A Seville city break gives you stunning Moorish architecture and Europe’s largest gothic cathedral. There’s extraordinary tapas, a passion for flamenco and plenty of pretty parks for energetic kids. Or you could just hire bikes for a breath of riverside air or even climb up some giant wooden mushrooms. Kim Jones finds things to do in Seville are practically limitless, any time of year.
Known as the frying pan of Spain for a reason, Seville sizzles in searing sunshine and scorching temperatures for most of the year. However, expect the mercury to rise upwards of 40° in summer, when it often vies with Athens for Europe’s hottest city award.
So you’ll want to time your visit with kids carefully. Spring, autumn or winter are probably the best times for a Seville city break, that way you should be able to explore without overheating and wearing everyone out. Plus, as the city’s super-easy to explore on foot, we managed to pack a lot into our springtime visit from our base in the medieval Santa Cruz district, right at the heart of the central old town.
Don’t miss the Metropol Parasol on your Seville city break
Also known as Las Setas de Sevilla or the Mushrooms of Seville, this is the largest wooden structure in the world. Inspired by the vaults of Seville’s Cathedral and the huge Ficus trees in Plaza de San Pedro, the mushrooms are constructed from 3,500 pieces of Finnish pine joined by almost 3,000 knots and 16 million screws and nails.
But the best bit? You can walk along the footbridges at the top of the structure. From viewing platforms there, you’ll get a gorgeous 360 degree viewpoint of the city sprawling below. Time your visit at sunset to see Seville’s historic buildings bathed in a golden glow, followed by an ‘aurora’ coloured lightshow on the mushrooms. It’s where multicoloured bulbs in the construction flash and pulse in different patterns every night.
You can also book onto the ‘Feeling Sevilla’ experience – an immersive 360 degree film which takes you on a bird’s-eye view tour of Seville, complete with sounds, sights and smells – think orange blossom and incense.
Feel the city’s passion for everything Flamenco
Flamenco shows aren’t for the fainthearted! Smaller children may be alarmed by the sheer noise, passion and fervour of an up close and personal show, so save this Seville city break experience for older kids or teenagers.
We were bowled over by a performance at Tabloa La Cantaora where you’re served a traditional Andalusia meal while being treated to a completely spontaneous performance given by world renowned flamenco artists, performed just as it was once was in 19th century Sevillian music halls.
Bag a Seville city break bargain at Feria Street flea market
A messy medley of all sorts of stuff for sale that rummagers will relish, this Thursday flea market is the oldest in Seville.
In fact it’s been around since the 13th century, and today’s packed stalls selling everything from antiques and bric-a-brac to movie posters. The vintage clothes are browse-heaven for sustainable-fashion conscious teens and plenty of toy stalls overflowing with LEGO and Playmobil keep younger ones happy too.
Climb up La Giralda then catch the Cathedral
You can’t visit Seville without calling in at its cathedral! It’s a truly beautiful building that took over 100 years to construct and is the largest gothic cathedral in the world.
First climb the 104 metre La Giralda bell tower. There are no stairs. Instead, you ascend on 35 winding ramps, built wide enough to accommodate guards mounted on horses or donkeys. At the top of the tower, get your breath back and you’re rewarded with immense views. Time it right to hear the bells ring out while you’re next to them. Is 12 noon good for you?
The cathedral itself is awe-inspiring, with flamboyant vaulted ceilings, an amazing gold altarpiece, plus the extraordinary tomb of Christopher Columbus.
There are numerous showpiece artworks, statues and paintings to be found in the side chapels and vestries, including some by Murillo and Goya. Challenge kids to find El Lagarto – a stuffed crocodile that hangs from the ceiling near La Giralda. Like all major attractions on our Seville city break, we booked ahead for the cathedral and strongly suggest you do too.
Pop over to Plaza de Espana
This beautiful semi-circular ‘square’ is surrounded by sweeping grand buildings built in Renaissance and Moorish styles for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929.
Walk around the balconies and catch impromptu flamenco shows. Then explore the 48 alcoves surrounding the plaza, each decorated with colourful ceramic tiled frescoes illustrating a different province of Spain.
Alternatively, hire a rowing boat to sail around the moat which circles the plaza. Not up for that much upper body work? Kids will be just as happy racing around the fountain in the middle of the square, getting sprinkled with cool water depending on which direction the wind is blowing.