Seville, Spain: Here’s the #1 (Only) Thing You Need to Do!

Before I got married and had kids and became the pillar of maturity I am today…😉 (mwahaha oh how I enjoy making myself laugh when I write!)…

…living in Sevilla was one of my favorite life experiences!

Note: I used the English name “Seville” in the title so English-speakers searching online will find it. However—just like when you have a good friend who introduced himself as “Juan”, you wouldn’t start calling him “John”—the rest of the time I will be referring to my friend Sevilla in her chosen Spanish name because that’s how I was introduced to and know her!

Does every place you live become a beloved place? No, not always.

This was my morning (and evening) walk twice a day…

Maybe it’s my Spanish blood, my love of the Spanish language, or my love of food (and this is where I learned to adore Spanish food)…

…but Sevilla slowly, silently, head raised a bit, almost imperceptibly edged her way into my heart.

View from our apartment…not bad, aye? I knew EXACTLY the neighborhood I wanted to stay in…

So much so that eight years after leaving Sevilla, I took Matt back there.

But still, a visit wasn’t enough. As time passed, I wanted to live in Sevilla again and I wanted to do it RIGHT!

(Not that the first time living there wasn’t fun, but when you’re in your early 20s, you’re not the wisest owl on the branch. Your brain doesn’t even fully develop ’til you’re 25/26!)

“Right” also meant doing it with my daughters. I wanted to introduce them to this city/friend who had decided that she was going to make an impact on my life and an impact on who I would become, whether I asked for it or not…

Just another day hanging out the laundry from our apartment in my favorite neighborhood with one of my daughters = happy happy Mama Jess!

I won’t share too many more personal details, I’ll just get right to how this affects YOU!

#1: If you ever travel to Spain, you CANNOT miss Andalusia. (That’s essentially Southern Spain, where Sevilla is located.)

#2: If you’re like me and you prefer nature and the countryside to cities, don’t write off Sevilla. She’s one of the few cities in the world I believe you shouldn’t miss!

#3: You can find internet sites full of “to dos” in Sevilla, ranging from the 2nd largest cathedral in the world and climbing La Giralda, to attending a flamenco show (you can do this) to a bullfight (don’t do this!)…

…so I am not going to repeat those lists. If you have the inclination and time to do them, absolutely fine—and later on I’ll share with you some favorite things we did as a family while we lived in an apartment in my favorite barrio (neighborhood) of Sevilla.

But the #1 thing you must do is


A.K.A. Eat all the Spanish food you can find, all day every day.

Ok so I guess technically that’s two things but I’m telling ya, that’s it. If you only do ONE thing in Sevilla, it’s that.

(And if it’s the only thing you do, you still will have spent your time wisely.)

Walk around Sevilla, enjoy the river and the parks and the scent of sweet orange blossoms on the thousands of trees…and when you’re hungry (or thirsty), stop for a caña (small glass of beer) and tapas. Many Spanish wines are also wonderful, if you’re not a beer person.

Tip: Get off the “main drags” to find the best little tapas places. Not that you can’t find decent tapas on the main pedestrian streets, but in general you’ll get a cooler experience when you’re almost “lost” in the winding streets that don’t always follow any logical trajectory, and you pop into whatever little spot you find. Usually less busy, but always depends on time of day. Spain does not rise early, but some tapas places open as early at 11am and of course stay open until laaaaaaaaaate in the night.

Generally in Sevilla, the residents will eat a very, very large lunch around midafternoon…then maybe a lighter dinner or tapas at night (8pm earliest! Very uncool!🤣 Don’t worry though.)

Sevilla at night is just…the best in the world. Photos don’t do it justice but it’s better than the generic usuals like Paris at night, better than London at night, better than Budapest at night, even better than Rome and Salzburg at night (close contenders)…better than every other European city I’ve been in at night. The energy is just…yeah, there’s no other word than “perfect” or “the best”! If you haven’t done it yourself to compare, you can’t argue with me until you do! 🙂

Now for the bad news:

I discovered when we arrived this year that somehow, at some point, Sevilla has become popular. I couldn’t believe how many people were there, even when it wasn’t high season.

I asked different locals of all ages about this over the time we lived there and they all sighed and said yes, it was true. The city has gotten busier.

So, while recognizing and experiencing firsthand this year how she’s now different and busier than when I first met her, my sweet Sevilla is stuck in my memory as when she wasn’t quite so overrun with tourists popping in for just a few days…

If you do visit her, stay in a quiet barrio…maybe Triana or one of the quiet streets in Barrio Santa Cruz if you don’t have much time…

One of the playgrounds in Triana…this is where I used to live and very “real” neighborhood Sevilla. There’s my daughter just rockin’ it in every playground like it’s home.

…and walk around for awhile then eat…walk around and find a nice place to sit and have a drink…repeat.

Cafe dates with my daughters every week (or multiple times per week) is an intentional part of our life here.
One of the markets in Triana to show you the hanging hams which are so common.
One of our girls’ favorite playgrounds was Maria Luisa park, with the Plaza de Espana in distance. Although the second time we were there I did have to argue–politely but forcefully–with one of the dads in Spanish about his bully daughter who wouldn’t let my 5-year-old or anyone else on the swings after 20 minutes…so there’s the tip of a real-life story iceberg for ya too! 🙂
Our favorite neighborhood tapas place, people would just come hang out with their dogs inside or outside…shared their chalk with the girls while parents sipped wine in the (relative) quiet…
Forts at home…with cookies inside…
Have you taken your children to too many Spanish tapas bars if they start drawing photos of the wine shelves? 🤣
Spanish & garbanzo (espinaca con garbanzo) is probably my #1 recommendation to you for the #1 dish you HAVE to eat in Sevilla…
…followed by Patatas Bravas at #2, probably just because it’s so popular but most of all because you WILL need to try it at multiple places to find someone who does it really well! (Simple dish + done uniquely = gold.)
Like a boss!
Just my 9-year-old walking confidently through the major shopping area of the city when we had to run some errands…get it, girl.
We rented e-scooters at one point for a few days and still ended up at a playground next to the river…

I’ve laughed to Matt so many times this year, “We should entitle this year, ‘Playgrounds of the World!'” I could put together a full photography show of playgrounds from the Azores to Finland, from Rwanda to South Africa…and beyond!

Speaking of playgrounds, how’s about the Big Chain Swing?

My kids literally asked everytime we walked by (cathedral in background), which was often because my favorite gelato place was near here, to swing on the big chains. Usually there was live music in this area because it’s so busy, and there were horse carriages to watch, and I don’t know why “giant chains” equalled “endless fun” for my daughters, but they did. I love how they found things to love in Sevilla that I never would have picked out. 🙂
When you have two horse-loving daughters seeing the horse-drawn carriages all over their new home city for weeks…and they ask if we can do it…do you say A) no? Or do you say B) “Vale…giddy-up…vamos chicas…” and find yourself here? (It was actually quite nice!)
It wasn’t even Feria time and we had to go out on our balcony late at night because of the huge band noise on the streets…

Have you really LIVED somewhere with kids unless they’ve broken a bone and/or required an emergency room visit?

I’ll need to write a whole other post about how this has won the award for best gelato in the world…and yes, I am a professional gelato judge. 🙂
I used to walk across that river every day…and now my daughters have walked along or across it every day too!
Living in Sevilla with my girls.
Insert all the mama happy-heart-eyes emojis you can imagine.

Before this, we were living in the Canary Islands (with a smokin’ hot trip to Morocco in there).

Next…a very non-Spanish spot! 🙂 In the meantime, check out our Adventure page for where else we’ve been living and/or traveling, or our new kitchen course!

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