Lifestyle in Seville

The saying goes that the people of Seville's living room is the street. At any hour of the day, the streets of the southern capital are bustling with people, bars spilling out patrons onto cobblestone streets. Spain's most romantic city has a little bit of everything for everyone – from historical landmarks to up-and-coming gastrobars to quaint neighbourhoods, which is why so many expats make up its colourful community.

Living in Seville means having many of the amenities a more cosmopolitan city like Madrid or Barcelona would have, but with a small-town feel. The central neighbourhoods are compact and retain an old-world charm, despite the inception of a Soho-like trend and change in dining options. Still, the flamenco, bullfighting and dark-featured sevillanos are hallmarks of Seville, and cheaper rent, better weather and oodles of cultural offerings make it a place that many foreigners come to call dulce hogar dulce – their home sweet home.

Those seeking a full-time job in Seville will likely not find it, as Spain is deep into a financial crisis, and this makes teaching English an attractive option. Painters, writers and the like are also common among the ever-changing expat community. Regardless, the vibrancy of life in Seville makes it a worthwhile spot to consider long-term stays.

Shopping in Seville

Seville is a fashionista's paradise, and the main shopping streets, Sierpes and Tetuán, are pedestrian friendly and only steps away from attractions, hotels and dining. Flanked by brand names like H&M and Camper, shoppers can also find Spanish fashion houses like Mango, Desigual and Adolfo Dominguez. State-mandated sales happen each year in January, February, July and August.

Seville is also a special place to buy gifts. Known in the Spanish fashion market for trajes de gitana, the colourful, ruffled flamenco dresses. Seville is home to top moda flamenca designers who roll out their designs for the dozens of local fairs during the spring and summer months. Francos and Puente y Pellón are the most popular streets to pick up dresses, hand-embroidered shawls, accessories and shoes.

Other popular gifts include ceramics from the Triana neighbourhood, hand-painted fans, hand-sewn shawls and veils, olive oil, and old-world bullfighting posters.

What's more, food markets and artisan fairs in Seville are wonderful ways to glimpse how sevillanos socialise and do their shopping. The Mercado de Abastos de Triana stands out, with food vendors selling everything from produce to saffron packets to pig heads (Plaza del Altozano, open Monday to Saturday, 8am–2pm). There's a lovely Sunday morning art fair in front of the Museo de Bellas Artes, and the El Jueves flea market on Calle Feria (Thursdays from about 9am–2pm) is loads of fun.

Eating out in Seville

Seville's latest campaign is to be known as the city of the tapa, and is even appealing to UNESCO for World Heritage status (which it already has for the historical gems in the city centre). Indeed, these tiny dishes, ranging in price from 1–4 euro are the city's culinary hallmark – and a part of its dining culture that should not be missed.

An another interesting note is the daily “Menú del Día”. For a fixed price, you can eat a starter, main course, dessert, bread and a drink for 7–12 euro. Free tapas are not as common in Seville as they are in other cities in Spain.

For traditional dishes, venture a little bit further outside of the city's attractions. Buried deep in the heart of the more traditional barrios, there are loads of food gems. Bares de tapas are traditional tapas bars, restaurantes and mesones are sit-down restaurants where you can order full- or half-ration dishes, and pastelerías are pastry shops.

Seville is undergoing a huge change in dining preferences as gastrobars become more and more popular. These options offer a spin on traditional dishes, as well as prices. Look for them in Triana, near the Cathedral and in the Macarena neighbourhood.

Ethnic food is not very popular in the Hispalense capital, though there are a few good Italian restaurants and places with a bit of Moroccan cuisine. American eateries are becoming popular dining options, too.

VAT tax is included in all restaurants in Seville, and leaving a tip, called a propina, is not necessary. In most cases, patrons round off the bill.

Nightlife in Seville

Seville constantly appears on lists of top places to party in Spain. Drinks are considerably cheaper and patrons can find a little bit of everything within walking distance of the city's attractions.

Flamenco has been a staple of sevillano culture for decades. To check out a show – or any show, for that matter – pick up El Giraldillo. This monthly pamphlet is your ticket to know what's going on in cities all over the south of Spain. While the flamenco in Seville tends to be geared towards tourists, some of the smaller peñas that welcome students learning flamenco to perform in front of a crowd are often more authentic.

Seville boasts everything from bares de copas to pubs to discos and outdoor music terraces. For the best nightlife spots, check out the Alameda for a more relaxed, dress-down crowd, the area known as El Arenal for fancy cocktail bars, Calle Betis for student bars and the riverfront for summertime terrace bars.

Rooftop bars are also becoming quite popular in Seville for the weather and the breath-taking views of the city, particularly at night. Many can be found in hotels near the Cathedral, Plaza Nueva of the Alameda.

Expect to pay between 1 and 3 euro for a beer or sangria, 5 and 8 euro for a mixed drink and 3 and 4 euro for a glass of wine.

Cat Gaa Our Expat Expert

Chicago girl living and working as a teacher in Seville, Spain, since 2007. Check out my blog, Sunshine and Siestas.

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