The grand and sun-drenched city of Seville has everything to offer the dedicated explorer. Not only is this highly popular destination the Andalusian capital, it is also the home of tapas, meaning there is a seemingly endless selection of innovative and more importantly, mouth-watering tapas bars on offer. Throughout the city the distinct charm and style of Andalucia is present in everything you see, from the imposing architecture and excellent selection of art, to the local performances of traditional bull-fighting and flamenco dancing.
Sun-blessed Seville is essentially the urban hub of southern Spain, being the capital of Andalusia and home to more than 1.5 million people. It's a grand, attractive city, with the hotels to match. Prime examples include the five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII (San Fernando 2), considered one of the country’s top properties, and the similarly smart Hotel Casa 1800 Sevilla (Rodrigo Caro 6), set in a converted 19th-century mansion. The Corral del Rey (Corral del Rey 12) is another elegant hotel, while the three-star Hotel Amadeus & La Musica (Farnesio 6) is notable for its roof terrace, which gives views of the cathedral’s Giralda bell tower.
Seville being a major visitor destination, you'll find a colossal choice of souvenir shops – many of them high-quality – selling everything from local ceramics to flamenco dresses. The streets of the Santa Cruz area, around the city's monumentally large cathedral, are particularly well stocked with items aimed at tourists. As elsewhere in Spain, ever-reliable department store El Corte Inglés (main branch at Plaza Duque del Victoria, but also found at various other locations around town) sells just about anything you might need, from warm-weather clothes to electronics. Be aware that many smaller shops still close from 2pm to 5pm.
Seville enjoys the title of being the home of tapas, with some estimates claiming that the destination has more than 4,000 tapas bars. What’s certainly true is that the city has a surplus of good food, whether you’re admiring the fresh produce and Moorish décor at Triana Indoor Market (Plaza del Altozano) or hopping between the aforementioned tapas bars around the Santa Cruz barrio. Jamón serrano (cured ham) is a speciality, while other recommended eats include grilled squid, oxtail stew, clams and solomillo al whisky (pork loin in a whisky sauce with potatoes), a dish particular to Seville.
Seven days chock-full of processions, festivities and street parades mean that Seville lays claim to hosting Spain’s most impressive Holy Week celebrations. The parades themselves generally involve large sculptures of Christ and the Virgin being transported, to much fanfare, in the direction of the cathedral.
Feria de Abril
Seville’s April fair is a six-day-long fiesta involving carriage parades, bullfighting, flamenco dancing and dusk-till-dawn partying. It usually begins a fortnight after Holy Week, and traces its origins to a livestock fair that was first held in the 1840s.
A large-scale rock and dance music festival, the two-day Territorios Sevilla has in the past welcomed major artists as diverse as Iggy Pop, Fatboy Slim, Public Enemy and Basement Jaxx. The event attracts something in the region of 40,000 fans.
Vela de Santa Ana
A religious lights festival taking place in the city’s Triana district, Vela de Santa Ana has been held annually for some 800 years. These days, as well as incorporating light displays and live music, there’s plenty in the way of dancing, drinking and fireworks.
Seville European Film Festival
Showcasing innovative films from across the continent, the Seville European Film Festival has been running for a decade, forging a reputation for quality in the process. There’s a tendency towards art house productions, with past award winners coming from Sweden, Greece and Italy.