Some cities European will simply blow you away; others will win you over slowly. The Spanish city of Seville seduces and disarms you. This Andalusian city is world-famous for its Moorish buildings, historic palaces, churches, flamenco dancing, and much more. Some of the best things to do in Seville include touring three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And of course, you must experience the traditional flamenco shows as you sample tapas accompanied by a glass of wine.
The ideal way to maximize the best of what Seville has to offer is walking. Many of the best things and places to visit are located near each and are pedestrian-friendly. However, if your time in this historic city is limited, get on the Hop on Hop Off. This bus service can help you cover most of what you want to do in Seville in a day. If you want something more exotic, why not try a carriage ride?
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Best Time To Visit Seville
Seville is a beautiful and enjoyable place to visit. Before you decide on what to do in Seville, let’s first discuss the best time to visit. If high temperatures and hot Sun are not your best times, then we recommend you plan your visit for April-May or September-October. During these periods, the city is pleasant, with lots of daytime sunshine and warmth. The nights get a little cooler.
If possible, avoid the period between June and August as it can be unbearably hot and jam-packed with tourists. However, though the weather is rather warm, it’s still pleasant enough if you want to walk around Seville.
Best Things To Do In Seville
The history of Seville is fascinating, as reflected in the many beautiful buildings you see in this city. This can be attributed to the vast wealth created in the Middle Ages when it was an important trading port. If you are wondering what to do in Seville, this city packs a lot. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in history, fun or tasting tapas, this southern city has something for everybody.
Leisurely Wander Around Seville
What to do in Seville? Spend hours wandering through the neighbourhoods, visit tapas bars or hop from shop to shop. The shops are full of handicrafts and ceramics that make great souvenirs to bring home.
Getting around is best done on foot, so don’t forget to pack a pair of good walking shoes. Walk to the River Guadalquivir where you can enjoy scenic views of the Triana neighbourhood. It might interest you to know that this is one of the longest rivers in Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. Then take a short walk to the historic Torre del Oro and climb the tower for some beautiful views.
If you enjoy wandering through cobblestoned, narrow medieval streets, then the Santa Cruz quarter is a must. Santa Cruz is the heart of the city’s tourist district and one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods (barrios) in all Spain. It’s in this neighbourhood where you will find many of the city’s iconic sites such as the Real Alcázar and the Seville Cathedral.
You simply cannot skip this medieval quarter, once home to Christians, Jews, and Muslims living harmoniously together side by side during the reign of King Fernando III. It might pay dividends to get a bit nosy and take a peek through the grilled entrances into the luxurious and ornate courtyards beyond.
Visit The Magnificent Seville Cathedral
When in this part of the world, the Seville Cathedral must feature on your “what to do in Seville”. At times referred to as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, this is one of Seville’s most treasured landmarks. Its vastness and tower make a massive impression on visitors, and upon entering, you get stunned by the Cathedral's cavernous interiors. It has 80 chapels.
In 1987, the Cathedral became a UNESCO recognized site. It is widely accepted that the remains of Christopher Columbus rest inside the Cathedral, though some debate still rages. After touring the interior of this old Cathedral, head to the Patio de Los Naranjos. This is a beautiful outdoor square filled with many aromatic orange trees.
Climb The Giralda Bell Tower
Although part of the Seville Cathedral, the Giralda Tower deserves a special mention. The Tower was previously the minaret of the Great Mosque of Seville that once stood there. La Giralda in Spanish, the tower was built by the Moors and dates back to the 16th century. All that remains of the mosque is part of the minaret, now the Giralda Bell Tower of Seville Cathedral.
This architectural attraction rises majestically above the Cathedral. If climbing is your thing, make your way up the tower for some spectacular views over the Alcazar and the Jewish Quarter. Except for the final section, which is made up of 17 stars, the climb to the top is via ramps – supposedly this was to facilitate reaching the top by horseback.
Feel The Touch Of Royalty At The Real Alcázar Palace
Granted, the Spanish monarchy may not have the global clout we associate with the British monarchy, but royalty remains royalty, right? One of the best things to do in Seville is to visit the Alcazar Palace. You will be stepping into royalty when you visit the palace and gardens. Known as The Real Alcazar, this is a classic example of Mudèjar architecture and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The Real Alcázar is a stunning combination of Christian and Moorish influences. Be ready to marvel at the striking use of wood, brick, plaster, tile, and metal. Constructed in the 7th century, the palace still occasionally hosts the Spanish royal family when they are in Seville. The palace gardens are beautiful, particularly in spring. Love architecture? You will marvel at the intricate architecture of the Alcazar.
Tip: The palace opens at 9.30 am and unless you got a pre-paid ticket, make sure you are on the queue by 9 am before it becomes too long.
Tour The Jewish Quarter And The Juderia Interpretation Centre
One item that must be included in your what to do in Seville list is visiting the Jewish Quarter. Until the end of the 15th century, Seville had a substantial Jewish population. Visit the Juderia Interpretation Centre and learn about Iberian-Jewish (Sephardic) customs. The small centre maintains a fascinating exhibition depicting Jewish life in medieval Seville. You get to learn telling stories surrounding the lives of prominent local figures.
From the centre, take the 2-hour long Juderia tour exploring the Jewish Quarter. If you love religious history, you get to see where old synagogues stood with some remains still visible. If you can make the tour at night, it’s even more atmospheric.
If the Juderia tour doesn’t excite you, the nearby Jardines de Murillo underground car park will. The entire area was used as a cemetery, and you can see an old Jewish tomb behind a closed glass wall.
Explore General Archive Of The Indies
A historian and wondering what to do in Seville? Make a date with the General Archive of the Indies. Established in 1785 by King Charles III, the purpose of the General Archives was to collect and assemble in a single place all the official documents referring to the Spanish colonies in the Indies and the Philippines. These were previously dispersed around the towns of Seville, Cadiz, and Simancas.
This UNESCO-Heritage site holds some 80 million documents relating to the once global Spanish Empire spanning the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. If that sounds like too much reading, fear not as beside the old books and the buildings themselves, other exciting things to do here include marvelling at maps charting the nostalgic Spanish Empire, a 17th-century cannon, and several paintings by Goya.
Climb To The Top Of Metropol Parasol
You cannot afford to marvel at Seville's modern architectural icon. The Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure anywhere in the world. Known locally as Las Setas, this structure consists of six mushroom-shaped shades, stands 28-metre tall and 150 meters long.
The six parasols link together to give the impression of mushrooms or even waffles. It houses a bar and food market on the ground floor. An archaeological museum is located in the basement that showcases stunning Roman Moorish mosaics. The open area above the Metropol Parasol is used for concerts.
Tip: Make sure you take the lift up to Parasol’s panoramic walkway with stunning 360-degree views. From here, you can see the Expo 92 site (La Cartuja) and the Seville Cathedral.
Experience Traditional Flamenco Shows
One of the best things to do in Seville is to watch a live traditional flamenco show. These shows date back to medieval times. You will be enthralled by the passion of the singer, dancer, and guitarist. It feels like you are being drawn into the story when you catch an authentic show. No matter when you come calling, you are sure of getting flamenco shows across the city every evening.
While Seville is famous for great flamenco, some places do it better than others. If you’re near the Cathedral, an excellent place to check would be Tablao El Arenal. They have two shows each night that last 90 minutes. Accompany that with a full dinner or a choice of tapas. Are you visiting Seville in spring or autumn? Watch a series of performances at the Peñas de Guardia. These are organized for local and upcoming flamenco talent.
Tip: Whichever venue is chosen, get your tickets in advance.
Explore The Triana Neighborhoods
One of the best things to do in Seville is to explore the Triana neighbourhoods that lie on the left bank of the River Guadalquivir. This part of the city exudes a different vibe than what you feel in the city centre. This is an earth part of Triana and is credited with many things associated with Sevillian cultures such as painted ceramics, azulejos decorative tiles, and Flamenco.
You get in through the Isabel Bridge close to the famous bullfighting arena. Is your camera ready? Getting off the bridge why not take a photo beside the renowned statue of the flamenco dancer at the Plaza de Altozano? Check out the baroque and Moorish revival architecture or pop into one of the numerous tile and ceramics shops selling authentic azulejos tiles.
Markets these days are so much more than mere places where you get your fresh fruit and vegetables. The Triana Riverside Market sits atop Castillo San Jorge. And guess what? Into exotic foods? Here you get extraordinary sea snails and taste jamón ibérico (cured ham) as you watch flamenco shows in the 28-seat micro-theatre. Accompany that with tapas, sushi, or nibble on sweet pastries. You can even take cooking classes and dazzle folks back home!
If you love history, the market is located on what was the seat of the Spanish Inquisition.
Sample Tapas In Seville
When in this part of Spain, your list of ‘what to do in Seville’ must include sampling tapas. Although Seville has plenty of restaurants and bars offering tapas, we recommend you try the cosier, smaller bars in Santa Cruz. Take a walk down the narrow streets, and you will discover small, quaint plazas set with chairs and tables selling great tapas.
Alternatively, walk to the Puente de Isabel II in Triana where the rich selection of local tapas is guaranteed to excite your taste buds as you down the local flavours accompanied by a local beer.
What a way to cap your Seville day!
Relax At María Luisa, Seville’s Main Park
Perhaps you got one more day and still wondering what to do in Seville? Just beyond the Alcázar Palace lies Maria Luisa, Seville’s main park. After wandering around the city, this is the ideal place to cool down and relax. The beautiful and tranquil park covers around 1000 acres. Walk past the orange tree and jacaranda groves, and enjoy a refreshing ice cream under the beautiful bougainvillaea.
Have children with you? The park has many fountains where kids can splash and have fun. As the kids have their day, wander around and take in natural beauty. If you need a break, there are many benches where you can relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Feeling energetic? Hire a double bike and ride around. Some have a shaded canopy where your kids can sit under and enjoy the ride.
Maria Luisa is perfect for children to run about and play as the only traffic found here are bikes and horse-drawn carriages. Your kids will love riding on the horse-drawn carriages. For them, that could be one of the best things to do in Seville!