I needed to get away. To be honest if I don’t get away every three months I start getting itchy feet (or ears, or whatever). Last year at this time I went to Paris, but this year I wanted to visit somewhere warmer and get out my comfort zone (France). Somewhere warmer with palm trees and the change to be at least in close proximity to a beach. My good friend Claire suggested Spain, we booked flights to Malaga (Ryanair from Newcastle) and then decided to head to Seville to avoid the more touristy coast. We didn’t know at the time that Lonely Planet had named Seville the “Best City To Visit in 2018,” but very quickly after arriving it was easy to see why.
Spain’s fourth largest city (and the largest city in Andalucia) offers everything you would wish for in a city break and more. Jaw-dropping architecture, bags of culture, great shopping and most importantly endless places where you can enjoy delicious tapas (it’s also great for cyclists if you prefer to explore on two wheels). We took the train from Malaga for about two and a half hours, passing the stunning El Churro Gorge and the Caminito Del Rey path (I am definitely going back to do that walk). The Santa Justa train station in Seville is pretty central (just north-east of the centre) and it didn’t take long to find our accommodation.
|The stunning El Churro Gorge|
I’m all for hostels but Claire likes things to be a bit more upmarket so we stayed at the well-sitauted Opera Apartments in Alameda, a vibrant district where students and creative types gather to enjoy the many tapas bars and clubs. There are plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry around the Alameda de Hercules Plaza, which comes alive no matter what night of the week it is. The apartment was modern and clean, with a rooftop pool which unfortunately was too cold to use in February. We came across a fantastic vintage market when we left the apartment on the Thursday which was totally bizarre – lots of stuff from the 50s and 60s (I saw a copy of Harper’s Bizarre from 1949).
|The rooftop pool at Opera Apartments|
Instead of having a rigid itinerary we were pretty relaxed about the trip and ended up getting ‘lost’ a lot and stumbling across the major places to visit anyway. One of the first sights we saw was the bizarre yet cool Metropol Parasol, a wooden structure in La Encarnacion Square which consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms. (It’s design is inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral de Seville and some nearby trees). It was completed in 2011 and houses ancient Roman remains, a central market and an open-air public plaza designed for public events. It’s controversial but I really liked it.
|The bizarre yet cool Metropol Parasol|
Some of my favourite high street shops are Spanish (Zara/Mango) so it goes without saying that the shopping was pretty top-notch. I love a label called Uterque, which is high-end high street and has distinctive, colourful pieces which stand out. I was happy to see that they have a store in Seville. The fashion here is loud, colourful and in your face – there was a Keith Haring collection in Stradivarius – art as fashion which I love!
We eventually stumbled across the magnificent cathedral but didn’t end up going inside as the queues were too long (the same thing happened at the Alcazar so hopefully when we go back we can have the full experience), but to be honest we were too focussed on the food and visiting as many tapas bars as possible! We did spend some time at the beautiful Plaza de Espana, a popular tourist spot in the Maria Luisa Park which features stunningly intricate tiles depicting the many regions of Spain. I loved the blend of Renaissance and Moorish architecture and the flamenco dancer performing there, accompanies by two musicians.
|The stunning Plaza de Espana|
It’s time to talk about the food. Seville is a fantastic city with great landmarks but the sheer number of tapas restaurants and bars was the true highlight of the trip. It would be impossible to list in detail everywhere we went, but I’ll do my best to give details of some of the more standout places. Generally we started eating at about 3pm and kept going until 11pm, having one or two tapas in each place before moving on. I fell in love with the sherry which tastes like liquid raisins, and the sangria (it’s strong) as well as the Cruzcampo beer. Here are some places that should not be missed:
Probably some of the best tapas we tried, this modern Soho meets colonial style restaurant (opposite the Torre Del Oro) serves Spanish and Mediterranean dishes with an international twist. We tried the Spanish Omelette on the recommendation of the couple sitting next to us, as well as the Ox Cheek and the baby fried squid. All dishes that we tried were less than €5 and delicious.
|The delicious Spanish Omelette|
Situated in the busy Alameda de Hercules Plaza, Arte Y Sabor serves fusion tapas with a Middle Eastern twist. We tried the tempura vegetables and prawns, the chicken liver pate and the house wine. This is a good place for vegetarians and those that are looking to try tapas with a difference.
|Chicken liver pate at Arte Y Sabor|
This place is amazing! Just next to the Guadalquivir river, this gourmet market is housed in a 19th century building which used to be a fish market. There are twenty different stalls offering different types of tapas, from Spanish Omelettes to seafood to sushi. There are three terraces outside where you can enjoy food and a Cruzcampo in the sun. I can’t recommend this place highly enough if you’re looking to try a variety of different tapas and food from around the world.
|Squid ink Spanish Omelette at the Mercado|
Close to the Cathedral, this no-frills place offers inexpensive authentic tapas and super fast service – the amazing clams in a garlic sauce we ordered arrived in a flash. It has a great atmosphere and a good mix of locals and tourists. Apparently the breakfast is amazing too (try the tomatoes on bread).
|Unbelievable clams in garlic sauce|
After spending three days eating and drinking our away around this great city, we headed back to Malaga for the weekend for a bit of a rest and some time at the beach, but managed to land to catch the tail-end of the Carnaval De Malaga! Groups of singers in fancy dress descended on the town from February 3rd to 11th, with many residents and visitors dressing up to get into the carnival spirit. Wherever you go during the week you’ll bump into street musicians, parades and choirs in and around the centre. It’s well worth a long weekend visit.
Normally I would be hitting the museums and culture hard but I was totally bowled over by the food, so we made that the focus of the trip. It would be a great place to visit as a group for a special birthday or to celebrate an anniversary. I don’t often go back to cities but I will definitely go back to Seville!
For an up-to-date travel guide for Seville, check out the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide.