Seville: The Ultimate Spanish City Break

Seville Cathedral Photo

Seville’s Beautiful Cathedral

The one constant I had in my auxiliar life was the need to travel. Thanks to short work weeks, endless local holidays and puentes, and the money I made from tutoring, I was able to make weekend trips a reality and see nearly all of Spain.

For language assistants, a weekend trip to Seville is an easy way to enjoy one the Spain’s most folkloric cities, score relatively cheap accommodation and take part in the city’s celebrated tapa culture. Here’s how to make the most out of your weekend in Andalusia’s capital.

When to Visit

Seville’s location on the southern end of the Iberian peninsula give it a privileged climate year round – unless you visit in the summertime. Temperatures rarely dip below 55º (13ºC) in the often rainy winter, and sunbathing happens as early as mid-March. Because of this, Spring and Fall are the most pleasant times to visit, as the summer is scorching, turning Seville into a ghost town.

During the Spring Festivals, Holy Week and the Feria, be aware that the prices for accommodation soar, so plan ahead.

Photo by Cat Gaa

Getting There

Seville is serviced by the San Pablo Airport, about 13km outside the city center. RyanAir, Iberia, Vueling, Transavia and Air Berlin operate flights from San Pablo, making it a relatively easy trip from many corners of Spain. The bus marked EA at the western end of the arrivals terminal will take you into the city center for 2,30€ one-way or 4€ round-trip.

Alternately, Santa Justa train station reaches destinations all over Spain, thanks to the AVE high-speed rail. What’s more, Seville has two centrally-located bus stations for destinations all over Andalucía and Spain, as well as Portugal.

Finding a Place to Stay

Loads of accommodation is available in the city center, from touristic apartments to homestays. Hostels abound in the area near the cathedral with beds under 20€. There’s also an active Couchsurfing crowd.

Try Grand Luxe Hostel (C/Don Remondo, 7) right off the the Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes for great views from the rooftop terrazza and a hip atmosphere, or Samay in the Santa Cruz neighborhood for clean, safe hospitality.

Photo by Cat Gaa

Touring Seville

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Seville has a clash of Moorish, Gothic and Baroque architecture, making it one of Spain’s most charming cities. The main sights are mostly tucked into the old neighborhoods of Barrio Santa Cruz, El Centro and El Alfalfa, all united by the towering Giralda tower.

Musts include the third-largest cathedral in the world, the Royal Alcazares, getting lost in the back streets of Santa Cruz and climbing the Setas, a modern construction built just a few years back, for commanding views of the city. Walking around the Macarena and Triana neighborhoods, visiting the striking Maestranza bullring and sipping a tinto de verano on the riverfront should be on your list, too.

Seville is perhaps the best city for walking, as it’s flat and its sites are concentrated around Avenida de la Constitución. If your feet tire from hoofing it all day, you can take the Metro Centro, a light rail that traverses the city center from San Bernardo train station to Plaza Nueva, passing down Avenida de la constitución. Rides are 1,30€.

Tip: If you’ve got a student visa, show it at the entrances of all major museums for a discounted or free entrance.

Alcazar fortress Seville Spain

The Alcazar (fortress) in Seville, Spain

Tapas Crawling

Seville has touted itself as the tapas capital of the world, and the tradition of bar-hopping and eating around the city center is a weekend tradition. Most bars are clustered around the city center, the Alameda and in the Triana neighborhood.

Bodega Garcia Morales is a traditional bodega with tapas, Seville’s famous orang wine and plenty of character. Right across the street is Los Coloniales, where hearty portions are cheap, but the line is long, so go early and get your name on the chalkboard behind the bar. (García Viñuesa, 11)

Fried Eggplant Honey

Delicious Fried Eggplant & Honey Tapa

Bodeguita A. Romero II is a neighborhood bar with cheap tapas and great hospitality. Try the mantecaíto, an open-faced sandwich with grilled onion, sliced iberian ham and sirloin. (Calle Gamazo, 16)

Ovejas Negras is a relatively new bar, made to look like an ultramarinos of years past where canned conserves and dry kitchen staples were sold. Their tapas have a modern twist on old staples and the waiters are attentive and hip.(Calle Hernando Colón, 8)

Las Golondrinas is a neighborhood favorite in Triana, across the river. Azulejo tiles and images of the barrio’s most famous patron saints make up the decor while you snack on meat, fish and vegetable dishes. (calle Antillano Campos, 26)

Tapas will run you 2,00€ – 4,00€, and drinks around 1,50€. Typical sevillano dishes are salmorejo, fried fish and montaíto de pringá – a meat lover’s sandwich.

Quick Day Trips from Seville

If you’ve got an extra day or two to spare, Seville has several day trips, each just an hour away.

Jeréz de la Frontera – this town has been made famous by their sherry production, and their gorgeous old town and famous bodegas are perfect for a day away from Seville. Tío Pepe, Spain’s first marketing ploy, is the trademark of González Byass Bodegas, and their tours can be enjoyed in English or Spanish. Take the Media Distancia train from Santa Justa and get off in Jeréz.

Carmona – Roman ruins and gorgeous views of the Andalusian countryside are Carmona’s hallmarks. Just 40 minutes away from Seville on bus M-124, you can visit the walled city and its dozens of churches, monasteries and ruins in just a day. Don’t miss the sumptuous Parador, an old castle converted into a luxury hotel run by the Spanish Tourism Board.

Horse and Carriage typical of Seville. (Photo by Cat Gaa)

Córdoba – Once the center of intellect and art, Córdoba has retained both its muslim past and its Andalusian character. The narrow alleyways all lead the the famous horseshoe arches of the Mezquita, and cordobés cuisine is traditional, hearty and delicious. Try salmorejo, a cold tomato soup often garnished with boiled egg and shaved ham, and flamenquín, a rolled and fried pork and cheese dish.

Cat Gaa left the skyscrapers of Chicago for the olive groves of Southern Spain five years ago. Since then, she’s worked as a teaching assistant in a rural high school, taught little more than colors and numbers at a preschool and run an English-language summer camp, all while chronicling it on her blog, Sunshine and Siestas. Catch up with her on twitter and instagram at @sunshinesiestas.


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