With feisty flamenco dancers, delectable tapas and never ending sunshine, Seville is the perfect escape for foodies and culture vultures alike.
With five days of holiday time to fill in May, on paper Seville seemed like the perfect location for a break in the sun – and it did not disappoint!
Jumping in a taxi from the airport (a speedy 30 minute journey) we arrived at 8pm to perfect blue skies and sunshine. Our hotel for five nights was Hotel Casa de Indias – a boutique design hotel, overlooking the Metropol Parasol (aka Las Setas – the mushrooms). The hotel had a beautiful bar (unfortunately we didn’t get around to using it) and a rooftop pool – which we did use, albeit only a couple of times as it was rather cold!
Our room was stylishly decorated – a little plain but very spacious and with a ridiculously good view from the bath, so all in all, pretty perfect for our time there.
After a lovely long lie in, we headed off in search of breakfast and stumbled across a locals cafe. Ordering Pan con Tomate (Spanish tomato bread) with Jamon Serrano, we collected it ourselves from the bar – which seems to be a trend in Seville. Such a simple but delicious breakfast!
We then headed off towards the Guadalquivir River, walking south in the sweltering midday heat – not recommended! Heading across the Puente del Cristo de La Expiración – a bridge covered in large sails – great when you need a bit of shade – we took a quick detour via the shopping mall – Centro Comercial Torre Sevilla. Whilst there, I discovered Women’Secret – perfect for all your summery bag and swimwear needs!
Triana market was our next stop – a locals market, primarily selling fruit and veg but with a couple of tapas bars sprinkled inside and out – which was just what we needed. Jumping into the first tapas bar we saw, Ro&Ma Tapas, we grabbed a couple of cañas – just less than half a pint of beer and typically what most Spaniards drink. The accompanying food was great; Spanish mushroom risotto, manchego cheese and blood sausage with quails egg.
Triana is famous for it’s ceramic tiles, so we managed to while away some time perusing the colourful wares in the shops on Calle San Jorge – just a few steps away from our lunch stop. Centro Ceramica (museum) is also on the same street, but check the opening times as it was closed when we were there.
Wandering back to our hotel, we fell in love with all the tiny cobbled streets, colourful houses and quirky shops.
The rest of our afternoon was spent on the rooftop of our hotel – one of the only downsides of the hotel is that the pool area is quite small, so there are only 6 sunbeds, but after a few minutes we were lucky to nab two as someone else left. The rooftop was lovely and chilled and pretty surreal to be at a similar level to Las Setas!
After a few relaxing hours, we headed out to Parque de Maria Luisa – a charming collection of squares, gardens, plazas and fountains, where you could easily lose yourself for an hour or two. Walking through the centre of the park leads you to Plaza de Espana, which is simply stunning. Built for the Ibero-American Exhibiton of 1929, the plaza buildings are covered in tiled ceramics and accompanied by a canal across which spans four tiled bridges. The best time to visit is at dusk – when most of the crowds have left and the light is perfect. We also popped back a few days later and there was flamenco dancing in the centre of the building.
Before the sun set, we hop footed to a rooftop bar for a bottle of Cava, with views across the top of the cathedral. The bar had a chilled, unpretentious atmosphere and we shared a tapas plate of delicious meat and cheeses.
Heading off in search of more food, we came across El Pasaje Bar (there are three El Pasaje’s but the ‘bar’ is most casual) where we were lucky to grab the last shelf-esque table outside. Suddenly extremely hungry, we ordered as much as we could fit on out table! The service wasn’t over-friendly (quite typical in Spain) but the food (and wine) were delicious! We had tortilla de patatas, goats cheese on toast, orange marinated salmon with avocado cream and rare pieces of pork loin (tasty but a bit too much for our English stomachs) and would re-order all but the pork again!
After eating as much as possible, we headed home to catch some beauty sleep before our next day of exploring!
Setting off in search of breakfast, we found La Cacharreria de Sevilla. Small but perfectly formed, it was busy with tourists and locals, so we grabbed a seat at the bar, however as people came and went we upgraded to a table. The menu was comprehensive but we eventually choose the breakfast platter – chorizo and cheese on rye bread and goats cheese, pear and walnuts on brioche bread, accompanied by a fresh juice and yoghurt with granola. Very tasty – we were super full afterwards!
Moseying on through the winding cobbled streets, our next stop was Alcázar – the royal palace. The queue for entry snaked around the corner of the building, so we begrudgingly joined it in the sweltering sun! Luckily, before we melted, within a few minutes two official-looking women approached us offering a guided tour of Alcázar and queue-jump entry. Slightly dubious, but keen to get inside, we followed them and 40 euros later we were provided with headsets and were swiftly escorted inside! Well worth it for the queue jump and a much more informative tour – all for about 10-15 euros more than the standard ticket. The palace and surrounding gardens were beautiful and picturesque and our guide was extremely knowledgeable. Once she had finished, we were able to explore the rest ourselves and probably spent about two hours there in total. Make sure you include this on your itinerary!
Needing sustenance, we ambled around the corner and stumbled into Arco Tapas. We ordered salmorejo, a cold creamy tomato soup, and a potato and shrimp salad.
Eager to tick more off our sightseeing list, our next stop was the Cathedral and the Giralda tower. Notably, the largest gothic cathedral in the world – which was grand and beautiful – although not unlike many other Catholic cathedrals we’ve visited previously. The tower however, after a fairly easy climb of 35 flights (ramps), offered panoramic views across Seville and was completely worth the climb. In fact, it was from here that we spotted a rooftop bar which we tracked down and visited the following day.
After a short queue, we headed up to Las Setas shortly before sunset – and it was simply stunning. There were a a fair few people around, but it didn’t feel overcrowded and we managed to enjoy the sunset and capture some beautiful shots. It was lovely to see the city away from the buzz of the street – although an hour is probably sufficient
Our chosen dining destination for the evening was Duo Tapas – which we had chosen because of its great reviews. Sitting in a courtyard next to a little church, there was a lovely atmosphere, with both Spanish families and tourists enjoying the balmy evening. We ordered strips of duck, egg with chorizo and potatoes, a mini burger with quail egg and mustard chicken with rice and, if we hadn’t been so full, Fcould have eaten much more!
Wherever we travel, we like to try and escape the hustle and bustle for a bit. We pre-booked a car before arriving in Seville for just £15 for the day (bargain!). Arriving at the car hire place by taxi, we were asked for our passports to hire the car (which we’ve never been asked anywhere else in the world). So a subsequent taxi ride back to the hotel to collect them and then back to the car hire place doubled the cost of the car!
A two hour drive to Cadiz took us to the beach. Seemingly pretty but not outstanding – although after three months travelling our expectations of any beach have been somewhat spoilt! After a windy day on the beach, a dreadful iced coffee from a beach cafe and subsequent two hour drive home (plus taxi) – we can safely say we wished we had spent the day in Seville, eating ourselves tapas-silly!
Back in Seville and making the most of sunset (and a great snack-excuse) we grabbed a pre-dinner beer and tapas at one of the bars around the bottom of Las Setas – Taberna la Encarnacion – a tasty melted provolone cheese dip with a side of olives. The service was a little ‘Spanish’ but fine for a quick pit stop!
After sunset, we strolled down La Alameda de Hercules, to Restuarante Al Aljibe. Tables spilled out onto the pavement and although we were keen to get onto the roof terrace, the table we were given in courtyard out the front of the restaurant was a more intimate and romantic setting. The food was mouthwateringly good and one of the best meals we had during the whole trip. We ate (and would highly recommend!) beef carpaccio with pistachio ice cream and parmesan salad, burrata, confit porks cheeks, cod croquettes and oxtail.
We were served swiftly and efficiently. Glasses of house wine were served (free-poured with Spanish flair) from a central ice bucket, which lead to some rather large glasses! We rounded off the meal with some local orange wine – which was deliciously sweet.
On our way back home we stopped for a quick nightcap at El Disparate, on La Almeda de Hercules – perfect for people-watching. Choosing a Spanish sherry from the list, the waiter kindly offered me a sample first, in the knowledge that very few tourists liked that particular sherry! Correct in his assumption – I swapped for the Pedro Ximenez, which was intensely sweet and extremely tasty!
Walking past Las Setas on the way back to our hotel, the bars were buzzing so we decided to join in! We grabbed a table outside at Motto, underneath Las Setas. Service was slow and the bar a little too touristy for us, but a great location!
After a long lie in (there’s a slight theme of drinking on our mini-breaks and it eventually takes its toll!) we hotfooted to Bar El Comercio – reportedly one of the best local breakfast joints. Freshly squeezed orange juice (ironically in Seville they use Valencian oranges, not Sevillian, which are bitter and so commonly used for marmalade) was accompanied by toasted bread with ham, tomato and manchego. The bar’s speciality was the highlight – a huge spiral of doughy churros, freshly cooked and served with a pot of molten chocolate (which I managed to finish in record time).
After a meander through the beautiful streets, we walked to La Macarena – browsing the shops as we walked and ending up at Mercado de Feria. The fresh market was closed by the time we arrived, but there were several food stalls inside, so we settled in at Condende with several cañas and ate the most delicious arepas (left), pao de quejo and onion bhajis (it was an eclectic menu!).
Post-paddle boarding we hopped across the river to Triana, to CasaLa Teatro – the tiniest theatre, seating only 28 people! Here we watched a captivating hour-long flamenco performance, which was like nothing we’d ever seen before! The intimate nature of the theatre made it feel particularity special – we’d definitely recommend CasaLa Teatro and taking into account reviews of the larger venues, it came out on top.
After watching sunset from the rooftop of our hotel, we decided to undertake a tapas bar crawl – with A Wandering Casiedilla’s helpful assistance – to make sure we tried as many different restaurants and dishes as possible! We didn’t really appreciate this before visiting Seville, but tapas bars are much more casual than restaurants – it’s acceptable to pop in, have a couple of cañas, a few snacks and head on – all whilst standing!
Following Tour 1, Bodega Santa Cruz was our first stop – a very local spot, where we had to push through hordes of people to reach the bar and take a stab in the dark at what we were ordering! A very random selection of dishes were served up on the bar within minutes, accompanied by a couple of cañas for us to wrestle our way back to our ledge with! Great, simple food – all topped with a sprinkle of mini breadsticks! The aubergine and honey were a particular highlight.
Casa Morales was our next bar – where again, we were lucky to nab a little ledge outside! Taking the tour’s advice, we ordered the chicharrones – pork rinds (strangely delicious) and montaditors con chorizo picante y roquefort – chorizo and roquefort sandwhich – very moreish!
Moving onto Bodeguita Casablanca, we were asked to wait outside, then offered a table, then asked to leave the table and eventually shuffled towards the bar until we acquired a spot! We failed to order what the tour suggested, which explains why were perhaps a little disappointed with the food, but the wine and atmosphere more than made up for it! It was buzzing with locals and we were tempted to stay for another glass but decided to move onto the next bar. Unfortunately, we were a few minutes too late and unable to get a table – but we’ll save this for our next visit – as well as A Wandering Casiedilla’s other two tours!
After a swim, we (begrudgingly) checked out of the hotel and went off in search of brunch! Choosing it mostly because of the bustling crowd of people outside, we grabbed a table outside at La Antigua Bodeguita – thankfully under cover from the searing heat! Being a Saturday, it was full of locals and the atmosphere was buzzing! Still struggling with our Spanish, we guessed a few dishes and were very happy with the results of padron peppers, pork loin sandwich, oxtail and one rather large meatball!
Neither of us condone the brutality of bull fighting, but we were keen to understand more about it and so visited the bull ring to book our tickets for later in the day. Returning a few hours later, we were escorted around the inside of the bull ring, with a guided audio tour explaining the history and tradition of bullfighting. Ending in the ring itself, it was quite shocking to see gouges in the wooden surround of the ring from the bulls’ horns.
For some liquid refreshment, we popped up to La Terrazza de EME (above EME Catedral Mercer hotel), which offered brilliant views of the Giralda Tower (and was the bar we had spotted from the top). The hotel looks gorgeous inside, but the cocktails were unfortunately average and definitely overpriced, but I guess you’re paying for the view!
With the hours sadly ticking down on our time in Seville, we decided to do what we do best and squeeze in some more tapas and wine! Bar Pelayo is just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral and although on initial inspection we thought it was too touristy, our suspicions were proved very wrong! We sat in the open balcony-esque window and loved the friendly waitress and quirky decor of the restaurant. Our feast comprised baked goat’s cheese, spinach and chickpeas (espinacas con garbanzos), confit cod, a breaded meat sausage (flamenquin) and pork shoulder with mushrooms – washed down with a couple of glasses of Rioja.
With full bellies and a touch of sadness, we collected our suitcases and headed to the airport – content in the knowledge that we would return to this foodies haven in the not too distant future!