In need of warmer temperatures, we booked a little getaway to Seville in December. It was surprisingly cold, but there was plenty of sunshine and Andalusian charm to keep us warm. These are my ten favorites for a first time in sunny Seville.
#1- Wake up with Andalusian breakfast
A typical Andalusian breakfast has three key ingredients: coffee, fresh orange juice and tostada con tomate y aceite. The toast is drizzled with olive oil, topped with tomato pulp and finished with a hint of salt. Other variations of tostada include Serrano ham, or my personal favorite, paté ibérico. Most traditional cafes serve this holy trinity for just a couple of euros.
#2- Mount Metropol Parasol
Metropol Parasol consists of six mushroom-shaped structures that form one giant parasol together. The beauty of this construction is debatable, but the great views it offers are not. Take the elevator to the upper level and be amazed by the contrast between this modern work of art and Seville’s historic buildings.
#3- Soak up the sun (or shade) at Alameda de Hercules
Alameda the Hercules is the heart of a very lively neighborhood in Seville. The big trees on both sides of the boulevard provide shade to its many terraces in summer. In winter, the trees make way for the much wanted sun. Order a tinto de verano and it will feel just like summer.
#4- Say Hello from the other side
Most of the action happens on the east bank of the Guadalquivir River, yet it’s worth crossing the beautiful Isabel II bridge to Triana. The Mercado de Triana is an indoor food market that hosts cooking school Taller Andaluz de Cocina. We prepared delicious paella, gazpacho and sangria with fresh ingredients from the market. Before heading back to the east bank, watch the sunset from Mariatrifulca’s rooftop bar.
#5- Pick your favorite sherry
No visit to Seville is complete without trying the local alcoholic beverage. You can drink great wine, tinto de verano and sangria in Seville, but a truly Andalusian drink is sherry. This dry white wine comes in different levels of sweetness. Unlike us, ease into it by starting with a dulce and gradually moving to a muy viejo like the Amontillado. A cheese platter complements the sherry experience.
#6- Stroll south to Plaza de España
To balance out the eating and drinking, we took a free walking tour from Plaza Nuevo all the way to Plaza de España. The tour provides a compact overview of historic and present-day Seville. The majestic Plaza de España was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, held to promote the ties between the Iberian Peninsula and its former colonies. In more recent years, the Plaza featured in Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars: Episode II.
#7- Feel like a royal (or Martell)
Another landmark in Seville that made a career in television is the Real Alcázar, which appears as the home of House Martell in Game of Thrones. Off-screen, it has served as a home to the royal family for many centuries. The majestic palace and its gardens are not to be missed on a trip to Seville. For more beautiful Andalusian architecture and less crowds, head to Casa de Pilatos.
#8- Go tapas bar-hopping in Santa Cruz
In the three days we spent in Seville, we sticked to a strict tapas diet. We had tapas for lunch, dinner and dessert, yet we still feared that many great tapas places would stay undiscovered. That’s why we decided to go tapas bar-hopping. If you manage to dodge the tourist traps, you’ll find many authentic bars in the Santa Cruz neighborhood. Order a tapa and tinto at the counter and be on your way.
#9- Get close to the Giralda
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral, both icons in Seville. You can climb the Giralda for a view of the city; for a view of the Giralda, you have to climb the EME Hotel. Their rooftop bar brings you face to face with the impressive tower.
#10- Experience Flamenco front row
We couldn’t have left the birthplace of Flamenco without catching a performance. La Carbonería offers free shows in a rustic setting. Arrive well in time for the last show at 11:30 PM, and secure front-row seats to this threesome of dance, singing and guitar.