There are lots of beautiful places to visit but with just few of them you feel involved. That’s Seville: fall in love with its magnetic atmosphere. With our Seville travel tips you will discover why we think it is definitely one of the most welcoming, warm, active and interesting city we’ve ever visited. Lonely Planet was right, once again!
SEVILLE TRAVEL TIPS • WHAT TO SEE, EAT AND DISCOVER
VISIT THE ALCAZAR
Let’s start this one with the same words used by Lina, our Panchotour guide.
I won’t let you go home without visiting it, that’s the Kinder egg of Seville.
Even if you usually avoid museums and churches during your trips, we strongly recommend to visit the Alcazar. To get you can go directly at the main entrance and join the queue or book the visit in advance, just adding an extra euro per ticket you’ll avoid half an hour or more of wait.
As soon as you enter you’ll find yourself in a complicated maze (there is even a real one in the garden, but it is way far easier than the palace itself) hold the given map tightly not to miss anything during the visit.
At the beginning, right close to the entrance, you will see several nice rooms and a few courtyards. After this soft start you’ll have a huge demonstration of what pure pure beauty is: the heart of the royal palace.
There are no words to describe it. It is a tangible proof of the magnific Moorish architecture and their attention to details in carving walls and mosaics. You will feel so small and inconsistent that you won’t even know where to look at.
The visit ends with the massive garden, where you can have a relaxing walk after the breathtaking experience. The tour will lasts approximately a couple of hours, and it worths every single minute of it!
FYI The Alcázar of Seville appeared on screens in the 6 season of games of Thrones as Sunspear, the capital of Dorne.
BE AMAZED BY THE CATHEDRAL
Hard to miss it since the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is the world largest gothic catheral. It was built with the aim of being the city’s main mosque but, in the 1248 the Castilian King Ferdinando III transformed this great mosque into a church. If you closely look at the facade you can easily notice how its Moorish embellishments are merged together with lots of Christian statues. Puerta del Perdón (now the cathedral’s exit) on Calle Alemanes is one of the most peculiar elements of this great mixture. Just spectacular!
Take your time circling the Cathedral and observe its magnificents from all different angles. Here you can find the opening hours of cultural visits and tickets prices.
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is in here!
ADMIRE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA
Seville hosted in 1929 the Ibero-American Exposition. The aim of this event was to show to the USA how rich, productive and beautiful Spain was at that moment.
And what a better way than squeezing tons of geographical notions, cultural peculiarity and historical events in one huge, massive monumental square?!
Plaza de España, with his half moon shape, is an enormous square located in the southern part of the city. The central part is a peninsula all surrounded by water canals and connected by 4 bridges, one for each ancient Spanish kingdom.
Along the half circular edge there is a pillared porch, that lets you admire the whole square from different angles. At the main corners there are two impressive dominant towers. In the center of the peninsula there is the Vicente Traver fountain while along the walls of the Plaza many tiled alcoves represent the different provinces of Spain.
The overall style is a perfect mix of Art Deco and Mock Mudéjar, the result is a Neo-Mudéjar square with exposed bricks, white columns and fully tiled bridges.
After visiting the square, stroll around the Parque de María Luisa, with its half mile of tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, benches, and exhedras; lush plantings of palms, orange trees, Mediterranean pines, and stylized flower beds. Just stunning.
Btw the 1929 was the year of the Great Crash so not many Americans came to visit this remarkable square at that time.
Triana is an old neighborhood situated on the other side of the Guadalquivir river. It takes its name from the roman imperator Traiano. It was considered as working-class suburban area, not even part of Seville. Thanks to the city expansion and the construction of plaza the toros, Triana became closer to the center. There are two main bridges that lead to Triana; the most characteristic one is Puente de Triana, a metal bridge which turns spectacular during the night time. Triana have always had a strong identity, and played a fundamental role in the development of Sevillan culture and traditions. It used to be home to the traditional pottery and tile industry, with a strong flamenco and bullfighters culture. The district is also known in Seville as the “Independent Republic of Triana”.
Even if ceramic workshops are rare now, almost every tile you see in the city comes from here; anyway you can find some artisan next to Calle Alfareira.
You can visit Triana joining a walking tour or easily by your own.
If you go there during the day, then you have to go back to discover its nightlife along Calle Betis.
GET LOST IN SANTA CRUZ
This neighborhood is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys where is very easy to get lost, and we strongly suggest to do so. Put your map in your pocket, switch off Google Maps and just have a walk. Scattered through the neighborhood are several plazas or squares, just so adorable! Don’t miss the chance to get a coffe in one of the countless bars.
JOIN A WALKING TOUR
Free walking tour are deeply rooted in Seville, in fact there are many different companies that offer this service.
That is the perfect way to visit a city with a low budget and high content of notions, tips and advices. We can recommend both Panchotours and Sevilla Free Tours.
There are several others options, but we did not experience it all, even though most of the guides work for different tour companies.
All the companies offer both free and payed tours. Obviously free means that you gives tips at the end of the tour. You choose the amount you want to give based on your satisfaction. Usually is around 8/10 euro for a couple.
The guides are very professional, during the tours they give you many notions about the city and a lot of tips for the rest of your trip. Usually at the end of the tour you get the chance to have a chat with the guys for extra tips. They know the city very well, and are always pleased to give taylor made advices based on your needs.
Few bars and clubs in the city offer expensive tango shows, we didn’t have enough money to experience it so unfortunately we can not suggest any. However we heard from locals that most of these shows are tourist traps, so be aware before buying an expensive ticket.
Here you can find few other ways to see a flamenco show for free. Get a drink a La Carboneria and you can have the chance to see flamenco dancers performing in there. The atmosphere here is very typical, the bar is one of the oldest in town and things are never changed. Here you wouldn’t find any fancy touristic attraction but just few big tables with benches and a small area where dancer will perform. Give it a chance.
We also heard about another place where you can feel real flamenco vibes, a bar called Lo Nuestro, where professional flamenco singers will spice up your night. Another way of experience flamenco is to prick up your ears while you visit the city. It is very common to stumble upon a valid group of flamenco dancers and musicians. We get the chance to see one in Plaza de España, just amazing.
EAT LIKE A LOCAL
You may come from the same timezone, but you need to retune your mealtime, immediately. Breakfast is at 10am, lunch starts at 2pm and don’t even ask for dinner before 9pm.
Forget your sweet morning habits and embrace tostadas! The classic one consists in a toasted slice of bread, with a tomato topping and olive oil, but you can have it also in many different ways. Have nice tostadas at a lovely place in Alameda called Cafe Hercules with a great breakfast formula: create your own tostada by choosing each ingredient, from the bread (the one with seeds is delicious) to many different toppings. You won’t have two identical breakfast in a row.
As you probably understood, food is a key topic in Seville. Lunch is the most important meal of the day; having a late breakfast will let you walk and discover the city until mid afternoon, when the delicious smell of cooking will be irresistible and you’ll have to get some tapas. Yes, tapas are not just an evening thing! Recommended places for tapas: Dos de Mayo in San Lorenzo district and Las Golondrinas in Triana district.
If you will ever get hungry in the middle of the afternoon (don’t know how it is possible) than have a sweet snack, is churros time! Get the best in town at Bar El Comercio.
Dinner is definitely a lighter meal, compared to lunch. If you really really really want, then ask for paella and sangria, someone will serve you; but if you want something typical avoid them, c’mon you’re not in Valencia!
Usually you won’t have a proper dinner, sitting for a couple of hours in the same place. You’ll be bar-hopping from the late afternoon till night, having beer and tapas. Since Seville is packed of restaurant/bars, why don’t try them all?!
The followings are nice areas we recommend to go: Alameda de Hercules, Plaza Del Salvador and Triana.
EXTRA SEVILLE TRAVEL TIPS AND SECRETS
Don’t take candies from strangers
All jokes aside better not to accept twigs from lovely gipsy ladies in the street. Usually in Plaza de España or close to the Cathedral they offer rosemary twigs, wishing you good fortune. Obviously lucky charms are never for free.
A bitter surprise
Seville has plenty of Moorish heritage signs; one of the most significant but less known is actually a symbol of the city. Coming from China, as living lucky charm, orange trees spread all over the city. You can not find any other city in the world with such an amount of them. Tips: avoid eating them… they are bitter! Yes there are billions of oranges that cannot be directly eaten. The municipality harvest them for processing and make delicious jams, liquors and perfumes.
Thanks to all these tree the spring is the best moment to visit to Serville, the city just blooms.
A secret pearl in the historical center
The magnificence of the Cathedral and the Alcazar might overshadow the beauty of a secret corner of Seville, located just few steps away from them.
Plaza del Cabildo is a charming plaza near the Cathedral of Seville. Unlike the other squares in Spain, this peaceful place can be discovered slowly, in a more romantic way. It is a lovely half-moon shaped square, and consists of a series of arches that are decorated with frescoes and supported by marble columns.
From its location in the Barrio del Arenal, it is home to some of the best antique shops in the city. If you need to complete your stamps collection, it hosts a nice collector market, on Sunday morning.
For queue haters
As we said regarding the Alcazar, you can book in advance your tickets for most of the important monuments/museums in the city. If you hate waiting and you are traveling on a budget, there is still a chance to visit the Cathedral. You just need to brush up on your faith and get in during a mass. Of course do not walk there as a tourist, nor to take pictures, but you can have a look of the magnificence of its interiors.
Strolling around the city you will walk in front of hundreds of open gates, take always a look inside! You could find a lush garden, an entrance fully tiled in Moorish style, or a scary statue of Jesus Christ. Jokes aside, Seville is full of secret treasures. You won’t be yelled for a quick peek.
More Seville travel tips in our next article dedicated entirely to food!