Game of Thrones addicts – aka virtually the entire adult population of the western world – will doubtless descend on the capital of Andalucía after seeing it (or more precisely the stunning Alcázar Palace) stand in for Sunspear city in the forthcoming fifth season, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit.
Namely, a civilised attitude to life, a compulsive desire to be on the streets at all hours, sensational tapas bars and beautiful North African-style architecture.
1 | Where To Go
Head across the Guadalquivir River to the gypsy quarter and Casa Anselma, the bar of legendary flamenco dancer La Anselma. The eponymous lady operates an idiosyncratic door policy. If you manage to talk your way in, you’ll see flamenco performed just as it should be – passionate, proud and pissed.
2 | Where To Stay
Corral del Rey consists of two converted 17th-century buildings on either side of a narrow alleyway in the city’s old Jewish Quarter, a short walk from the cathedral. The rooms are great, the rooftop plunge pool a winner in summer and the bar as good a place as any to start the evening. The one downside? Come evening’s end, it’s a bugger retracing your steps through the labyrinthine lanes.
After visiting the 15th-century cathedral, pop across the road to La Moneda, which, despite its location, is a local favourite. Try the tapas at the bar or the very good seafood (the swordfish cooked in manzanilla sherry is excellent) and shellfish in the restaurant proper at the back.
4 | Where To Dine
A pretty nondescript looking restaurant in a similarly low-key street, ConTenedor is a classic covers and books case. The schtick involves daily changing menus prepared from whatever organic ingredients the chef can lay claim to and cooked in an open kitchen. Then add minimal-fuss service and a fab Spanish wine list with some hard-to-track-down gems.
5 | What To Do
A proper tapeo or tapas bar crawl. This being Seville, Spanish time applies and supper can wait until late, so tapas is the early evening solution. The bar choice is endless but you should take in at least one of the following: El Rinconcillo (for old-school ambience); Bodeguita Antonio Romero (for the anchovies); or La Pepona (for more modern dishes).
6 | What To See
A bullfight, but first read Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon to gain an insight into what’s really going on. The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (the city’s bullring) is the world’s oldest and hosts fights from Easter to October.
7 | Where To Shop
At Pedro Algaba on Calle Adriano, home to all things bullfighting: there are capes, matadors’ threads and even seat pads for the uncomfy bullring benches.
8 | Where To Drink
Seville has been pagan, Christian, Muslim (with strong Jewish influence) and finally Christian again, and so it’s only right that the city’s best bar oozes irreverent religiosity. El Garlochi (at 26 Calle de los Boteros) is a high camp riot of reliquaries, incense and velvet where you can commune with the signature Blood of Christ cocktail, a devilish combo of vodka, whisky and grenadine.
9 | Where To Party
We’re not sure whether DadáBar is named after the radical art movement that encouraged irrational behaviour, but after a few too many mojitos at this late-night joint on Paseo Cristóbal Colón, irrationality beckons.
10 | Where To Avoid
Thinking that sherry is the preserve of octogenarians and best served at room temperature. It should be drunk chilled and by the gallon when on a tapeo. La Gitana, a drier manzanilla, should be your tipple of choice.
11 | Why Now?
Two weeks after the proto-KKK pointy-hatted weirdness of Santa Semana (Holy Week – Easter, basically), the locals are itching to party, this time at Feria, with five days of flamenco and beer-fuelled festivities. The action takes place from 21–25 April, centred in a marquee village by the river. Befriend social media surfing Sevillans – ideally you need someone to go loco with.
Tom Barber is a founder of award-winning travel site originaltravel.co.uk