The Ultimate Travel Guide to Seville, Spain
Seville, the capital of Andalusia in the south of Spain, embodies everything you may associate with Spanish Culture, architecture and lifestyle. Think gypsies and flamenco, Moorish and Gothic buildings, the mystery of Semana Santa (Easter Week) and the colorful festivities of the famous Feria de Abril (April Festival), add gardens and parks along the shore of the river Guadalquivir and you are in for a Spain experience you’ll never forget. Eat the best tapas and paellas in Spain, washed down with sherry and red wine, then burn it all off by exploring the many sights of Seville on foot because otherwise, you wouldn’t find some secret corners which we will tell you about.
Best time to visit
Sevilla’s Mediterranean climate means very hot summers and quite cold winters. It may even snow. The best time to visit is spring and fall. Spring is also when the Feria de Abril is happening ( from 4th to 11th May this year) and Semana Santa is celebrated (14th to 21st April). Just bear in mind that both events attract thousands of visitors, which means you need to book your accommodation early and be prepared for higher prices even for simple tapas in a bodega.
How to get there
Seville’s San Pablo airport is mainly served by low-cost carriers and Iberia domestic flights. If you arrive in Spain on international flights, the nearest international airport would be Malaga. From there or Madrid or Barcelona, take the AVE, the Spanish high-velocity train which takes you fast to Sevilla’s Santa Justa Train station.
Seville has a very advanced and modern bus, tram and metro system. But, as we said before, the best means to get around are your feet.
Places to stay
Due to the many visitors which come to Sevilla year around, the city has no shortage of accommodation for every budget.
Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Seville
In the high budget range, you might consider staying to Hotel Alfonso XIII A Luxury collection hotel (hotel info) in Calle San Fernando.
It’s the most historic hotel in Seville, built by order of King Alfonso XIII. The hotel’s Mudejar style structure which is the name for the Moorish influenced architecture typical for the south of Spain will delight you. You’ll find all the amenities to be expected from a 5-star hotel which is also ideally located for exploring Sevilla on foot. Pool, gym, restaurants, room service and free wifi round out the picture.
Petit Palace Canalejas
Ideal for couples on a lower budget is the 2star Petit Palace Canalejas in Canalejas (hotel info), 2 in Sevilla’s old town.
Located in a historic XX century building, the hotel is a few minutes walk from the cathedral and other main sites of Sevilla. It’s small but comfortable enough with highlights being free bicycles, 24-hour reception with staff speaking fluent English and an ample buffet breakfast.
Hotel Las Casas De Los Mercaderes
For the middle budget consider Hotel Las Casas De Los Mercaderes (hotel info) in Calle Alvarez Quinto 9-13 in Sevilla’s former merchant quarter, hence the name. Ideally located just 300m from the Giralda Tower, the Moorish style XVIII century building features a pretty inner courtyard with a glass roof, rooms with en suite bathrooms, 24-hour reception, free wifi, and a restaurant.
Also read: Sangrias in Sunny Sevilla
Best places to eat
One of the current ‘in’ sit down restaurants is La Brunilda in Calle Galera 5.
The restaurant serves tapas with a modern and elegant twist, ideal to rest your feet after a long day of walking the cobbled alleys of Sevilla.
It’s always best to eat and drink where the locals go and one of these places is Bodeguita Romero in Calle Harinas 10.
The family-run restaurant serves hearty specialties like pork cheeks with chickpeas and spinach. From the outside, it may not look like much, but inside you will be delighted by authentic Andalusian food, happy locals and the owner’s son who serves you.
You can’t be in Sevilla without sampling the finest jamon iberica (cured ham) and a glass or five of the Jerez (sherry) which is so typical for the region. Or a beer, or red wine, whatever your taste. One of the best places to do so is Bar Las Teresas in the historical district of Santa Cruz.
Legs of ham hanging from the ceiling, small oak barrels of sherry along the walls, sawdust on the floor, that’s the way the locals enjoy their specialties and so will you.
Also see: DMercao Restaurante – Fine Dining in Sevilla, Spain
Things to do and see
Seville is brimming with things to see, from the times of the Moorish reign to ultramodern architecture, museums, parks, and gardens. You are well advised to plan more than one day for your visit and if you choose to see Semana Santa or the Feria de Abril a week is in order.
Seville’s cathedral is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world and you can spend hours marveling at no less than 80 chapels, the decorations, paintings and of course the tomb of Christopher Columbus. A remnant of the Moorish past is the orange trees filled court on the north side where Muslims once performed their ablution before prayer.
Next to the cathedral is the probably best-known building of Sevilla, La Giralda, the bell tower. It’s also of Arab origin as is visible from the ornamentation. A peculiarity is that ramps instead of stairs lead to the top from which you have a spectacular view over the city and the river.
From religious buildings to where nobility used to live! Only recently opened to the public is the Palacio de las Dueñas, a 15th-century palace which was, until her death, one of the homes of the Duquesa de Alba. Visit the palace and admire the countless paintings, furniture, and courtyards along with learning of the fascinating history of the Dukes of Alba.
Another royal dwelling is the 14th-century palace complex Real Alcazar, the upper floor of which is still in use by Spain’s royal family but can be viewed as can the many courtyards and lush gardens.
After all the monuments you might enjoy a stroll in the largest green area of Sevilla, Maria Luisa Park. Brought avenues lined with palm trees lead to ornamental gardens, small waterfalls and an abundance of flowers.
Then it’s time to dive into Sevilla’s gypsy, flamenco and bullfighting history by exploring the iconic barrio (district) of Triana. Located on the left bank of the river Guadalquivir and best reached by crossing the Isabel Bridge, you’ll find a statue of a flamenco dancer, older houses where one gypsy made their home and many shops and ateliersm crafting and selling the distinctive blue tiles which adorn many a house and church in Sevilla. Famous bullfighter families trace their roots back to Triana as do modern-day Spanish Flamenco stars.
If your taste runs to museums, visit the Museum of Fine art with a great number of sculptures and paintings by famous Spanish artists. On Sundays, an art market is held nearby.
Let’s turn from ancient history to modern day architecture and the outstanding monument Metropol Parasol, locally know as ‘Setas’ (mushrooms) because of its appearance. The massive white structure by German architect Juergen Mayer was conceived to revitalize the derelict Plaza de la Encarnacion and inaugurated on 2011. Entirely constructed from crossed wooden beams and painted white it’s a sight not to be missed.
Another building worth visiting is the Royal Tobacco factory now the rectorate of the University of Sevilla. Sevilla had a flourishing tobacco industry in the 18th century as anyone of you who is familiar with the opera Carmen by Bizet will know. A little snippet: recent experts reports name the number of operas set in Sevilla at 153.
A few words about the Feria de Abril. It started out as a market for farmers to bring their products to the city and became one of the biggest festivals in the south of Spain. The fairground is in Las Remedios outside the city and features hundreds of tents, so-called casetas where visitors go from one to the other sampling fino (sherry), tapas and ham. Everybody is dressed in traditional clothing, the ladies in polka dotted flamenco dresses, silken shawls and wearing high combs and the man in short-waisted jackets and wide-brimmed hats. Many come on horseback. There are parades of horses and carriages, dances, flamenco shows and the weekends with a massive firework.
Just join the fun and don’t bank on getting much sleep.
A much more somber affair is Semana Santa when the various brotherhoods walk through the streets, many barefoot, carrying crosses and statues of the virgin on their shoulders. Here you can see the details and itinerary of this year’s Holy Week.
Also see: Best Things to do in Seville
Best places to shop
Many small shops can be found in Calle Feria where on weekends a colorful flea market is held. For tiles and wrought iron ornaments, Triana is your choice of shopping.
Sevilla’s best shopping mall is Nervion Plaza in Calle Luis de Morales 3. With designer boutiques, restaurants, and a cinema. Triana is also famous for its food market, another colorful affair.
The local language is Spanish, but due to the many visitors, English is widely spoken, even, to an extent, in small bodegas and shops. Currency is the EURO, credit cards are widely accepted. WiFi is available in every hotel and widely throughout the city.
Whether you choose to visit Seville during one of the major events or prefer a more quiet time the rest of the year, you will gather an incredible amount of impressions and the warm welcome you receive everywhere will make for an unforgettable journey to the true heart and soul of Andalusia.
Seville Travel and Tour Packages
Cathedral, Alcazar, & Giralda Guided Tour Combo Tickets in Seville
Get to visit Spain’s greatest cultural monuments and artistic legacies, the Alcázar and the Cathedral and Giralda of Seville! Experience the historical and majestic prowess of the UNESCO-registered World Heritage Site and the largest gothic cathedral in the world!
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