In imagining my first time in Spain, I assumed I’d visit Barcelona and Madrid- places like Seville, Valencia, Sitges and Alicante would be places I’d explore on subsequent trips. But, after a few friends visited Seville earlier this year, and I read a bit more about the city, I was persuaded to bump it to the top of my ‘to travel’ list.
Before coming to Seville, I spent two days in Barcelona, which quickly became one of my favorite places in the world.
As for Seville, even though I’d swooned over photos before going, I hadn’t expected to love it so much. Relaxed and sunny with hidden gems around every corner, it’s somewhere I can’t wait to visit again someday.
Seville, the Andalusian capital of Spain, is a must visit on any trip to the south of Spain. It’s intoxicating- a perfect mix of winding, colorful medieval lanes, Moorish details and modern makings. We spent two days exploring the city, wandering beautiful gardens and historic homes, sipping late night sangria, indulging in tapas and being entranced by Flamenco.
5 reasons you must visit Seville
Seville was founded by the Romans, ruled by the Muslims and finally came under Spanish rule in the 13th century. While wandering, you’ll see influence of Muslim rule in details of buildings and plazas. Seville’s cultural history and architecture are elaborate, a sight to be seen.
A must-see, the Seville Cathedral, is one of the largest cathedrals in the world, and home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The Gothic church was one of the most incredible ones I’ve ever visited. If you have time, climb to the top of the Giralda Tower for a view over the city.
Nothing like the architecture downtown, the mushroom shaped grid of Metropol Parasol is a fun contrast to the rest of Seville. Head to the top for a view of the city, there’s even a rooftop bar if you want to grab a drink and relax.
Of course there are great tapas everywhere in Spain, but I liked some of the places I visited in Seville even more than Barcelona.
- El Rinconcillo: Thought to be the oldest tapas bar and restaurant in the city, dating back to 1670. This place was my favorite- be prepared to order and speak in Spanish (there’s an English menu, but the staff doesn’t speak much English). Tapas wise, I enjoyed different cheeses, coquettes and sherry wine
- Bar Alfalfa: Very cosy, filled with locals, and plenty of vegetarian tapas options. Win, win, win!
- Uno de Delicias: Great tapas selection and sangria
- Bar el Comercio: Not tapas, unless you’d consider churros con chocolate to be tapas. 😉 This place was packed with locals, so you know it’s the real deal
Any trip to Seville, the birthplace of Flamenco, wouldn’t be complete without seeing a performance. There are plenty of places to see a show, I chose Casa de la Guitarra, Spain’s only guitar museum. Can’t recommend the show here enough- they crowd is kept small so it feels intimate. And, the performers were so good- our dancer seriously got into it, she was incredible.
In a city with such vibrant history, it’s no surprise there are beautiful, well-preserved palaces and homes.
The Alcázar of Seville is one of the city’s top attractions. First constructed in the 14th century by Moorish kings, the palace features Muslim influenced architecture unique to the south of Spain. I spent a few hours wandering the palace and gardens, and couldn’t believe how gorgeous every Moorish detail was.
The palace is a magical place. Game of Thrones has filmed a few scenes here, but even if you aren’t a fan, like me, you’ll leave feeling inspired after roaming the grounds. If you want to skip the queue, purchase tickets online ahead of time.
On my trip, I also visited Casa de Pilatos, a mansion downtown originally built for a merchant. The incredible tile work, stunning courtyard and gardens make you feel like you’ve entered another era.
Picture Perfect Wandering
Seville is the perfect size to explore on foot. With only two days, I felt like I saw and did a lot without feeling overwhelmed. As with any trip, I left plenty of time to just wander, but marked a few places I wanted to check out on my Google map I made for the trip.
The Plaza de Espana is one of Seville’s most famous plazas, for good reason. The large semi-circular brick buildings, central fountain and intricately tiled bridges are breathtaking.
While you’re near the plaza, head to Maria Luisa Park to stroll landscaped gardens. Not in the mood to walk? You can rent bikes or splurge for a horse-drawn cart to explore the expansive gardens.
If you need a ‘pick-me-up’ post park and plaza wandering, head to nearby Torch. Third wave coffee culture hasn’t caught on at large in Europe, like it has in the States, but this hipster shop is beautiful and does some seriously good frozen coffees.
As you’re exploring downtown Seville, make sure you set aside time to walk along the river Guadalquivir, and wander Barrio Santa Cruz, the city’s historic Jewish Quarter. It’s full of pastel colors and charm, the exact kind of place I want to get lost.
Finally, if you’re looking for tapas and sangria in a hip neighborhood, head to Alameda de Hercules.
EXTRA KNOW BEFORE YOU GO INFO
- Identification: Passport
- Language: Spanish
- Currency: The Euro
- Money Exchange: Because the euro is a common global currency, many banks will convert for free before you go. I’d recommend taking enough money in euros to cover small purchases and using a credit card with no international transaction fee to cover larger items, e.g., show tickets, dinner/drinks, etc.
- If you do plan on using a credit or debit card while abroad, remember to alert your bank that you’ll be traveling internationally
- Getting There: Seville can be reached by air, train or bus.
- I flew to Seville from Barcelona, and then took the air bus downtown (€4 each way). The bus runs regularly, and takes about ~20-30 minutes each way, depending on which stop you’re getting off at
- Getting Around: Walk. If you’re going across town, you can either take one of Seville’s many bus routes or a taxi- they’re plentiful downtown
- When to Visit: I visited in early September, and was surprised by how hot it still was- 96-98 Fahrenheit every day. On my next trip, I’ll likely visit in winter, when the weather is still beautiful, but mild
- Where to Stay: I stayed in an Airbnb, which I rented the entirety of for less than £40 a night. There are also plenty of hotels downtown, but Airbnb is, without a doubt, more affordable, and many of them in Seville are in actual homes so you get a true sense of how locals live
- Wifi Access: Wifi is easy to find in restaurants and cafes. If you really need wifi for directions or other activities, I’d recommend adding it to your cell phone plan (Verizon offers connectivity for $10 a day) or renting a TEP wireless device
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