48 scenic hours in Seville

Inspires contributor Simon Heptinstall took a 48-hour trip to Andalusia to experience the best of this remarkable city.

Is Seville the perfect city break for a weekend away or as a stop on a road trip through the beautiful Andalusian province? Southern Spain’s capital offers sunny escapes in any season – and there’s much more to see and do than just oranges and flamenco.

Cover image credit: Simon Heptinstall

Day one

It’s easy to find amazing ancient attractions and tick off the biggest historic landmarks in Seville by strolling the pedestrianised cobbled streets and alleys of the old centre.

A great place to start is the Arabian Royal Palace, Real Alcazar – a labyrinth of arched Moorish courtyards with exotic gardens, raised marble walkways and ornate tiled decorations. A beautiful reminder of Seville’s, and Spain’s, diverse past.

Nearby is the Gothic Cathedral, one of the world’s biggest churches. Walking into the cavernous interior to be confronted by massive pillars and the distant altar (itself almost 100ft high) is an awe-inspiring moment.

Giralda Tower and the Cathedral Seville

Alongside it is the Giralda tower. Once Spain’s highest structure – originally a minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville – it serves as a marvellous eagle-eye viewpoint over the city. Thankfully it’s easy to climb because it has a spiral ramp rather than steps; during medieval times worshippers often rose to the top on horses.

Find lunch at one of the old quarter’s busy pavement cafes then glimpse inside the city hall, Casa Consistorial. Intricate carvings and paintings demonstrate how Renaissance Seville gathered great wealth on the back of gold from the New World.

The streets are famously lined with orange trees. There are 40,000 of them and the Seville council collects the fruit to sell to UK marmalade producers.

Orange trees on Seville streets

Some of the 40,000 orange trees in Seville/Image credit: Simon Heptinstall

Try popping into any church doorways you pass. For example, the seemingly normal baroque Divino Salvador church has a gold encrusted interior with a high gallery walkway offering a memorable bird’s-eye view.

End the day by discovering why Seville is now considered one of Europe’s top gastronomic destinations. For more than 60 years the gloriously old-fashioned Casa Robles restaurant has perfected traditional Andalusian cuisine like its thick gazpacho soup.

Day two

It’s time to enjoy the more dynamic personality of modern Seville. Wake yourself up at the extraordinary Las Setas. This crazy series of massive wooden ‘mushrooms’ in an old square form the world’s biggest wooden structure. They link to form a curved platform above the rooftops. Take a lift to the top for a windswept walkway with brilliant views.

Recover with a quiet browse of the latest exhibition at Seville’s acclaimed art gallery. The Museum of Belles Artes has one of Spain’s best painting collections.

Inside the Museo de Bellas Artes/Image credit: Simon Heptinstall

Have lunch somewhere stylish, like one of the four classy contemporary La Azotea bistros across the city.

La Azotea Bistro/Image credit: Simon Heptinstall

Once revitalised, tackle something more active. Traditionalists choose horse carriage rides or riverboat trips – but how about a fun Segway tour from the Plaza Espana? You’ll whizz from its fountains and grand architecture across the river to Triana, a more edgy district whose small bars are the birthplace of flamenco.

Afterwards, walk back through the busy shopping district. Among seriously cool fashion and designer boutiques, spot fun souvenirs like flamenco dresses, decorated fans and mysterious religious icons.

People walking on a bridge in the sunset

Puente Triana/Image credit: Simon Heptinstall

The finale is a visit to Museo de Baile Flamenco, an atmospheric shrine to the study, preservation and performance of Seville’s greatest art form. First, an expert gives you a dance lesson in front of a humiliatingly huge mirror. The combination of stamping, clapping and dancing in rhythm seems almost impossible, making the following intimate performance by the real dancers and musicians seem even more impressive. It’s so powerful and emotional some audiences are moved to tears.

Flamenco dancer with a colourful dress in darkness

Dancer at the Museo de Baile Flamenco/Image credit: Simon Heptinstall

End your Seville break not in a hushed restaurant studying a tourist menu, but in a crowded local bar, capturing the spirit of this unique lively city by sharing a selection of tapas. There’s no rush – in Seville, the night always lasts well into the early hours.

Seville river at night/Simon Heptinstall

To learn more about Seville and its food culture, read our piece around Seville’s evolving tapas scene.