A Long Weekend in Sevilla, Spain | The Most Stunning Sights + Coziest Cafes
While our trip last month was not my first visit to Sevilla, Spain (or “Seville,” I suppose, as we say in the states), but it felt as if I was seeing everything with fresh, new eyes. My memories of the Sevilla I visited 6 years ago are nothing but a blur of Semana Santa festivities that commemorated the holy week of Easter. This Andalusian city is known for its extravagant celebrations during this particular holiday and all that I can clearly remember are watching parades swim through the streets with their giant gilded statues carried by cloaked figures and children with candles seeming to flow like rivers along the crowded alleyways. While it was an incredible experience, I don’t feel like I actually saw any of the city itself. My friend and I couldn’t make it to the major attractions or enjoy the winding old city without bumping into another beautiful yet slightly ominous parade.
This time was completely different. Our long-weekend visit was about nothing but wandering aimlessly and experiencing as much of Sevilla as possible, soaking in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere. Despite the off-and-on rain and chilly temperatures, both Marouan and I discovered moments of connection and joy all over the city.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about this phase of my life, but my mindset when traveling seems to have shifted from simply enjoying the newness of a place to constantly asking, “could I see myself living here?” It is as if I am attempting to see a location from the inside out instead of skimming the surface. I try to image the kind of routine I would create for myself in any given place- which cafes I would haunt, which neighborhoods I would wander while listening to podcasts, if there is a park or a riverside where I could go for a run, perhaps even a place to take classes and practice dance. Even if I may never spend more than that particular trip in a city, I feel like I am able to find more of a connection with each place I go through seeing it through my personalized lens. Where could I fit in within this different culture and society? While, of course, I will most likely not live in each and every place I go, it is always fun and exciting to imagine “what if,” and I find that this mindset enriches my own travel experience.
Of course, I was not in this alone on my most recent adventure. Marouan has a slightly different traveling style than myself (as I wrote about a little bit after our trip to Stockholm together), but because we are able to balance our interests and activities, it usually ends up making for a more well-rounded experience for the both of us. He tends towards history and ancient stories- seeking out monuments, architecture and major historical sights. His passion for learning about these things is infectious and makes me enjoy them all the more. Meanwhile, choosing smaller neighborhoods to roam, cultural sights and activities, and places to eat or have a cup of coffee (surprise surprise) are usually left to me, at my own insistence. He doesn’t seem to mind.
Since our trip was a little bit last minute, I did not have the time to do a whole lot of research before we arrived. However, between a handful of recommendations from a local friend, some quick and specific google searches, and simply wandering around in the rain trying to find somewhere warm and inviting to stop for tea, we were able to discover some lovely places to see, eat, and drink. Here is a small but effective list of what, in my humble opinion, are the sights you have to see and the best cafes in Sevilla for hearty, good-for-you eats or delicious, sugary treats.
Walking down by the river is one of the few memories I do have of my first trip to Sevilla, besides the Semana Santa festivities. Despite the on and off drizzling during this adventure, we still thoroughly enjoyed the beauty and serenity of wandering along the rushing water, watching rowers fly by and admiring all of the hardcore runners jogging in the pouring rain. It is definitely necessary to take a little break from the more tourist-filled, bustling city center and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Guadalquivir.
Giant, wooden sculptures and archways named after mushrooms. Who wouldn’t want to visit that? Despite sounding a bit random and out of place in an otherwise old, historic kind of city, this huge structure curves beautifully through the center of one of my favorite little neighborhoods that we discovered. Also known as Metropol Parasol and built by German architect Jürgen Mayer, the way that it plays with light and shape is stunning against the backdrop of cathedrals and towers in the distance.
Pl. de la Encarnación, s/n, 41003 Sevilla, Spain
The following three sights are no-brainers and probably the first landmarks that pop up when you google “things to do in Seville.” However, being someone who avoids tourist traps and long lines like the plague, I can now whole-heartedly recommend all three of these places as worthy sights to see (plus in November, an off-season for tourism, you don’t have to worry about waiting in a queue all day). La Giralda is a bizarre and beautiful mash up of religious history and conquest and was made all the more interesting by visiting with Marouan, who is fascinated by these sorts of stories and monuments. It is a stunning and powerful place to see, both from the outside and inside. Plus, the view from the top of the once-mosque, now-cathedral tower is incredible and worth the slightly tiring climb up a long series of wooden ramps.
Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Clearly I didn’t do very much research before visiting because I had no idea how vast and sprawling the Real Alcazar of Sevilla really is. Its rooms and terraces are like a never-ending maze, moving from traditional intricate Islamic carvings and archways into Spanish and Catholic color blocks, and from there the gardens spread out for what seem like forever. We spent a good half-day here and didn’t even see the entire outdoor portion. Get ready to walk, gawk, and take in so much visual beauty that you won’t know how to process it all.
Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
When I asked for recommendations for Sevilla, almost everyone mentioned a stroll around Plaza Espana, and rightly so. This place looks like it was painted from a postcard, regal and striking with its grand bridges and perfectly curved moat. Absolutely worth a visit, rain or shine.
Av de Isabel la Católica, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Cozy Cafes + Good Eats
It is no secret that this is the place in Sevilla to come for a real Sunday brunch (just take a look at the pink neon sign proclaiming “Viva la Brunch” as you enter). They have everything from bagels to avocado toast to smoothie bowls, all freshly made, simple, and full of flavor. Just make sure you get there earlier in the day because space is limited and it seems to be quite the hotspot for both tourists and young locals, especially on the weekends.
Alameda de Hércules, 58, 41002
It is a shame that I never got any really good photos of this place because we went there twice for tea and cake- it was that delicious. We both loved the insulated, cozy atmosphere, the wide array of interesting teas and coffee drinks, plus the giant, very homemade slices of cake that they served. There are two locations of this cafe, but our favorite was the one near Las Setas in a cute and trendy neighborhood. Plus it is right across the street from…
Calle Regina, 14, 41003
Perfectly crisp, fried churros in a classic hot chocolate sauce. Served up from a little hole in the wall stand and eaten piping hot, fresh from the fryer. What more could you be looking for in Spain?
Calle Regina, nº 15, 41003
An American friend of mine who also lives in Tangier happened to be visiting Sevilla at about the same time as us, so she suggested we meet up at this cozy little cafe that doubles as a library. First of all I love the name- The Sedentary Traveler- and secondly it is another spot with great teas, cakes, and coffees, plus it is on a large boulevard where there are a lot of cafes and bars with locals spilling out into the streets, drinking, laughing and gathering. A fun place to sit and people watch for a while.
Alameda de Hércules, 77, 41002
This was a random find one morning when I was desperate for good coffee, chosen because of its proximity to our Airbnb and the promise of oat milk lattes. It lived up to the promise and more. Marouan and I loved the ambiance and stayed there for a quite a while, waiting out a particularly heavy downpour while sipping on fresh strawberry juice and coffee. We didn’t eat there, but the menu and breakfasts looked incredibly promising.
Calle San Esteban, 15, 41003
I am thrilled because a budget European airline has recently created a direct flight from Tangier to Sevilla for ridiculously cheap fares, so I am hoping that this means another trip to this lovely city will be near in my future. In just a little less than 5 days, I could already feel myself falling for this place. If any of you have been there, I am always open to recommendations for the next visit.