If you are looking for captivating European destinations to explore, put Seville in Spain on your list of must-sees. This vibrant city lures its visitors with major attractions like Alcazar Seville, the Gothic Seville Cathedral, Plaza de Espana, fascinating modern structure Metropol Parasol, and traditional bullfighting arena Plaza de Toros. But there is more to Seville than its landmarks – the city’s unique and colorful vibe created by a mix of Christian, Arabic, and Jewish cultures, so fascinating, you would not want to leave. Here is your guide to things to do and see in Seville, Spain.
VISITING SEVILLE IN SPAIN – THINGS TO DO AND SEE
During my visit to Portugal, I fell in love with ceramic tile architecture and was on a lookout for similar destinations ever since. When a friend posted on Facebook a picture of Plaza de Espana, I was sold. The beautiful colorful tiles and the plaza’s inviting design triggered my desire to see the landmark in person. From there, the idea developed into a two-week road trip to Andalusia, the southern region of Spain. It turned out to be one of my most memorable European vacations.
How many days to spend in Seville Spain
For those who like a packed itinerary, two days may be enough just to cover main Seville’s attractions like Seville Cathedral and Alcazar Seville. I spent three full days in the city, and I did not think it was enough. To soak it all in, I suggest spending at least 5 days.
Seville things to do – visit top attractions
The Alcazar Seville also called Real Alacar of Seville
Many cities in Spain still use Alcazar to name an ancient Muslim palace or royal residence from the time of the Moorish invasion. Known as the Royal Alcazar, the palace served originally as Moorish fort built in the 10th century by the first Muslim ruler of Andalusia. With the start of the Christian era in Seville, the Alcazar was converted into the residence of the Christian monarchs.
Located in the heart of Seville, the complex stands as one of the oldest palaces still in use in the world. It represents the best example of the Mudejar (partly Gothic, partly Islamic) style of architecture in Spain. Due to its history and beauty, the Alcazar Seville was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Seville Cathedral. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as their official residence in Seville.
The gardens were developed in the Moorish style as an essential part of the palace design. They feature extensive patios, fruit orchards, produce gardens, and landscaped grounds. As with all Moorish gardens, water features functioned as an integrated part of the landscape.
Alcazar Seville tickets
The official site has many options available, so make sure to pick the one that suits your interest. Buy Alcazar ticket in advance on the palace’s official website.
Here are the tips on buying tickets for visiting the Real Alcazar Palace in Seville.
The magnificent Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic church in the world and third largest church overall in Europe. The official name is Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the adjoining Alcazar palace complex.
As is so often the case in southern Spain, this massive tribute to Catholic dominion was built on the site of the city’s former mosque. It was intended as a display of the triumph of Christianity over the vanquished Moorish kings. In total, this Gothic complex houses 80 chapels. The Capilla Mayor, or Main Chapel, is said to be the largest altar in the world.
The interior of the cathedral is magnificent. It features numerous chapels, a beautiful choir, remarkable vaulted ceilings, and stained glass windows. Seville’s cathedral also contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus, whose discovery of the New World was crucial to Seville’s economic success.
Plaza de Espana
It was initially designed and built as the ultimate symbol and the most ambitious project of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair. Located a little farther from the main tourist areas of Seville Cathedral and Alcazar Seville, the plaza is full of life and a delight to explore. You can have lunch there, soak up the sun, and enjoy street performers. Families with children love coming there.
You will find Plaza de Espana inside Maria Luisa Park. Also, in the park, you can stroll along Avenida Isabella La Catolica, a pedestrianized avenue with ice-cream sellers, bike rental stand, and quite often flamenco dancers!
Piazza De Espana’s main feature is a semi-circular brick building with towers at both ends. In front of the building, you will find a canal crossed by four bridges. Surrounding the building, 48 tiled alcoves and benches represent all Spanish provinces.
Rent a boat!
Near the entrance to Plaza de Espana, visitors can rent a boat to travel the 515 meters of the canal. That experience will give a different perspective of the square and its bridges. The rental options include rowing boats for up to four people or motorized boats for up to 12. They are available from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM in the summer, and until 8:00 PM in the winter.
Metropol Parasol (also called Seville Mushroom, Seville Parasol, and Setas de Sevilla)
I am not a huge fan of modern structures mixed with the old architecture, but the Seville Parasol took me by surprise. I loved it! The wooden mushroom is located at La Encarnación square deep in the old quarter of Seville. Despite being gigantic, it creates a cozy oasis-like atmosphere. It looks like a vast playground, and it practically serves as one.
Designed as a sunshade by German architect Jürgen Hermann Mayer, it set the record as the world’s largest wooden structure. This giant sculpture/building covers a former dead zone in Seville’s central district. The area was previously occupied with a car park. Since opening in 2011, controversial Metropol Parasol has become one of the top Seville’s attractions.
Stay for the sunset!
The best time to visit the Parasol is about an hour before sunset. That will allow you enough time to see it in daylight and then walk its upper levels for the sunset and killer views of the city. Lifts run up from the basement to the top, where you can enjoy its twisty walkway and a small cafe.
Seville Bullfighting Ring – Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Seville is one of the oldest and most important bullrings in Spain. This beautiful construction, dating as far back as 1749, has capacity for over 12,000 spectators. It is a fascinating attraction where the spirit of bullfighting merge with the art, tradition, and values of Spanish culture. You can only take a guided tour. I found it to be very well conducted and informative.
The fighting season starts between March and April and ends in late September. Every April, the city hosts its grand annual fair during which several bullfights are staged in the Real Maestranza. For the last few centuries, the Andalusian capital of Seville has been a key city in the development of bullfighting tradition.
Seville things to do – experiences
Get lost in Santa Cruz Seville
The tourist heart, Santa Cruz district, features Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcazar. Additionally, it is a delightful place to stroll and enjoy the city’s culture. Tapas bars on nearby Calle Mateos Gago serve octopus and Iberian ham. The old Jewish quarter’s narrow streets and orange tree-lined squares invite with shops selling souvenirs, handicrafts, and ceramics.
Enjoy street performers, including Flamenco dancers
Street performers keep Seville alive with music and dance, that range from traditional flamenco to mime artists and levitating Buddhas. I loved the Flamenco dancers in Seville for their artistry and passion.
Snack on tapas around the city
Try one of Spain’s favorite culinary pastimes, eating tapas ( small portions of food). Usually accompanied by sherry, aperitifs or cocktails, tapas are must-do in Seville. You will find more than 4,000 tapas bars, roughly 1 for every 200 locals. I better like olive oil! Andalusia is the top exporter of olive oil in the world, and that shows in the region’s cuisine.
Have a glass or two of the famous Andalusian sherry
Sherry is a fortified white wine made of grapes. It comes from the oldest wine-producing region in Spain, Jerez De La Frontera. The name “sherry” comes from an English pronunciation, the wine’s home region, Jerez. It was a favorite drink of Shakespeare and many English and Spanish royals during the 17th and 18th centuries. Sherries fall into a wide range of tastes from very dry to syrupy sweet. I enjoyed the dry sherry the most.
Dine at one of many Arabic restaurants of Seville
If you get tired of tapas, try out another one of many Arabic restaurants. They not only serve delicious food but are beautifully decorated.
Look for beautiful patios
It is a widespread custom in Seville to leave the outside doors open so that everyone can admire the appealing patios. Keep your eyes open!
Visit Flamenco Dance Museum
Do not miss this Seville’s attraction. Enter the dazzling world of flamenco, a cutting-edge museum dedicated to Spain’s national dance. See how flamenco evolved from a traditional dance into the cultural phenomenon. See historical costumes, props, and artwork. You can also attend a flamenco show at this unique venue.
Spend some time People-watching
After years of living in the USA, I am always looking forward to people watching while in Europe. I have to say, women in Spain really impressed me with their style!
I did not have a lot of time for shopping but still managed to buy beautiful souvenirs made of tiles. Ceramics are fantastic in Seville. Learn about Uniquely Spanish Things to Buy in Seville
How to get to Seville
You can very easily reach Seville by car. It is accessible by a high-quality road network, including toll highways and free roads.
The airport is ten kilometers north of the city, close to the A-4 highway. Almost five million passengers use this airport each year. Most passengers arrive from other Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia. But there are also numerous flights to European cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Milan and so on. When going from the airport to the city center, visitors can opt for a taxi or take a special bus service.
Spain has an excellent train network with the most high-speed trains anywhere in Europe, and with good connections to France and Portugal. High-speed AVE trains (Alta Velocidad Española) link major cities, including Seville. AVE offers many daily services to Madrid, with a journey time of around two and a half hours. It also connects with Barcelona, by way of Zaragoza, in about five and a half hours, and with Valencia in a little less than four hours. Seville is also served by other long-distance railway lines. Additionally, regional services are connecting Seville with the other provincial capitals in Andalusia, and with numerous towns and villages.
Where there are no trains, buses serve as a very economical replacement of trains. You will find two bus and coach stations in the city. The main one is on Plaza de Armas, with numerous daily national and international services. The Prado de San Sebastián bus station operates scheduled regional services.
Driving and parking in Seville Spain
You do not need a car to navigate between Seville attractions. If you arrive by car, look for accommodation not too close to the historic center. Leave your car behind before venturing out to explore the city. The streets there are extremely narrow, and parking is almost impossible.
How to get around in Seville Spain
I do not like public transportation, so I do not use it. I simply walked to explore Seville attractions and used Uber or a taxi when needed. That worked perfectly for me, but here is the guide to getting around by bus and tram in Seville
Uber in Seville
Uber service impressed me in Seville. It felt almost like a limo service. All the cars were the same, and the drivers were wearing spotless white shirts and black ties. I liked the rates too!
Hotels in Seville
I suggest Barrio Santa Cruz district as the best area to stay in. That will give you easy access to major attractions like Alcazar Seville and Cathedral Seville. Additionally, you will get to enjoy the maze of winding streets, varied dining, and several worthwhile museums. Furthermore, the area delivers much of the city’s nightlife. You will find there numerous boutique hotels, including 4-star and 5-star options, but also excellent budget hotels.
Look at that lobby at San Gill Hotel!
Since I do not mind walking, I stayed in San Gil Hotel Seville, twenty minutes on foot to the main attractions. I liked the price with breakfast included. I also enjoyed the hotel for its beautiful courtyard and the fabulous tiles in the lobby. Because of the hotel’s location in the historic district, driving around and parking required skills and nerves of steel. This hotel better suites travelers without a car. Here are the best hotels in Seville by U.S. News.