Let’s get one thing straight: you can’t plan a trip to southern Spain without visiting Seville. Now, this isn’t just because it’s the capital of Andalusia. Seville is one of the most important Spanish cities to visit to truly understand the country’s history. Plus, Seville is the perfect place to find examples of the fusion of Moorish and Spanish culture. The orange trees lining the streets, flamenco, and even the Spanish language itself all have roots coming from the Moors who inhabited this region of the country. The capital of Andalusia is a great place to go on your first trip to Spain as well, with your fill of tapas, paella, and sangria around every corner. If this sounds like your type of vacation, keep reading for the best things to do in Seville, Spain.
1. Feel like a royal at the Real Alcázar
Many people are aware of the Alcázar of Seville as it was one of the filming locations for the Game of Thrones series. Not a GoT fan? This palace is still 100% worth a visit. Initially built for King Peter of Castile, the Alcázar was constructed on the site of what had previously been a Muslim fortress. Even though Christians constructed the palace, you can see the prominent Muslim influence. In fact, the Real Alcázar of Seville is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Mudéjar architecture.
Ready to plan your visit? You can buy tickets for the Alcázar here. If tickets for your date are already sold out, don’t fret! You can purchase tickets in person on the day of your visit. I’d recommend arriving at the entrance (La Puerta del León) in the morning when the palace opens to secure your ticket. It’s also very simple to join a last-minute guided tour of the Alcázar. Certified guides offering tours in multiple languages stand outside of the entrance and will provide you with the option to join their tour for a price. After finishing your tour, the location of the Alcázar within Barrio Santa Cruz makes it very convenient to visit the Seville Cathedral or La Giralda afterward.
2. Take a stroll through Plaza de España
Located inside of María Luisa Park, the Plaza de España is not to be missed on your trip to Seville! Apart from the stunning architecture, this plaza is dripping in vibrant tilework. For example, you can find 48 pavilions illustrating the different provinces of Spain and maps. While you’re there, take your time to stroll over the plaza’s bridges and through its many alcoves. If you want to spend more time in the park, rent one of the rowboats to enjoy a different perspective of the plaza. For any Star Wars fans out there, you may recognize this venue from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002).
3. Visit the Seville Cathedral
If you need further convincing of the ornateness of Sevillian architecture, make sure to stop by the Seville Cathedral. Interestingly enough, the cathedral is actually located within the Barrio Santa Cruz, which was the Jewish quarter during medieval times. This beautiful church’s construction took over a century, and it’s easy to see why. Fun fact: the Seville Cathedral is the third-largest church in the entire world. It is also the burial place of Christopher Columbus. If you plan to go inside, I urge you to buy tickets in advance here or check out the options for guided tours below.
Since the cathedral is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) tourist attractions in Seville, it’s probably a good idea to buy tickets for the earliest time slot available. The church can become quite crowded, and during the summers, mornings are always cooler in temperature than the stifling 90°F+ afternoons.
4. Go to the top of La Giralda
After wandering the inside of the Seville Cathedral, head to the top of La Giralda. Why not? After all, this activity involves a magnificent panoramic view and is even included with your cathedral entrance ticket! As you’ll need to climb thirty-four ramps to reach the top, I’d make sure to wear comfy walking shoes. La Giralda, although part of a catholic cathedral, is an Arabic construction. Built in the late 1100s (yep, you read that right, 1100s), this bell tower was originally a minaret used to call Muslims to prayer.
5. Try all the tapas
Ahhhhh, tapas. Have you been to Seville if you haven’t sampled tapas in a small bodega with a glass of sangria in hand? For some of the best tapas in the city, check out these spots: La Azotea, El Rinconcillo, Bodega Santa Cruz, Taberna Peregil, or Las Teresas. As far as which dishes to taste, be authentic to traditional Spanish food and cuisine! Try the jamón ibérico, tortilla española, salmorejo, or patatas bravas. If you’re a picky eater, but still want to try a dish that is truly Spanish, go for the croquetas. Spaniards typically eat late into the evening, so don’t feel in a rush to eat dinner at your normal time. Tapas are meant to be enjoyed slowly and around friends.
6. Watch the sunset at Metropol Parasol
Metropol Parasol is a relatively new attraction in comparison to those previously mentioned. Completed in 2011, this wooden structure’s installation and appearance turned out to be quite controversial among the Spanish public. The shape of Metropol Parasol is actually six large mushrooms. For this reason, locals have dubbed the structure Las Setas, meaning “the mushrooms” in Spanish. For the most beautiful view from on top of Metropol Parasol, arrive about an hour before sunset. You’ll need to pay the 3€ entrance fee before taking the elevator up to the observatory viewpoint. Moreover, you’ll have to buy the tickets in cash, so plan ahead to have euros on you.
7. Visit La Casa de Pilatos
La Casa de Pilatos is a Sevillian palace that was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. I consider it to be one of Seville’s hidden gems. This palace is covered in vibrant and intricate tiles, making it one of the most significant collections of azulejos in the world. Although the entrance is a little pricey, 10-12€, I still recommend visiting. Like with most attractions in Seville, arriving in the morning is always advisable. I got to the palace right when it opened at 9 am and was able to spend about 30 minutes wandering around before the tour groups arrived.
8. See a flamenco show
Flamenco is one of the essential facets of experiencing Spanish culture. For those who have yet to see a live flamenco show, Seville might be the best place on earth to go to one. This passionate and emotional dance, when done correctly, can have an intense effect on the audience. For the best flamenco in Seville, check out: Casa de la Memoria, La Casa del Flamenco, and Casa de la Guitarra, or the Museo del Baile Flamenco. At the Casa de la Guitarra, you can even go online and reserve seats here.
9. Climb the Torre del Oro
The Torre del Oro, which translates to the “Tower of Gold”, was originally a military watchtower built in the 13th century. Nowadays, it serves as a naval museum with a great view of the Guadalquivir River. If you’re not interested in maritime history, you may want to visit on Mondays, when entrance is free.
10. Attend the Feria de Abril
I left the Feria de Abril as the last activity on this list because, unfortunately, you have to be in town during the right time of the year to join in the fun! This fair begins about two weeks after Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Easter. So, this means that even though the event is titled “the April Fair”, it sometimes falls in May. If visiting during this week, you’ll find Seville draped in colorful decorations, with locals decked out in traditional Spanish clothing. Although the casetas (colorful tents) are private, you can still join in the celebration in different ways! All in all, it’s worth visiting Seville during the Feria de Abril just to experience the environment that this festival brings along with it.
Have a great time in Seville, and remember to drop a comment about your favorite thing to do!