Seeking sunshine and a new city to explore, Art Director and photographer Natalie Vosloo headed to Seville for a weekend break with her boyfriend in tow. Here she shares her top picks on things to do, see and eat (along with some lovely snaps, of course).
Have you ever been somewhere where everything you see is so epic, you don’t know where to start? That was my experience of Seville, or Sevilla to the well-heeled locals. I’m a photographer and love to document what I see and in this city of spectacular architecture, I was spoilt for shots. This is a city to wander, discover and admire…
Top things to see in Seville
Steeped in history, Seville is home to some impressive architecture with influences varying from the Gothic and Baroque to Renaissance and most famously the Mudéjar style. A heady mix of Moorish and Christian influences, characterised by intricate tiling and ornate carvings and plasterwork. By far the finest example of this is the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, a Moorish palace dating back to the 11th century. This seemingly endless labyrinth of courtyards, ornate archways and gardens offers welcome shade from the sweltering heat.
Our next stop, and another impressive sight not to be missed, is the Plaza de España. Built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, this sprawling landmark offered little respite from the sun but don’t let that put you off! It happens to be built within the lush Maria Luisa park with green canopies of well-established palm trees and gardens dotted with quiet, secluded benches and fountains. We stopped off here to enjoy the shade to a soundtrack of running water and the odd horse cart ferrying tourists around.
When you’ve had your fill of awe-inspiring architecture, why not visit some of the private homes and walled gardens in the heart of the old city. Many of these are still privately owned, passed down through generations of families who have all left their stamp on these historical abodes. One of our favorites was the Lebrija Palace, former home of the Countess of Lebrija, a dedicated collector and restorer of art. This home houses some of the best kept Roman mosaics and a guided tour of the well-preserved living quarters will offer a glimpse into Sevillian life in the 16th Century. Another fine example is the Palacio de las Dueñas, with gardens rivaled only by the Alcázar! Or La Casa de Pilatos, considered one of the oldest examples of the Mudéjar style and still serving as the primary residence of the Medinaceli family.
Although there’s plenty to see in Seville, schedule some down time just to explore the old town by foot. We discovered hidden gems down narrow alleyways and glimpses into private courtyards. Be sure to include a stroll through the old Jewish Quarter too, we found shaded squares with bright, intricate tiling and tiny cafés hugging the pavements spraying welcome bursts of cool mist on passersby
Where to eat in Seville
If you have only one meal in Seville, make sure it’s at Eslava. This restaurant, hidden on a side street just a stone’s throw from the Alameda de Hércules, is named after the street by the same name. It was not only the best meal we ate during our time in Seville but also the cheapest. At 2,90 € for tapas, 3 € for a decent glass of wine and 1,50 € for a beer, it’s a steal. Don’t be fooled by the low prices though, the 40-minute queue outside the door is testament to the quality of the food. Definitely order the Becquer’s cigar with algae and cuttlefish, it’s an award winner for a reason and don’t be surprised by the odd local jumping the queue, they take good care of their regulars.
For something a touch more glamorous, take a look at El Pinton. You will be seated around and old Sevillian style courtyard with contemporary decor. We regretted not requesting a table in the summer dining room with traditional tiling adorning the walls. The food here is a little pricier but worth it. Meals across the board in Seville were very reasonable… so splash out once. Be warned though, we found the portions large and would probably not be classed as tapas, one could easily over order here.
Although the food in Seville was generally delicious, wondering into a restaurant off the street can be hit and miss. A definite exception was Mamarracha Tapas y Brasas. Our first impression was that this restaurant was aimed at the American tourist, styled to resemble a trendy burger joint, but the food was delicate and the flavours surprising. The living wall makes for a tranquil setting. We recommend dipping in for lunch or a quick drink at bar.
If you’re feeling that you’ve had your fill of traditional Spanish food and fancy something a little different, another favourite was La Terraza Tapas just off the Alameda de Hércules. Heaving with locals, this was clearly a favourite off the usual ‘rutas de tapas’ and featured diverse menu items such as tacos and bao buns. Or why not try No-lugar the art company. Also a stone’s throw from the square, this restaurant has an eccentric boho style interior with a Moroccan Spanish inspired menu. It attracts an artsy crowd and while the food was great, it’s worth a visit for the people-watching and quirky decor alone.
With their proximity to the bars on the Alameda de Hércules head over after dinner for digestifs to experience the buzzing night life of this up-and-coming area of the city. We enjoyed the rooftop bar of the Corner House Hotel for cocktails and Bossa Nova, you don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to access this little gem. A quiet retreat mid-week and buzzing at the weekends, it’s great for a view of the rooftops of Seville and served as the perfect last stop before our flight home.
Where to stay in Seville
Set just a couple of minutes from the Cathedral across a beautifully converted colonial building – this is a great value pick for visit to Seville
This Berber-Moorish style boutique hotel offers a true andalucian experience just outside the centre of town
Best time to visit Seville
Did I mention Seville is hot? It’s relentlessly so and did not dip below 30 degrees for our entire visit. If you’re not a fan of heatwave-like temperatures, autumn is a great time to visit and with peak season drawing to a close, prices are reasonable.
See more of Natalie’s great photography on her Tumblr here >