Nestled in the heart of Andalusia, Seville is an enchanting city that every travel lover should have on their bucket list. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, Seville promises unforgettable experiences around every corner. Whether you’re wandering through the maze-like streets of the old town, marvelling at the grandeur of the Seville Cathedral, or soaking up the lively atmosphere of Plaza de España, there’s something here for everyone. In this post, I’ll guide you through the very best things to do in Seville, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this magical Spanish city.

Exploring Seville’s Historic Landmarks

Seville is a city steeped in history, and its landmarks offer a fascinating glimpse into its storied past. From grand palaces to towering cathedrals, these sites are must-sees for any visitor. Let’s dive into two of the most iconic historic landmarks that you simply cannot miss during your visit.

The Alcázar of Seville

Alcazar of Seville

When I first set foot in the Alcázar of Seville, I was instantly transported back in time. It feels like something straight out of Game of Thrones and it is! It was actually used as a set for the show. This royal palace, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings, is a testament to the city’s diverse cultural heritage. The blend of Islamic and Christian architectural styles is nothing short of mesmerizing.

  • History and Significance: The Alcázar has been a symbol of power for over a thousand years. It started as a Moorish fort and has evolved into a royal residence. Even today, it’s still used by the Spanish royal family, making it the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.
  • Stunning Gardens: The gardens are like something out of a fairy tale. There are lush orange trees, intricate fountains, and peacocks strutting around as if they own the place. It’s the perfect spot to take a leisurely stroll and soak in the beauty

Tips for visiting:

  • Buy Tickets in Advance: Trust me, the lines can be long, especially during peak tourist season. Purchasing tickets online will save you a lot of time.
  • Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to get the most out of your visit. The history is rich and complex, and having a knowledgeable guide can really enhance your experience.

Seville Cathedral and La Giralda

Seville Cathedral

Standing in front of the Seville Cathedral, I felt dwarfed by its sheer size and grandeur! This is more than just a church; it’s a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and an icon of the city.

  • Importance of the Cathedral: As the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, Seville Cathedral holds immense historical and religious significance. It was built on the site of a former mosque, and you can still see remnants of its Islamic past in some of the architectural details.
  • Architectural Marvels: Inside, the cathedral is just as impressive as its exterior. From the soaring nave to the intricate altarpiece, every corner holds something spectacular. Don’t miss the tomb of Christopher Columbus, which is said to hold the remains of the famous explorer.
  • Panoramic Views from La Giralda: The Giralda is the cathedral’s bell tower and originally served as a minaret. Climbing to the top is a must-do for any visitor. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with increasingly stunning views of the city. The panoramic vista from the top is absolutely worth the effort!

Immersing in Seville’s Culture

Seville is not just about historic landmarks; its culture is equally exciting. From the soulful strains of flamenco to the charming allure of its old neighbourhoods, the city offers range of rich experiences that will enchant any traveller.

Flamenco Shows

Flamenco show at La Carbonaria Seville

When in Seville, you can’t miss experiencing an authentic flamenco show. Flamenco is more than just music and dance; it’s an expression of deep emotion and a significant part of Spanish culture. There are several iconic places in Seville where you can witness this passionate art form at its best.

  • Casa de la Memoria: This intimate venue is perfect for those seeking an authentic experience. The setting is cosy, and the performers are incredibly talented. You can almost feel the emotion in every clap and strum of the guitar.
  • El Palacio Andaluz: For a more grandiose experience, head to El Palacio Andaluz. The performances here are more theatrical with elaborate costumes and a larger stage, making it a feast for the eyes and ears.
  • La Carbonería: If you prefer something more off the beaten path, La Carbonería is a hidden gem. It’s a favourite among locals and offers a more laid-back vibe. It’s like being part of a secret, where the flamenco feels spontaneous and raw. When I visited La Carbonería entry to watch the show was free with the purchase of a drink. It was a great experience that I’d really recommend!

Barrio Santa Cruz

Barrio Santa Cruz Seville

Strolling through Barrio Santa Cruz is like stepping into a different era. This old Jewish quarter is one of Seville’s most picturesque areas, filled with narrow, winding streets, charming plazas, and local artisan shops.

  • Quaint Streets and Plazas: The labyrinthine streets are perfect for a leisurely walk. You can get lost in the best way possible, discovering hidden gems around every corner. The plazas, like Plaza de Doña Elvira and Plaza de Santa Cruz, are perfect spots to sit and soak in the atmosphere.
  • Local Artisan Shops: The area is dotted with quaint shops selling everything from handmade ceramics to traditional Spanish fans. These unique items make perfect souvenirs and give you a taste of local craftsmanship.
  • Historic Significance: Barrio Santa Cruz was once the heart of Seville’s Jewish community before their expulsion in the late 15th century. Today, it’s a vibrant area that still holds echoes of its past, with historical buildings and the old walls of the city.

Walking through Barrio Santa Cruz, feels like being inside a postcard. The mix of history, culture, and everyday life creates a unique atmosphere that captures the essence of Seville.

Enjoying Seville’s Culinary Scene

Seville is not only a feast for the eyes but also a paradise for the taste buds. The city’s culinary scene is bursting with flavours, offering a delicious journey through traditional Spanish cuisine. Here’s how you can indulge in the best culinary experiences Seville has to offer.

Tapas and Local Cuisine

Spanish tapas

When in Seville, you absolutely must dive into the world of tapas, those delightful small plates that are perfect for sharing. The city is brimming with tapas bars, each offering its own unique spin on traditional dishes. Here are some must-try spots and dishes that will give you a true taste of Seville.

  • El Rinconcillo: This historic tapas bar, established in 1670, is a legend in Seville. It’s like stepping into a time capsule, with its old-world charm and classic decor. Be sure to try the espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas) and the bacalao (salted cod).
  • La Brunilda: For a modern twist on traditional tapas, La Brunilda is the place to be. It’s always bustling, so be prepared to wait a bit. Their croquetas and solomillo al whiskey (pork loin in whiskey sauce) are out of this world.
  • Las Teresas: Nestled in the heart of Barrio Santa Cruz, Las Teresas is a cosy spot with delicious offerings. The jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) here is melt-in-your-mouth good, and the tortilla de camarones (shrimp fritters) are a crispy delight.

Don’t miss out on trying these traditional dishes that capture the essence of Seville’s culinary heritage:

  • Pork cheeks: These delicious chunks of meat are slow-cooked in a rich tomato-based sauce, with onion and root vegetables, for maximum tenderness and flavour. I was hooked on these when I was there!
  • Salmorejo: Similar to gazpacho but thicker and richer, often topped with hard-boiled eggs and jamón.
  • Flamenquín: A breaded and fried roll of pork loin filled with ham and cheese.

Best Rooftop Bars

La Terraza de EME rooftop bar Seville

After enjoying the rich flavours of Seville’s tapas, there’s no better way to unwind than with a drink in hand while enjoying panoramic views of the city. Seville’s rooftop bars offer a perfect blend of great drinks and stunning vistas. Here are my top picks:

  • La Terraza de EME: Located atop the EME Catedral Hotel, this rooftop bar provides breathtaking views of the Seville Cathedral and La Giralda. It’s an ideal spot for a sunset cocktail. The chic atmosphere and stylish crowd make it a hotspot for both locals and tourists.
  • El Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience: Don’t let the fact that it’s on top of a department store fool you. This rooftop offers amazing views of the city skyline, coupled with a variety of gourmet food options and a well-curated selection of wines and cocktails.
  • Pura Vida Terraza: Situated on the roof of the Hotel Inglaterra, Pura Vida Terraza offers a laid-back vibe with fantastic views over Plaza Nueva and the city beyond. It’s a great place to relax with a glass of tinto de verano in hand.

Each of these rooftop bars not only offers unique views of Seville but provides a perfect setting to soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re winding down after a day of sightseeing or kicking off a night on the town, these spots are guaranteed to enhance your Seville experience.

Tips for Eating Out

  • Remember that in Spain people eat late. Restaurants don’t start to get busy until around 9 pm. On some nights I didn’t sit down to eat until 11pm and the restaurants were still busy!
  • Book ahead for popular spots such as rooftop bars
  • Check TripAdvisor before entering to avoid tourist traps

Experiencing Seville’s Festivals

Seville’s festivals are some of the most vibrant and culturally rich events in Spain. Attending these festivals will give you an authentic glimpse into the city’s heart and soul. Whether it’s the lively atmosphere of Feria de Abril or the solemn beauty of Semana Santa, each festival offers a unique experience that you won’t want to miss.

Feria de Abril

Feria de Abril, or the April Fair, is one of the most anticipated events in Seville. This is a week-long celebration that kicks off two weeks after Easter, filling the city with colour, music, and dance.

  • Significance and Origins: Originally started in 1847 as a livestock fair, Feria de Abril has evolved into a grand spectacle of Andalusian culture. Today, it’s more about socialising, dancing, and enjoying delicious food and drinks.
  • What to Expect: Upon entering the fairground, you’ll be greeted by rows of colourful tents known as casetas. Each caseta is individually decorated, offering a space for friends and family to gather and celebrate. While some are private, several public tents welcome everyone. Inside, you’ll find people dressed in traditional traje de flamenca dresses and traje corto suits, dancing the sevillanas and enjoying local delicacies.

Must do Activities

  • Dance the Sevillanas: Even if you’re not an expert, give the traditional dance a try. The spirited dance steps are infectious and embody the joyous spirit of the fair.
  • Sample the Food and Drinks: Indulge in classic Spanish dishes like pescaito frito (fried fish) and tapas. Don’t forget to sip on rebujito, a refreshing mix of sherry and lemonade, which is the drink of choice during the fair.
  • Ride the Attractions: The fairground, called Real de la Feria, also boasts an amusement park section with rides and games for all ages. It’s a perfect way to round off your visit.

Semana Santa

Image of a flat at Semana Santa

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is another cornerstone of Seville’s cultural calendar. It’s a deeply religious event that dates back to the 16th century, commemorating the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.

  • Holy Week Processions: The processions are the heart of Semana Santa. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, various cofradías (brotherhoods) parade through the streets, carrying elaborately decorated floats known as pasos. The floats depict scenes from the Passion of Christ and are often adorned with flowers and candles.
  • Cultural Importance: Semana Santa is not just a religious event; it’s a profound expression of community and tradition. The participants, dressed in penitential robes and hoods, reflect the deep roots of faith and devotion in Seville. The solemn music, often played by live bands, adds to the emotional weight of the processions.

What to Expect:

  • Unique Atmosphere: The city transforms during this week. Streets are lined with spectators, ranging from locals to tourists, all drawn by the power and beauty of the processions.
  • Key Locations: While processions occur throughout Seville, the most notable ones pass by the Seville Cathedral and other historic churches. To get a good view, arrive early and find a spot along the main routes.

Essential Tips:

  • Be Respectful: Remember, this is a sacred event. Maintain a respectful attitude, especially during the more solemn parts of the processions.
  • Dress Appropriately: While there’s no strict dress code, it’s advisable to dress modestly, especially if you plan to enter churches or be part of the closer viewing areas.

Discover Seville’s Modern Attractions

While Seville is renowned for its historic landmarks and rich cultural heritage, the city also boasts some impressive modern attractions that are just as captivating. Let’s explore two of the most remarkable contemporary sites in Seville that offer unique experiences and stunning views.

Metropol Parasol (Las Setas)

Image of Las Setas Seville

Metropol Parasol, affectionately known as Las Setas (The Mushrooms), is one of Seville’s most striking modern architectural marvels. Designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer, this wooden structure was completed in 2011 and has quickly become an iconic part of the cityscape.

  • Design and Structure: Las Setas is composed of six large, mushroom-shaped parasols that create a vast, undulating canopy over Plaza de la Encarnación. The design is both futuristic and organic, blending seamlessly with its surroundings while standing out as a unique landmark. The structure is made from bonded timber, making it one of the largest wooden structures in the world.
  • Views from the Top: One of the best things about visiting Las Setas is the opportunity to take in breathtaking panoramic views of Seville. An elevator takes you to the top, where a winding walkway allows you to stroll along the entire length of the structure. From here, you can see everything from the towering Giralda to the distant hills, offering a fresh perspective on the city.
  • Additional Attractions: Below the structure, you’ll find the Antiquarium, an archaeological museum showcasing Roman and Moorish artefacts discovered during the construction of Las Setas. There’s also a lively market and several bars and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the plaza.

Plaza de España

Plaza De Espana Seville

Plaza de España is another captivating marvel in Seville. I was blown away when I visisted as I’ve never seen anything quite like it! Although it was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition, its design and scale make it feel timeless.

  • Design and Layout: This semi-circular plaza is a stunning blend of Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles. The central building features a long, curved facade adorned with intricate tile work and grand towers at each end. A large fountain sits at the centre, adding to the plaza’s majestic feel.
  • History and Significance: Plaza de España was constructed as the centrepiece of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, celebrating the historical ties between Spain and Latin America. Today, it serves as a government building but remains open to the public, symbolising the city’s blend of historical grandeur and modern functionality.

What to See and Do

  • Tile Alcoves: One of the unique features of Plaza de España is its series of tiled alcoves, each representing a province of Spain. These beautifully decorated spaces are perfect for photo opportunities and offer a glimpse into the diverse regions of the country.
  • Boating on the Canal: A charming moat runs around the plaza, where you can rent a rowboat and enjoy a leisurely paddle. This is a fun activity for that provides a different perspective of the plaza’s stunning architecture and is a great photo opportunity!
  • Exploring the Pavilions: Surrounding the plaza are various buildings that hosted exhibits during the exposition. These structures now house museums and cultural institutions, offering deeper insight into Spain’s rich cultural heritage.

Final Tips for your Seville Trip:

  • Buy Tickets in Advance: Popular attractions like the Real Alcázar and Seville Cathedral can have long queues. Purchase tickets online to save time.
  • Stay Hydrated: The Andalusian sun can be intense, especially in summer. Carry a water bottle and stay hydrated. And remember to wear suncream!
  • Embrace the Siesta: Many shops and restaurants close in the afternoon for siesta. Plan your activities accordingly and enjoy the leisurely pace of life in Seville.

Overall Impression of Seville:
Seville is a city that will captivate you with its charm, lively culture, and delectable cuisine. The first time I visited I fell in love with it’s relaxed atmosphere and slow pace, and as someone that can never choose what to have from a menu, tapas is the dream! Seville is a place that I could happily return to again and again and never tire of!

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6 Comments

  1. Barrio Santa Cruz looks like such a nice part of Seville to explore. I much prefer old historic areas like this.

  2. I must admit we loved Seville. We wandered for days but did not see all the great gems this city has to offer. I’d like to spend more time just enjoying the great rooftop bars on a return visit. Or maybe plan a trip around one of the fun festivals. And finally get to see the Metropol Parasol!

  3. What a fantastic guide for Seville. I’ve not been yet, so I will keep this handy for when I do get there. Thank you for including so many fantastic restaurant and bar options!

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