The 11 best things to do in Seville
The set of countless operas and plays, come to Seville and see what all the fuss is about! These are our favorite things to do in Seville
Seville is the kind of city people fall in love with on their first trip. Visiting Seville means meeting the sunniest city in Europe, filling your mind of images of medieval castles and alleys, sunny squares and orange blossoms, as well as flamenco and tapas. This city in Southern Spain has a rich Moorish heritage typical of Andalusia and spoils visitors with its food, beauty and pleasant pace of life.
To help you plan your stay, discover the must-do things in Seville, nicknamed the “Pearl of Andalusia”!
Read also : The best area to stay in Seville
1. Plaza de España and Parque María Luisa
Spectacular, grandiose, splendid… Praised since its birth in 1929, Plaza de España is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, squares in Seville, originally built for the Ibero-American Expo.
From its unmissable hemicycle to its superb benches with ceramic tiles representing all the Spanish provinces, its treasures are a plea for travel and a reminder, literally carved in stone, of the rich history of the Iberian Peninsula. In addition to its architectural heritage, which draw so many people, the square is a cult place for cinephiles of all ages! And for good reason, it was a filming location for “Star Wars Episode II” as well as the critically acclaimed “Lawrence of Arabia”, serving as a backdrop for the planet Naboo and also as the British Army’s headquarters.
Parque María Luisa is located just across the street. A popular place for tourists and locals alike, it is the main meeting place for a walk in the shade, a place of refuge for the hottest days. A true “green lung”, the María Luisa Park is simply the city’s most famous garden and was deemed a “Property of Cultural Interest”. Visiting Seville without going through this little slice of heaven would be a shame! During your walk, stroll to the Fountain of the Frogs and the small duck island before heading to the Plaza de las Palomas (Plaza de América), which houses the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, the Archaeological Museum of Seville, as well as the Royal Pavilion.
2. Santa Cruz
Why not dive straight into the heart of Andalusian culture? An essential part of your stay in Seville, the historic district of Santa Cruz has a much vaunted reputation and is often one of the first things that is recommended to see in Seville. Once in its narrow medieval alleys, cut off from the rest of the world, you are sent to another era. Dive into this typical place where Andalusian patios, warmly colored houses and small gardens live to the rhythm of the murmurs of the fountains. Along the small shaded passages, let yourself be surprised by the sweet smell of orange blossom which will undoubtedly guide you through this labyrinth of many treasures.
3. The Cathedral of Seville and La Giralda
If you are wondering what to do in Seville in terms of historical monuments, head for the Cathedral and the Giralda! These two iconic buildings need no introduction as they have become synonymous with the city.
The Cathedral was at first a mosque before being transformed into the largest Gothic churches in the world. When it was completed, in 1506, it became the largest church in all of Christendom, supplanting the famed Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul) Powerful and imposing, delicate and intricate, built to be “so good that none will be its equal” it towers over the entire city. In addition to its superb architecture, the monument also houses an incredible cultural heritage: there is a collection of gold jewelry, paintings and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
The Giralda, on the other hand, comes to magnify the place a little more. Formerly a minaret of the mosque, it is now used as a bell tower in the cathedral. Almost 600 feet high, it dominates the city and offers a breathtaking view of the Andalusian capital. Many steps are to be climbed before reaching this sensational view but it is certainly worth it and it is a cherished memory of Seville for many.
4. The Alcazar
Another symbol of Seville, located a few steps from the General Archives of India, which we also recommend you discover, is the Alcázar Palace, a sumptuous and truly unique sight.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it tells the story of one of the oldest royal palaces in Spain with its cosmopolitan culture and mixed influences. A breathtaking heritage that will seduce you from the floor to the ceiling, to its sumptuous gardens. A stupefying treasure of human genius and imagination, the Alcázar promises a real break through time that your eyes will never forget!
5. Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
Whatever your feelings about bullfighting may be, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is worth a visit, if only to appreciate the baroque façade of the arenas. Nicknamed the “Catedral del Toreo” (Cathedral of the Bullfighting), it is owned by the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Seville (translated as the “Royal Cavalry of Seville”), an organization that dates back to 1248. A true local institution, La Maestranza is home to a superb ocher sand setting, nestled in this 12,000-seat arena that has perpetuated the tradition for centuries. Under the stands, there is a small museum retracing the history of bullfighting, which will tell you the highlights of the practice, particularly through several collection works.
6. Local delicacies
As you can already imagine, visiting Seville entails trying out the local gastronomy. Sevillian cuisine is highly underrated, and is also very diverse. While it share a lot with the meat based cuisine of Castille, Seville adds an Andalusian flair with some hints of Arabic heritage. Enjoy picadillos and salpicon, light and fresh salads that are very popular in the Summer heat, as well as the omnipresent Andalusian gazpacho or Salmorejo, all veggie-based dishes that are as refreshing as they are savory. A trip to Seville wouldn’t be full however without getting a taste of other traditional dishes, often including stewed meat such as cola de toro, bull’s tail or solomillo al whiskey, pork in whiskey, which is a favorite in many tapas places.
Sevillian cuisine is open to vegetarians, espinacas con garbanzos being a staple of the Moorish influenced cuisine, and is also generally very cheap! While culinary traditions abound, food has remained unpretentious accessible, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Seville’s many tapas bars where you will find croquetas, fried ham or shrimp fingers, patatas bravas, baked crispy potato wedges with spicy tomato sauce and/or garlic sauce and lomo, the famed Iberian cured ham, fragrant and surprisingly devoid of fat. For the foodies out there, opt for a tapas bar tour or, even better, a local cooking course to reproduce the best dishes of Seville at home!
The cradle of flamenco, Triana neighborhood is a glimpse of a bohemian life. Nestled by the banks of the Guadalquivir river, authentic and warm, this area is gradually gaining traction as a place to visit in Seville but it remains rather uncrowded.
Triana is not a place to rush through, it is a place to stroll and walk around aimlessly. Don’t look at your watch, put your phone away for a moment and just bask is this unique atmoshpere. From colorful houses, small authentic cafés along the canal, charming shops and the local market (which you can visit while tasting local products), discover a place where you will want to live in… Lose yourself in the calm and unassuming shaded alleys and let yourself be guided by the notes of flamenco. Enjoy a drink on a terrace to enjoy a guitarist’s show or, for the most passionate, go to one of the many flamenco shows in the area!
8. Casa de Pilatos
Visiting Seville also means enjoying its feudal past. After the Alcazar, continue your visit of aristocratic display of wealth towards Casa de Pilatos. Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, this superb residence (surprisingly overlooked in most tourist guides) dazzles by its elegance and finesse. A true architectural and traditional jewel, Casa de Pilatos portrays a place marked by Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance styles. In its heart, azulejos, gardens, galleries, patios, wall paintings and sumptuous decorations plunge you into a actual work of art.
9. Metropol Parasol
If you are still wondering what to do in Seville, and have been walking in its arid medieval streets all day, you will doubly enjoy the Metropol Parasol. A daring modern work of art and architectural achievement, this 28-meter-high wooden structure was built by a Berlin architect to rehabilitate the Plaza de la Encarnacion. Fascinating, the “Setas de la Encarnacion” (Mushroom of the Incarnation) intrigues by its strangeness and has long been the subject of controversy precisely because of its extravagance (financial and architectural) which contrasts with the local heritage and with its unique scale.
However, the Metropol Parasol has a superb view of the city and certainly provides the area with some modern flair and well needed shade in what was otherwise a heat island. Also take advantage of your walk there to visit the local market and visit the archaeological museum it houses.
10. The Seville Aquarium
Young and old alike will appreciate the parenthesis of the Seville Aquarium. Home to a wide variety of species, the Seville Aquarium offers a dive into marine culture, witnessing a two-year journey by Magellan in 1519 to the Moluccas Islands. You will find 35 tanks and several thousand cubic meters of water exposing an exceptional fauna and flora. The Seville Aquarium is also and above all the largest shark aquarium in Europe, so take advantage of your trip there to observe the most beautiful specimens!
Good to know: the aquarium is free for children under 4 years old.
11. Seville’s nightlife
After having spent the day visiting iconic monuments, historical and modern, don’t forget about Sevillian nightlife. The city is renowned for waking up at nightfall, and the Andalusian capital promises you many sleepless nights if you like to go out until the early hours of the morning! From tapas bars and restaurants to the city’s various shows and clubs, the city embodies the Andalusian lifestyle and you will soon find yourself adopting it. To find out where to go out, check out our article on nightlife in Seville, which promises to give you a taste of the local fever…
How to get to Seville?
Seville has its own international airport, with many flights from everywhere in Europe, including daily direct flights from Paris Roissy CDG, London Gatwick or London Stansted. If flying from the US, you will have to get on a connecting flight from Madrid Barajasor Barcelona El Prat Josep Tarradellas as there are no direct flights. Both airports will have direct flights from New York JFK and Miami, as well as seasonal flights from Dallas or Charlotte.
Websites such as Skyscanner will be useful to compare these different options.
Once there, you will have two options to reach the center of Seville:
– You can choose to take an EA shuttle (special aeropuerto) which in 35 minutes will take you to the heart of Seville. Expect to pay 4 euros per trip for a shuttle every 20-25 minutes.
– Another alternative is car rental. The airport has several rental agencies and a car will be of great help if you want to head to Seville’s surroundings or to other parts of Andalusia. Malaga, Cordoba and Granada are all only a couple hours drive away and it is fairly easy to find cheap parking in Seville.
How to get around Seville?
Seville is a great city to simply walk around, as the city itself is an attraction and the atmosphere is really part of its charm. Seville offers a very recent metro line, a wide network of city buses and even a tramway line. As often in Southern Spain, the metro and tram tend to be used mainly by commuters and they won’t necessarily go to every tourist spot, whereas the many bus lines will. The metro and bus can be useful to get back to your hotel but you’ll be more likely to walk around to take in the sights.
Where to stay in Seville?
Much of what there is to do in Seville is located in a small area in the center. As such, you will be able to visit Seville from any district. However, accommodation rates and the general atmosphere of your stay in Seville will vary from area to area. Check out our detailed guide of areas to stay in Seville for more information, or head to a online booking service to to book your room now! Seville has a wide selection of old and prestigious luxury hotels, youth hostels known for their warm hospitality and everything in between! Airbnb also offers a wide array of a home stay accommodations, including a few gems if you book in advance!
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