Not everyone has the luxury of spending weeks or months getting to know Seville. For many it’s a whistle stop tour that barely makes it beyond the steps of the giralda, a dodgy plate of paella and a jug of warm sangria. Believe me, this is not Seville.
If you’re short on time and want to get a real feel for the city, it is possible to penetrate deeper than the sanitised, syrupy version that the tourist office sells you. It’s just a matter of planning in advance and in some cases, shedding out some cash.
So here are my top 5 hacks to get the most out of an express visit to Seville.
Do a tapas tour
I was always a bit sniffy about tapas tours as they seemed a bit over priced and just too much for tourists. But if you’re new to Spanish cuisine or just landed in town, I think they are a brilliant way to get your bearings, both for the layout of the city and the local food and culture. I’ve tried out both We Love Tapas and Devour Seville Tours and can’t recommend them highly enough.
2. Learn to make the local grub
In a similar vein there’s an awful lot to be learned about a city from how they make their local dishes. I’ve been living in Seville for six years now, but I was ashamed by my limited repertoire of traditional favourites. So I was delighted when I got invited to the Taller Andaluz de Cocina in Triana Market.
There are a few tapas courses in the city now, but this one ticks lots of boxes. For one it takes place in a couple of old market stalls which have been converted into an open plan, modern kitchen on a scale that can cater to groups of up to 16 people. It also helps that they have as resident chef Victor Silvestre, who has worked in Michelin star restaurants and has the patience and good humour of a ‘santo’. I loved his really cool cooking tips which are applicable to all cuisine, not just tapas.
If you do a workshop in the morning, you also get to cruise through Triana market buying the fresh ingredients, which adds an authentic element to the experience. And there’s no need to jot down lots of notes. A full set of recipes will wing their way into your inbox the following day.
Another company offering tapas workshops is Not Just a Tourist which is convenient if you’re staying closer to the Alameda.
3. Download Google Trips
I have a love/hate relationship with mobile phone apps and feel the more time we spend staring at our phones, the less human we become. But they do have their uses and Google has just launched its own definitive City guide called Google Trips, in which yours truly has been involved in compiling the content. So expect plenty of good tips on off the beaten track places, as well as the ‘all you need to know’ information usually found in guide books.
4. Read a blog
This isn’t just a matter of self promotion, but doing a bit of research beforehand through a local blog can make all the difference. Be sure to also check the Facebook page as in my case, even when I haven’t posted a blog post recently, you will find info on gigs and cultural events on my Facebook page. If you’re in Seville and have a family, check out Scribbler in Seville for great kid-friendly ideas.
5. Stay in an Airbnb
This is a great option if you’re travelling alone, as there’s no better direct access to local knowledge then someone who lives in the city. Most people renting out rooms through Airbnb to tourists love sharing their passion for the city, but it’s always good to check comments made by previous guests.
For more ideas about what to do if you’re in town just for the weekend check out my 48 hours in Seville guide.
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I like your blog but would you consider removing recommendations for AirBnB? We’ve seen what it’s done to BCN and to Palma, and now it’s creeping across Seville.
AirBnB sees rents raised, once quiet barrios thronged with tourists, locals being turfed out of their homes and young people forced out of the housing market. It depresses the hospitality and restaurant sectors and deludes travellers into thinking they’ll be welcomed if they try to ‘live like a local.’
There’s nothing wrong with living like a tourist.
Hi Chris, thanks for your comments, just sent you a private message. The airbnb debate is definitely a very relevant one, but I think the problem has sprung from professional landlords renting out properties using airbnb, either as existing holiday lets, or instead of doing it on a more long term basis. I do think there is a place for the sharing economy aspect – ie renting out a room you aren’t using, which is mutually beneficial to the host and the traveller. Just my thoughts, but I understand both sides.