There’s little better than a spontaneous decision to escape for the weekend; and Seville, Andalucía’s historic capital makes for a great all-year weekend break. Offering typically sunny weather, superb food, historic architecture and plenty of Andalusian festivals and ferias, it’s one of Southern Spain’s most loved cities.
When you visit Seville, you will become familiar with the city’s motif, ‘NO8DO’ which, once you notice it, appears pretty much everywhere – from street furniture and manhole covers to city publicity. It’s said to be a rebus, with the 8 representing a ‘madeja’ or skein of wool, so together creates the phrase, ‘No me ha dejado’ in Andaluz, the city has ‘not abandoned me’. This references how Seville supported King Alfonso X when his son tried to take the throne. You can see more about this online at Wikipedia and other sources.
So with ‘8’ in mind, here’s 8 things to help make your Seville visit a success:
Sleep well in the city’s best-value boutique hotel
Seville has some outstanding hotels, with exceptional design and character. Yet prices for this fancy hotels can stretch your holiday budget. I have recently discovered a very good value hotel in the heart of Seville.
The Casa Romana Hotel is an elegant 18th century building in Seville’s old town, offering remarkably good-value accommodation for the city centre.
With a name that reminds us that Seville is very much a Roman city, (the birthplace of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian) this 4 star hotel has spacious, comfortably appointed rooms, with features such high ceilings, comfy beds, a Nespresso coffee machine, and good-sized bathrooms including shower and bath tub. The breakfast in Room Zero is excellent, including hot dishes freshly cooked to order (try their homemade yogurt too, it’s very good).
Rooms come in 4 categories from standard, through Superior, Deluxe and Junior. So depending on whether you want to spend more time relaxing in the hotel or more time exploring the city, you can find a room that matches your budget.
Wi-Fi is free and worked well.
Part of the ‘Small Boutique Hotels’ group in Spain, the Casa Romana Hotel’s location means that you can walk to pretty much all the sights.
Experience the ‘Feria de Abril’
This year Seville’s April Fair is held from 12 – 17 April. It is one of the most significant fairs in Spain. It is a passionate celebration of local culture and all that is quintessentially Andalusian. It’s rich in folk history, colour, music, gastronomy, dance, and corridas. Expect to see bullfighters dressed in their elaborately embroidered ‘suits of lights’. Take a stroll through the historic parks at this time and you will see vintage carriages carrying ladies in vibrant, polka dot flamenco-style dresses accompanied by men in traditional broad hats, short jackets and fitted trousers.
More information can be found online at the Feria de Abril’s website.
Just make sure not to drink too many ‘rebujitos’ – the refreshing cocktail or sherry and lemonade can really go to your head!
Cocktails with a view – at Roof
Seville was a strategic city since Arab times and its architecture reflects an exceptionally wealthy past. From the striking Giralda bell tower of the cathedral to the castellations of the old fort, there is plenty to enjoy the history buff or architecture lover.
But in my mind the best way to enjoy this city of spires and towers is with a cocktail in hand on a roof terrace.
Hotel Casa Romana is well known for its terrace, simple called ‘Roof’. The 2016 season is now starting, so expect music, food, entertainment and of course a great city view.
This stylish yet bohemian bar offers a cool place to share drinks with friends, enjoy tapas and light bites and a great soundtrack to take in the city skyline.
Walk upon the Metropol Parasol – the city’s mushrooms
Created by award winning German architect Jürgen Mayer, the Metropol Parasol looks like something that has landed from another planet. Its series of interconnecting parasols create a canopy that although made of concrete, steel and pine wood, seems almost organic – understandably they have become known as Las Setas, the Mushrooms.
The mushrooms cover the Plaza de Encarnacion well known for its local market, and provides a public space for the stallholders, an additional level for public events and above, there are elevated walkways – free to city residents open to visitors for a nominal fee. Below ground is a museum showcasing the Roman ruins discovered during the construction of the new Metropol Parasol.
You can find out more about these magic mushrooms in my dedicated article.
Enjoy Andalusian Tapas like a local – with Azahar Sevilla
For a different side of Seville nightlife, head to the lively district of Santa Cruz; it’s one of the best areas for ‘tapas-hopping’. The narrow streets lined with orange trees are full of idiosyncratic bars, each with their own twist on Andalucía’s favourite snack, the tapa. Discover your favourites by ordering a few tapas in each bar you come to, and before long, the city will feel like home.
The best way to enjoy the city’s creative, culinary bite-sized snacks is with a guide. So contact Shawn at Azahar Sevilla and book one of her private tours. She can navigate you through the quaint Santa Cruz district or if you more adventurous, take you too original and cool bars throughout the city.
You can read about my experience on one of Shawn’s tours here.
The Gardens of the Royal Alcazar
This vast palace is an exceptional example of Mudejar architecture – echoing Moorish style but built for a Christian ruler, Pedro the Cruel of Castile. Over the centuries the palace has been expanded and different parts reflect various styles and motifs of many eras, but for me it is the gardens that are worth the visit. There are patios and gardens, one after the other, built over the centuries, incorporating the styles of the times, from formal fountains, to hedge mazes. The different spaces include Jardin de Troya, Jardin de la Danza, Jardin de la Galera, Jardin de las Flores, Jardin del Principe, Jardin de la Alcoba, Jardin de las Damas, and Jardin del Laberinto Viejo.
It truly is an exceptional place to lose yourself.
Have a sleep over with the sharks at the city’s Aquarium
One of Seville’s newest attractions, the Seville Aquarium (which opened towards the end of 2014) offers visitors the chance to go on a voyage of discovery, inspired by the expeditions of Ferdinand Magellan, said to be the first to circumnavigate of the globe.
Starting at Seville’s Guadalquivir River, once sees thousands of examples of creatures, reptiles and fish from the world’s oceans. Oh, and you can book to have a sleep over in the shark exhibit – in the aquarium tunnel with the big fish swimming overhead!
Visit La Cartuja Monastery
Talking of voyages of discovery, it really worth heading over to the Island of La Cartuja, where the huge Expo ’92 was held. Here you will find the beautiful and ancient Monasterio La Cartuja where Christopher Columbus planned his second voyage.
Not only it is a beautiful building, and tells a fascinating history, but it’s also an exhibition space.
So, all that’s left to say is to wish to a fabulous stay in Sevilla!