Add in innovative tapas and superb hotels like the Corral del Rey, and you've got one of our favourite European destinations.
It can be busy, though, and many tourists make mistakes. From dodging queues to finding the best flamenco, here are five savvy ways to maximise your time in Andalusia’s capital.
1. Alcazar timing
The Alcazar is a remarkable palace of intricate geometric tiles, staggeringly beautiful courtyards and huge, sumptuous gardens. It’s no secret, however, and gets mightily crowded. For the most pleasant experience, book in advance and choose the ‘General Tour Real Alcazar’ option, plus an audio guide. Try to visit on a weekday if possible, and to arrive at the earliest 9.30am timeslot. You’ll get to enjoy the interiors while relatively quiet; once they start to fill up, head to the gardens to stay ahead of the masses.
2. Catedral queue jump
Seville’s other headline act is its massive Cathedral, in which await sublime stained-glass windows and Christopher Columbus’ tomb (but not body). The queues to enter can be thousands-strong; booking online is confusing but there is another way to skip the lines. Walk to the nearby – and well-worth-a-look – Iglesia del Salvador church, and purchase a ‘Combinada’ ticket at its usually-empty reception. You can then just stroll straight into the Cathedral, smugly saving yourself many footsore hours.
3. Flamenco shows
Seville is one of the cradles of flamenco dancing, and a great place to experience a show. The trick is finding an authentic one. Under a minute’s walk from Corral del Rey is the Museo del Baile Flamenco, which holds high-quality, one-hour shows in its courtyard most nights. Be sure to book in advance. For a quintessential bar experience, visit Los Gallos in the narrow-laned old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz for its superb 90-minute evening shows.
4. Cross the river
Come late afternoon, make for the Guadalquivir river. Young lovers and groups of friends sit on its eastern bank, sipping wine in the sultry heat. Cross the Puente de Isabel II bridge, Seville’s oldest, into the gentrified gypsy barrio of Triana. Here, as well as excellent restaurants, you can see the sunlight illuminate central Seville’s palm trees and golden domes. It’s a magical sight.
5. Murillo trail
Part of Lonely Planet’s rationale was that 2018 marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of hometown painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. As part of its ‘Año Murillo’, Seville has established a trail which covers 20 locations and 50 of his original works – the best of them hanging in the Museum de Bellas Artes. The trail starts at Santa Cruz’s dinky Casa de Murillo, where the artist lived.
The Corral del Rey’s sister hotel is Hacienda San Rafael, a working olive farm with beautiful, rustic-style rooms plus pools, gardens and great food. We’d recommend a two-centre trip between both, with the chance to explore sherry-making Jerez, Costa de la Luz beaches and Andalucia’s magnificent countryside.
Call 0207 359 3938 or contact us to speak to us about planning a Seville getaway.