In Blog, Europe, Featured, Hints and Tips, Locations, Spain by Ryan & Erin1 Comment

4€ per pint of Guinness
*2.50€ per pint of local beer (Cruzcampo)

After getting very partied out at the Cordoban Feria for 3 days we hopped a train to Seville, continuing on our southward tour of Spain. We’d not really looked into Seville in advance of arriving and hoped for a bit of respite after the preceding days’ of partying. Boy were we surprised! Seville is perhaps not the place for a rest. In fact it is Spain’s fourth largest city and without doubt the most bustling and busy city we had seen in Spain from a tourism point of view. It seems everyone visits Seville! All of the tourist stereotypes were present, in droves. There were the loud fanny pack clad Americans, never-ending coach loads of Chinese, small groups of Japanese taking peace sign photos in front of every building they passed as well as inumerous European languages we could identify and many we couldn’t.

The tourist attractions and streets of Seville always seem to be full of people.

There were more tourists in Seville than we had even seen in Barcelona or Madrid. Although we only had a day to explore, we quickly discovered why this is a must-see destination and thus so busy! Seville like many of the Spanish cities has a rich and long history spanning multiple civilisations and retaining their cultural influences. This almost always makes for excellent landmarks and Seville was not short of these. And whilst large crowds of tourists can often make for a detrimental effect on one’s enjoyment or ability to see a city this was surprisingly not the case in Seville. In fact Seville was the richer for these droves, with every bar and restaurant spilling out onto the cobbled streets of the historic city centre with extra al fresco seating in the pleasant late May evening we visited, and full until midnight. This lively atmosphere attracts buskers on street corners by day and wandering guitar players amongst the al fresco tables by night.

The al fresco bars in Seville are made all the more better for the droves of tourists that fill the city.

Seville is also known as the epicentre of Flamenco culture in Spain. This is the city in which to catch flamenco guitar music and/or dancing. However as a very touristic city it is good to do your research if you want a more authentic experience. Advertised throughout the city centre are Tablaos Flamencos: meaning Flamenco Shows. Many online reviewers advise that these are perfectly enjoyable and that there are plenty that are not too dear or include dinner in the ticket price for added value. If however you’re a chaser of more authentic experiences then do some google/on-foot searching for the private music clubs (peñas). There are over 75 of these peñas in Seville although unlike the Tablaos they are less likely to have shows every night. Another option is catching a free tablao flamenco as part of the admission cost to the Museo del Baile Flamenco (The Flamenco Dance Museum). These shows are at night after the museum closes at two time slots: approx 7pm and 9pm.

If you don’t like flamenco, you can always just pop a giant bubble or two…

With Flamenco to take up much of one’s evening in Seville it is handy that tapas culture, and eating late is prominent here too. We in fact caught no official flamenco performance due to our love of tapeando as an evening pastime. Fortunately we caught a flamenco dance show by a street busker and flamenco guitar music from the wandering night buskers that came by the bars we were hopping between. We got our cultural fix at a very low price! In the bars/restaurants we visited all the usual tapas suspects were available and there were plenty of Sevillan specific dishes to try too. As a total vegetable nerd I was beyond excited to try the Espinacas con Garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas). This came out as a little stew of the two mentioned ingredients but was sadly a bit ho-hum in flavour. The meat however did not disappoint: Carrillada de Cerdo is a stew of pork cheek in a wine, cloves and garlic reduction usually served on mash and the sort of dish you instantly regret agreeing to share. My advice: order one each especially if doing a tapas sized portion! Here hubby, the braver gourmand of this duo, also gamely swallowed down some snails. Snails (caracoles) in Spanish tapas are small (about the size of a thumbnail) and served in their shells in the aromatic broth they were boiled in. To eat simply slurp the little suckers out of their shells and try not to stare too long into their shocked looking faces…

...simply slurp the little suckers out of their shells and try not to stare too long into their shocked looking faces!Click To Tweet
In fact snails are a seasonal delight (May – June only) during Seville’s (and other parts of the Andalusian region’s) Spring. You will generally have to look for them on daily specials boards rather than the printed menu, but you should find them declaimed in bold print “hay caracoles” meaning “snails here”!

A bowl of caracoles might not be everyone’s idea of a nice meal, but they are tasty!

Unsurprisingly in such a busy tourist city the Guinness was plentifully available and even on tap in a number of establishments. A new and unique Sevillian flavour we sampled here was the vino de naranja (sweet orange wine) that they’ve been making and serving for over a hundred years at the Álvaro Peregil bar. This bar was near the historic centre landmarks we’d been visiting by day and provided some much needed relief, even though it was standing tables only! Much of Seville’s old city barrios (neighborhoods) are lined with the bitter orange trees that we had also seen in Cordoba. No wonder, after all they are also known as the Seville Orange Tree! We also again bumped into a religious processional in Seville, in fact one parade came right by our door with an entire brass band in the cohort. May is truly a magical time to be visiting Spain and Seville should definitely be on your itinerary. If unlike us, you’ve taken the time to do your research (by reading this!) then we are pretty sure Seville will have just gone straight to the top of your priority list! Below follow our top picks for things to do in Seville. If you’ve been to Seville or slurped down some snails (caracoles) in Spain’s springtime we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Until next time Salud! (Cheers!) Erin and Ryan.

Our Top Picks

This palace and gardens date back to the Moorish occupation in Spain and the original palace was first built in 914, adjoining the old Roman wall of the old city. The palace was remodelled numerous times under a parade of rulers and the additions to the gardens especially are gorgeous. You can easily wander the peacock and orange tree filled gardens, including a Victorian part of the garden that truly has the feel of an English park, for a good couple of hours. The Roman walls of Seville date back to approximately 68BC, so between the astounding beauty of this complex and this historical provenance, it’s no wonder that the Alcázar of Seville (Real Alcázar) is in fact the world’s oldest palace still in use. It is the upper floors of the palace that are still used as the Royal Family’s official Sevillan residence. So if it’s good enough for royalty, then it’s worth lining up for. Although note that if you buy your tickets online in advance you can skip a lot of the waiting, and even if you do line up, the line moves quite fast.

The Royal Alcazar Gardens are truly amazing – well worth spending time in the queue.

The Plaza de España (Spain Square) of Seville is another marvel. Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 it’s not just the beauty and architecture of this space, but the size and scale of it, that wows a visitor. I therefore won’t say too much here, and if you’re going try to avoid looking it up too much as that may take away from that socked in the stomach breathtaking feeling you get when you see something quite awe inspiring. It’s a must visit; it’s free and there are shady and sunny areas for taking a rest or having a picnic lunch.

Awe-inspiring is really the only term you can use to describe the Plaza de Espana (this is just a sneak peak!)

Officially known as Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), this cathedral’s large name is a nice match for its large size. It is technically the largest cathedral in the world, and many notable historic figures from Spanish history are buried within its walls, including the controversial Christopher Columbus. The cathedral is right next door to the Real Alcázar.

The Moorish influences on the Seville Cathedral are evident everywhere.

A point of controversy for some: bull fighting. The lengthily named Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (Sevillan Bullring) built in the 1760s is another marvel of beauteous architecture. We did not visit it, as we land on the anti side of the bullfighting debate, but I now regret this as the pictures are just stunning. So perhaps take a look at the exterior at least, if you have the time.

Have you braved the tourist crowds of Seville? What are your tips that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Ryan & Erin
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Ryan & Erin

Founders at Downbubble Travels
Erin Hardie and Ryan Platten are teachers, travel writers and photographers/web admins from Perth Western Australia. A mutual love of travel and trying new flavours brought them together (til death do they part!). They have created this blog after having each travelled to over fifteen countries individually before joining forces. They now seek to bring a little taste of the places they go to the walls of others (please pin us!) and to share information with other travel lovers!
Ryan & Erin
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Get the dish on Seville including eating snails, drinking orange wine and of course seeing the incredible sights including a GoT location using this guide.