The southern gem of Spain, Seville is a huge draw for visitors to the Andalusian region. From the winding, narrow streets, to the impressive Giralda, there’s plenty on offer to fill your days on a city break in Seville. This area of Spain is known for it’s stunning weather, giving you extra reason to sample the many cafes that line the streets in between seeing the numerous sights in Seville.
Seville Cathedral is a huge draw for visitors to the city, holding the title of largest Gothic church in the world, third largest church in the world and being home to some amazing architecture. Add to that the fact it was listed in 1987 as an UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Giralda, and it’s definitely a sight that should make your ‘to-see’ list. You’ll find it in the heart of the city, with the surrounding area a lively hive of activity day and night. During the day you’re able to explore the interior and roof with a ticket, but if you’re passing when there’s a service being undertaken you can pop in have a limited look around for free. For access to the most during the service, enter through the door from Avenida de la Constitución. Don’t forget, this is a religious building, so shoulders and knees should be covered if visiting.
Plaza de España
One of the biggest sights to see in Seville, both in size and popularity, Plaza de España is a huge semicircular building in the Parque Maria Luisa. Originally built for the Ibero-American Exhibition in 1929, what still draws the visitors in is a stunning building complete with a small canal that can be explored by boat and a fountain in the centre of the plaza which lights up at night.
No matter how many times I visit Plaza de España, I fall in love the place a little more each time. More often than not there’s a busker playing soothing music, while people row about the canal in the small boats. Crossing the bridges to reach the building from the square, you’re faced with many small seating areas, each dedicated to a city in Spain and decorated with tiles reflecting that city. My favourite time to visit is early on a Sunday morning before the crowds arrive, or just before the sun sets, giving the building a stunning glow. Not to be forgotten is the surrounding Parque Maria Luisa, whether you pass through to reach Plaza de España or spend some time exploring, it’s another must see sight in Seville.
The pride and joy of many who live in Seville, the Giralda is the bell tower of the stunning Sevilla Cathedral. Officially an UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987, the Giralda can be seen from many places across the city, both during the day or lit up at night, and gives some sense of direction in the rabbit run of narrow cobble stone streets.
A royal palace in the heart of Seville, the complex was built for a Christian king but with the same moorish influence that can be seen in many other parts of the city. Fans of Game of Thrones will be familiar with the Alcazar as it makes an appearance in the famous series as the setting for the water gardens of Dorne. Aside from the Game of Thrones draw, the Alcazar offers so much more on its own merits. The expansive gardens and stunning architecture are more than enough to take up at least a couple of hours of your day.
Opening hours vary through the year, but always pre-book a ticket if you know you want to visit as the queue can get very long, which is less than ideal in the Seville sunshine. This can usually be done through your hotel, or via the website.
Setas de Sevilla
Metropol Parasol is known locally as the mushrooms of Seville, or Las Setas, due to the shape of the structure, and is a popular attraction in the city. The surrounding square is home to many bars and restaurants, but the real attraction is found when you head up to the top of the mushrooms for the stunning panoramic city views which give you a view of many of the sights in Seville .
A controversial choice for both tourists and Spaniards alike. The bullring in Seville, called Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is still in use as a bullfighting arena, and tickets can be purchased to experience a bullfight in the oldest bullring in Spain. If you’re not a supporter of bullfights, you can also opt for a tour of the bullring. You’ll not only get to see the arena, backstage and preparation areas, but also have a chance to walk through the small museum giving an insight into the history and see some of the outfits. Tours are guided and you’ll be given a ticket for the next available time slot.
Torre de Oro
A military watchtower located on the bank of the Guadalquivir River, a small entry free will give you access to climb the tower and learn about the military history of the city. At just 36 metres tall, it’s not a huge climb, and there are places to stop on the way up with information and artefacts. Once you get to the top, you’ll have great views over the city.
The famous Flamenco dance originated in Andalusia, so where better to see a show than Seville? Shows generally last about an hour, and although that may sound a long time, there are different parts showcasing the talents of both the dancers as a pair and individually, singers and the flamenco guitarist. For the best shows, find the smaller more intimate places, generally those not offering a dinner and drink package. Whichever you opt for, you’ll be in for a treat.
If you don’t want to visit a full show, walking along the Main Street from Puerta de Jerez down to Plaza Nueva will often give you the opportunity to see street performers giving a quick show of flamenco, a popular sight in Seville.
The neighbourhood of Santa Cruz in the centre of Seville is famous for the winding, narrow streets that are near impossible to navigate with Google Maps. Half of the joy of exploring these streets is seeing where you pop up, while enjoying a stop for a refreshing drink or coffee helps to recharge for more exploring along the cobble streets. A wander in this neighbourhood certainly rewards you with quirky little shops, streets lined with cafes and charming squares that appear from nowhere. And a big bonus is that even when it’s baking hot, these streets are much cooler thanks to the high buildings and shade offered.
Many streets don’t have cars, and those that do are very narrow and it’s fascinating to watch the cars navigate without hitting anything – usually! If you’re on a narrow street when a car comes and there’s no path, just find a doorway to hop into so the car can pass.
A walk alongside the Guadalquivir River – second longest river in Spain, if you were interested – is a great way to spend a few hours. Depending how far you feel like walking, you’ll pass the Torro de Oro, the bullring and plenty of bars and cafes, Head to the other side of the river and you’ll find yourself in the trendy region of Triana. The relaxed vibes of the city are evident here with places to sit on the river bank and watch as people kayak or stand up paddle board along the river.
The Triana neighbourhood is found on the other side of the river to the majority of the sights in Seville. As you cross the Puente de Triana – Triana Bridge – you’re welcomed by the Mercado de Triana full of a variety of market stalls. Head further down the road away from the river and you’ll find numerous cafes and bars, and the colourful Parroquia de San Jacinto.
If you’ve got extra time, why not take a day trip and explore the nearby attractions of Cordoba, Jerez, Granada, Cadiz or Ronda?