The capital of Andalusia, Seville, is a peculiar, colorful and beautiful city with the most exciting bullfighting and the most passionate flamenco. Like no other city, it reflects the features of the national Spanish character. And being the center of Andalusia, Seville is also a place of endless celebrations.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Spain is 47.33 million (2021).
The slow and stately Guadalquivir divides the city into two halves: Seville and Triana. This river and nothing else “made” Seville. It is no coincidence that the city grew up in the very place where the Guadalquivir ceases to be navigable. Under the Roman Empire, through trade, Seville achieved a prosperity that did not undermine the Muslim dominion, and which was further enhanced when the city virtually monopolized trade with the Americas.
In the 19th century, Seville became world famous for its architecture and culture and became one of the mandatory stops on the romantic “grand tour” of Europe, which nobles from prosperous countries used to arrange for themselves. Since then, the tourism industry has been developing here. And since Expo 1992, with a new airport, train station, new bridges and express links to Madrid, Seville has become a top travel destination.
District of Seville
Conditionally “tourist” Seville can be divided into 4 districts, the most important of which is simply and uncomplicatedly called the Historical Center (Centro Historico). This is the “heart” of the capital of Andalusia, here are the main attractions of the city, the best hotels and restaurants, in particular the famous Cathedral – a symbol of the region and the architectural dominant of Seville. It is in Centro Historico that tourists spend most of the day, so you should think ten times when choosing a hotel – whether to settle further and pay less, or not save money and live in the very center of the party.
Barrio de Santa Cruz (Barrio Santa Cruz) is perhaps the most bohemian area of the city. Here at every step you come across wrought iron gates, typically Andalusian courtyards with fountains and tiles, trendy art galleries, cafes, vases with ubiquitous geraniums and charming narrow streets. Once a ghetto for Seville’s Jews, today the quarter is named after a Christian saint and is considered the most colorful part of Seville. And this is the beauty of the contradictions of this southern city.
La Macarena, located on the site of the former villa of the famous Roman patrician Macarius, is undeservedly deprived of the attention of tourists. While inquisitive travelers spend their days in the above two areas, La Macarena tirelessly wins the hearts of rare passers-by who look into her halls. In particular, for the sake of the monastery of St. Ines.
According to legend, King Pedro I the Cruel was so captivated by the beauty of this girl that he constantly pursued her until she poured boiling oil on her face, disfiguring herself.
Finally, Triana and El Arenal (Triana & El Arenal) are areas whose names were immortalized in the memory of descendants by the legendary writers of the Golden Age of Spain, Lope de Vega and Cervantes. In the distant times of the 1600s, when Seville was a prosperous trading port, no one meddled in these places, not possessing a dozen strength and courage, because it was here that the Guadalquivir river divided the city in two. At the same time, El Arenal was somewhat more civilized, after all, the Cathedral “under the nose.” But Triana, located on the other side, as it was, has remained a haven of cheerful gypsies, only slightly giving itself a European flair these days. Today, tourists are attracted to these areas by the famous “Golden Tower” of Seville and the Museum of Fine Arts, which exhibits the work of the best Seville artists, in particular Murillo. Well, the atmosphere of Gypsy Town, of course.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Finding free Wi-Fi in Seville, in addition to the hotel area, is not a problem. Firstly, Hop on – Hop off tour buses are equipped with hotspots. Secondly, a whole galaxy of cafes – the central coffee shops Starbucks, McDonald’s (you need a pin from the check), Avda Constitucion cafe chains and Cafe de Indias. In addition, there are entire squares in Seville where you can catch the official free Wi-Fi – these are Plaza Salvador and Plaza del Pan (behind the Salvador Church), Plaza San Francisco, Plaza de la Pescaderia, Plaza Alfalfa and Plaza de la Encarnacion.
Sevilla City Pass
In order not to stand in line for tickets and generally save money, as well as get a detailed and useful guide, you can buy a special Sevilla City Pass without day limits. The card includes free admission to the Alcazar, a cruise on the Guadalquivir River, airport transfers, and a 20% discount on all major museums and other attractions in the city. The cost is from 50 EUR. Buy Sevilla City Pass online: fast and convenient.
The main pedestrian shopping artery of the city is Calle Sierpes, where all the main clothing and footwear brands, as well as a few specific ones, can be found. For example, the local brand Artesania Textil with amazing handmade silk scarves or Sombreria Maquedano with men’s hats.
To enjoy the evolution of Seville’s style, take a walk on Calle Cuna, which runs parallel to Calle Sierpes. Everything lives, breathes and enjoys flamenco here – from vintage costumes to ultra-modern shoes for an incendiary dance. Nearby, on Calle Adriano, the El Caballo shop with traditional riding accessories has been operating for more than a hundred years. There are no better souvenirs for men than their leather wallets or belts in Seville.
To enjoy the evolution of Seville’s style, take a walk on Calle Cuna, which runs parallel to Calle Sierpes. Everything lives, breathes and enjoys flamenco here – from vintage costumes to ultra-modern shoes for an incendiary dance.
Finally, it is simply impossible to leave the capital of Andalusia without buying something from ceramics. The local factory Ceramica Santa Ana (in Triana) encourages visitors to buy just one look of its tiled façade. The most common and, at the same time, authentic souvenir is a bowl for olives.
What to try
Being already a typical Spanish brand, Seville is considered the birthplace of tapas (or simply snacks). Good tapas bars are concentrated around the cathedral and in the city center, you should not pass by, there is something to try. Specifically, tapas tortilla espanola (potato omelet), pulpo gallego (Galician octopus), aceitunas (olives), patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), or queso manchego (sheep cheese from the La Mancha region). And, of course, tapas with jamon. The cost of such snacks is from 2 to 5 EUR, you can order a whole mix set for 15-25 EUR.
Many bars offer to try 1/2 racion (half portion, sometimes quite enough for a hearty snack).
As for drinks, it’s not sangria that you should try, but Tinto de Verano – a mix of red wine, lemon and soda – a more authentic, cheaper and less alcoholic way to quench your thirst. Tourists are also often offered Agua de Sevilla water, which no local resident drinks. Unnecessary nobility: all the water that is brought to the table for lunch or dinner can be safely drunk – it is of good quality.
Cafes and restaurants in Seville
Seville has a huge number of cafes, restaurants and bars. If you want to have a hearty and tasty meal, it is better to look for restaurants where the kitchen is open only for lunch and dinner, and is closed during the break. Pay attention to the number of locals at the table – the more the better. In order to just have a bite to eat, you should look into one of the tapas bars, of which there are a lot in Seville. You can spend time cheerfully, loudly and drunkenly in the Triana area. Decent, dignified and Michelin-star appetizing – in the Nervion quarter. Another good place is Calle Betis, located between the bridges of Triana and the bridge of St. Telmo. The average check for dinner will be about 45 EUR, something like a business lunch (menu del dia, valid only during the day) – 17-25 EUR with a drink. Two scoops of ice cream or a cup of coffee – around 3 EUR.
Be aware that many good restaurants do not open their kitchens for dinner before 8:30 pm. Until this time, you can only eat tapas or in some fast food eatery.
March-May is the best time to travel to Seville, because it is during these months that the two main festivals of the region take place – Semana Santa and April Feria (Seville Fair). It makes no sense to describe the mess that is happening in the city, it must be seen, and the weather favors – the sun is not yet frying to the point of insanity, and the rains have already ended. There is also a minus – biting prices for accommodation.
July and August are perhaps the worst time to travel, it is very hot and there are a lot of tourists. September-October is another noteworthy period. The heat, as well as the crowds of travelers, subsides, so there is a chance to enjoy the amazing Seville in the company of a gentle, not scorching sun.