Seville: what a charming, colourful and surprisingly quiet city.
We were a bit nervous about heading to Seville in early July – the crowds, the heat (it’s one of the hottest part of Spain), travelling with a baby. But it actually turned out to be one of our favourite trips in a while.
We were already only a three hour drive away in Nerja, so thought it was the perfect ‘city break’ for the three of us to enjoy.
I was worried two nights wouldn’t be enough time but it was perfect – we stayed at Corral Del Rey via Chic Retreats (we were offered a complimentary stay to do this city guide), which is up there as one of my fave European hotels. It’s not the cheapest option but value for money considering location, breakfast is included (which can be ordered to your room) and if you’re doing only a few nights, it’s well worth it. For us, we ended up spending a lot more time in our hotel room than first imagined (Peggy had just got round to getting the hang of naps in a cot by the time we went) so it was important for us to have somewhere central, comfy, cool yet cosy to keep popping back to.
Also, if you’re travelling from another part of Spain, don’t forget to take your passport! Spanish hotels require them by law (luckily my dad reminded us before we went).
We were based in the old city, so we stepped outside our room to those wonderful narrow streets and we were struck with how quiet it was. Unlike a city like Rome, you could take photos almost without anyone walking into the frame! Everything is so well preserved, like stepping back in time – pharmacies had chandeliers in them and even just the simplest sandwich bars have the most amazing tiles it feels like an old speakeasy.
The weather was a big concern for us. Yes, Seville is H.O.T but it was actually totally manageable – all the narrow streets are in the shade and all the restaurants are spraying cool water onto the streets and the evenings weren’t too muggy, either. We also did sightseeing in the morning, came back to the air conditioned hotel for feeds/naps/snacks and then went back out once it was cooler in the late afternoon.
One thing to consider is transport – if driving then look into the nearest car park. The city has beautiful narrow streets but that means there is zero parking (and therefore the car parks can charge what they like) – we parked near the Jewish quarter and it cost €22 for 24 hours (so it’s something to add to your budget).
So, I’m not going to lie here – we didn’t do everything on the ‘must-see’ tourist agenda. And the beauty of Seville is that you really don’t have to, it’s such a magical city that you can spend hardly any money, admire all the sights and eat affordable tapas for dinner. And that’s exactly what we did.
WHAT TO DO
Obviously, the Cathedral is a great place to start. We didn’t go in (I had actually been in a few years ago), preferring to walk around the main square instead, but it’s so easy to get a feel for the city from here – the horse and carriages, the al fresco cafes…
The Plaza de Espana was a must-visit on our list, it’s totally free and we walked through some beautiful gardens to get there. It was probably the furthest sight on our agenda and it really helps give you a feel of the geography of the city. AND THE TILES.
This is a bit controversial, but we ditched the popular Alcazar for the lesser known Casa de Pilatos (which we discovered via Lucy Williams’ blog) and we honestly couldn’t have made a better choice – €10 entry (and Peggy was allowed in for free), no queues and we (almost) had the place to ourselves. And my main interest in Seville was tiles, of course, and this place had them in abundance.
We also had a lovely walk through Santa Cruz on our way home and loved all the tiny, colourful streets and restaurants in hidden courtyards.
WHERE TO EAT
Our main plan of action here, as with most Spanish cities, was tapas. Our hotel gave us loads of recommendations and we loved both of the places we tried for dinner.
La Azotea, on Calle Zaragoza, was right up our street – so relaxed, we sat at the bar (with Peggy in a sling) and the staff were so kind and accommodating. It’s a mix of fish and meat tapas and every dish was beautifully presented, yet affordable – we had beers with 3 tapas dishes to share (medium raciones were a perfect size to share) for €25 – the cod and black sausage fritters were a firm favourite.
Calle Zaragoza was a great street for hidden restaurants, as well, and the corner of where it meets Calle Madrid was really buzzing, too.
Ovejas Negras is another one of those restaurants on a street where you can’t go wrong (Hernando Colon) – but if you can get into Ovejas Negras, you really should. We arrived at 8:45pm and was told it didn’t open until 9pm, so we left and went for a walk around the block – by the time we returned at 9:02pm it was packed and we barely got a space at the bar! But we could easily see why it was packed: excellent tapas – old favourites (Patatas Bravas) as well as more modern dishes (Soft Shell Crab), the buzzing atmosphere was the perfect finish to our first family mini break.
I think Seville might have topped my list of Spanish cities…I know, a big statement but I stand by it. Go visit.