Seville is the hot and humid capital of Spain’s Andalucia province. Although it is a large in size, all the main attractions are located close together, so you won’t need to worry about traveling too far within the city. We spent 3 perfect day’s here in September 2019 and have some of our highlights below.
Firstly, how to arrive in Seville. There are 3 main public transport options – by plane, train and bus!
If arriving by plane you will be flying into Sevilla Airport – the 6th busiest airport in Spain. It is approximately 11km from the historic center of Sevilla. A taxi direct to your hotel door will cost you between €25-30. There is also a bus (Line EA) that goes from outside the main terminal and arrives downtown in about 35 minutes. A one-way ticket costs €4. As most of the historic center is pedestrianized however make sure that the nearest bus stop isn’t too far from your accommodation – especially if you have a lot of luggage.
If arriving by train into Sevilla you will most likely arrive into Santa Justa station. Santa Justa is approximately a 30-minute walk to downtown Sevilla, or a taxi will cost €6-8.
Buses arrive at the main bus station which is located close to the Plaza de Armas square. Depending on the location of your accommodation, this isn’t too far of a trip on foot. It is also the handiest option if you are staying in the Triana neighborhood.
Our first stop on our Seville trip was to Casa de Pilatos which is in the old Jewish neighborhood of Santa Cruz. We set off on foot and walked past the impressively colorful Iglesias de San Ildefonso on the way.
Casa de Pilatos was built in the 16th century and is a fine example of Spain’s palace architecture. There is a great mix of architectural styles – with the blend of Renaissance and Mudejar style’s completing each other in impressive fashion.
The price was €10 which included an audioguide. For an extra €2, you can view the upstairs of the palace. We paid the €2 and were told there was a tour at 4 pm (we arrived at 3.45 pm). The first word’s said on the audioguide are “Remember there is a tour every half an hour”. With that in mind we said we would look around the house first, and then take the tour at 4.30 pm. We finished at 4.30 pm (the last words of the audioguide were “Remember there is a tour every half an hour”). Sure enough, there was no tour at 4.30 pm! When I asked the woman at the reception if there was another tour she told me the next one was at 5.30 pm! She wasn’t very nice about it either. This is the complete opposite of what the audioguides were saying.
Regarding the house itself, it was nothing special. Maybe the upstairs is the highlight but we weren’t overly impressed (and this was our first tourist attraction of the whole trip). I would say that if you are going to be visiting other palaces like the Alcazar in Sevilla or the Alhambra in Granada then you can definitely give this a skip. The price alone makes us give this a big thumbs down – don’t believe the hype on trip advisor!
Casa de Pilatos is open all day – from 9 am – 7 pm in the summer and 9 am – 6 pm in winter.
The Cathedral in Seville is HUGE! It is the largest Gothic church in the world and the third-largest cathedral in the whole world. It is one of Spain’s symbols of the Reconquest – built between 1401 and 1506 on the site of a Mosque.
The interior of the Cathedral is breathtaking. It is gothic in style and has very tall walls with stained glass windows all over. The main draw of the interior is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. There is some doubt if Columbus’ remains are actually in the tomb (the Dominican Republic claim they have it) but the tomb itself is very impressive. It felt like our journey had come full circle having just visited the continent that Columbus himself “discovered” in the late 15th century.
The golden main altarpiece of the Cathedral will catch any visitor’s eye. Built with actual gold taken back from Columbus’ journey to America, you can get a good appreciation for how much the continent was impacted.
Another site of note is the Patio de Los Naranjos. This was where the main entrance to the mosque was and it is an oasis of peace compared to the craziness of the Cathedral itself. There are also some great viewpoints of La Giralda from here.
La Giralda (the bell tower) is Seville’s most iconic landmark. It was formerly the minaret of the Mosque in Moorish times and is one of the few remaining pieces. It is possible to climb to the top of the bell tower for great views of Sevilla. The inside has no steps, it is just a ramp – this is believed to have been designed to allow people to go up on horseback to ring the bell.
Entrance to the Cathedral and La Giralda is €9. If you want an audio guide it is an extra €3. The Cathedral opens at 11 am – 5 pm. When we arrived at 10.40 am the queue was already going around the corner. We didn’t get inside until about 11.20 am. For this reason, I think it is a good idea to book your tickets in advance from the Cathedral website.
The Real Alcazar is a royal palace located in Sevilla. It also happens to be the oldest in-use royal palace in Europe as the royalty of Spain stay here when they are in the region. It is another impressive building that mixes Mudejar and Christian architecture due to its history. It’s also been used in Game of Thrones so it has begun to attract quite the crowd.
The Alcazar is amazing though, and definitely worth a visit. The internal Mudejar style rooms are every photographer’s dream. The gardens are worth the admission price alone and you should plan to spend a couple of hours just wandering around these.
The main attraction is the Patio de las Doncellas – just remember that the famous picture is taken from the other end of the patio to where you enter – this is a common theme with palaces in Andalucia!
Entrance to the Alcazar is €12.50 with an audioguide an extra €6. I can’t say that we got much use out of the audioguides, but if you are the type that likes to know what is going on and can take it all in, then this is for you. You should book your tickets in advance. Like everything else in Sevilla, the Alcazar is very busy. We booked our tickets for 4.30 pm and it was still heaving with people. That said we were outside the Alcazar at 4 pm and they wouldn’t allow us in until 4.30 pm even though there was no queue.
The Alcazar is located close to the Cathedral and is open 9.30 am – 7 pm. It is also possible to visit the Alcazar at night. Note that there is also the possibility to visit the Royal Residence of the Alcazar, but this needs to be booked at least a month in advance.
The Santa Cruz neighbourhood is Seville’s old Jewish Quarter. The streets are narrow, windy and for the most part, pedestrianized. This is a really cool, different area and it is recommended to just spend a few hours walking around and enjoying getting lost in its maze of streets. Pop in and have a tapas and a beer if it gets too hot for you!
Located close to the Cathedral this huge 16th-century building hosts many important documents relating to Spain’s vast empire and in particular its conquest of the America’s. Entrance is free although when we were there it was closed due to an exhibition.
Plaza de Espana is Seville’s landmark square. Constructed in 1928 as a part of the Ibero-American Exposition, its main goal was to strengthen ties between Spain and the countries of America.
The square is a huge half-circle with baroque, renaissance and Mudejar style buildings surrounding it. There are four bridges (to represent the 4 kingdoms of Spain) which cross over a moat. All along the Plaza, there are tiles that represent each province of Spain. Look around and find some of your favourites!
The square really is impressive. There are so many picture opportunities that you will spend half your time just taking pictures! Don’t forget to climb up the stairs and get a viewpoint from above.
Plaza de Espana is free and is located within Parque de Maria Luisa. We had read a lot about the park, with many people advising you to take a trip around it and visit Plaza de America. We did this and to be honest if you didn’t have the time then you can skip this. There really wasn’t anything special or different about the park. If you are looking for a nice walk then go for it, otherwise, Plaza de Espana is sufficient.
Having left Parque de Espana and walked along the river, we came across the Torre del Oro. This military watchtower was originally erected when the city was under Muslim rule and now houses the naval museum.
The museum itself is not worth the entry price, which at a measly €3 says a lot! Do yourself a favor and just enjoy the tower from the outside!
Seville’s bullfighting arena is also a museum and is located alongside the river Guadalquivir. Whether you are a fan or totally against bullfighting (we are completely against it), it comes highly recommended as an important part of learning about this part of Spanish culture.
It is €8 to enter Plaza de Toros and you get a guided tour (although the whole thing is done via audioguide). Tours start every 30 mins and we went at around 3 pm on a Saturday and were queuing for about 20 minutes in the baking sun waiting for the next tour. Needless to say, the tour itself was jammed full of people!
The fact there was so many people probably made the visit a little less enjoyable, but the audioguide is pretty educational. You get taken through numerous museum rooms and end the tour in the Plaza itself. You can get a good feel for the atmosphere in the stadium – lookout for all the scratch marks on the doors surrounding it!
The Triana neighborhood is located across the river Guadalquivir from Seville. This is the colorful, hard-working, charming neighborhood of Seville. The one where people from there say they are going to Seville when they cross the river. They have their own identity and indeed it feels like a different city when you cross the river.
Cross the Triana bridge and check out the colorful buildings that run along Calle Betis. On your right you will find the Triana market, we ate here but it was the most expensive meal of our whole time in Spain – and we only got one dish to share!
Just wander along the streets and visit some bars along the way if you like! We walked along Calle San Jacinto before turning off and somehow ending up at Santa Ana church. Here there was a wedding and we found a spot in the bar across from it (aptly called Bar Santa Ana) and just people watched for a few hours. 6 drinks cost us €9 and we got a good feel for how a normal Saturday plays out in this fascinating neighborhood!
Las Setas (the mushrooms) is the worlds largest wooden structure, with some of the best views of Seville located on top. It is advised to visit here for sunset, but we could never make it in time (the queue can get quite bad, especially as we were there at the weekend). It costs €3 and is a really interesting place to visit!
We were only in Seville for 3 nights so we are by no means experts, but the below are some recommendations of places and things to try when in Seville.
Although not specific to Seville (these drinks are available throughout Andalucia), you should do your best to try some of these delicious specialties!
One part sherry, one part lemonade. This drink normally comes in a jar (for around €7) and to be honest, wasn’t as nice as I expected (I have abnormally high expectation for drinks that sound like Mojito). It is still worth sampling however if only to see the pouring the sherry from a tap behind the bar!
Ah, the Andalucian specialty! The old saying goes – tourist’s drink Sangria, locals drink Tinto de Verano. In all honesty, I’ve had both and I struggled to tell the difference. Tinto de Verano is red wine mixed with a fizzy drink (usually Casera). With some ice cubes added it is quite the refreshing drink to combat the Sevillian sun!
A delicious wine that contains a hint of orange zest. No need to say anymore, just try it. Bar Santa Ana in Triana is the perfect place!
Seville probably had the best Tapas we experienced on our trip, with the below selections being the absolute highlights.
Delicious baked provolone served with bread. We got this in Bar Alfalfa – must try with some red wine!
This was probably the nicest dish we had on the whole trip! Available at La Malvaloca on Plaza de la Encarnacion, beside Las Setas.
Not a particular tapas dish, but an entire restaurant. This bar came recommended to us and it didn’t disappoint. We tried the Iberian Pork Cheeks (drool), stuffed avocado, and camembert cheese and prawns, amongst others.
Good luck getting a seat at this bar – for that reason alone you know its good! It’s also really cheap, hence why it is so busy. At €2.50 for tapas (most places are €3.50/€4), you can’t really go wrong but the Tuna and tomato sauce dish went down well at our table. We managed to get a seat outside, and got a great view of La Giralda!
Not tapas, but dessert! Bar El Comercio is THE place to get churros in Seville. Make sure to order them with chocolate – the best churros we have ever had!