Wondering what to buy in Seville? Relish the crafts and flavours of the past by shopping for unique local products in this heady part of Andalusia. Here's our local guide to the Seville souvenirs you shouldn't miss.
Recommended reading: what to see and do in Seville
What to Buy in Seville
From sweet tasting biscuits to cracking ceramics
A flotilla of frilly spotted aprons, snaking pink tights and sparkly matador jackets surround the central tourist area. They're fun but not always the most authentic of Seville souvenirs. When you're looking for what to buy in Seville, dig a little deeper, walk a little further, and Sevilla will reward you.
Recommended reading: where to stay in Seville
Seville Souvenirs: What to Buy
Beat the heat with one of these handy folding fans. Sheer black lace gives them a particularly local flourish but any pattern will do once the temperature rises.
Embrace the frivolity by heading into Padilla Crespo a la Ancha where you can pick up all manner of tourist paraphernalia plus a few odds and ends that can actually turn out to be helpful.
And don’t dismiss the folding fans when it comes to beating the heat; Seville is Europe's hottest city after all.
Ceramic Souvenirs in Seville: Azulejos
On the Triana side of the Guadalquivir River lie some of the world’s most renowned ceramic houses and collections of azulejos tiles. Almost every street in Seville (and half the houses inside) use these coloured, glazed tiles.
And their craftsmanship is as much in demand now as it was hundreds of years ago when the workshops first started trading.
Calle Antillano Campos begins the maze of narrow streets of ceramics ateliers, the original spot for alfares (potters' workshops) all those years ago.
Cerámica El Altozano offers a good selection of products – from decorative plates to piggy banks to everyday utensils.
Keep an eye out for the crumbly, biscuit-like mantecado treats (pronounced mant- er- COW.) They’re very low in fat and extremely good for you. Sort of. Well, not really at all. But they taste good, anyway.
To satisfy your tastebuds on the spot, try any one of the delicacies sold at the Confiteria Heladeria San Pablo.
Wizard Hats: the Symbols of Semana Santa
Every now and then, you may catch a glance or two of a shop selling wizard hats. Except, the hat continues down to cover the face with two slits for eyes resulting in an image that looks horribly similar to the Ku Klux Klan.
Well, not to worry, you haven’t stumbled across a corner of racial hatred deep in southern Spain. These are the traditional costumes worn during religious processions – and the Spanish invented them first.
Each year during Holy Week, which runs up to Easter Sunday, the streets of Seville are filled with people wearing these pointed hats with long, flowing robes. It’s part of Semana Santa and each church, or brotherhood, wears a slightly different style.
Processions are slow and sombre, yet in traditional Andalusian fashion, the streets around them come alive with candy floss, beer and people having a good time.
Expect to see children carrying candles taller than themselves, immaculate women wearing lace black veils and boys as young as six beneath the full robes and hat of their chosen brotherhood.
Some processions last for more than 24 hours and the Metro stays open all night to match. Pick up a brochure from any self-respecting corner shop for a timetable and costume decoder.
Outfits are available all year round from specially designated shops.
Special Places to Shop in Seville
For a truly healthy selection of food and a glimpse into how locals shop, cross the Puente Isabel II bridge from the centre of town to reach the Triana Market on Calle San Jorge.
Head there in the morning to see fresh seafood, baskets of spices and curly-shaped squashes heaped up on separate stalls. It’s not for the squeamish, though. Be prepared to see bulls’ heads pinned to the walls and bulls’ tongues sliced up for sale.
El Corte Ingles: A Spanish Institution
If it’s gentrified shopping you’re looking for, visit any one of El Corte Inglés branches across the city. This department store has become a national treasure across Spain, stocking electrical goods, clothes, books, music and photographic equipment. Think of it as Spain’s answer to Marks & Spencer.
Design at Ginza
For a more alternative, edgy shopping experience, browse the multicolour leather goods sold by Ginza near Plaza Alameda. From rainbow coloured shoes to black Metallica babygrows, Ginza stocks a range of products that know how to make you smile.
Calle Sierpes includes the "main" shopping district of Seville, running north from Plaza de San Francisco and Calle Tetuan. It's pedestrian, which helps, with a mix of boutiques and chains, churros and chatter.
A CHAMBAO CD
Flamenco may not involve the spotted dresses that tourists imagine but the sounds and the passion of flamenco still touch modern life in Andalusia. Popular local musicians Chambao bring the fresh sound of 21st century flamenco to your home with this CD, as well as showcasing other exciting artists in this genre.
Bring some fun into your kitchen with one of these frilly, spotted sevillana aprons. Although locals don’t tend to wear them, they do wear tailor-made dresses from the same kind of fabric each year for the week long Feria celebration on the outskirts of town. With shoes to match.
These round flat treats bring a smile to your lips and a bulge to your waistline. Made from far too much olive oil for you to want to know about, their sweet and spicy taste makes them an ideal companion for the journey back home.
Sure, flamenco dresses with tassles flutter in the breeze as synthetic and soulless as the next bit of tourist tat. BUT real flamenco dresses are as authentic as they come.
Every year during Feria, women dress in skintight flamenco dresses, with tailored pieces costing hundreds and hundreds of euros. Every young girl, even toddlers, wears a flamenco dress each year, complete with matching shoes, of course.
Technically, people dance Sevillana at Feria, rather than Flamenco. Flamenco carries a sorrowful note and brooding menace. Sevillana is all about having a good time.
Travel Tips for Seville
Travel tip number one: don't underestimate the heat! When it comes to all the things to do in Seville, please pace yourself with a view on the temperature. This city is HOT from July to September and most visitors aren't ready for it.
Where to Stay in Seville
Triana is a nice place to stay with plenty of tapas bars and local character. However, it is ever so slightly further from the city centre and other attractions than districts like Santa Cruz. See here for a guide on where to stay in Seville.
What to eat in Seville
Tapas bars and restaurants crowd around Triana market and along the shores of the Guadaluquivir. They're great for fresh food and people watching and, as in many places in Andalusia, you won't be hurried along. See also my guide to the best tapas in Seville and where to eat.
What to buy in Seville
Triana Market makes a good spot to stock up on authentic Seville souvenirs, such as ines rosales, mantecados, jamon, olive oil and, of course, fresh fruit and veg.
Triana's workshops also sell those famous ceramics. Authentic mementos and some cheery tourist fare.