Friday week will be Saint Valentine’s Day, so unless you’re Al Capone and have other things on your mind, your thoughts should be turning to romance, a candlelit dinner, and maybe a nice bottle of wine. You could do all that at home of course, but there’s still time to organise a romantic getaway for two. And what could be sweeter than a long weekend in Seville or Granada in southern Spain, home of flamenco, exotic palaces and great food and wine?
detail of monument dedicated to Gustav Bécquer in Maria Luisa Park, Seville
Explore the Palaces and Gardens of the Alhambra or Alcázar
The palaces of the Alhambra (Granada) and Alcázar (Seville) both date mainly from the 14th century, and though the first was built by the Moors, and the second by Christians, they share many of the same exotic features, with horseshoe arches, pools and fountains, and dazzling ceramic decoration. Be swept off your feet by this Arabian Nights visual feast.
Parks and Carriage Rides
Apart from the Palace Gardens, there are some other exceptional green spots. In Seville stroll through the Murillo Gardens over to the magnificent Plaza de España, but more especially go to the Parque Maria Luisa. It was laid out for the 1929 Expo and full of little grottoes and other surprises, such as the monument to Sevillano poet Gustav Becquer featuring the three stages of love. You can even take a carriage ride for two from the centre. In Granada visit the Carmen de los Martires, or take a walk along the picturesque River Darro.
Arab Baths and Massage
Go on, pamper yourself! Both Seville and Granada have their own Arab baths, the Baños Arabes in Seville and the Hammam baths in Granada, where you can enjoy the full bath and massage treatment at the hands of experts.
Few things beat taking some time out on a pavement terrace with a glass of wine and just watching the world go by, or having a bite at one of the great tapas bars in Seville, such as Las Teresas or Vineria San Telmo. Don’t miss the jamón and sherry, the taste of Spain. For a romantic evening dinner try Becerrita or Sevilla’s only Michelin star restaurant Abantal. In Granada La Tana wine bar is a cosy intimate spot to stop for a drink and a snack, perhaps finishing with a late dinner at the elegant Puerta del Carmen.
flamenco performance at the Flamenco Museum in Seville
There are plenty of places where you can catch the passion of a flamenco performance, but beware. Not all of them are good. In Seville the shows we like best are at the Flamenco Dance Museum and Casa de la Guitarra. In Granada, head out to the famous Sacramonte Caves for a rather different style.
At the end of the day you’ll want to find somewhere special for that last drink and remembering the day. There are quite a few good rooftop bars around these days, but in Seville the Doña Maria Hotel bar with its view of the cathedral is still the place to go. In Granada, head up to El Huerto de Juan Ranas next to the San Nicolas lookout on the Albaicin hill for a spectacular view of the Alhambra across the valley.
Where to Stay
There are lots of great apartments at reasonable prices to choose from, but our favourite romantic getaway choices include, in Seville, the gorgeous view from Giralda Terrace, and Campanario Terrace for its unusual location. In Granada, Duplex Terrace overlooking the Plaza Nueva is unbeatable. For something more exotic try Sacramonte Cueva 2.