Spain's most romantic city has something for everyone, from historical landmarks and quaint neighbourhoods to vibrant nightlife and up-and-coming gastrobars.
Living in Seville means having access to many of the amenities of a more cosmopolitan city like Madrid or Barcelona, 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 modern dining options.
The famous flamenco, bullfighting and tapas are hallmarks of Seville, while affordable rent, fantastic weather and oodles of cultural offerings make it a place that many expats come to call 'dulce hogar dulce' – home sweet home.
Shopping in Seville
Seville is a fashionista's paradise. The main shopping streets, Sierpes and Tetuán, are pedestrian friendly and feature international brands such as H&M and Camper cheek by jowl with Spanish fashion houses like Mango, Desigual and Adolfo Dominguez.
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 Triana stands out, with food vendors selling everything from fresh produce and saffron packets to pig heads.
Eating out in Seville
Seville is the home of tapas. Indeed, these tiny dishes are the city's culinary hallmark and a part of its dining culture that should not be missed. Another interesting feature is the daily Menú del Día. For a reasonable fixed price, diners can have a starter, main course, dessert, bread and a drink.
For traditional dishes, expats should venture a little further from the city's main attractions. Buried deep in the heart of the more traditional barrios are loads of food gems. Bares de tapas are traditional tapas bars, restaurantes and mesones are sit-down restaurants where one can order full or half-ration dishes, and pastelerías are pastry shops.
Gastrobars, which offer a spin on traditional dishes, have become increasingly popular in Seville. Look for them in Triana, near the Cathedral and in the Macarena neighbourhood.
International food is less popular in the Hispalense capital, though there are a few good Italian and Moroccan restaurants. American eateries are becoming popular dining options, too.
VAT 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 consistently appears on lists of top places to party in Spain. Drinks are relatively cheap 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. While the flamenco in Seville tends to be geared towards tourists, some of the smaller peñas (clubs) that welcome student flamenco performers are often more authentic.
Seville boasts everything from pubs to clubs and outdoor music terraces. For the best nightlife spots, we recommend checking out the Alameda and the riverfront for summertime terrace bars. El Arenal is well known for fancy cocktail bars that attract relaxed and dressed-down crowds, while Calle Betis caters for Seville’s student population.
Rooftop bars are also becoming quite popular in Seville to better enjoy the famously good weather and the breathtaking views of the city, particularly at night.
Sports and outdoor activities in Seville
Seville is home to many parks and botanical gardens where nature lovers can easily take a break from the bustle of city life. There are plenty of green spaces to choose from in Seville, but our favourites are Parque de María Luisa and Alamillo Park.
Thanks to the presence of the Guadalquivir River, boat rides, rowing and kayaking adventures are also on offer in Seville. And, while golf, basketball and horse riding are popular sporting activities in the city, there’s no avoiding the football hype. Whether expats play football themselves or prefer to watch matches on TV at a local bar or live at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, Seville is a football fan’s dream.
See and do in Seville
There's a multitude of things for expats to see and do in Seville. Below is a list of our favourites.
Alcázar of Seville
Originally this royal palace was a Moorish fort, but visitors can now marvel at the mosaic walls, wander around the well-kept gardens, and even play hide and seek in a bush maze. There’s free entry to the Royal Alcázar for Sevillianos.
Alfalfa, Alameda, and Triana barrios
These barrios (neighbourhoods) are the most popular with Sevillianos and expats for tapas and beers in the evenings. There are plenty of places to eat, dance, and practise Spanish.
Barrio Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is a barrio in the heart of the city. Also known as the Jewish quarter, it is one of the most romantic spots in Seville. Expats can wine and dine in traditional bars, wander through the quaint plazas and cobbled streets, or have churros, a fried doughy mixture, for breakfast.
Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Seville Cathedral)
Completed in the 16th century, this Gothic cathedral is the central point of Seville. Expats can see the whole city from the Giralda tower, pose for photos on the orange patio, and explore the nooks and crannies of this astonishing building. The tomb of the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus, is also here.
Expats can feel the duende – the magic of flamenco – in various tablaos, or places where flamenco is performed. One of the many popular venues with expats, mainly because of the show’s authenticity, is La Carboneria.
Stroll along Seville’s river, the Guadalquivir, stopping for tapas or a drink, visiting the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold), or catching a ferry or pedalo. On the far side of the river along the Canal de Alfonso XIII, is Calle Betis, a great spot for evening drinks.
Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bella Artes)
Apart from the lovely square in front of this wonderful building where you can watch tango performances on some evenings, the museum stages regular exhibitions. The museum is one of the most important in Andalusia and has exhibits from the medieval period to the 20th century.
Plaza de España
Plaza de España is one of the top landmarks in the country and one of the most picturesque public places to hang out in Seville. Each region in Spain is represented by a tiled plaque, and this spot offers views over the adjoining María Luisa Park.
Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium
Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium is the home stadium of the city's football club, Sevilla FC. It's perhaps not quite up there with the spectacular stadiums of Real Madrid or Barcelona, but expats can still watch an exciting game of football here.
What's on in Seville
The Andalusia Day/Dia De La Andalucia (February)
An annual event since the 1980 referendum that led to Andalusia becoming an autonomous community from Spain, Andalusia Day festivities include enjoying a traditional breakfast of orange juice and olive oil toast, a variety of cultural competitions throughout the day, and live music at bars.
Seville April Fair (April)
The spring fair usually takes place during the first week of April, following Semana Santa. This festival involves copious amounts of eating, drinking, socialising and dancing from the early afternoon into the small hours. The fair is opened in true Spanish style with a parade around the fairground on horseback or in carriages.
Corpus Christi (June)
As a largely Catholic community, Seville hosts many religious parades, including the annual Corpus Christi procession in June. The festivities carry on for almost a week and conclude with a religious procession from Catedral de Sevilla featuring aromatic herbs and multiple floats along the parade route.
La Bienal de Flamenco (September/October)
Perhaps the most exciting event on the city’s calendar, this biannual celebration of flamenco music, poetry and dance brightens the streets of Seville for over three weeks. Since 1980, the festival has celebrated all modalities of flamenco, which is said to have originated in southern Spain.
La fiesta de la virgen de la inmaculada (December)
Translating to ‘The Immaculate Conception of The Virgin Mary’, this feast marks the beginning of Seville’s Christmas celebrations. The festivities include the Seises dance, choir performances at Plaza de Triumfo and additional religious services at the cathedral.
►Learn more about life in the city in Pros and Cons of Moving to Seville
"What I love most is the ability to be outdoors for most of the year, the wonderful museums and cultural events that the city hosts, cheap cost of living and entertainment, and that Seville is large enough to have all of this but small enough to feel manageable." Find out more about Cat's experience of life in Seville in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Seville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Seville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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