Journeys, Travel Guides

Seville beyond flamenco [Seville Travel Guide]

Bearing a unique blend of Moorish architecture, Spanish vibes and secret patios, Seville charms you in a heartbeat.

Picturesque streets and fountain adorned plazas may dazzle you, but the charm of Seville lies in its many authentic corners and hidden patios.

You know that feeling of excitement taking hold of you as a child upon the discovery of a well-stashed cookie jar?
That’s the best way to describe Seville!

Off the beaten path, forbidden patios, color-rich churches, beautiful empty streets filled with architectural wonders will make you love this city and incite you to aimless wanderings.

Seville-Travel-Guide

Seville has cinematic feel to it, hence the number of movies shot here – Real Alcazar of Seville and Plaza de España being the favorite spots of many filmmakers.

Flamenco, tapas and oranges might be the first words one associates Seville with, but they’re not as prominent in the city’s scape as I thought before the trip.

So we skipped on flamenco, no regrets. Instead, we went for a different kind of experience – the zambra gitano (gypsy flamenco) in Granada.

An authentic Andalusian meal in Seville

Tapas and orange juice flavored cocktails are surely hard to miss in Seville, but those are not the best ways to discover the Andalusian cuisine.

The most rewarding food experience in Seville was in a small restaurant called Carlos Baena, well hidden on the streets outside city center, where we enjoyed an authentic Andalusian dish made of rice & seafood (Arroz).

The dish looked like the broth version of paella and our waiter, who didn’t understand English, served it in a huge pot placed in the middle of the table, ladle still in it. That was yummy, but so hard to finish!

One of the interesting meal habits of the Spanish is that they enjoy eating out as often as possible, too late, if you ask me. So it would be nice for you to try a restaurant frequented by locals (around 9 p.m.). At Carlos Baena, we were the only tourists in the restaurant, and it felt like being in someone’s house.

If you want to try the local cuisine, please be prepared to taste anything (yes, even ox tail tapas).

Accommodation in Seville

This restaurant was recommended to us by the hotel owner at Patio de las Croces, where we spent our two nights in Seville.

Funny enough, he couldn’t pronounce Vlad’s name right because of those two consonants next to each other and made me smile each time he turned V into B, calling him Blood [Blad].

Despite the great location, his hotel was not the best accommodation in Seville, and we had some two rough nights because of the high levels of humidity in our room, but also because of the two separate beds.

Still, people were very nice here, and the patio inside was lovely, so we didn’t take it to heart.

The streets around Patio de las Croces Hotel are a delight – narrow, colorful, with splendid facades. The proximity Barrio Santa Cruz might have something to do with these amazing streets, busy with people all day long, but peaceful during early mornings.

Top Attractions in Seville and My Favorite Spots

Main attractions in Seville, Spain

1. Real Alcázar of Seville

There’s enough info about Real Alcázar of Seville to tell a whole bedtime story, but I’ll just name a few interesting ones:

The upper levels of the Alcázar are still inhabited by the royal family, making it the oldest European palace still in use. Cool, right?

The palace is a great example of Mudéjar architectural style – a symbiosis of techniques and ways of creating architecture resulting from applying Islamic Art to Medieval Christian architecture and specific to the Iberian Peninsula.

It’s not just a palace but an architectural complex with lots of beautiful patios and halls, a chapel, a few palaces and a charming garden.

Real Alcázar of Seville is a favorite movie set for many filmmakers. It’s also one of the most charming locations for Game of Thrones series – the Water Gardens in S5 E02 are actually the fabulous gardens of Real Alcázar.

Real Alcázar, Seville Cathedral with its bell tower (La Giralda) and Archivo de Indias are Seville’s UNESCO Heritage sites.

Real-Alcazar-of-Seville---Andalucia,-Spain

Real-Alcazar-Seville,-Spain---Architecture


2. Plaza de España – Maria Luisa Park

Plaza de España is the most impressive architectural complex I’ve seen in Andalucia! That’s why this plaza is on top of any traveler’s must-see list for Seville.

It’s a romantic place for couples of all ages, where one can even book a short boat ride on its small canal, paddling under the many decorative bridges built around the sumptuous buildings.

The architectural complex blends elements from Renaissance Revival with Neo Mudéjar style, with Art Deco details here and there, and it’s considered a landmark of Regionalism Architecture. It also features some beautiful azulejos (blue tiles) representing different regions and cities in Spain.

Star Wars, Laurence of Arabia and Game of Thrones series have some amazing scenes filmed in Plaza de España, a testimony of its charming story-like setting.

Photo tip: If you want to take beautiful photos, golden hour and sunset are not the best times to visit Plaza de España because an extra warm light on yellow-brown buildings will make your photos look burned, even if it’s not the case.

Plaza-de-Espana-Seville,-Andalucia,-SpainMaria-Luisa-Park-in-Seville,-SpainPlaza-de-Espana-Seville,-Spain---point-of-view

3. Seville Cathedral & La Giralda

Traveling to Seville and Andalucia during la Semana Santa (the week before the Catholic Easter) is both rewarding and problematic.

It’s that time of the year where you have a hard time visiting the splendid Spanish Cathedrals because of the processions and the preparations going in and around the holy sites.

But even an architecture lover like me can trade a visit to a cathedral for the unique experience of Semana Santa.

So we only admired Seville Cathedral from the outside, but caught up on the stunning interiors of holy places in Andalucia when visiting Granada Cathedral and Mezquita Cathedral of Cordoba.

We saw Seville from above when visiting Las Setas – Metopol Parasol instead of going up in La Giralda bell tower.

Seville-Cathedral---Andalucia,-SpainSeville-Cathedral,-Andalucia,-Spain

La-Giralda-Seville,-Spain

4. Centro Historico & Barrio Santa Cruz

Staying in Patio de las Croces area, Barrio Santa Cruz and Centro Historico Seville were two minutes away, so we passed through them each day.

Barrio Santa Cruz might be the prettiest neighborhood in Seville, but it’s also the most crowded one during the day and well into the night, when restaurant owners and shop keepers spread their tables and merchandise on its very narrow streets.

Still, we woke up pretty early in our last day in Seville and found Barrio Santa Cruz so peaceful that it felt unrecognizable with all those shops and restaurants closed.

One hour was enough to explore its intricate streets and admire each façade and beautiful architectural detail. It was easier for us than exploring Triana, the other charming neighborhood of Seville, set on the west bank of the Guadalquivir River.

Bario-Santa-Cruz-in-Seville,-Spain

5. Metropol Parasol 

6 giant mushrooms – Las Setas, also known as Metropol Parasol, form one of the newest architectural structures in Seville, serving as a shelter from the heat during the day and gathering families and youngsters in the afternoon like no other place in the city.

It’s a fabulous wooden structure, although it looks metallic, offering a beautiful panorama of Seville while nourishing a geometry seeker’s soul with its many lines forming new viewpoints as you move around it at the ground level or up on its roof.

It was created by Jürgen Mayer and, from what I’ve read, this gorgeous structure stirred up a lot of discussion among the locals because of its disruptive architecture.

You can’t miss Metropol Parasol while walking around La Encarnación square in Seville, and I must say we had the best sunset in Seville on top of it.

Las-Setas,-Sevilia-by-Ana-Matei

Las-Setas---Metropol-Parasol---Seville---stride-by

6. Museum of Fine Arts of Seville

Museum-of-Fine-Arts-of-Seville

7. Torre del Oro

Torre-del-Oro,-Seville,-Spain


Seville off the beaten path (my favorite spots)

1. Casa de Pilatos

Casa de Pilatos is not on every traveler’s list, but it’s a gorgeous place to visit.

Considered the prototype of the Andalusian palace, the architecture of Casa de Pilatos mixes two styles – Renaissance Italian and Mudéjar Spanish. *via

The numerous azulejos walls bordered by fabulous columns and lace-like Moorish arches, as well as the luxuriant gardens made me fall in love with this architectural gem.

Being smaller and less crowded than Real Alcazar of Seville, Casa de Pilatos has a much cozier atmosphere, thus invites you to sit down and peacefully admire its beauty.

This place, as well as Plaza de Espana, served as a filming location for some scenes from Lawrence of Arabia movie.

Moorish-Arches-and-Azulejos-at-Casa-de-Pilatos-Seville,-Spain


2. Instituto Británico de Sevilla

The British Institute in Seville is a hidden gem I bumped into by pure luck on Calle Federico Rubio.

Its amazing patio quickly lured me in this charming location with lush corners, gorgeous white patio bordered by walls covered in azulejos, and it made me linger more than a few minutes. If you have the time, I’d recommend a visit here.

Instituto-Britanico-de-Sevilla---Patio


3. Palacio de San Telmo

The luxurious Hotel Alfonso XIII is so stunning that you must pay it a visit, at least to marvel at its lush terrace and exquisite facade. If you’re as curious as me, you’ll want to explore more, and going a few meters down the street will reward you with another fabulous building – Palacio de San Telmo.

It’s the residence for the presidency of the Andalusian Autonomous Government and one of the most stunning historical buildings in Seville, with marvelous architectural details.

Palacio-de-San-Telmo,-Seville,-Spain

4. Iglesia de San ldefonso, Sevilla

Imagine you’re walking aimlessly on the streets and suddenly you find yourself near an impressive red and yellow church. This is how I’ve come to discover Iglesia de San ldefonso in Seville.

The architectural details of this beauty stop you on your way, and if a nun from the monastery across the street happens to get in your visual field, then you’ll get why Seville has this movie set vibes.

Iglesia-de-San-ldefonso,-Sevilla

5. Costurero de la Reina 

This small beautiful building is right next to Maria Luisa Park and it’s worth a stop by just to get a better look at its gorgeous arched windows and brick facade.

Costurero-de-la-Reina,-Seville,-Spain

6. Seville’s Hidden Patios

Secret-Patio-in-Seville,-Andalucia,-Spain


Travel tips for visiting Seville

When to visit Seville & Andalucia

April and October are the best months to visit Seville because of the moderate temperatures.

We chose April and I must say the temperatures were bigger than expected – around 26°C, with high levels of humidity. So spring in Seville felt like summer in Romania.  Still, I think it was better than visiting Seville during the summer.

Accommodation Tips

Barrio Santa Cruz – because it offers easy access to all of Seville’s attractions. We chose Patio de las Croces, which was close to city center but also far enough from the restaurants and shops to ensure a peaceful sleep (nightlife in Santa Cruz might get noisy at times).

Getting to and around Seville

We chose to fly to Malaga and then rented a car to visit Andalucia, with Seville as our first stop.

The most important thing to know about getting around Seville, Granada or Cordoba is that these are old cities and among the most visited ones in Spain.

So forget driving around and settle for parking the car as far as possible from the city center. We researched a couple of parking spots before the trip, and decided to use Parking Avenida Roma for our stay in Seville.

If you book your hotel close to city center, every point of interest in Seville will be at a walking distance. We never used public transportation during our stay, and it was a great way to discover some of its hidden corners.

How much time do you need to visit Seville

2 days were enough to visit top attractions in Seville, as well as wandering the streets in search of beautiful corners, well off the beaten path. But if you want to visit all that Seville has to offer, 3 days would be better, in order to include Tirana district and the interior of Seville Cathedral.

Budget for a trip to Seville

One thing you should know is that traveling to Seville and Andalucia is more expensive than visiting Barcelona or Valencia. A meal goes for at least 50€, parking for 20€/day, accommodation is around 100€/night and entrance fees are also pretty high, but I think it’s worth every penny.


Road Trip in Andalucía, Spain: Seville – Cordoba – Malaga – Granada | April 2017 | All Photography ©Ana Matei > Instagram: @MateiAna


Hope you got this far reading my Seville Travel Guide and if you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. Thank you


Read Next:

Dreamy Patios in Seville & Cordoba >
Top Experiences to try in Granada >
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Ana
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