Five years ago Sevilla stole my heart, but since then I've been taken by many other cities (including Tarragona, Ostia Antica, Sitges, and Segovia), so I couldn't wait to go back and see if Sevilla would live up to the pedestal I'd placed it upon. It did.
There's something about this city that makes me feel calm, like I'm exactly where I need to be. It's part of the reason I can never call it Seville. To me, that name does it no justice while Sevilla depicts the beautiful place that it is. It makes no sense that I love it so much, really, since it's one of the largest cities in Spain and it doesn't have access to the coast, but it does have Plaza de España, the Alcazar, flamenco, tapas galore, Tinto de Verano, outdoor patios on every corner, and the most relaxed way of life I've ever experienced.
For my visit this time around I went big and spent three very full days in Sevilla, but for you I'll boil it down to one perfect day. I promise that if you follow this itinerary, you'll fall in love too.
Breakfast at Seville's up and coming Torch Coffee
Start your morning bright and early down by the river at Torch Coffee with a perfectly crafted cup of joe and an Andalusian breakfast specialty, a tostada (which is basically a toasted french roll with your choice of a number of delicious toppings). Torch opens at 8AM and you should arrive before 9AM to get your day started ahead of the crowds.
A Self-Guided Tour at The Alcazar
Once you're properly fueled, head up to the cathedral area, snap some photos before anyone else is around, and head into the Alcazar at 9:30AM. Unless you want to wait in line and risk tickets being sold out, spend the extra euro and book your ticket in advance. Then you'll hop in the short line at the Lion's Gate's entrance opposite the cathedral, and be one of the first visitors inside. Spend some time wandering the indoor section of the oldest European royal palace that is still in use (the upper levels are still used by the royal family!) and make sure to take in all of the incredible tiling detail.
My recommendation is to visit all of the indoor areas of the Alcazar while the palace is still quiet and before the sun is shinning its full glory on the garden areas. Once you've had your fill of man-made beauty, head outside into nature's beauty.
Spend time enjoying each of the unique garden areas.
If you're inclined, relax with a book or grab a café con leche at the small cafeteria. Make sure to find one of the many peacocks roaming the area and enjoy all of the bird's songs.
Enjoy the Sevilla Cathedral from a Rooftop
Now it's time to see Sevilla's Cathedral from a new vantage point (no, not inside, save your 9€ for tapas). Exit the Alcazar and head to the terrace bar at Sevilla's oldest hotel, Doña Maria, which opens at 1PM.
Typical travel advice states that you should get as far away from tourist attractions as possible when heading for food or drinks, but the Doña Maria Hotel is an exception. From their rooftop terrace you'll enjoy a snack, a beverage of your choice, and a stunning view of the Giralda bell tower at only a slight premium for the view. If you don't hang out here forever, it won't break the bank. Just get a drink or two, enjoy the view, and move on.
Lunch at Sevilla's Feria Market
For lunch you're headed to Sevilla's oldest market in the Macarena District on Calle Feria, which is more a series of stalls surrounding narrow alleyways than some of the more modern Spanish markets. Within its walls you'll find your standard fruit, vegetable, and meat stalls as well as a hole in the wall restaurant called Bar La Cantina. You're not going to find tourists here and you won't find an english menu, but the food is ridiculously good and ridiculously cheap, so befriend google translate or just point and hope for the best. Order at the bar, they'll call your name as dishes are ready, and they'll keep track of your tab via dry erase marker on the tiles lining the counter.
Relax at Plaza de España
Alright, so you've made it through lunch, which couldn't have cost you more than 15€ (if you're stuffed and maybe a little tipsy), so walk it off by heading to my absolute favorite place in Sevilla, Plaza de España. You're welcome to take a bus over there, but it won't save you any time, just some energy. Once you've arrived, it's time to relax again (because I know it's been a strenuous day...). Find the perfect photos ops and hang out on the stairs, benches, or among the pillars. Wander through the park, sit among the palms and orange trees, watch the ducks, and take in all of the gorgeous architecture.
Head to Triana for Flamenco
Make sure to find the perfect spot for sunset and once the sun is down, head over to the “other” side of Sevilla where the riff-raff play. Kidding. Sort of. Triana is across the river and it used to be a “rougher” neighborhood, which now means it's where the artists live and where everyone goes for the best nightlife. It also just so happens to have the best views of the city, so I recommend grabbing a place to sit and eat along Calle Betis with a view out over the water towards the Torre de Oro and Cathedral.
Now a day in Sevilla wouldn't be complete without flamenco, and lucky for you, there are many performance venues in Triana. Most famously, there's Casa Anselma (Calle Pages del Corro 49, 41004), which is free, but home to the venue's notorious namesake who will make sure you're ordering drinks the duration of your visit. Feel free to check it out, but if it's not your scene, there are loads of other flamenco bars in the area.
Whew! Your perfect day is done, and I promise you'll sleep well. Hopefully you have more than a day in Sevilla and tomorrow you can sleep in and explore more (I highly recommend Las Setas, renting a bike, Rayas ice cream, and La Carbonería). Have you been to Sevilla? What are your favorite spots?
P.S. If you missed the walking map link above, here it is again.