The first time I went to Seville (Sevilla in Spanish) was in 2011. My boyfriend and I were on a summer holiday in the Costa del Sol and we were looking for day trip options. He said: “Why not check out Seville?”. I was hesitant because it was a 2 to 3 hours trip, but after googling the city I was sold. And I am glad I decided to go. The visit was super short, but Seville still managed to blow me away! In early 2022, during a workcation in Spain, my boyfriend and I wanted to use the opportunity to see Seville properly. The weather was not great, but the city still looked phenomenal. Are you thinking about going? In this blog post, I am sharing 8 great things to do in Seville.
1. Admire the view from Las Setas
Let’s start with modern Seville. The city center shows off ‘Las Setas de Sevilla’. Translation: the giant mushrooms of the city. This giant white wooden structure provides shade for the Plaza Mayor, the large square underneath Las Setas. The square also houses the Mercado de la Encarnación and the Antiquarium. This is not an aquarium as you might think, but a museum with ruins from the Roman era.
From below Las Setas is already impressive to see, but what I liked best is that you can go to the top for a 360-degree city view. A very affordable thing to do because the entrance fee is only 5 EUR per person (Mirador Day tickets). The ticket office is located underneath the square.
2. View all azulejos on Plaza de España
On to Spain’s most famous square: the crescent-shaped Plaza de España. Two hundred meters wide, and beautiful from all sides. The square is almost a century old and was constructed in 1929 in honor of the Ibero-American exhibition. This exhibition was organized to promote the city and was mainly aimed at the former colonies in South and Central America. All of Spain comes together in Plaza de España through the 48 tile mosaics, referring to Spain’s provinces. Domestic tourists like to track down their home province to take a selfie with it. When we were there, there were also a couple of performances going on such as flamenco dancing. Seville is located in the Andalusia region where flamenco comes from. Interesed in flamenco? Take a look at this beginners class with a local teacher.
Plaza de España is located in Maria Luisa Park, in itself also a nice area to walk around.
3. Get a feel of Alhambra in Real Alcázar
If you don’t know the Alhambra: this is a fairytale palace in southern Spain built in the Moorish era. Without a doubt one of the most stunning places to visit in Spain. In Seville, you can get a similar experience in Real Alcázar. Although this royal castle was not built by the Moorish rulers, it is inspired by the distinctive Mudéjar construction style (a mix of Moorish and European influences). The best rooms to see in Real Alcázar are the Patio de las Doncellas (courtyard garden in Alhambra style), Salón de Embajadores and the lush gardens.
Visiting Seville by yourself and looking for a good way to start your trip? Take a look at this Kickstart Seville tour.
Real Alcázar is a popular place to visit. Something that completely slipped my mind. To make matters worse: my visit to Seville coincided with Semana Santa, a week-long festival in Spain just before Easter. It was incredibly busy in the city and there were long lines everywhere. I think we waited for 20-30 minutes at the Real Alcázar ticket office and then another 2 hours before we could get in. Many time slots were already full. My tip for you: book your tickets online and save yourself a lot of time.
The ticket price is 13,50 EUR per person + 1 EUR online fee. If you’re flexible, I recommend planning your visit on Monday. Between 4 – 5 pm in autumn/winter or 6 – 7 pm in spring/summer, it is almost free to enter. Almost, because you still have to book the ticket online and for that you pay 1 euro. About the entrance, this is not the same as the ticket office. Puerto de Léon is the entrance, the ticket office is located on Patio de Banderas.
4. Try the tastiest tapas on a food tour
When you think of Spain, many people think of eating tapas. I must confess, that my knowledge of tapas has always been quite limited. I know patatas bravas, tortilla, garlic mushrooms, and mini croquettes, but that’s about it. That’s why I thought it would be fun to join a tapas food tour to learn more. I landed on the tapas tour of Spain Food Sherpas which offers classic tapas food stops with alternatives for vegetarians and vegans. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible but our cheerful guide made up for it. Out of all the food stops my favorites were spinach with chickpeas, salmorejo (cold soup, lighter in color than gazpacho), and tortas de aceite (traditional olive oil crackers from Seville) with pureed tomato. My friend was particularly fond of dried tuna (mojama de atún).
No time for a tour, but do you still want to try tapas? I enjoyed the tapas at La Huerta 9 (meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan tapas) and Vegan Rock (100% vegan tapas).
5. Admire Seville Cathedral
Real Alcázar is Seville’s top attraction, but a close second is the Seville Cathedral. It’s full name: Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede. A bombastic structure! Today it is the third-largest church in the world. Strangely enough, it wasn’t always a church. In the 13th century, there was a mosque here, but after the reconquest of Seville by the Christians, it was transformed into a church and expanded into what it is today. The only thing reminding us of its history is the Giralda Tower which used to be the mosque’s minaret.
The entrance fee is 12 EUR. For this price, you get access to the cathedral, the Giralda Tower, and the Salvador Church. The cathedral is a popular place to visit, so arrange your tickets online in advance. Tip: on Thursday afternoon after 2.45 pm, admission is almost free (1 euro management fee). But you need to reserve this free ticket online. Want to avoid all this hassle? Check out this skip-the-line cathedral tour with a local.
6. Take a stroll in Santa Cruz
Done at the cathedral? Then I recommend exploring the neighborhood surrounding the cathedral. The Santa Cruz district is one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods in Seville. A wonderful place to walk around with your camera to capture the narrow streets, colorful houses, and lively squares. However, this is also a place with a dark history. Back in the Middle Ages, many Jews lived here. In the 13th century, they thought they had found a safe haven in Catholic Seville, but nothing could be further from the truth. All Jews had to convert to Catholicism, otherwise, they would be brutally prosecuted.
Tip: to get a nice cup of coffee I recommend going to Delatribu (great coffee, but almost no sitting area) or Salt & Sugar (lovely indoor courtyard).
7. Take a walk down the river near Torre del Oro
Torre del Oro is the symbol of Seville. Several stories are going around about the name of this 12th-century watchtower. For instance, some say the tower got its name from the golden glow it cast across the river. Others say the tower used to be covered with golden tiles. And yet, others say that the name refers to the trade in gold that entered the city via the Guadalquivir River.
I didn’t find the tower as impressive as the other monuments, but it does offer the chance to take a walk along the river. A cycling and pedestrian walking path is going from the tower towards Plaza de Torres, the oldest Spanish bullring for bullfighting. Bullfighting is unfortunately still very much alive in Seville.
8. Treat yourself at these breakfast or lunch spots
The final item on this list might not be something typically Spanish, but I love starting the day with a generous breakfast such as an acaï or smoothie bowl. In Seville, I tried a couple of great places that I would like to share with you.
- Moya Brunch: a pink-themed brunch café. The acaï bowl here was my favorite because, in addition to the usual ingredients, it also had big chunks of granola.
- Milk Away: sandwiches, fruity bowls, and salads. The acaï bowl here was very tasty.
- Ananas Coffee: a 10-minute walk from Santa Justa station, so ideal if you come to Seville by train. The smoothie bowl was good but quite small.
- Jester: I have not been here because there was a huge line in front of it. However, I have heard good stories about the bowls here.
Where to stay in Seville?
As I said before, we were in Seville during Semana Santa which resulted in sky-high prices for hotels, hostels, apartments, and everything. I came across rates of 170 EUR per night for a double room. Above our budget, so staying in Seville was not an option. Instead, we had booked a guesthouse in Utrera, a city close to Seville. Traveling back and forth every day (30 min by C1 train, one-way) was doable, but not ideal. Next time I am in Seville, I am staying in the city. Looking for a place to stay in Seville? Maybe try Boutike Guesthouse (8.5 rating on Booking.com) or Casa Boutique La Pila del Pato (8.9 rating on Booking.com). Both are conveniently located in Casco Antiguo, the old town of Seville.
Click here for an overview of accommodations in Seville.
How to get in and around seville?
Seville has two train stations: Santa Justa and San Bernardo. Santa Justa is the main station while San Bernardo is a smaller cercania (suburban) train stop. From Santa Justa it is a 2-kilometer walk to the center, from San Bernardo, it is about the same. Seville has a metro network, but weirdly enough it is not connected to Santa Justa. Fortunately, San Bernardo does have a metro station (L1) to the center. Get out at Puerta Jerez. During our stay, we barely used the metro. The city is very walkable. The only time we did use the metro was when we crossed the river. Buying a ticket is super easy, you can pay for entry at the metro gate with your credit card.
And there you have it, 8 great things to do in Seville. Would you want to visit this Andalusian city?
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