Ah, Sevilla! A city that’s truly one of a kind, where every corner oozes with magic and delight. It’s like the streets themselves come to life – imagine bustling streets on a sunny Sunday afternoon, with laughter and lively conversations filling the air. In the evenings, tapas bars are filled with the joy of friends sharing dinner, clinking glasses of sangrias and vinos. And when the night falls on Sevilla, the cobblestone streets are like a stage for Flamenco, with its passionate singing and the soulful strumming of the guitar drifting out of cozy tabernas. After spending two months here in Sevilla, I can’t help but admit that Sevilla has become a big part of me.

Okay that’s enough folks, let’s switch from the mushy-gushy stuff and get right into Sevilla. I can’t help but get all sentimental when I talk about Sevilla (there’s only 1 month remaining, I am going to miss it like crazy), but it’s time to focus on the task at hand. As a study abroad student who has been currently living in Sevilla for more than two months (tear-tear), I am going to share with you all my experiences and secrets to truly experience the magic of Sevilla (like a local). 

From the moment I arrived in Sevilla, I was captivated by the city’s charm. The perfect Mediterranean climate, the narrow winding streets of the old town, and the vibrant colors of the buildings all welcomed me with open arms. So, to get us started, let me list some of the Sevilla essentials that you can’t miss:

  • Plaza de España: A Scene Straight Out of a Movie

Okay! Maybe the tagline was overkill, but it only applies to you if you are a Star Wars fan, but besides the pun, the experience at Plaza de España can be described as stepping into a movie set or history. It’s the kind of place that, for me, felt like stepping into another world. The sheer beauty of this place is striking, with its stunning architecture, ceramic-tiled alcoves, and an overall sense of grandeur. And the best part? You can rent a rowboat to glide along the canal that surrounds the square, just like in the movies. Speaking of movies, you might recognize Plaza de España from famous films like Star Wars and Lawrence of Arabia. So, make sure you dress and go early in the mornings or evenings to take some good pictures.

  • The Royal Alcazar: A Moorish Splendor

The Royal Alcázar was one of the first monuments I visited in Sevilla with ICS on a cultural, and let me tell you, it left me utterly spellbound with the thought of being transported back in time. The thought of being in the same room as Christopher Columbus was like witnessing history. The Alcázar palace complex is a true masterpiece, and throughout the whole palace you will find a mesmerizing blend of Moorish and Spanish architecture, and it’s no wonder it’s featured in Game of Thrones – the Alcázar’s intricate details and lush gardens make it an otherworldly experience. Don’t miss it; it’s an essential part of Sevilla’s cultural tapestry.

  • The Cathedral: The Largest of its Kind:

As part our cultural immersion at ICS, one of the field trips we will be going to is the Seville Cathedral and if you ask me, it is one place that should be on everyone’s list. Not only is it the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, but It’s also a marvel of Gothic architecture and an iconic part of the city’s skyline. The awe-inspiring interior, stunning stained glass, and the famous Giralda Tower make this cathedral an absolute must-see. Don’t forget to climb the Giralda Tower for panoramic views of the city.

  • Las Setas monument: Sunset and churros con chocolate:
While Sevilla is steeped in history, it’s also a city that beautifully blends the old with the new. A prime example of this is Las Setas, or the Metropol Parasol. It is the largest wooden structure in the world. Atop this modern architectural marvel, you can catch one of the most breathtaking sunsets of your life. The views from here are absolutely mesmerizing. And the best way to enjoy this spectacle? With churros con chocolate at Bar Centuria, where ICS took us right at the very start of the semester!

From day one of my arrival, I have been immersed in traditions and customs that are deeply ingrained in the daily life of Sevillanos like my house mom Miriam, and the warmth and hospitality of the locals have made me feel right at home. Now, two months in, I’ve been fully embracing the Spanish way of living. I now live at a slower pace in life, fully appreciating the value of friends, family and the community around me. Here are some ways to get you started: 

  • “Vamos a tapear”: Tapas

Ah, tapas! This Spanish tradition is not just about food; it’s a social activity, it’s a ritual. This tradition has deep roots in Spanish culture, dating back to the 13th century. Tapas bars aren’t just places to eat; they are vibrant hubs of social interaction, hence the phrase “Vamos a tapear” (Let’s go have some tapas). And I can admit that I have spent countless evenings hopping from one tapas bar to another ever since my arrival to Seville, savoring delightful dishes and bonding with friends. It’s a fun way to explore the diverse cuisine of Seville while feeling like a local. One key thing to remember here: in Spain, the dining scene is all about coming together and sharing the love for food and experiences. It’s a reflection of the country’s warm and sociable culture. Ordering a big dish just for yourself is a bit of a NO NO. To earn some serious street cred, follow the local tradition and go for a mix of raciones (generous portions) and fully embrace the art of tapas with your friends, where sharing is the name of the game.

  • Paella: Taste of Spanish cuisine
Paella is one of the most well-known dishes in the Spanish Cuisine. Originally from Valencia, it has made its way all around Spain, and Seville.  But to truly experience authentic Paella, I recommend that you ditch the market Paella and join ICS for a fun-filled Paella cooking night. The Paella cooking night was one of the most memorable experiences during my study abroad. Not only was it a journey into the heart of Spanish culture, but I had a blast cooking it from scratch with my friends. Together, we made the night come alive with our combination of lively music, the sound of sizzling ingredients, and shared laughter. Finally, when we sat down to eat the Paella, we were like a big Spanish family with our plate full of paellas, ridiculous jokes, singing and dancing. 
  • Barrio Santa Cruz, Alameda, and Triana: The Sevillian Trifecta

Whether you are in Sevilla for 3 months, or for 3 days, experiencing these 3 neighborhoods will allow you truly feel the Sevillian culture at its peak. 

Barrio Santa Cruz or Santa Cuz as it’s widely known is Sevilla’s heart of tourism. Here you can explore the enchanting streets of this historic neighborhood filled with street performers, souvenir shops, tapas bars, and restaurants, or you can get lost in the labyrinth of narrow alleys, hidden squares, and charming whitewashed buildings. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely walk and a chance to discover quaint cafes and local shops after class.

Across the Guadalquivir River is Triana, a very local yet lively neighborhood in Seville.  Its cobblestone streets exude a rich history, but the real gem of Triana is the Mercado de Triana, a bustling food market that beckons every food lover. This antique food market offers an authentic taste of Andalusian cuisine from freshly caught seafood to succulent olives and the famous Jamón Ibérico, every visit to this market is a heart and tummy filling experience. But it’s not just about the food; it’s the perfect place for some local action as it’s a place where locals and visitors come together to share stories and laughter.

And in Alameda, you will be able to truly experience the night like a true Sevillian. Known for its restaurants, clubs, and vibrant nightlife, Alameda has something for everyone looking to make their night come alive. A very popular hotspot amongst Seville’s young and creative ones, you can catch a lot of local action and have a fun night at one of the best neighborhoods in Seville.

Seville is a city that effortlessly blends history, culture, and modernity, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking an authentic Spanish experience. Whether you’re fascinated by architectural wonders, traditional music and dance, or culinary delights, Seville offers something for everyone. 

Enjoy your journey through this captivating Andalusian city, and let its magic leave a lasting imprint on your heart. Adios!

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