures, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, has shaped the region and makes for a very unique, authentic experience.
Ok, let’s go! Flamenco, mudéjar style architecture, tapas…
5 Days / 5 Nights
Airbnbs – our preferred way to travel. There are lots of amazing spots to chose from. You can get a nice place for under $100/night and slightly more for views of the cathedral.
El Arenal – a good neighborhood if you want a mix of local and tourism. My choice to be close to the Quadalquivir river and my beloved Triana neighborhood without having to cross over the bridge everyday. About a 7 minute walk to the heart of the city.
Alfonso XIII – Luxury hotel for sometimes as low as $250/night next to the University of Sevilla. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth heading for a drink at the bar inside
Casa 1900 is steps away from the Cathedral in the Santa Cruz Jewish district, in the heart of everything.
EME Catedral – reminds me of the W Hotel, great private pools and rooftop bar (so expect some noise if you don’t stay out late like the Spaniards)
Fernando III – affordable and comfortable on the outskirts of Santa Cruz with a rooftop pool
Real Alcazar – you must reserve a time slot to visit. Free admission on Mondays! Sevilla’s royal palace full of mudejar style architecture built in 1248. The upper stories of the palace are still occupied by Spanish royalty when they visit Sevilla. This is also a famous filming location for Dorne in the Game of Thrones.
Catedral / Giralda – the most iconic monument of Sevilla. The Giralda was built as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Sevilla in the times of Moorish reign and converted during the Christian reconquest. Unlike most bell towers, there are no steps that bring you to the top of the tower but rather 35 inclined stories since they used mules to go up and down. Great views from the top!
Don’t miss the tomb of Christopher Columbus inside the cathedral. There is a lot of controversy as to where his remains are actually buried due to his body being moved several times from the Caribbean to Spain. While some claim his remains have never left Dominican territory, the Spanish recently opened the tomb and confirmed his DNA.
Plaza de Espana – Connected to the Maria Luis Park and built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Expo, the plaza showcases 49 Spanish provinces represented in hand laid tiles. You may also recognize it from a famous Star Wars scene!
Archivo de Indias – Free admission to an incredible repository of extremely valuable archival documents like Christopher Columbus’ journal, maps and plans of the colonial American cities, and history of the Spanish Empire in Asia. It’s an extensive collection with archives from the first of the Conquistadores to the end of the 19th century.
La Carboneria – enjoy flamenco how the Spanish do, for free! When we were there the show started around 8:30pm, so arrive early to get a seat in the front for a view of the dancer’s feet.
La Casa del Flamenco – go to Carboneria, yes, but also visit a tablao for other styles of flamenco. There are 100s of shows to chose from, but I highly recommend la Casa del Flamenco because they showcase 3 different styles: Sevillana (in pairs with castenadas), Alegrias (a happy style), and one more I can’t remember but it was with a mantoncillo (shawl). Simply amazing and only 20 euros! Tablao El Arenal is also a popular option. Some companies give you an overpriced option for dinner and show, so skip the dinner if you want a more authentic experience.
AIRE Ancient Arabic Baths – spa day! Book in advance to ensure you get the service you want. I recommend the Holistic Ritual 60 minute which comes with an exfoliation, massage and a hair treatment and includes access to the Infinity Bath with views of the Giralda.
Las Setas – one of the newest installations in Sevilla. Named “the mushrooms” translated into English, this structure consists of six large wooden, mushroom-shaped parasols. In my option it provides one of the best views of the city and you can visit day or night (with a light show). The experiential visit starts with a multi-sensory journey to give you a true feeling of the city.
Plaza de Toros – visit the bull ring museum and grounds year round. Bull fights generally run from la Feria de Abril (which sometimes takes place in May) through mid October, and usually on Sundays. If you do choose to go for a bull fight, seats in the “sombra” (the shade) are generally more expensive, but worth the extra spend to stay out of the hot sun.
Torre de Oro – I’m sad to say I’ve never actually visited inside the “Golden Tower”, but always admired it from outside. If you have time to climb up the tower, I would add it your list.
Universidad de Sevilla – the former tobacco factory and my school right next to the Alfonso XIII hotel.
EAT & DRINK
I must have been too excited that I have no pictures to share!
La Cayetana – the best baked cheesecake!
Bar Alfalfa – cozy authentic tapas spot, check the chalkboard for daily specials
Bar Taquilla – local cafe in Arenal decorated in old bull fight posters, photos, and tickets. A perfect place to start your morning with a tostada and fresh orange juice with attentive service.
Los Coloniales – this place can get crazy because it’s a very popular spot near the cathedral. You’ll need to be assertive (in Spanish) to eat at the bar or at a table inside. Since Spaniards eat lunch at 2pm, I recommend arriving at 1p or 1:30p to get a table with a waiter outside.
Las Golondrinas, Pages del Corro – no frills, classic tapas in Triana
Casa Diego – casual spot for pescaito frito in Triana that has tortillita de camarones (a Cadiz specialty)
Islamorada Tapas Bar – one of the best tortilla espanolas. Look for the truffle version! Super friendly staff
Mercado de Lonja del Barranco – food hall near the Triana bridge
Mercado de Triana – eat lunch at a booth or shop for jamon, seafood, and fresh veggies
La Vermutera de Sevilla – after a few trips to Spain, we learned to love Vermuth
Taberna Alvaro Peregil – famous bar known for their vino de naranja
Moss Bar Lounge – hookah and drinks under the Setas
KOKO – club under the Setas that doesn’t get started until 2am (like many clubs in Spain)
CHURROS & Sweets
Churreria San Pablo desde 1960 – cash only, churro window
Churreria Los Especiales – my favorite churros stand by the Triana Bridge
De Nata – these Portugese egg tarts have made it to Sevilla! There are now a few locations in the city. A perfect sweet treat with coffee.
Now to catch a train into Madrid for the Clasico game tomorrow!