Many visitors to the sultry southern Spanish city of Seville stick to a set route of cathedral, Alcazar palace and the Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz, without venturing further afield. While these monuments and flower-filled plazas, dotted with traditionally tiled tapas bars, shouldn't be missed, if you head into the less touristy areas of La Alameda and La Macarena (both no-go areas 15 years ago) you'll find a mix of avant-garde eateries, communes and independent shops - without a flamenco apron in sight.
Get your bearings at Las Setas (setasdesevilla.com), architect-artist J Mayer H's soaring cluster of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms that houses
a market, a rooftop walk, a bar and an archaeological museum. It landed, somewhat controversially, like a spacecraft on an old car park three years ago and kickstarted a new wave of shops opening in the surrounding area.
Walk over the waffly waves of Las Setas to Calle Regina, a pedestrianised street crammed with tempting spots, starting with El Gato en Bicicleta at no 8 (ungatoenbicicleta.com), a bookshop-cum-art gallery packed with tomes on sex, design and poetry. A few doors up, at no 15, Latas y Botellas is a treasure trove of suitcase-friendly Spanish
food goodies and La Cacharreria (lacacharreriadesevilla.blogspot.com.es), at no 14 over the road, is good for a late breakfast at an outside table.
Turn left into Calle Viriato where fashion, art and furniture emporium Wabi Sabi (Calle Viriato 9, wabisabigallery.com) is a light, lofty space perfect for showing local artists' paintings, and an eclectic collection of pieces: a turquoise planter's chair (euros 527) sits next to vintage bags (euros 37) and graphic-print dresses (around euros 62).
Red House (Calle Amor de Dios 7 , redhousespace.com) is a roomy, cafe/art space that captures this area's relaxed vibe, where guests sit on curvy art deco armchairs surrounded by lamps made from soda siphons and birdcages - all for sale - and listen to poetry readings and DJ sets. The dynamic artist owners, Alvaro and Cristina, have opened a restaurant nearby - No-Lugar (Calle Trajano 16 ) - which has a vintage-y interior with ex-army workbenches and Moroccan ceramics. The fish tagine (euros 11) is reliably good .
For lunch, take a tapas hop around Macarena's Feria market. Start at the unassuming but innovative Quilombo (Peris Mencheta 6 , quilombobar.sociosg.com) with a smoked cod, courgette and orange salad, then cross to the market itself on Calle Feria; it is one of the city's oldest. Sample grilled sardines and razor-clams (euros 2.50) with a glass of manzanilla sherry (euros 1.50) at La Cantina (stall 111) or salchichon iberico (euros 2.20) at tables tucked under the 13th-century basilica's stone wall.
A few yards away is the Palacio de los Marqueses de la Algaba (Plaza Calderon de la Barca, participasevilla.sevilla.org), a 15th-century palace that houses the Mudejar Centre. Mudejar was the architectural style practised by Moorish artisans under Catholic rule; the tall, arched window on the palace's market-facing facade is a perfect example. Inside the centre, you can see carved wood ceilings, and the azulejos (ceramic tiles) with intricate geometric patterns that Seville is famous for.
The main thoroughfare of the Macarena district is the narrow Calle San Luis. Pass the blue-and-white tiled dome of the eponymous baroque church, to the mould-breaking Rompemoldes at no 70, (rompemoldes.com), a sleek, contemporary version of Seville's craftsmen's quarter. This is an open, shared courtyard where you can see designers, artists and sculptors at work in their studios; many live upstairs.
After a traditional Seville siesta, head to No Kitchen (Calle Amparo 50, nokitchen.es). Simple decor - white walls, wooden tables - focuses attention on the food: lightly (or no)-cooked dishes such as Iberian pork loin (euros 3.60) and smoked salmon with vodka and beetroot. The ceviche trend has hit Seville - scallop or sea bass come with kikos (small toasted corn kernels, euros 8.15).
Roof terrace bars are all the rage, for the welcome breezes and, of course, the views. One of the best is Roof on top of the Casa Romana hotel (Calle Trajano 15, hotelcasaromana.com), which has a terrace where you can watch the Setas glow other-wordly blue and pink.
Elizabeth Bond, translator
Don't miss out on the free open-air events along the Alameda. On any summer evening, you'll stumble across dance performances, live music, street entertainers and craft stalls for kids.
Where to stay
Seville isn't big on hip hotels, but the Sacristia de Santa Ana (22 Alameda de Hercules, +34 954 915722, hotelsacristia.com, doubles from euros 79) is a good spot. A converted 17th-century mansion, the feel is dreamy and romantic: with French antiques and rooms wrapped around a balconied courtyard. Its suite (room 407) has huge windows looking onto the Alameda. You can't beat the location for neighbourhood vibes, though street-facing rooms can be noisy.
1 Las Setas
8 No Kitchen
3 Wabi Sabi