Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look each week at a great holiday theme, and does all the work so you don’t have to. This week: short breaks in Seville.
Seville is set to rival glamorous influencers like Paris and Venice as one of the most popular tourist destinations of the year.
Google revealed that the sunny Spanish city is currently the most searched-for flight-only destination, with travelers drawn to its mix of grand cathedrals, royal palaces, flamenco shows, orange trees, and oversized sculptures.
“Seville is perfect for long weekends as it’s not too overwhelming but there is surprisingly much to see,” says Manuela Almagro of the Visita Sevilla website. “Most first-time visitors run out of time and come back for more.”
Google has revealed that Seville (pictured) is currently the most searched destination only for flights
The first big attraction in Seville is the majestic Gothic cathedral – the largest in the world and the final resting place of Christopher Columbus.
In addition to the riot of towers and flying buttresses, it promises one of the most unusual bell towers in the world – inside the 350-foot Giralda there are sloping floors rather than steps, as it was designed to allow patrons to reach the top on horseback. Today visitors can hike to the viewing platform.
Nearby, tourists can also enter the working palace of Alcazar Real.
An official residence of the Spanish royal family, it is the oldest continuously occupied palace in Europe and opens a series of ceremonial salons, some with richly decorated golden domes.
Above is the tomb of Christopher Columbus in Seville’s majestic Gothic cathedral
Inside the 350-foot Giralda Tower (above) from Seville Cathedral, there are sloping floors rather than steps, as they were designed to allow patrons to reach the top on horseback.
The gorgeous and dramatic gardens, with palm trees, peacocks and reflecting pools, have starred in everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Game Of Thrones.
Audio tours bring the complex to life, or join a guide for a three-hour walk around the palace and cathedral, including the Giralda Tower, from £45 (getyourguide.com).
Outdoor concerts are held at the palace in spring and summer, details of which can be found under “Nights in the Gardens” at visitasevilla.es.
As the birthplace of flamenco, dramatic dance performances are another popular tourist attraction in Seville.
Explore Alcazar Real, above, the official residence of the Spanish royal family
The Play: Flamenco dance performances take place all over the Spanish city
A host of theaters and “tablaos” around the city put on performances, with Teatro Flamenco, Los Gallos Tablao and Tablao El Arenal among the most famous. One hour dance lessons in many places start at around £55.
Otherwise, head to the Royal Tobacco Factory, now part of the University of Seville, to see where Bizet found the inspiration for his opera Carmen.
Modern Seville is on display at the Setas de Sevilla, or Mushrooms of Seville. The six massive structures make up the world’s largest free-standing wooden sculpture, hovering above an underground museum and covering an entire city square.
You can take the elevator to the top, then follow the Skywalk to a series of viewpoints on top. Tickets cost from £12 (setasdesevilla.com).
Great food and shopping can end a Seville city break. Tapas bars abound, while stalls stocked with seafood, fruit, ham and bread spill out from the Triana Market. Here, information boards also tell the story of the Spanish Inquisition that terrorized the area in the 15th century.
Wooden wonder: the majestic Mushroom of Seville (pictured), known for the world’s largest free-standing wooden sculpture
Tourists can take an elevator to Seville’s Mushroom Peak and then follow a “walkway in the sky” (above) to a series of viewpoints.
Pottery is for sale everywhere in Seville, and it’s worth a visit to the beautiful Ceramica Triana, a mall filled with colorful, locally made ceramic tiles that resemble those found in buildings across the city.
Hotels worth checking out include the H10 Casa de la Plata, with a rooftop pool, from £92 per night, and the Corral del Rey boutique hotel, in a converted 17th-century mansion, from £269 per night.
Direct flights to Seville take less than three hours and cost from around £50 round trip with Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways and others. Trailfinders offers three nights’ holidays including flights, transfers and hotels from £295 (trailfinders.com).
Hotels worth visiting include H10 Casa de la Plata, with rooftop pool, from £92 per night