After soaking up San Diego, we head back to Europe for a weekend in sunny Seville. Florence Massey experiences 48 hours on a budget in the capital of Andalucía – the perfect place for a cheap city break to catch the last rays of summer…
Byron considered Seville to be ‘famous for oranges and women’, yet as you may imagine the city offers a great deal more to visitors. After Madrid, it is the second most important bull-fighting city in Spain; is credited with inventing tapas and has both an old and a new, developing district to explore. The city also offers an architectural feast with fantastic examples of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance design dotted all over each district.
Check into your hostel: The best place to stay is in the old district, to the east of central Seville. There are many cheap Seville hotels and hostels on offer, Sevilla Inn Backpackers is within a stone’s throw of the cathedral and provides a free breakfast between 8am and 10am for all guests. If you are after something a little more upmarket, the brightly tiled Hotel Abanico offers affordable private rooms for just €22 a night.
See it from above: €6 buys you a day ticket to both the Giralda and the Cathedral. The Giralda, is one of the most impressive sites in Seville, built in the twelfth century the former Moorish miranet is now the bell tower to the cathedral. When you climb up inside you can see the whole city, with the old quarter looking particularly impressive from a height of 320ft, as do the gothic details of the cathedral’s roof. Also, make sure you pay attention to the use of ramps rather than stairs within the tower which were constructed to allow access for horses. As the largest Gothic church in the world, the Cathedral itself is breathtaking; when you enter, the gloom of the interior in marked contrast to the sunshine outside is amazing.
Try some tapas: Once you have finished walking around the medieval city, take a pit stop in one of the many tapas bars surrounding the gothic architecture. The best ones to go for are Bar Giralda, which is really close to the cathedral and does delicious octopus with potatoes, and Modesto (which is more like a restaurant) serving a variety of clam recipes as a specialty.
Explore the Bullring: After lunch, walk back towards the river Gualdaquiver and head down towards the Plaza de Toros de las Maestranza. If you want to see a live show, the season starts in April and runs through to October, costing from as little as €10 a ticket. Should the bullfight itself prove too much to bear, then the attached museum with free admission is well worth a visit, providing a detailed history of the controversial tradition.
Sample the sunset: If you do choose to stay in the old quarter, you are provided with lots of places to go at night. For evening entertainment, the old town plays host to some of Spain’s best flamenco bars; located next to the bullring, El Patino Seviliano is one of the most popular shows, lasting an hour and a half, it costs €37 including a free drink. This show gets busy very quickly so make sure you book or arrive early to avoid any disappointment.
Buy breakfast: Even if your hostel provides a complimentary breakfast, nothing beats an authentic sit down Spanish brekkie. Walking in from the old district you are bound to pass one of the San Buenaventura eateries, there is one on Calle Carlos Canal and another at Plaza Alfalfa, both of which are en route. Go for the tostada entera con jamón serrano y aceite (ham and olive), a morning coffee, and if you can fit it in, one of their chocolate pastries.
Go shopping: Calle Sierpes is the main shopping street, start at the Plaza de San Francisco and walk down to La Campana. Home to some of the chicest shops and bars, the street is dotted with historical sites, such as fine examples of the city’s churches and the façade of the former Royal Prison of Seville.
Most of the orange trees in and around the city streets bear fruit much too bitter to eat as they are; they are therefore potted and turned into different varieties of marmalade. Buy some marmalade and some ham in one of the many delicatessens open on the tiny streets. Remember that in true Spanish siesta style, shops chose between 1 and 4.30pm so plan around that.
Make for La Macarena: Once the poverty stricken, working class district of the city, La Macarena has experienced a true revival in recent years. West of the center, you can take the bus, catch the TUSSAM C3/C4 lines, both of which are circular and have many stops throughout the neighborhood. Stroll around, taking in the many different sites the barrio has to offer, including the city’s oldest bar (El Rinconcillo), Hospital de las Cinco Llagas (once the Parliament of Andalucía) and several more examples of the best churches in the world.
Decide on a beer: On your return to the main part of the city, there are many bars to choose from for a late night tipple. ‘Un cerveza por favor’ is probably one of the most recognized Spanish phrases for tourists, say it in the Ceveciera (Calle Gamazo, 3) and you are spoilt for choice. With an extensive menu of over 250 bottled beers, deciding on one to pick is as fun as drinking it. With it being your last night, relaxing and trying out different beers, draughts and tapas is the perfect way to end your visit.
Thinking about a trip to Seville? Backpacking in Spain? Check out the tips and video we put together last year of a visit to the Alcazar…