Breakfast: The perfect day always begins…. with breakfast! But the early morning is no time for map reading or hiking across town to a sought after address. Our advice is – unless it is salubrious – skip the hotel breakfast and instead grab a copy of El Mundo and plop yourself down on the nearest cafe terrace for a breakfast of Seville orange juice, churros and cafe con leche.
Culture: Awake, fed, and abreast of world events you could consider getting one of Seville’s blockbusters under your belt. Our recommendation is to start with Alcazar. Zero points for originality – this is Seville’s ‘must see’ attraction but even if it wasn’t we’d recommend it for its lovely gardens, beautiful Moorish architecture and fantastic mosaics reminiscent of the palaces of Marrakesh. On a hot summer’s day the cool stone walls make Seville just about bearable.
Lunch: Here’s a couple of ideas. For something light and cheap, Alfalfa tapas bar (Cnr Calles Alfalfa & Candilejo), a smokey joint with an alternative vibe, serves up excellent lunch snacks. Try mixing it up with bruschettas of different toppings, we liked the classico (featuring tomato and basil) and blanco (blue cheese & walnut), team it with, say, a side dish of tabouleh – and you have fresh, fast food that satisfies but won’t send you to Snoozeville. Bar Europa (35 Calle Siete Revueltas, Plaza del Pan) gets the thumbs up from just about everybody for their innovative tapas. For our part, we felt that the service was below par, but perhaps it was an off day? If you give it a try, aim to get a table at the front of the restaurant which is the pretty, atmospheric bit.
For a definitively glamorous luncheon, go for a glass of cava, elegant tapas and irresistably refined deserts at Robles Laredo overlooking the Plaza de San Francisco (pictured above – we like to mix our chandeliers with legs of ham). We scored a spot at the bar counter, and to our mind, this is the best seat for ogling what everyone else is ordering, plus it has the advantage of offering the ‘point, nod and smile’ school of ordering when you like the look of something but don’t know what it’s called. If you don’t eat here, pop in for a drink, coffee and cake etc…
Art: Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (CAAC): Check what’s on, and if something tickles your fancy grab a cab to the CAAC. This atmospheric and ambitious gallery combines contemporary architecture with the restrained surrounds of a monastery. There’s also an on-site cafe where you can have a drink and post-art de-brief.
Relax: It’s still hours until you can decently have dinner in this city of night-owls, so at this stage of the afternoon there’s a choice between sneaking in a siesta… or heading to the Arabic baths. Tucked away in the winding alleys of Santa Cruz this 16th century bathhouse known as Aire de Seville is the most beautiful bathhouse we’ve ever seen. Warming in winter, refreshing in summer, the place combines the healing powers of water and the calm of a mediation space with spades of candle-lit Moorish atmosphere at a reasonable price tag. The compulsory bathing suit rule enables mixed sessions so straight couples can have treatments at the same time. Afterwards, chill out in the tea room over a pot of fresh mint mixed with gunpowder. Note: you are advised to book a spot ahead, especially on weekends. And ‘hush!’ you’ll need to be quiet to really soak up the atmosphere.
Drink: Dressed and refreshed after a day of exciting sensations and visual over-stimulation, it seems safe enough to risk an apero around now. Try a bubbling cava, a glass of local sherry or – in summer – tinto de verano at one of Seville’s bars, the one in the plaza…. Our tip is ‘Don’t sweat it’, just meander around until you stumble across a cute local joint bubbling with atmosphere. (It won’t take long!)
Dinner: El Rinconcillo appears in almost all of the guidebooks and there’s a reason for that: its 100% classic Seville. Perch yourself at its 300 year-old bar amid atmospheric mosaic tiling and mahogany panelling galore and sample melt in the mouth iberica jamon, local olives, Russian Salad and whatever else takes your fancy. Your bill will be written in chalk on front of you on the counter so you can get a visual sense of how the evening is evolving.
Walk it off: Given that you can’t hit a bar or club until 2am we figure now is a good time to mosey about and walk off some jamon. Can we suggest you combine said stroll with an ice-cream? We don’t like to over hype but Heladeria Artesana La Fiorentina (Calle Zaragoza 16) has, hands-down, the best ice-cream we’ve ever had. (We’re not the only ones – the owner has a stack of guestbooks featuring glowing reviews from smitten visitors all over the world.) Everyone has their favourite, but for our money, you can’t go wrong with the fresh mint or pine-nut flavours. We’re also fond of the retro decor.
More Drinking: “I’m an atheist, thank God!” A quote by Luis Buñuel provides the motto (and muse) at El Perro Andaluz Sevilla, named for the film by Buñuel and Dali. There’s no flamenco, just surrealist inspired drinking and random acts of creativity. Befriend them on FB and you may be kept abreast of other quirky happenings. In the meantime, we’ll embed the video (see below) so you can get into the mood for drinking, dreaming and the odd hullucination.
Sleeping: hotels we love in Seville, coming up soon…