Best Things To Do in Seville
Seville is famous for its enormous Catedral and soaring La Giralda tower, but there are tons of places to discover the city's rich history. Stroll along the Guadalquivir River for scenic views or walk through the streets of Barrio Santa Cruz to discover the local flavor of Seville's tapas bars, boutique shops and outdoor plazas. To maximize your time in the sun, amble through the gardens of Parque María Luisa or uncover the royal story of the Real Alcázar palace. See it all before your afternoon siesta, which will help you prepare for nightlife that's been known to entertain visitors and Sevillanos alike through the early morning hours.
Updated September 24, 2018
- #1View all Photos#1 in SevilleCastles/Palaces, Parks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCastles/Palaces, Parks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
The Spanish monarchy doesn't quite boast the worldwide clout of the British monarchy, but royalty is royalty, right? Take the chance to step into sovereignty when you enter the Real Alcázar palace and gardens. The palace was built in the seventh century and it still occasionally hosts the royal family when they visit Seville. While the original structure dates back to the Middle Ages, the entire palace has been heavily influenced by different architectural and cultural styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. The intricate architectural design is known as mudéjar — a Muslim and Christian artistic fusion unique to Andalusia. Exlpore on your own or use an audio tour to guide you through the luxurious rooms of the palace like the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors) and the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens). But to gain access to the Cuarto Real Alto (the Upper Royal Quarters), you'll need to be on a guided tour.
Make sure to budget enough time to admire the details. One TripAdvisor reviewer suggests: "Be sure to look upwards when you walk through this grand residence of kings, because the workmanship of the carvings and painting on the ceilings is truly amazing." This UNESCO World Heritage site is surrounded by gardens that are also worth seeing.
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If you're in search of green space, you won't be disappointed — Seville's got plenty. But the most notable of the city's parks is Parque de María Luisa, located next to the Plaza de España. Like the plaza, this park was largely built for exhibition at the 1929 World's Fair and has remained one of Seville's most popular sites since. You can take a stroll, ride a bicycle or be pulled by horse-drawn carriage through the gardens designed by French landscape architect Nicolas Forestier. You'll also find several notable buildings and museums within the park. The Costurero de la Reina (or the Queen's Sewing Box) is a 19th century castlelike structure and former sewing retreat for the wife of Spain's King Alfonso XII. The Pabellón Mudéjar is home to the Museum of Arts and Traditions of Seville. And the Pabellón del Renacimiento houses the Archeological Museum of Seville.
With so much to see and plenty of orange trees for shade, exploring the park may take up a big chunk of your day. "We watched the people going by [and] walked around enjoying the warmth," one TripAdvisor reviewer said. "I'd recommend putting aside at least an hour to enjoy the many different fountains, bridges [and] plants."
- #3View all Photos#3 in SevilleChurches/Religious Sites, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
The largest Gothic building in Europe in terms of size, the Catedral de Sevilla sits in the heart of the city on Avenida de la Constitución and invites travelers from around the world to admire its impressive Gothic architecture. Built in the late 15th century, the cathedral has more than 40 chapels and sits on the site of a former mosque. The vastness of the cathedral and tower impresses visitors. As one TripAdvisor user said, "It is so huge that it looks almost empty, even though it is actually filled with huge altarpieces, vast tombs and side chapels and all the rest of it." It is widely accepted that Christopher Columbus' remains can be found inside the above-ground bronze tomb on display inside the cathedral, though it has never been confirmed. Once you've finished touring the cathedral's interior, make your way to the Patio de Los Naranjos — an outdoor square filled with aromatic orange trees.
La Giralda — the adjacent tower and the tallest landmark in Seville — is one of the few remains of the site's original mosque, which was torn down in 1402. Along with those in Marrakech and Rabat, La Giralda is among the world's longest-surviving minarets from the 12th century Berber-Muslim Almohad Dynasty. Climb the minaret's nearly 40 ramps to the very top and take in sweeping views of the city.
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Navigating your way through winding footpaths and narrow streets of a centuries-old neighborhood is captivating for any adventurous traveler. Even among Europe's many picturesque neighborhoods, Barrio Santa Cruz stands out for its 15th century history and its abundance of charming restaurants and shops, not to mention the orange-tree-covered plazas awaiting walkers around each turn. Barrio Santa Cruz served as the city's Jewish quarter prior to the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century when Jews were expelled from the country. Evidence of the quarter's former inhabitants remains on Calle Judería (Jewry Street) — an aptly named street near the neighborhood's center. Many of the neighborhood's churches that stand today were originally synagogues.
An added bonus of a visit to this neighborhood (located next to the Real Alcázar) is that the streets are designed to create as much shade as possible, making the Barrio Santa Cruz a great escape from the heat of Seville's scorching summer sun. With plenty of cafes doling out tapas, flamenco bars offering live entertainment, and historic landmarks sitting alongside plazas, it's no wonder the Barrio Santa Cruz is extra popular among visitors. But just because it's tourist-friendly doesn't mean it's a cinch to navigate. One TripAdvisor user offers some advice: "Make sure your map is detailed enough to list all the small streets and you will be able to find your way without much trouble." Hold on to that map and use the neighborhood's online guide to explore the area's snaking medieval streets.
- #5View all PhotosfreePlaza de España#5 in SevilleCastles/Palaces, Monuments and Memorials, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDCastles/Palaces, Monuments and Memorials, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
Originally built for Seville's Ibero-American Expo at the 1929 World's Fair, the Plaza de España offers one of the most picturesque panoramas in the city. The 540,000-square-foot Plaza de España includes a giant, neo-Moorish building (spanning more than half of the site's perimeter) and an expansive mosaic patio with a canal, a fountain and four foot bridges. Architect Aníbal González, built the site to highlight Spain's technological and artistic achievements for the world. The detailed artwork built into the Plaza de España's design helps it standout as an architectural tour de force.
Today, the building houses several government offices, so indoor access is off-limits to tourists. But the site's beauty is best observed from outside the building. On the Plaza de España grounds, you'll find brightly colored ceramic tiles covering nearly the entire plaza, towering marble columns and intricate murals, which one TripAdvisor reviewer says are "really worth inspecting closely." Plenty of filmmakers agree: Plaza de España has been the backdrop for scenes in movies like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." Pay close attention to the plaza's 48 painted benches: Each bench depicts important symbols and themes from one of Spain's provinces. Or admire the marble fountain and mosaic floor while enjoying Seville's lively outdoor crowds. For a more active option, rent a rowboat for a trip on the small canal that runs in and around the plaza — a 45-minute rental costs €5 EUR (about $7 USD).
- #6View all Photos#6 in SevilleSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Seville's popularity can be largely attributed to its history — much of which revolves around the immense river that runs through the heart of the city. According to many recent visitors, a great way to get a feel for Seville and its past is to hop aboard a Guadalquivir River cruise. The Guadalquivir River (or casually, the "rio") was once the artery for all trade traffic in and out of the Andalusian capital. The river's access to the Atlantic was also crucial for New World exploration. Today, the Guadalquivir is not only a charming part of the city's aesthetic, but many portions of the river bank also act as venues for nightlife, dining and sunbathing.
A "Panoramic Passage" tour, offered by the Curceros Torre Del Oro company will give you the chance to see Seville's popular attractions — like the Torre del Oro and the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza — from different vantage points. On the cruise, you'll sail under the Triana and San Telmo bridges and pass the site of Seville's 1929 Ibero-American Expo, all with audio commentary available in several languages, including Spanish and English.
- #7View all PhotosfreeLa Carbonería#7 in SevilleEntertainment and Nightlife, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Watching a flamenco show in Seville is a must, but the quality of the shows vary by location and you may get caught overpaying for a tourist trap. Guarantee a good experience by heading to La Carbonería, a local favorite and a popular spot to watch authentic flamenco dancers show off their skills on stage. The club has two different areas: Upon entry, you may immediately think this venue is quaint (with a piano and fireplaces amid the rustic decor), but open the double doors in the room's back left corner and you'll enter a larger area complete with picnic tables, bars and stages.
Though the dancing is a highlight for visitors, not every facet of the La Carbonería experience is held in high esteem, "Sevilla's flamenco is widely known and this is a good option for backpackers/low-cost tourists. However, although the artists are very good, don't expect amazing food," one TripAdvisor reviewer noted.
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If you're anywhere near Plaza de la Encarnación (in the northwest corner of El Centro), the Metropol Parasol is impossible to miss. Its towering presence was constructed in 2011, making it the newest major attraction in the city and purportedly the largest wooden structure in the world. The architectural wonder serves as a gathering place and features a farmers market, a restaurant, an archeological museum, winding rooftop walkways and an open-air public square. Locals fondly refer to the lattice structure as "las setas" or "the mushrooms" given its quirky shape.
For the cost of €3 EUR (about $4 USD), visitors can ride the elevator to the top of the wooden structure, walk along the elevated paths and enjoy one complimentary drink at the bar, Sevilla Gastropol. Most visitors recommended paying for access to the top. "I'd suggest going in the evening," one TripAdvisor reviewer said. "It's lit up, as are many of the key structures in the city, so I think it's best enjoyed after dark." The walkways open daily beginning at 10:30 a.m., and close at midnight Sunday through Thursday and at 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit the Metropol Parasol's website.
- #9View all Photos#9 in SevilleMuseums, Sightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Sightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Seville has a rich history that is well-represented in its sites and monuments, yet one of the best ways to uncover the city's past is through its extensive collection of artwork. Founded in 1835, Seville's Museo de Bellas Artes — which occupies a former 17th century convent built around three tiled patios — houses pieces dating from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. The galleries include works by some of Spain's most notable artists, such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco de Zurbarán. Many visitors do note, however, that despite the beauty of the paintings, the works lack much variety. "The art collection is apparently one of the best in Spain, but 90 [percent] of it is religious art, and that inevitably begins to get a bit samey after a while," one TripAdvisor reviewer said.
From mid-September to mid-June, the Museum of Fine Arts is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; on Sunday, the museum closes at 5 p.m. In the warmer months — from mid-June to mid-September — the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The Museo de Bellas Artes, which sits roughly on the border of El Arenal and El Centro neighborhoods, is closed on Mondays year-round. Tickets cost €1.50 EUR (about $2 USD) per person. For more information, visit the museum's website.
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If you're an animal lover or faint of heart, this experience is not for you. But if you're looking to immerse yourself in a Spanish tradition that spans centuries, spend an evening at the Plaza de Toros, Seville's bullfighting ring. Bullfighting has faced a lot of criticism for its animal bloodshed, but many Sevillanos think of the sport as an art form integral to their culture. During bullfights, three matadors each lure two bulls through a series of choreographed movements designed to weaken the animal. In the final of the fight's three stages (tercio de muerte), each matador's goal is to end the bull's life.
Bullfights occur in the late afternoon from April to October and can last up to four hours. Ticket prices vary from €20 EUR (about $27 USD) to more than €100 EUR (about $137 USD) depending on the bullfighters and the seat you choose; the most expensive seats are those in the shade (called sombra seats). You can purchase tickets online in advance or head to the ticket office at the ring. Visit the bullring's website for more information about events, tickets and tours.
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Home to Seville's very popular soccer club, Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium offers an exciting European fútbol experience. Since its opening in 1958, the stadium has hosted a handful of World Cup and European Cup tournaments. Soccer games at the stadium — which has the capacity to seat 45,500 people — are full of energy thanks to the enthusiasm of Seville's fans.
Ticket prices for games vary based on the opponent, the day of the week and the location of your seat. (Games against cross-city rivals Real Betis, and powerhouse fútbol clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona attract a lot of fans, so tickets will cost more.) You can purchase tickets online or at the stadium box office. But getting a good price won't be too stressful, as one TripAdvisor reviewer notes that the ticket sellers are very helpful when it comes to finding visitors the best affordable seats. Box office hours vary, so be sure to check the stadium's website for details. You'll find Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium less than 2 miles east of the city center; though the stadium can be reached on foot, your best bet is to ride the metro to the Nervión or Gran Plaza stations and walk from there.
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The Guadalquivir River once served as the main waterway to southern Spain and Seville was one of the region's primary ports. Naturally a port with that much influence needed protection from ships trying to enter the claimed territory of the Almohad Dynasty (a 13th century Muslim Caliphate that once ruled northern Africa and southern Spain). The 12-sided Torre del Oro tower — situated on the edge of the Guadalquivir — was once linked by a large chain to its sister structure across the river to stop ships from sailing into the port.
The once gold-tiled tower — which has also served as a military watchtower and a prison — is now home to a small naval museum, the Museo Náutico. The museum highlights the Torre del Oro's maritime past and the role it played in New World imports and discovery. Some travelers were turned off by the nearly 100-step climb to reach the observation deck, but many recent visitors say it's worth the trek. "Be prepared for some climbing and you will not be disappointed," one satisfied TripAdvisor reviewer said.
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OK, so you didn't come all the way to Europe to visit an amusement park. But when there's one nearby, it might just be the perfect way to avoid history and culture overload — especially if you have little ones in tow. Let loose at Isla Mágica, Seville's sizeable theme park that's suitable for all ages. The park is divided into eight 16th century Spanish colonial-themed areas, which feature rides like the Igazú log flume and the El Jaguar roller coaster. You'll also find plenty of shops, shows and restaurants at the park. A small water park dubbed Agua Mágica is slated to open in the summer of 2014.
One TripAdvisor reviewer suggests getting to the park with a plan of attack: "If you arrive early, go to the main rides (eg. Ciklón, El Jaguar, El Desafío, Anaconda, Iguazú, Orinoco) first as they will get crowded later in the day."
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