Seville is a great city with a lot to offer. It has been ranked as the best place to live in Spain by Monocle magazine and one of the top 5 destinations for foodies by Lonely Planet. In this blog post, we will discuss 15 things you should do if you want to make your vacation as memorable as possible!
Is Seville worth visiting?
On our first trip to Spain, we knew we wanted to visit Barcelona and since it is on the other side of Spain we were unable to visit Seville in our first trip. Now that we live in Portugal, we were able to make the trip back to Spain and are so happy to have been able to return. I think Seville is tied with Barcelona for being the best city to visit in Spain. The things to do in Seville combine seeing amazing architecture with delicious local cuisine.
The Alcazar Palace
The Alcazar Palace is a must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seville and is the oldest palace in Europe. It was originally built as a Moorish fort back in the 11th century by Abd ar-Rahman II. Later, it became home to King Pedro I and his wife who had it transformed into a palace with Renaissance-style architecture. The gardens inside are stunning with water fountains and orange trees.
The Alcazar opens at 9:30 and we recommend getting tickets online before going. Arrive early and head to the palace entrance in the back of the courtyard. This is where there are amazing opportunities for photography and if you are the first to get there you can get a few photos without other tourists in the shot.
Another thing to do in Seville is to see the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in Spanish) and it really is a sight to behold. One thing we found interesting about Seville is the combination of Catholic cathedrals and Mosques in the same buildings and this was a great example of that.
The cathedral was built from 1401 until 1528 on top of an old mosque that had been destroyed by King Ferdinand III during the siege of 1248. It took more than 100 years for them to finish building this masterpiece with 600-year-old magnolia trees flanking the front of it.
The Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in the world, the largest cathedral in Spain, and one of the largest churches in the world.
Inside, you can marvel at stained glass windows and sculptures that date back to the 15th century as well as Christopher Columbus’ Tomb, which is probably the most impressive Tomb I have ever seen.
You can purchase tickets ahead of time online to make your day go smoothly. A ticket also includes entrance to the Iglesia del Salvador.
Girlada Bell Tower
The Giralda Bell Tower is part of the Cathedral and you can climb to the top for an amazing view of the city as part of your visit. It stands 80 meters tall with a clock from the 15th century in it which makes it very unique since there are only three other towers like this in Spain.
There are no stairs in the tower, but ramps that allowed the Sultan to ascend mounted on horseback. From outside you can see the original tower most of the way up followed by the bell tower that was added when it was turned into a Cathedral.
Plaza de España
One of the top things to do in Seville is visit Plaza de España, which was built for the 1929 World’s Fair and was our favorite stop in our trip and we even went back twice. It has many fountains surrounding it and it is just a feast for your eyes (and camera)
There is a moat where you can row a small boat around or you can take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. You can also find flamenco dancers and musicians here most days performing for the crowds.
Maria Lusia Park
Directly in front of the Plaza de Espana is Maria Luisa Park, which is one of the largest public parks in Seville. It has a large lake with ducks and swans that you can feed if you like.
Another unique thing about this park is the many pillars that have been erected throughout it to represent different parts of Spain including Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia, and Valencia.
The frog’s fountain, the lion’s fountain, and the duck island are all worth seeing as you stroll around the park.
Torre del Oro
The Torre del Oro is one of the most iconic buildings in Seville and you can find it in many photos. This 12th century Moorish Tower was used to guard the city’s access by sea, which makes sense since its name means “Tower of Gold”.
It now houses a maritime museum with exhibits about Columbus’ first trip to the New World and it also has a great view of the Guadalquivir River.
Museo de Bellas Artes
Museo de Bellas Artes is another museum we recommend visiting as you explore Seville, where there are paintings from many famous artists like El Greco and Picasso. There were some beautiful pieces in this building that really stood out, including a painting of the goddess Diana from the 14th century.
You can buy tickets online ahead of time for this one as well which makes it much easier to see everything you want to in Seville and not worry about going back later. It is a perfect place to visit when it is hot outside to give you a break during the heat.
You can’t visit Seville without enjoying some Tapas. When we visited we went on a Tapas Tour with Spain Food Sherpas. We love enjoying the food, meeting new friends, and learning the history of the area in one delicious, filling tour.
There are many Tapas bars that offer these tasty snacks so you can visit as many as possible during your trip. Our favorite places to eat Tapas were the oldest bar in Seville, El Rinconcillo, El Pasaje Tapas, and Bogeguita La Parihuela, all located in Santa Cruz.
Keep in mind that the restaurants open much later than in the US and even other places in Europe.
Barrio de Triana
Located just across the river from most of the things to do in Seville, the ancient gypsy quarter of Triana is a must-see. The market at Meijer de la Calle is a great place to find homemade items like genuine Andalusian pottery. The ceramics are well-known for their beautiful azulejos, or blue and white tiles.
You can also find many local shops that sell traditional Spanish food, including cheese and cold cuts, and there are plenty of restaurants in the area.
Metropol Parasol or Las Setas De Seville
The Metropol Parasol or Las Setas De Seville is one of the newest attractions in the city, which opened just a few years ago. It is known as “the mushroom” because it looks like one and has become very popular with both tourists and locals alike.
This unique structure was designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer-Herman and was built as a place to gather and relax. It has many restaurants and bars inside as well, but the views of the city are even more spectacular. It was built over Roman ruins which you can see below where you buy tickets.
Visit Barrio Santa Cruz
In the old Jewish quarter you can find many of the attractions already mentioned on our lists, but make sure you take some time to enjoy the neighborhoods as well instead of rushing from one spot to the next.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in this area as well that serves traditional Andalusian food like tapas and local wines. Relax and unwind in the afternoon before everything shuts down for siesta around 3 pm. Try a Tinto de Verano which is wine mixed with orange or lemon soda and chilled with ice cubes.
See a Flamenco Show
There are many bars and restaurants that offer Flamenco shows throughout Seville but we went with to La Cantaora which cost 23€ for the show and the drink. There are other packages to include a meal, but they did not seem to be worth the price.
We were amazed at the level of talent of everyone from the singers, dancers, and guitar players.
The show was about an hour long and it started with a guitarist playing music while the performers danced. Most Flamenco venues have 2 shows each night.
Go to a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride
Another must-do when visiting Seville is taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the beautiful streets. You can arrange for a driver to pick you up at your hotel if it is in the historic district or you can go to any tourist attraction and ask one of the drivers for a ride. Expect to pay 45€.
Italica is a UNESCO world heritage site and still holds many ruins that have yet to be uncovered including an amphitheater, palace, forum, basilica, and Roman baths. The oldest part of Seville can be found here as well with remains of temples dedicated to Mercury and Diana.
Italica is easily accessible by bus from Seville (20-minute ride) on the C11 line for only €0.90 each way with multiple departures daily, but check their website for times and prices before you go online to purchase your ticket in advance.
You may recognize the name from the movie Gladiator which was filmed in this location and you will recognize the amphitheater where scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed.
Plaza de Toros
Plaza de Toros is the most famous bullfighting ring in Spain and where all of the major fights happen. While we would never go see a bullfight, it was a very interesting place to visit for its history.
It was founded in the 18th century by King Felipe V, who wanted a place where horsemen could practice their skills, and over time it morphed into the bullfights Spain is known for and in our opinion will hopefully become a part of Spain’s past.
Casa de Pilatos
Casa de Pilatos is a Renaissance palace built in the 16th century on top of an old Moorish fortress in the historic district of Santa Cruz. It was one of the homes owned by Don Pedro Álvarez de Toledo who led troops during the siege and capture of Seville from Islamic rule.
Today it serves as a museum with its beautiful gardens that were used as sets for Game of Thrones and other movies.
The museum has a comprehensive collection of works by Zurbarán, Murillo, and Van Dyck among many others. It also houses archeological finds from the site next door that were found during construction performed in the 1990s which you can see while visiting Casa de Pilatos.
Best Day Trips From Seville
Day Trip to Cordoba
Cordoba is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and offers a glimpse into what life was like during Roman times.
It has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site for having some of Europe’s best-preserved examples from that era including its water system, bridge over the Guadalquivir River, church-mosque and old Jewish quarter with its synagogue.
This is also where the Alcazar of Christian monarchs is located where Christopher Columbus met the monarchs before departing on his explorations.
Cordoba is easy to get to by bus from Seville (45-minute ride), but check their website for times and prices before you plan your trip online and buy early for better prices.
Day Trip to Ronda
Ronda, located in the mountains of Andalusia, is one of the most beautiful towns we visited and offers stunning views from its main plaza. It has been named a UNESCO world heritage site for having some of Europe’s best-preserved examples from that era including its bullring, Roman bridge, and town square.
Ronda is easily accessible by bus from Seville (a 45-minute ride). Check their website for times and prices before you plan your trip online and buy early for better prices.
Trip to Cadiz
Cadiz, the oldest city in Western Europe and fourth-largest port city, is only a short bus ride from Seville, but we rented a car.
The town has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site by having some of Europe’s best-preserved examples from that era including its fortifications and cathedral.
The old town is on the Atlantic and has a mixture of British, French and Spanish influences. If you have more than a day to visit, stay overnight and enjoy a beach day. This is a perfect place to escape the heat that Seville is known for.
When to Visit Seville
Seville is a great place to visit most of the year. The winter months are mild and make for a perfect time to visit and enjoy the outdoors. The heat of summer can make it uncomfortable outdoors during daylight hours so we do not recommend coming from mid-July – mid-September. Beyond the heat, many places will be closed in August because the owners go on vacation.
We made that mistake but made the best of it by starting our day early and resting in the afternoon before going out again in the evening.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is another great time to visit with its processions and celebrations honoring Jesus’ crucifixion.
Seville is the host of Feria de Abril (April Fair) and also one of Europe’s biggest street parties with parades and dancing in the streets and lots of things to do.
The city comes to life during these times. If you cannot come for this, we recommend visiting at Christmas time as well when it really does look like a fairy tale.
Where to Stay In Seville?
We recommend staying closer to the city center when you visit to be close to all the things to do in Seville. This will allow you to return to your accommodations easily in the afternoon to avoid the sun or because everything is closed.
Seville has many great hotels but also offers inexpensive lodging with hostels within walking distance of the old town for those on a budget.
We stayed at Hotel Casa 1800, which was perfect because of its location in the middle of everything and because of its rooftop pool.
One thing to keep in mind is many hotels are located in pedestrian-only streets, so make sure to contact your hotel before coming for instructions.
Where is Seville Located?
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and it is located in southern Spain. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its rich historical value for people from all over the world.
Some areas to see near Seville are Cordoba, Cadiz, Ronda, Jerez de la Frontera and Granada.
How Long to stay in Seville?
We recommend staying in Seville for a minimum of three days. You can see so much in that time and still have plenty to do when you return for another trip.
Getting To Seville
If you are flying into Seville, the airport is located just 15 minutes from downtown. Most major and regional airlines fly to Sevilla’s San Pablo Airport including Air Europa, Vueling Airlines, and Iberia.
Seville has a great train system so it is very easy to get around once you arrive at the main station in town. The high-speed AVE train that runs between Madrid and Sevilla takes about two hours.
The bus station is located next to the main railway station, Estación de Autobuses de Sevilla (Calle Ximénez de Enciso). All of Spain’s major companies travel through this location for Seville including Alsa, Avanza, and Comes.