Situated along the River Guadalquivir, Seville is the fourth-largest city in Spain and the biggest city in Andalusia. It is home to three UNESCO Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The gypsy art of Flamenco dance was born in this region of Andalusia during the 18th century.
This magnificent city was founded by the Roman Empire, followed by Islamic rule in 711, and later the reconquest of the Crown of Castile in 1248. After the Columbian exploration of the New World, Seville was selected as the headquarters, port and gateway to the Indies led by famous explorer Christopher Columbus.
Best Time to Visit
I love to travel during the off-peak season when there is less crowd and the weather is not too hot or cold. The ideal time to visit Seville is September to November. I was there in early October and the temperature was between 18-25°C, just the perfect time to enjoy sightseeing and have a leisure walk.
Spring is also a good time to visit, which falls from March to May. It is one of the best times to experience local festivals like the Semana Santa and Feria de Abri Festival.
If you are coming to Seville between June and September, it may be scorching hot and the city records some of its highest temperatures at 40 °C. It can become very humid without much wind.
Being the sixth busiest airport in Spain, Seville Airport (Airport Code: SVQ) is well-connected to more than 40 destinations across Europe. The airport is located 10 kilometers east of central Seville. The bus express from the airport can take you to Plaza de Amas Bus Station and AVE Santa Justa Train Station.
Seville is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain. The country is equipped with a diverse network of trains that connect you from anywhere in Spain or nearby cities in Portugal to this Andalusian city.
This AVE high-speed trains depart regularly to Santa Justa Train Station from several favorite destinations like Madrid (3 hours), Malaga (2-3 hours), Barcelona (6 hours) and far north of Biblo (8.5 hours).
Train tickets can directly be bought from Renfe’s official website without any additional booking fee and only need to show your e-ticket before boarding the train.
When it comes to choosing a coach bus to travel, bus operator Alsa goes only to a few major cities in Spain and Portugal- Faro and Lisbon. There are no buses going to Madrid and the alternative transport to reach the capital of Spain is by AVE train or plane (Click here to check on the destination and price).
Seville has lots of tourist sites to visit and is very easy to navigate. The best way to explore the city is by foot on the cobblestone streets and you can slowly admire the old historical buildings. There are many pedestrian-friendly streets and free from moving vehicles.
If you like to go further out of the city center, you can opt to take local buses or trams and the fare is very cheap. Uber cars and taxis can be your alternatives if you want to travel somewhere off the public transport routes. I have taken taxis twice (from the train station to Airbnb house and well-versed in an early morning) and the fares are reasonable. The taxi drivers are pretty friendly, communicable with simple English and honest because they charge according to the meter.
The Best Activities for 2 Days in Seville
This historic city of Seville is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, filled with wonderful cathedrals, churches, the Alcázar, orange trees, lovely people and delicious food. To make an unforgettable trip here, I would suggest staying 4 nights here with 2 days in Seville and a day trip to a nearby town of Cordoba.
Enjoy a yummy breakfast at Los Especiales
The Chocolateria Chuerreria “Los Especiales” is a family-owned business that began in 1975, supplying churros and chocolate for weddings, private events and even for the Seville Fair.
There is a mini-store near Puente de Triana selling chocolate-filled churros, chocolate-dipped churros, wheel churros and chocolate waffles.
Address: Puente de Isabel II, 30
Opening hours: Daily from 7 am to 11 pm
Take a guided tour to Royal Alcázar of Seville
To make the most out of your visit to the Alcázar of Seville is to take 1.5 hours guided tour. The guide will explain and share insights and secrets of this grand palace. At the end of the tour, you might want to stay back for an hour or two to explore the gardens and the rest of the complex.
Real Alcázar is one of the oldest royal palaces in Europe with the finest example of Mudejar architecture. The word “alcázar” originated from an Arabic word “al-qasr” which means “the castle”, while “Real” means “Royal” in Spanish. Hence, Real Alcázar means Royal Castle or Royal Palace.
This treasured UNESCO Heritage Site is surrounded by unique landscape of enchanting courtyards, extensive gardens, water features and pretty alcoves with colorful tiled benches. It holds the evolution of the city within its walls, through the Arabic, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Brief History about the Royal Alcázar
This lavish palace was built as a residential fortress for Gordoban governors of Seville, but an angry revolt in 913 resulted to its destruction. A more defensive fort was built on the site where a Visigothic church once stood to defend the city from invasion.
The major reconstruction took place with an expansion in the 11th century with stables, storage facilities, and a palace known as Al-Mubarak.
Seville was later captured by Castilian Christians, as part of their centuries-long Reconquista in 1248. The palace became the residence of Christian King Fernando III and his succesors. Most of the Almohad palace was replaced with Gothic and Romanesque elements by Fernando’s son, Alfonso X.
King Pedro I (Peter) built the majestic Mudejar Palace between 1364 and 1366 and lived here with his mistress, Maria de Padilla. He was known as Pedro the Cruel, but some referred to him as Pedro the Just because he defended the Jews and the Muslims. He was very fascinated with Islamic culture and philosophy while also embracing Spanish Christianity.
The combination of colorful Moorish tiling with Christian aesthetics is visible in the Hall of Ambassadors and Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens). The Real Alcázar has been no stranger to Game of Thrones fans, where a part of Season 5 was filmed here featuring the Water Garden of the Kingdom of Dorne.
The beautiful Mercury Pond located at the highest points of the gardens in the palace gives a strategic vantage point of the surrounding gardens. The pond is a large pool with a fountain and the statue of the Greek god, Mercury.
The long wall behind the Mercury Pond makes up the Galleria de Grutesco (Grotto Gallery). They are covered with a series of various stones, plastering, and frescoes of classic mythological scenes with some Renaissance paintings.
Explore the gorgeous Carlos V Pavillion and English Garden which is home to peacocks, parrots, and several plants and trees
Travel tips: This Royal Alcázar is a popular attraction and the waiting time to get a ticket takes hours. The number of entries is limited to 750 visitors daily. You can buy entry tickets or book a guided tour in advance online.
Address: Patio de Banderas, s/n
Opening hours: November to March: Daily from 9.30 am to 6 pm/ April to October: Daily from 9:30 am to 7.00 pm
Entrance fee: Adults (14 years and above): €13.50/ Adults aged 65+: €6/ Children aged 0-13: Free (Click here to buy the tickets from their official website and check other discounted rates or book a guided tour here)
Marvel the impressive Seville Cathedral
Lies in the heart of Seville city, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, known as Seville Cathedral is the fourth largest church and the largest Gothic church in the world. This majestic cathedral took centuries in the making to transform into what it is today.
The cathedral was originally built as a mosque in the 12th century before converting into a Christian church overnight when Ferdinand III conquered the city. The outer walls and La Giralda still retain their original structure of the mosque.
This massive cathedral was used for another 150 years until the church elders decided to reconstruct it and said that “Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad”.
With countless spires and arches, the white stone wall is lighted by stained glass windows. The sheer scale and beauty extend inside with a lofty 42-meter-high cathedral nave, 80 side chapels and the impressive Retablo Mayor.
Its royal chapel holds the remains of Ferdinand III of Castile, Alfonso the Wise and King Peter the Just as well as the funerary monuments for cardinals Juan de Cervantes and Pedro González de Mendoza.
The remains of Christopher Colombus is said to be here, despite the controversy on whether his remains may actually be resting in the Dominican Republic. Some claimed that other Europeans had arrived at the Americans before Columbus, but he was the one who brought the news back and started the colonization of the New World.
After his passing, his wish was to be buried in the New World, but his daughter-in-law took his bones to the Dominican Republic, where he rested in the cathedral of Santo Domingo until 1795. When the Spanish retreated from the Caribbean, his bone was finally buried here.
The coffin of Columbus is carried by four men that represent the kings of the four regions of Spain that reigned during Columbus’ lifetime: Castilla, Leon, Navarra and Aragon. Each king is wearing a tunic portraying the various coats of arms of Spain’s component kingdoms.
Climb to the top of La Giralda to enjoy the breathtaking views of Seville city. The bell tower was originally built as the minaret for the mosque, but later the bells and weathervane were added to give a new life to the cathedral bell tower.
Address: Av. de la Constitución, s/n
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10.45 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 2.30 pm to 7 pm (Last entry to La Giralda is at 6 pm)
Entrance fee: Adults 14 years and above: €16/ Adults aged 65+: €11/ Children aged 0-13: €5 (Click here to buy the tickets from their official website and check other discounted rates). Ticket entry is including the Cathedral, the bell tower, and an audio guide. Entry to El Salvador Church is also free if you present this ticket on the same day
Enjoy a splendid traditional flamenco show
The flamenco dance is a folkloric musical tradition that originated in the region of Andalusia. The Gypsies, Moors, Jews and indigenous Andalusians influenced the creation of the dance in the 16th century.
The dance is performed with the song, and guitar, and involves graceful motions, lots of heel-tapping, and sensual movements. Some performances emphasize on its history, tradition, and form.
The dancer will always start standing expressionless, then begin a steady beat of clapping and stamping on the floor with her foot. The dancer will eventually break into a graceful dance of intricate steps when the emotion builds in the song.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take any photos or videos because the guests are prohibited from doing so and the same goes for other theatres. If you can’t make it for the night show, there is a high chance of watching one of these performances on the street. If you’re lucky, they can be found dancing in Plaza de España (picture above) or Plaza de San Fransico. It is free but you can offer them a small tip for their hard work.
Wander around the stunning Plaza de España
Plaza de España lies along the banks of Guadalquivir River inside Praque de Maria Luisa. The plaza is surrounded by a charming Vicente Traver fountain, canals, Venetian-style bridges and monuments. Today, the building houses many government offices and Military Historical Museum.
This Spanish square was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 with a mixture of Renaissance and Moorish revival styles. The walls of the plaza are covered with amazing ornate tile work which represents 48 regions of Spain. The banisters of the bridges crossing over the moat are also decorated with blue, white, and yellow tiles that represent the 4 ancient kingdoms of Spain.
If you have watched Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones, you will be familiar with the exterior shots which featured the City of Theed in Planet Naboo.
Travel tips: Come to the plaza before 9 am to beat the crowd and take great photos. Tourists and guided tours will usually arrive by then.
Address: Av. Isabel la Católica
Admire the high Torre del Oro
Torre del Oro known as the Tower of Gold is formerly a military watchtower. Dating back to the 13th century, the tower was converted into a prison throughout the Middle Ages and is currently used as a maritime museum. It opened its door in 1944 to commemorate the overseas discoveries, flags and other naval equipment from preceding years.
Unfortunately, the tower isn’t actually made of gold but was named otherwise due to the golden glow of the walls’ warm-colored reflection in the river. Visitors can climb to the top for scenic views over the waterfront, the Triana neighborhood, and Seville’s historic center.
Address: P.º de Cristóbal Colón, s/n
Go food-hunting in Mercado de Trianna
This authentic Mercado de Triana is located in the neighborhood of Triana and gives you a residential feel. Vendors sell a wide range of local fruits, vegetables, poultry, cheeses, freshly caught fish and many more.
Stop by one of the small cafes or bars to enjoy a tasty and cheap lunch. I tried jamón ibérico and crispy stuffed puff pastry (Empanadas– tuna) at Jamóneria. They sell various tapas and can pair them with the famous Spanish wine- Vino Guisovin.
As you walk around the market, notice that there are remains of the Castle of San Jorges (Castillo de San Jorges), the seat of the Inquisition court since 1481. The fortress was demolished in the 18th century to make way for the current market. If you have free time, do drop by and visit the museum with free admission.
Address: C. San Jorge, 6
Opening hours: The market opens from 9 am to 3 pm and the bars and cafes open until slightly later.
Discover the exquisite Church of Divine Salvador
The Church of Divine Salvador is the largest churches in the city after the cathedral. This Catholic church was built on the remains of a former mosque, Ibn Adabbas from the 9th century.
When the Christians conquered the city, they continued to allow it to be used as a mosque until 1340. It was converted into a church and added a high altar, a chapel, and a choir. It has been deteriorated in 1671 and began reconstruction works until 1712 and again in 2003.
You can admire the eye-catching 18th century Baroque altarpieces with artistic value and organ, and walk around the courtyard of the Orange Trees.
Address: Plaza del Salvador, 3
Opening hours: September to June– Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 5.30 pm and Sunday from 3 pm to 7 pm/ July and August– Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5.30 pm and Sunday from 3 pm to 7 pm
Entrance fee: Adults: €5/ Children 0-15: Free (Free if you have a ticket entry to the Cathedral. Ticket entry includes an audio guide)
Explore the ground of Palacio de Dueñas
Palacio de las Dueñas is one of Seville’s hidden gems in Seville. For this reason, you can take a leisure walk around the palace’s compound.
The actual name of the palace is Palace of the Dukes of Alba, which still belongs to the property of a prominent aristocratic Spanish family. Its origins go way back to the late 15th century and has been considered a national monument since 1931.
The palace has several gardens and courtyards built in Renaissance style under Gothic and Moorish influences. It is surrounded by eleven patios, nine fountains, and more than 100 marble columns. Among the most impressive tapestries found in The Ballroom is Mercury Enamored of Herse.
Address: C/ Dueñas, 5
Opening hours: April to September: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm/ October to March: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm
Entrance fee: Adults: €12/ Adults aged 65+ and Children aged 6-16: €10/ Children aged 0-5: free (Click here to buy the tickets from their official website and check other discounted rates. Ticket entry includes an audio guide)
Wander around Casa de Pilatos
Casa de Pilatos has been partially opened to the public where you can explore the patio, water fountains, and gardens. This 16th–century Andalusian palac serves as the permanent residence of the Duke of Medinaceli until today.
The palace is blended with Italian Renaissance, Gothic, and Moorish architectural styles. Look out for the sculptures, 150 different types of colorful Spanish glazed tiles, marble gates, and ornate arches.
The true highlight here is the traditional Andalusian courtyard in the middle of the complex, with its grand columns, statues and beautiful fountain. Every wall of the palace is unique, with intricate mosaics, carvings, and memorials to Spanish kings and Roman Emperors.
Address: Pl. de Pilatos, 1,
Opening hours: November to March: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm/ April to October: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm
Entrance fee: Adults: €10/ Children aged 0-11: Free/ Entrance for the upper floor with a guided tour: €5 (Check other available discounted rates. Ticket entry includes an audio guide)
Stroll under the giant Metropol Parasol
Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure in the world which stands 25 meters high and 150 meters long, This waffle-patterned canopy was nicknamed “Las Setas”- The Mushrooms. It was created by German architect Jürgen Mayer using birch wood to cover La Encarnación square from the summer heat. Youngsters enjoy hanging out, skate boarding, play football, listen to music, and reading books under this canopy
Take the lift to the rooftop walkways to enjoy the panoramic views of the town. There is also a small museum beneath the square that leads to the Roman and Moorish ruins.
Entrance fee: €3 to take the lift to the rooftop
Enjoy people-watching at Plaza de San Francisco
After a long day of discovery around the city, it’s time to have a well- deserved break. Plaza de San Fransico is one of the best places to relax and let the rest of the evening goes by. You can grab a pastry or coffee and sit around to watch the scenes around the grand City Hall and the plaza.
Take a glimpse of Archivo de Indies
The General Archive of the Indies was built in 1785 under the wish of King Carlos III. The square floor building houses thousands of files with 80 million pages and 8,000 maps and drawings related to the activity of Spain in America and the Philippines. The archive stores pieces of incalculable historic values such as autographs of the main characters of the New Discovers and Colon’s diary.
Address: Avenida de la Constitución, 3
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5 pm, Saturday from 9.30 am to 9 pm, and Sunday and public holiday from 10 am to 2 pm
Entrance fee: Free
- Avoid bringing too much money at one time, take care of your personal belongings, and be vigilant against pickpockets at crowded and touristy sites.
- Always buy tickets for tourist attractions well in advance to secure the date and time, especially during the peak season.
- Check out any discounted rates or free entry to the city attractions for youths, students, adults above 65 years old, and person with disability regardless of the nationality of a country on their official website to save some money on your travels. Remember to bring your I.D. as proof of identification.
Going Elsewhere in Spain?
If you are looking for more adventure in Spain, you can look at my other posts for some travel guides: