The opulent Seville, Spain we see today attributes its richness in appearance, culture, and history to playing important roles over the centuries. It was a cultural center and the capital of Muslim Spain, an inland port and economic husb, and the center of exploration of the New World.
Incredibly picturesque and with so much to do and discover, Seville has been at the top of our Spain bucket list. We are excited to share our experience in this guide, but before we dive in, a quick warning.
Be prepared for Seville to turn up the heat! Figuratively and literally, if you are coming in the summer – Seville is the hottest city in Spain. If you plan to arrive in spring, expect to be intoxicated by blossoming orange trees. When we visited in November, the oranges were ripe, decorating the streets and perfuming the air with a faint citrus scent.
But regardless of the season, the city will feel like somebody messed with the color saturation settings thanks to the abundance of sun Seville gets throughout the year. You won’t put your camera away the entire time with dramatic arches and intricate tile hidden behind every corner. We’ve broken down the best things to do in Seville into neighborhoods to help you organize a seamless itinerary.
Barrio de Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, also known as the Jewish Quarter, is the oldest neighborhood in Seville, Spain, where you will find some of the most iconic buildings, like the Alcazar palace and the Cathedral. Grab a refreshment in the squares that connect the arms-width labyrinthine laneways and let them guide you from one hot spot to another.
Admire El Real Alcazar
The Real Alcazar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site palace built on what was originally an Islamic fortress. Some of you may recognize it from the popular show Game of Thrones. To us, it felt like stepping into the pages of the book One Thousand and One Nights. The palace is a luxurious combination of Islamic and Gothic elements and the perfect example of Mudejar architecture, which was formed in Spain under Moorish rule in the 8th century. We could have wandered around for hours, bug-eyed inspecting the intricate tile work. El Real Alcazar is a major tourist attraction in Seville, so we recommend booking your tickets in advance to avoid standing in line and spending more time enjoying the courtyards instead.
Visit the Seville Cathedral
Built in place of the Ancient Mosque, the Seville Cathedral became the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world upon completion and holds the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People from all over the world flock to witness its beauty and visit the tomb of Christopher Columbus housed inside. The bell tower La Giralda, seen from almost anywhere in the city, is the former minaret. You can climb to the top and enjoy 360-degree views of Seville.
Distrito Sur (South District) in Seville
Enchanting gardens and riverside walkways of the South District are the main draws for locals and tourists looking to get outdoors in Seville, Spain. But aside from gorgeous green spaces at Maria Luisa park, you will find a popular attraction – Plaza de España.
Explore Plaza de España
The grand crescent-shaped plaza was built especially for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. Its design was meant to symbolize peace; thus, the four bridges represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain, and the tiled alcoves depict its provinces.
We recommend arriving in the morning if you want to take photos and avoid crowds. But pass by in the afternoon to witness the clopping horses and live music that flood the plaza. Before you know it, you’ll be syncing your pace to the beat of flamenco stomping.
Maria Luisa Park encircles the plaza with its stunning botanical collection that stretches all the way to the riverside. Finish your tour of the plaza by taking a long stroll through the park and continue along river Guadalquivir, which was once the lifeline of Seville’s trade.
The old town extends into the center, where you will find hip eateries, stores, museums, and palaces. This neighborhood in Seville swept us off our feet with its creativity.
Capture Stunning Views from Setas de Sevilla
The peculiar mushroom-looking Metropol Parasol, known as Setas de Sevilla, is the largest wooden sculpture in the world. The structure was designed to provide locals with respite from the heat, but it also has a lookout walkway at the top. From it, you can capture spectacular 360-degree views and exercise your creative mind while snapping seriously cool-looking photos.
Watch a Flamenco Performance
Seville is known to be the birthplace of flamenco, so attending a show should be a must on your list. There are so many places where you can catch a show, from street performances in Plaza de España to dinner shows. While in El Centro, head to the Museo del Baile Flamenco, a museum dedicated to the dance. Learn about the art through displays and watch a live performance.
Triana is one of the best neighborhoods in Seville, Spain was the old tile-making area, located just across the bridge from the center. Today, it is the up-and-coming district where you can still find workshops carrying on the tradition. After exploring, join a tile-making class and then visit the local market.
Indulge at Mercado de Triana
Triana market was built on top of a 12th-century castle, so apart from indulging your senses, you can also explore castle ruins. Take in the aromas, capture the colors, shop the local produce, or taste some tapas.
Go on a Tapas Crawl
Eating tapas is essential to your visit to Spain, especially in Andalucia, where the concept was born. Seville is the capital of the said region, so experiment left and right and try everything. It’s not a big deal if you don’t like something because the portions are small. But by the end of your stay, you will expertly order your favorites.
The further out of the tourist area, the more authentic your experience will be. So, avoid Santa Cruz and stick to the center, south district, and Triana instead. Here are some recommendations to get you started.
We ate at several tapas bars, but our favorite was Petra. The food was wonderful, and the ambiance was perfect! Plus, we had room to sit down!
The classic Casa Vizcaino bar, beautifully decorated with azulejo tiles, is very popular with locals. Especially for its vermouth and beer because although they’ve been open since the 30s, they didn’t start serving tapas until a few years ago. So do as the locals and grab yourself a vermouth with bar snacks.
El Rinconcillo is the oldest tapas bar in Seville, serving traditional Andalucian cuisine. While it’s on the popular side of the scale, it’s an iconic place to have a round of tapas before moving on to the next spot.
Bar Alfalfa is a tiny quaint corner bar serving traditional tapas. The cozy atmosphere, accompanied by great service, feels like dining in someone’s home.
Day Trip to Cordoba from Seville, Spain
Cordoba, once the most important Roman city in the world and later an Islamic center in the Middle Ages, packs a lot of history and incredible landmarks for its small size. Located just an hour and a half away, Cordoba makes for a perfect day trip from Seville.
Cordoba is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most popular one being the Great Mosque. Originally built as a mosque, it was turned into a Cathedral on the inside. It serves as a monument to two religions and cultures that shaped Andalucia. It is worth coming to Cordoba just to see the Great Mosque, but the city is incredibly picturesque with so much more to see. Wander around the gorgeous courtyards of Cordoba’s Alcazar, walk across the impressive Roman bridge, explore the alleys in the Jewish Quarter and taste local flavors at Mercado Victoria.
Cordoba was yet another city that allowed us to see how incredibly diverse the Andalucia region is. We took a deep dive into rich history and culture, embarked on gastronomic adventures, and saw UNESCO World Heritage sites, iconic architecture, and stunning coastlines. The journey has kept us on our toes, and we hope you get to experience Andalucia for yourself.