by Fiona Flores-Watson, The Telegraph, November 6, 2018
Seville is all about astonishing architecture, from Gothic and Mudejar (Muslim style, built for Christian rulers), to Renaissance and Baroque, sometimes all in the same building. After you’ve visited the world-famous attractions, like the Cathedral and Alcazar, try a flamenco or tile-making class, or take an electric scooter-bike tour. In summer, when the temperature soars, be sure to book a boat tour or an evening, rooftop concert.
Climb the minaret of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral
If it’s your first visit, Seville Cathedral is a must-see, if only to marvel at Columbus’ tomb, held aloft by knights from the four kingdoms of old Spain. Climb up the Giralda belltower, formerly the minaret of the mosque that stood here – the views over the Jewish Quarter and the next-door Alcazar are spectacular.
Insider's tip: Buy your ticket at nearby El Salvador church, and then slip to the front of the queue. Also, the children’s audio guide is shorter, and more palatable for many than the adult version (20-odd points as opposed to 40), featuring the best bits.
Contact: 00 34 902 099 692; catedraldesevilla.es
Opening times: Mon, 11am-3.30pm; Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm; Sun, 2.30-6pm
Time-travel to Moorish Seville
Take a virtual trip back in time to the era of the Romans, Moors, or 17th-century Seville. Past View Experience's ingenious and fun system (kids love it) consists of smart glasses using Augmented Reality plus a touchpad. You go to various key locations of the city, such as the Torre del Oro, Plaza San Francisco, Metropol Parasol, and the cathedral, where you watch virtual reconstructions of your surroundings, while historic characters tell you about their lives.
Insider's tip: Brush up beforehand on Cervantes, and what happened to him while he was living in Seville, to get more out of this experience.
Contact: 00 34 954 326 646; pastviewexperience.com
Opening times: See website for details
Watch a flamenco show in a market
These days, markets are so much more than a local place to buy your fresh fruit and veg. The riverside Triana Market is built on top of Castillo San Jorge, the seat of the Spanish Inquisition and as well as eyeballing the extraordinary sea snails and tasting jamón ibérico, you can watch flamenco in the micro-theatre (seats 28), have tapas or sushi, nibble on pretty pastries, and even take a cooking class.
Insider's tip: At weekends there's a craft fair down by the river, just outside the market, with stalls selling handmade jewellery, bags and accessories.
Contact: 00 34 674 074 099; mercadodetrianasevilla.com
Opening times: Mon to Sat, 9am-12am; Sun, 12pm-5pm
Take a night-time tour of the Jewish Quarter
Seville had a substantial Jewish population until the end of the 15th century. Learn about Sephardic (Iberian-Jewish) customs at the small Juderia Interpretation Centre, which has a fascinating exhibition about Jewish life in medieval Seville, telling stories of important local figures. From the centre, you can also take the two-hour long Juderia tour which explores the Jewish Quarter and shows you where old synagogues were located (parts of some still remain); it’s even more atmospheric at night.
Insider's tip: If you don’t do this tour, it’s worth going into the underground car park at Jardines de Murillo, where there’s a Jewish tomb behind a glass wall – this entire area used to be a cemetery outside the city walls.
Contact: 00 34 954 047 089; juderiadesevilla.es
Opening times: 11am-7pm
Sail up the river in a silent electric boat
Get a different perspective on the city by heading down to the river, especially in the height of Seville's intense summer when it’s slightly cooler on the water. Glide up the Guadalquivir in one of Guadaluxe’s two electric boats, carrying up to 11 people – the route is from Puente de las Delicias, past the Torre del Oro, bullring and Expo 1992 site, up to the Puente del Alamillo.
Insider's tip: The boat can pick up and drop off from any of six docks along the river, from Triana all the way down to the Aquarium.
Contact: 00 34 661 278 826; guadaluxe.com
Opening times: 10am-sunset (or 11pm in summer)
Go to a rooftop concert
A number of venues hold outdoor concerts on roof terraces on hot summer evenings, when the best spot to catch any breeze is as high up as possible. One of the best, operating year-round, is Pura Vida Bar at the Hotel Fontecruz Sevilla Seises near the cathedral - catch the flamenco every weekend, with a Giralda backdrop, at this beach bar-vibe roof terrace.
Insider's tip: You can also use the hotel’s gorgeous rooftop pool, next to the bar, for a fee – morning, afternoon or all-day session, with sunbed, towel and mojito included – just be sure to reserve in advance.
Contact: 00 34 954 229 495; fontecruzhoteles.com
Openings times: Mon-Thurs, 3pm-10pm; Fri-Sun, 2.30pm-1am. Concerts: Sat and Sun, 5pm in winter; around 9pm in summer
Paint your own ceramic tile in Triana
The boho barrio of Triana is also known for its azulejos (ceramic tiles), which adorn the interiors of Seville’s churches, houses, hotels, bars and restaurants. You can make your own to take home at pottery studio Barro Azul. Paint tiles using traditional designs and channel your inner Demi Moore to make a pot on the wheel. You can also paint a fan.
Insider's tip: A few steps away is the little-known Centro Ceramica de Triana, where you can learn how tiles were made in the early 20th century, and see the kilns used to fire ceramics centuries ago.
Contact: 00 34 656 694 519; barroazul.es
Opening times: Mon-Thurs, 10.30-1.30pm, 5-8pm, other days by arrangement (reserve in advance)
Delve into a duchess’ life
The pretty Las Dueñas was the preferred abode – out of about 30 – of the late Duchess of Alba, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart (she was descended from King James I of England). The world’s most-titled aristocrat was a huge fan of all things Sevillano – Semana Santa, Feria, bullfighting, and Betis football club. You can see inside her house, complete with personal mementoes, framed family photos and poems, which sit alongside magnificent tapestries and artworks (she was a keen collector), private chapel, magnificent Mudejar patio, and lemon tree-filled garden, which famously inspired poet Antonio Machado to compose a piece about his childhood spent there.
Insider's tip: Look out for all the representations of the Duchess around the house – paintings, sculptures and photographs, especially the colour photo of her dancing flamenco.
Contact: 00 34 954 214 828; lasduenas.es
Opening times: April-September, 10am-8pm; October-March, 10am-6pm.
Learn flamenco with Eva
Flamenco is one of the trickiest dances to master – get a tantalising taster with the charismatic Eva’s introduction to flamenco class. At a professional studio in gypsy barrio Triana, she’ll take you through all the rhythms, from tango to seguiriya, with clapping, dance steps and arm movements, so by the end you’ll dance a short routine yourself. She even provides flamenco shoes, skirts, shawls and flower (men get a cropped jacket and shawl), so you look and feel the part.
Insider's tip: Eva can take you to authentic local bars to meet her flamenco friends for an evening of spontaneous singing and dancing.
Contact: 00 34 626 007 868; ishowusevilla.com
Opening times: Mon to Sat, hours by arrangement
Go green in Maria Luisa Park
Sevillanos love their electric scooters, but it’s also a fun way for visitors (especially children) to explore the city. Zip off to Parque Maria Luisa with Surf the City’s charmingly laid-back yet knowledgeable guides on their electric scooter-bikes (low platform with bike wheels). Minimum effort, maximum reward as you head along the bougainvillea-lined avenues leading to magnificent Plaza de España, centrepiece of the 1929 Ibero-American Fair.
Insider's tip: Younger children aged up to eight can ride on a scooter with an adult – eight or nine-year-olds should try out the scooters first to see if they want to ride their own.
Contact: 00 34 693 261 910; surfthecity.es
Opening times: Mon to Sat, 10am-7.30pm