A Practical Guide to Seville
Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region in the south of Spain and it’s one of Europe’s most popular destinations for good reason. The blend of traditional Spanish and Arabic architecture is stunning, and it’s one of the most colorful cities I’ve ever been to. You could throw out the guide books and spend days wandering the streets of Seville and leave feeling satisfied.
Plus, the people here are more laidback and friendly compared to other parts of Spain, and the food is incredible. One of the best parts about Seville is that even though it receives lots of tourists, many neighborhoods still retain an authentic feel.
When to Visit
Seville is one of the hottest cities in Europe and the summers are absolutely scorching. You should try to avoid July and August because the highs can reach 115°F. The best months are March to May and September to October when it won’t be so hot, and the crowds will be fewer.
I visited in the first week of September and the high was between 90-100°F each day. It’s not that miserable though, because there’s no humidity, the hottest time of the day is around 5-7 PM, and many of the streets are so narrow that they are completely in the shade.
What to Do
Royal Alcázar of Seville – The Royal Palace of the Moors dates back over 1000 years. I feel like once you’ve seen a few royal palaces in Europe, you’ve seen them all, but this is an exception. The blend of Islamic arches, tiles, and traditional Spanish architecture is truly incredible. The tickets are €14.50 and it’s best to reserve your place in advance. An audio guide is available for €6, but I thought it wasn’t very informative.
Plaza de España – This picturesque plaza might be the best example of the Spanish and Arabic blend that makes Seville so unique. The ceramic tile representations of each Spanish province that line the pavilion are spectacular. Also, you may come across flamenco dancers performing here.
Catedral de Sevilla & La Giralda – The large gothic cathedral with a bell tower known as La Giralda is an icon of Seville. The elaborate interior of the cathedral is spectacular, and the views from La Giralda are even better. I highly recommend a visit here.
The entrance is €11 which also includes free entry to Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador. There are also 80 free tickets available for purchase online only for the 2:45 PM time slot on Thursdays. Be aware of the women outside the cathedral offering palm readings who are scammers.
Explore the Triana and Santa Cruz Districts – These are probably the two most beautiful neighborhoods in Seville. The very colorful Triana is on the other side of the Guadalquivir river, and it used to be its own village that was known for pottery. Santa Cruz is right near the Alcázar and has very narrow, picturesque streets. I would recommend not eating in Santa Cruz because it’s the most touristy area.
Seville Museum of Fine Arts – A collection of Renaissance and Baroque art heavily featuring Andalusian artists. The entrance is free for EU citizens, otherwise it’s €1.50.
Explore the city by bike – On my first day in Seville, I rented a bike from SeeByBike (€10 per day). It was a great way to get outside the few neighborhoods where you will spend most of your time. Plus, the breeze feels amazing in the scorching Andalusian sun.
Setas de Seville – This is a bit of a strange attraction and it feels out of place compared to its surroundings, but it has great views of the city. It’s the largest wood structure in Europe and for €5, you can go to the observation deck to see the sunset. The line gets long, so be sure to buy tickets online.
Mercado de Feria – This historic market takes place every Thursday, and you can grab a meal here as well. Even if you aren’t in Seville on a Thursday, the Feria neighborhood is worth a visit to wander the streets.
Free Walking Tour – A great way to learn about the history of Seville and get inside tips from a local guide.
Torre del Oro – A 13th-century tower with a small exhibition about the Spanish Navy. The cost is €3, but entry is free on Mondays. Personally I didn’t think the exhibition was anything special, but there are nice views from atop the tower.
Where to Eat
Bar Alfalfa – This was probably the best meal I had during my two weeks in Spain. The quality of the food here is tremendous for the prices. A tapas plate is about €4 and they have very good sangria as well.
Las Golondrinas – This bar in the Triana neighborhood doesn’t serve traditional Spanish tapas. Instead, the tapas are small portions of meat served with bread, fries, or salad. The Iberian ham, beef tenderloin, and lamb are all delicious. It’s surprisingly cheap and 3 tapas plus a drink came out to €11.
Los Coloniales – A bar with traditional tapas, generation portions, and a nice patio with views of the adjoining plaza.
Al Wadi – A simple Halal restaurant with fantastic Arabic food.
Freskura – A tasty dessert shop with ice cream, brownies, and cake.
Where to Stay
La Banda Rooftop Hostel – A modern hostel with a rooftop bar, house dinners, and organized daily activities. The dorms and bathrooms are spacious, and most importantly, they have air conditioning.
Oasis Backpackers’ Palace – The rooftop pool & bar are perfect for meeting other travelers, and it has a great location near the bridge that connects Triana and the city center.
Toc Hostel – A modern hostel with fantastic amenities and a laidback vibe.
Where to Next
Now that you’ve read the guide to visiting Seville check out other destinations in Spain!
Madrid – The affordable capital has fantastic art museums, great nightlife, and delicious food.
Bilbao – A port city in the Basque Country with fantastic regional food, art museums, and viewpoints.