Vibrant streets adorned with colorful buildings, fragrant orange trees, and charming cafes surround the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral. If you have Spain on your mind, the southern city of Seville will instantly capture your heart and leave you coming back for more.
I might be incredibly biased, but after living in Spain for three years and traveling the entire country, the region of Andalusia is my favorite–no contest! Making a visit to its capital, Seville, is an absolute must.
While cities like Barcelona or Madrid get all of the attention, the region of Andalusia is home to some of the most iconic aspects of Spanish culture, and in Seville, you’ll find them in full effect.
Known for its lively culture, expect to see locals gather in the evenings to enjoy pulsating flamenco shows on the street and indulge in delicious tapas. You’ll be taken aback by the stunning architecture, a unique blend of Spanish and Moroccan styles – an ode to the history of Moorish rule in the region for 800 years.
To prepare you for your first time in the Spanish city, here's everything to know about traveling to Seville.
What To Do in Seville
Stroll the streets of Santa Cruz and Triana.
Is there a better way to get to know a city than to get completely lost? Who needs a map? In Seville’s case, it will be extra easy because many of the interior streets are built like mazes–thank the Moors for that one! So okay, maybe bringing a map isn’t a bad idea. I highly recommend strolling through the neighborhoods of Santa Cruz and Triana.
Visit La Catedral.
They were not playing games with this one. The Sevillanos wanted to build a cathedral as opulent and beautiful as was humanly possible–which apparently took them 101 years to achieve. But SUCCESS! Because this cathedral is the third largest in the world (the first one being the literal Vatican), and it’s also a UNESCO heritage site! It’s impossible to walk around the Santa Cruz area and NOT see it. During Seville’s world-famous Easter processions, the largest and most famous in all of Spain, this cathedral takes center stage.
Tour the Alcazar.
While you’re in the neighborhood, head over to another MUST-SEE: the Alcazar of Seville. If it’s summer, buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid standing in the sun. If you didn’t think ahead, it’s okay.
The line moves quickly, but bring water and a hand fan like a true Española because this city gets HOT. Inside this ancient palace, you’ll find an architectural masterpiece started by the Moors in the 10th century with a mix of Mudéjar and gothic styles. It's very fancy and a great spot for Instagram shots.
The Alcazar of Seville
Have a photoshoot at Plaza de España.
No visit to Seville is complete without a visit to Plaza de España. This spot is iconic and has appeared in many films–including Star Wars! It has four bridges that represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain and 48 benches for each province in the country. You can paddle around the plaza or simply take a nice stroll. But watch out, there’s a ton of horse-drawn carriages here, and with horses comes something you wouldn’t want to step in.
Culture Shock Alert:
Y’all, when I first moved to Spain, they included a section on staring in my orientation. I still wasn’t prepared for how much it might happen. My colleagues explained to me that in Spain, it’s totally normal to stare at people if you find something interesting about them, like their shirt, or are just bored and need something to look at. It’s not weird to them at all, but if you’re coming from The States, and especially as a Black person, it can initially feel uncomfortable.
Plaza de España
Plaza de España
Relax in Parque de María Luisa.
Just across the way from Plaza de España, you’ll find Parque de María Luisa overflowing with exotic greenery, fragrant orange trees, Moorish fountains, and decorative benches (a.k.a. there will be tons of places to sit under shade in the summer). It will also take you right along the Guadalquivir River.
Stroll along the Guadalquivir River.
If you come in summer and it’s too hot to deal with or if you simply want a nice area to stroll away from the center, head down to the Guadalquivir River. Next to the Puente de Triana behind Mercado Lonja del Barranco, you’ll also find tons of people laying out with picnics and beverages. Bring a bocadillo (Spanish for "sandwich") and a bottle of wine to do as the Sevillanos do.
Check out the Real Plaza de Toros.
On your walk along the river, you’ll find many famous stops like the Real Plaza de Toros. It is home to one of the most famous bullfighting festivals in the world, but you don’t have to watch that to check out the cultural icon. (In fact, if you’re not ready to see many bulls die, it’s best if you don’t.) If you’re interested in the tradition without the gore, there is a museum you can visit to learn about bullfighting in Spain, and you can also tour the grounds.
Watch the sunset behind Torre del Oro.
Another spot you’ll pass on your walk along the river is the Torre del Oro, or the Tower of Gold. Some say it has this name because of its golden reflection along the river, others say it was once covered in gold tiles. I recommend a visit at sunset when its golden hues shine against the turning sky. Inside you’ll find a small museum about local maritime folklore. If this is not something you’re interested in, it’s enough just to see it from the outside.
Torre del Oro
Watch a flamenco show.
Flamenco was born and raised in Andalusia, and Seville is one of the best places to watch a flamenco show in Spain. Check out popular venues like Museo del Baile Flamenco, Tablao Flamenco, or La Casa del Flamenco for a show.
Find some shade under the Metropol Parasol.
This mushroom-shaped icon is the largest wooden structure in the world and offers great aerial views of Seville. They’ve also recently installed an “I love Sevilla” sign in front of it, to take the ultimate tourist photo.
When To Eat in Spain: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Times
Eating in Spain is serious business, and there are so many amazing dishes to try, I could probably write a whole article about it. As someone from the U.S., where you can eat pancakes for dinner and steak for breakfast, it was shocking to me to find that people in Spain eat certain things at certain times, and it’s very weird to eat off that schedule. You might not even find anything open besides tourist traps. Let’s get into it.
Breakfast: 7 a.m. - 12 p.m.
In Spain, this is the smallest meal of the day and typically consists of fresh bakery bread or pastries with coffee or juice. Locals may eat fruit, churros, sandwiches on half-baguettes, or an open-toasted baguette with toppings. My favorite combo is olive oil, crushed tomato, and Spanish ham.
Breakfast in Spain
Lunch: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
The biggest meal of the day in Spain starts at 2 p.m., and in general, most local places will stop serving food around 4 p.m. Midweek, you can usually find a menu of the day at this time that will include salad, bread, an appetizer, a main dish, dessert, and a coffee all for like 10 euros! If you want to try paella, this is the best time to do it. Don’t miss this meal time as there will not be anything substantial to eat until 8 p.m. except at tourist traps.
Merienda (afternoon snack): 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
This is a perfect time for a sweet treat like churros, ice cream, or a pastry. You could also opt for savory bites like olives, cured meats, and cheeses, another small sandwich, or something on the sweeter side, like churros con chocolate.
Dinner: 8 p.m. - 1 a.m.
This is when the famous Spanish tapa comes out to play. A tapa is like a small portion of Spanish food. You can go from bar to bar, ordering a drink and a tapa at each bar. You can also order rounds of tapas at one bar, savoring the variety while you enjoy rowdy conversations with friends.
The common practice is to order several for the table, and I love it because that way, you get to try more things.
Where To Eat in Seville
With an abundance of fresh local ingredients like seafood, olive oil, and vegetables, you'll quickly fall in love with the delicious local cuisine. Make sure to hit up restaurants like Taberna del Arenal, Casa Paco, and Bar Casa Morales for mouthwatering plates.
Tapas to try:
- Tortilla de patatas: Spanish omelette
- Croquetas: Croquettes, my favorite ones are the ham ones
- Gambas al ajillo or gambas al pil pil: Shrimp in a garlic sauce or paprika sauce
- Patatas Bravas: Potatoes with a spicy sauce
- Jamón: Cured Spanish ham
- Queso Manchego: Aged sheep cheese
- Ensaladilla rusa: Potato salad made sometimes with shrimp (I know. I know. But don’t knock it til you try it!)
- Cola de Rabo: Oxtail
- Pan con tomate: Freshly toasted bread with an olive oil drizzle and crushed local tomatoes
Gambas al ajillo
Culture Shock Alert:
Service in Spain is very different from the United States, especially in more traditional areas like Andalusia. This is because there are different cultural expectations. For one, the servers get salaries, they don’t live off tips. And on the other hand, in Spain, meal times are about relaxation, connection, and good company.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility for you to spend 2-3 hours just laughing and drinking with friends, and no one will rush you out the door. In Spain, they value conversation and connection at mealtime so much, it even has a name “sobremesa,” and it would be rude to get up from your table without it. In that sense, your server might not come around often because they don’t want to interrupt or rush your good time. So don’t be afraid to flag them down!
When To Visit Seville
No matter when you visit Seville, you will fall in love, but different months are great for different activities.
So what are you looking for?
Mild weather, less tourists, and cheaper prices? Try November-March but bring a jacket because it can get chilly.
You’ll see tons of people out in the summer months. BUT BEWARE OF THE HEAT. It is like a hot, wet blanket and is the worst during the hours of 2 and 5 (siesta time). So if you visit during this time, bring cool clothing, a hand fan, drink tons of water, and go indoors during siesta to rest and have lunch.
Architecture in Seville
Architecture in Seville
Architecture in Seville
Architecture in Seville
For a cultural tradition?
Come in April! First off, the month kicks off with Semana Santa. A week-long religious celebration with traditional processions dating back to medieval times. Even if you are not religious, this is an iconic cultural event to witness and the biggest one in all of Spain. From morning to night, you will witness traditions and processions throughout the streets of Seville. IT. IS. INCREDIBLE.
Culture Shock Alert:
The costumes for Semana Santa are eerily reminiscent of the KKK. The Spanish used it long before the KKK ruined the association, but I won’t lie, y’all, it was shocking to see at first.
A few weeks after Semana Santa is La Feria de Abril (The April Fair), a celebration of spring. Locals will don their traditional Sevillano attire, and you can join in the fun. This is also one of the most emblematic ferias in Spain.
Warning: It is expensive to stay in the area during this time. So booking far in advance is recommended.
Suggested Day Trips From Seville
I recommend Cadiz during summer if you’re looking to hit the beach in a colorful city or in February if you want to enjoy the biggest Carnaval in continental Spain. If you’re looking for a charming mountaintop town or a nice hike during fall, check out Ronda.
Lastly, if you want to explore more Moorish history and architecture, head to Cordoba.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
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4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
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The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
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