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Family travel: Seville

Clover Stroud and her two children, Evangeline and Jimmy, share their top three highlights from a trip to the southern Spanish city

Family travel: Seville
Local flamenco dancer, Seville. Image: Getty

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Avoid the scorching, high-summer months of July and August, and Seville is a real gem of a family city — small enough to explore on foot, with no tricky metro to navigate. Just like elsewhere on the Continent, restaurants welcome kids with open arms, and the tapas options make eating out a relaxed affair, offering the opportunity to sample a variety of local dishes. There are cathedrals, parks and museums to entertain all ages, while a host of plazas and playgrounds are ideal on sunny afternoons.

Evangeline (4)

Parque de María Luisa: I enjoyed the park. I liked the [man-made] waterfall mountain and seeing the island on the lake. We had a picnic, fed the white pigeons and played on the magic castles [little pavilions].

Real Alcázar: Mum told me to look for the lion on the gate as we went into the Alcázar. The palace had lots of tiled rooms but I liked the gardens the best. All the trees were covered in oranges — I wanted to eat one but mum said it was sour. We saw peacocks and ducklings, and afterwards had ice cream in the cafe.

Cadiz (out of town): One day we caught a train to the seaside (90 minutes). It was very big and clean. I looked out of the window with my brother so it went quickly. The beach was amazing. It was the biggest sandy beach I’ve seen. We bought ice creams and my baby brother ran into the sea because it was sunny, even in February!

Clover Stroud (39)

Museo del Baile Flamenco: Flamenco is everywhere in this city, from the endless numbers of tourist shops selling frothy dresses to the restaurants where you can catch a lively show. Situated in a typical Sevillano house, this museum tells the history of the dance using multimedia displays and traditional exhibits. The museum brings alive the duende (‘spirit’) this region is famous for. Those on the hunt for flamenco dresses should avoid the tourist shops and head to the flea market on Calle Feria on Thursdays. I bought intricate, frilly, heavy dresses for my daughters at just €20 (£16) each.

Barrio Santa Cruz: Away from the cathedral, Seville is a warren of fun streets. We stayed on Alameda de Hércules, a superb square with two playgrounds plus an assortment of cafes. On the adjoining Calle Vulcano lies Freskura, an outstanding ice cream shop. Further afield, Barrio Santa Cruz (the city’s historic Jewish quarter) was my favourite area, a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses and artisan shops. The haberdashery shops are exquisite and there are some great stalls selling roasted chestnuts and incense.

conTenedor: Seville is bursting with a superb choice of restaurants and tapas bars. On our final night, we headed to conTenedor, a slow food restaurant with a strong emphasis on biodynamic wines and organic ingredients. Colourful displays of fruit and vegetables decorated the room, and the relaxed atmosphere was accentuated with woodchip walls, original artwork and eclectic furniture. We shared a delicious plate of jamón and market salad for starter, followed by an even more outstanding main course of arroz con pato (a fried dish of duck and thyme mixed with rice).

Jimmy (15)

Pabellón de la Navegación: This seafaring museum was one of the best places I’ve visited. It’s all about Seville’s history of exploration, starting with journeys to the New World by Christopher Columbus. This was pretty cool, as we’d visited Seville Cathedral earlier, where he’s said to be buried. The museum has lots of special effects, such as LED lights that fade on and off to simulate waves, and there are interactive games like ‘shoot the pirate’. It gave me a strong sense of what life would’ve been like on a sailing ship — from the way it smelt to the food they ate and even the medicine they used.

Plaza de España: I’m a Star Wars fan, so was pretty amazed by Plaza de España, which featured in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones! It’s a huge square, with bridges that lead over a canal to a semicircular space surrounded by alcoves. The alcoves represent different provinces and are decorated with ceramic tiles, similar to ones we saw in the Alcázar. There’s a great view from the upper stairs over the plaza.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza: We didn’t see a bullfight (the season for this is March to September) but it’s exciting to stand in the impressive arena and imagine the life of a matador. I enjoyed seeing the ‘backstage’ areas, including the stables and the chapel where matadors pray before a fight. There was a museum illustrating the history of bullfighting in Spain, right up to the present day.

How to do it
British Airways flies from Gatwick to Seville from £82 return. Alternatives include EasyJet and Ryanair.
Clover and her family stayed at a three-bed apartment on the Alameda de Hércules from £98 a night, bookable via airbnb.co.uk.

Published in the Summer 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller Family (UK)