Move over Madrid. Try harder Barcelona. According to Lonely Planet, Seville is the Spanish city you absolutely must visit in 2018.
In fact, they’ve named it the number one place to visit in the entire world, beating some seriously big name destinations in the process. Judges applauded Seville’s transformation from a gridlocked metropolis to a pleasant and aspirational city of trams and bikes. It’s a particularly big year for the capital of the Andalusia region – which is set to host the European Film Awards and star as a backdrop in ‘Game of Thrones’.
With so much praise from the experts, a trip to Seville should surely be on the cards. If you’re not quite won over yet, here’s just some of what Seville has to offer in 2018.
Seville’s architectural landmarks may not be as famous as other European cities’, but they easily rival them in scale and grandeur. You’ll find phenomenal buildings almost everywhere you look, but there are a few highlights. Among the most impressive is Plaza de España, a vast semi-circular building that wraps around a beautiful canal.
A couple of blocks away you’ll find the Royal Alcázar of Seville. Set among acres of orchards, fountains and mazes; this medieval Islamic palace showcases the dual influences of Spanish Christian and Moorish architecture at its finest. The Alcázar was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and its upper levels are still used by the royal family to this day.
But greatest of all might just have to be Seville Cathedral. As the third largest church in the world, the scale and intricacy of its architecture is simply mind-blowing.
The city of Seville is a real cultural hub, and this is reflected in its diverse collection of museums. Traditionalists will love the Museum of Fine Arts, which showcases works from medieval times through to the 20th century. Many of Spain’s greatest ever artists are on display here, including those from the so-called ‘golden age’ of Sevillian painting.
History buffs should head for the Archaeological Museum and Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, both on Plaza de America. Together, they tell the rich tale of this area’s human history.
Those wanting something more modern should try the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art, where quirky installations are hidden among traditional architecture and acres of grounds. Over the road, the Pabellon de la Navegacion museum is an eccentric take on a fascinating subject. This interactive attraction focuses on maritime navigation, with exhibits including a sea of 14,000 LED lights and reconstructed ships for you to explore.
Beautiful parks and public spaces
It’s no secret that Spanish cities stand out when it comes to public spaces. Gardens are something of a speciality in this corner of Europe, and Seville is happy to oblige. One not to miss is the Parque Maria Luisa. This large green space is covered by a canopy of exotic trees, hiding follies and tiled fountains beneath. For a truly magical experience, hop aboard a horse and carriage and lie back as you journey through the shady avenues.
Even bigger is the Parque del Alamillo. Out to the city’s north and flanked by the river, it’s the perfect place for a lazy afternoon picnic or an early-evening jog. It lies at the tip of La Cartuja, a peninsula created by the river and canal which hosted the World Expo in 92. This means you’ll find many of Seville’s modern architectural gems in walking distance, such as the Alamillo Bridge and the La Cartuja Stadium.
But perhaps the most fascinating of Seville’s public spaces is a fellow modern effort. Dominating the Plaza de la Encarnación is the other-worldly formation known as the Metropol Parasol. Named ‘the mushrooms’ by locals due to their bizarre shape, this vast public installation is thought to be the largest wooden structure in the world. Visitors can climb atop the parasol along a guided walkway, taking in skyline views of the city as they go.
Extraordinary food and buzzing nightlife
No trip to Spain would be complete without tapas. But just in case it isn’t your thing, you’ll be delighted to know Seville’s culinary offering is rich and diverse. For a delectable range of Mediterranean dishes, head to Sacamuelas at the heart of the city, where octopus is top of the menu – though the croquettes are an equally delicious and slightly more familiar choice.
For a twist on tapas as you know it, head to Chifa Tapas, slightly north of the city core. This incredible restaurant fuses the Spanish style of eating and locally-sourced produce with Japanese and Latin-American menu favourites.
When you’re finally stuffed full with Andalusian fare, a round of cocktails should be in order. If you like your spirits with a view, make tracks for Bar Panoramico la Terraza de EME. This bar’s roof terrace lies in the shadow of the cathedral, which is spectacularly illuminated come nightfall.
Those who love ultra-sleek and super-chic surrounds can’t miss Boston Cocktail Bar – right in the thick of the action, it also boasts a roof terrace. In complete contrast, you’ll find an authentic experience at Tablao Flamenco El Arenal. Here, you’ll be treated to an intimate Flamenco show as you enjoy a beer or two, in the very city where this style of music and dance originated.
See all this and more when you take a trip to Lonely Planet’s number one city for 2018. You could be there sooner than you think, with flights to Seville from Manchester Airport.
Fly direct from Manchester to Seville with Ryanair.