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What are the top things to do in Seville if you are visiting the city? Below you’ll find a long list of activities that are not in the guidebooks and do not belong to the touristic circuits. You can chose from experiencing a relaxing massage at the Arab baths to buying delicious sweets from a closed nunnery.
In any case, I’m sure that you’ll be glad to go off the beaten path. If you want so you can also read about my perfect day in Seville.
1. Among my favorite things to do in Seville is going to the top terrace bar of the EME Hotel and enjoy the views over the Cathedral and the Giralda while ordering your favorite drink. If the night is warm (especially on summer) try to go there early in order to get a table or a seat at the front row. Obviously, the drinks are not the cheapest of the Seville but the view is so spectacular that you won’t notice the over price.
2. If you are into nightlife and want to experience how thriving is going out in Seville (and everywhere in Spain) one of the coolest places to do so is the Calle Betis in Triana. It’s one of the most famous and beautiful streets of Seville because of its views of the river and some of the city highlights. As you might already know, Spaniards have in general a late lifestyle so you shouldn’t go there before midnight. Well, you can but you’ll be on your own…
3. Another cool thing to do in Seville is purchasing a poster related to the Semana Santa, the Feria de Abril and bullfights. Every year, as the Feria approaches the city is invaded by beautiful posters announcing the coming events. They have a very peculiar style and I particularly like the old ones. Good news. There is a shop called Félix Cartelismo (Avenida de la Constitución, 26) where you can find everything.
4. One of the oldest traditions in Spain is buying sweets at a closed convent. The particularity of this place is that nuns cannot exit the premises nor have contact with any person not belonging to the order. A lot of these orders make a living on selling delicious homemade sweets. The instructions are easy, ring the bell and a nun will say “Ave María Purísima”. Answer her by saying “Sin pecado concebido”. Ask for what you want, place your money on the turnstile and spin it around for the nun on the other side. After a while a delicatessen will be spun back to you! My favorites: San Leandro (famous for their yemas), Santa María de Jesús, Santa Inés (bollitos de Santa Inés), Santa Paula (jams), San Clemente, Nuestra Señora del Socorro, Madre de Dios and Santa Ana.
5. I think that one of the funniest things to do in Seville is renting a four-wheeled bike at María Luisa Park. There’s no problem wandering around but the park is really huge so you’ll get to see the whole park at your own pace. It is particularly handy if it’s a hot day as the bike roof will protect from the sun. This weird bike is very easy to ride, practice a little bit turning and using the brake before heading off to explore the park.
6. Every Sunday morning stamp and coin collectors gather at the Plaza del Cabildo to chat and exchange about their most precious treasuries. Apart from the scenery (this square is probably one of the most beautiful and original of Seville), the atmosphere of the Sunday market is really picturesque with people going from stall to stall looking for bargains, others just looking curious at some wonderful pieces of art. Lately, experts in other topics such as archeology, antiques, minerals and insects have joined the rest.
7. Strolling around the mercados de abastos (local food markets) should be on your list of things to do in Seville. I just love it! Currently Seville has more than 20 of these markets but my favorites are Encarnación, Triana and calle Feria. While there, have a look at how and what people buy – a process that it is almost an art (as everything in Seville). Did you know that all of them have a bar where people gather to have a beer and a tapa after doing their courses?
8. A very typical breakfast in Spain is chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and churros – sorry, but it’s just impossible to translate). There are several stands where you can get them or you can go to many cafeterias. I actually prefer going to the stands and eating them at home (or at a bench somewhere with a great view) with a hot cup of chocolate. Hmmm, yummy! Anway, eating churros should be high on your list of things to do in Seville. Some popular churros stands are at the corner of the Andalusian Parliament, the Triana Bridge and the calle Arfe next to the Postigo gate (but no chocolate sold) but there are many more.
9. Speaking of eating, how about a delicious ice-cream? I’m a big fan of ice-cream (and of sweet stuff in general) so I don’t mind eating them all year round but I have to confess that the hotter the day the better the sensation. Luckily a couple of Italian gelaterias have opened their doors in Seville and now we can indulge ourselves with a wonderful gelatto. Don’t miss Freskura (Calle Vulcano, 4), Tutto Gelatto (Calle Arroyo, 34) and La Fiorentina (Calle Zaragoza, 16).
10. Seville is an ancient Roman city once named Hispalis and as such a lot of ruins remain scattered around the city. Having a look at Roman ruins is part of the things to do in Seville. You can start with the three Roman columns hidden away at the Calle Mármoles (Barrio de Santa Cruz). They are part of a temple once devoted to Hercules. Some other four columns belonging to this temple are now at both ends of the Alameda de Hércules. Additionally, if you happen to drive through Calle Luis Montoto you’ll see parts of the old aqueduct. It always amazes me how those old stones are still there after all this time…
11. If you plan to visit the Museo de Bellas Artes try to go there on Sunday. It’s the day when local artists gather at the square (Plaza del Museo) and exhibit their paintings and sketches. You’ll find a wide range of styles, sizes and prices. There are also a couple of watercolor painters at the Barrio de Santa Cruz (they usually place their small stall next to the Alcázar exit and also at the Callejón del Agua).They sell small pieces of art representing patios and corners of Seville.
12. There are more cultural things to do in Seville besides museums. If you happen to go to the Triana market, spend some time visiting the ruins of the Castillo de San Jorge (Saint George Castle). The castle has been actually transformed into a museum. The space is divided into two floors and you’ll know more about the castle and its function as a Court of the Inquisition during the 15th and 16th centuries. The entrance is free and it is open from Monday to Friday (11:00 to 18:30) and on weekends (10:00 to 15:00).
13. Are you a beer fan? Tired of drinking the same Cruzcampo over and over again? If your answer is “yes” go straight to the Cervecería Internacional (Calle Gamazo, 3). One of the most common things to do in Seville is drinking beer and it is, by far, the most popular beverage. There’s one problem: a lot of bars will only offer you Cruzcampo (particularly on tap). Fortunately, the Cerveceria Internacional has more than 15 taps and 250 different brands! A couple of hints… Don’t order any tapas – go somewhere else instead, and keep in mind that it’s closed on Sundays.
14. One of the legacies that we have inherited from the Moorish invasion is our love for water. As in other cities (Córdoba, Málaga) Seville has some great baños arabes (Arab baths) where you can enjoy a real hammam. The place is called Aire de Sevilla (Calle Aire, 15) and it is a full experience that includes different temperature baths, massages, a steam room, a tea room and a roof top terrace with great views of the Giralda tower. In the 17th century the last Arab bath disappeared but now we can turn back in time…
15. Visiting and either being lodged at a corral or casa de vecinos (neighbors’ house) is among the things to do in Seville. Corrales were very popular buildings in Seville in the 18th and 19th centuries for low income families. The structure is pretty much the same at each corral: a unique entrance and a very big patio. If you have some time, you can try to enter the Corral del Conde (Calle Santiago, 27), Las Casas del Rey de Baeza (Calle Santiago, 2), Corral del Coliseo (Calle Alcázares, 5), Corral de San Jose (Calle Jimios, 22) and the Corral de Herrera (Calle Pagés del Corro, 111).
Obviously, there are many different possible things to do in Seville… but I hope this list has given you some ideas.