As the capital of Andalusia, Seville is the largest city in the region filled with a rich history, tapas bars and memorable things to do. Living just a short drive away, I love visiting this city with streets lined with orange trees and traditional tiles around every corner.
I first published this guide to Seville after a long weekend trip back in 2018. When we left for the airport, I thought, “What a cool city with so much to do… too bad I’ll probably never be back.” Flash forward a few years later, and we actually moved to Andalusia.
After living near Cádiz and countless visits into Seville, I can give you my tried and true recommendations for the top things to do, the best hotels and where to eat. This guide also includes my suggestions for the best time to visit Seville and some general transportation tips.
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Where to Stay in Seville
For a complete guide on where to stay in Seville, you’ll want to read my separate post that delves into more options. For now, here are three top choices:
Hotel Alfonso XIII is Seville’s historical 5-star hotel that was commissioned by the King of Spain to host dignitaries for the 1929 World’s Fair. Situated between Plaza de España and the cathedral, you’ll be in a prime position to easily explore both.
The spacious inner courtyard and tile work throughout the building are just a few of the features that make this luxury property unique. You can also just visit for a drink on the outdoor terrace. Check pricing and availability.
I stayed at Hotel Casa de Colón on my first trip to Seville in 2018 before I moved to Andalusia. It is in a wonderful location, just steps from the cathedral. It’s moderately priced with a charming courtyard, traditional tiled rooms and a nice rooftop patio. Excellent value. Check pricing and availability.
I’ve visited Hotel Corral del Rey‘s sister hotel Hacienda San Rafael about 40 minutes from the city and absolutely loved it. Their location in the city is tucked away in a 17th century palace in the Alfalfa neighborhood. Choose one of the 17 upscale rooms and enjoy the rooftop plunge pool. Check pricing and availability.
Things to do in Seville
Real Alcázar of Sevilla
The Alcázar started as a government building in 913 and grew to be a political hub and compound of royal residences over the centuries. The Moorish palace is complete with extensive gardens, intricate tile and stunning courtyards.
Game of Thrones fans might know the Alcázar as the filming location for scenes set in Dorne. However, visiting the palace has been a top attraction in Sevilla long before GOT. I would recommend booking in advance because time slots do fill up. I’ve definitely been turned away on a last minute trip when I didn’t book in advance.
You can purchase entry tickets and tours in advance.
Cathedral of Sevilla
The Cathedral of Sevilla is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and final resting place of Christopher Columbus. Construction began in 1402 to replace a mosque and took over a century.
The bell tower called La Giralda was formerly the minaret of the mosque. Today, you can climb to the top for stunning views of the city below. There’s actually no stairs to get to the top of the tower; it’s all a steep slant and makes it a breeze (relatively).
Book your ticket in advance or just wait in the line that starts here at the Replica del Giraldillo (the other lines you might see are for pre-booked time slots and tours). In my experience, the line just gets longer. You won’t be turned away like at the Alcazar that simply cannot accommodate anymore visits. Guided tours are also available.
Plaza de España
Plaza de España was built in 1928 for the world’s fair in Sevilla, Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It’s 100% free and 100% amazing. Stroll though halls to be impressed by more tile work and a half-circle moat. Don’t miss the upstairs balcony. Boat rentals and horse rides also available for purchase.
While you’re there, also take a stroll around the Park of Maria Luisa right across the street.
Palacio de las Dueñas
While the Alcazar and Casa de Pilatos are more well-known palaces to visit in Sevilla, you shouldn’t overlook the smaller and charming Palacio de las Dueñas. Bougainvillea lovers will love the pink and purple facade in full bloom and a stroll through the gardens.
The palace was built in the late 15th century and has belonged to House of Alba since 1612. The 18th Duchess of Alba was a famous Spanish aristocrat and socialite who was married and died at the palace. Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly were among many of her distinguished guests.
Las Setas de Sevilla (The Mushrooms)
Originally named Metropol Parasol, the Las Setas de Sevilla adopted the alternate name because the structure resembles mushrooms. The urban landmark claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world.
I think I went to the top on my second or third trip to Seville. So while I wouldn’t say going to the top is a MUST do, you should definitely walk by it. If you’re really into views though, it is beautiful up there.
Calle Tetuán and Calle Sierras are pedestrian shopping streets with all the big box retailers and small independent shops. If you’re visiting from the States, I urge you to pop into the Zara. It is half the price in Spain. There’s also a decent sized El Corte Ingles if you’re after department store style shopping.
There’s a number of small boutiques selling jewelry, home decor and tiles. Populart for handmade, traditional ceramics. Casa Rodríguez for religious items and ornate tassels. Antiksuk for eclectic home decor and textiles.
Where to Eat & Drink
Bar El Comercio – Open 730am – 9pm, you can count on this place for excellent churros and coffee in the morning and into the evening for drinks. I have found the employees are above average friendly and very tolerant to my poor Spanish pronunciation. I especially love the tiles and interior.
Perro Viejo – Meaning “old dog,” I loved this place before even going. If you are a new reader, I had a rescue dog that I got when she was supposedly 10 years old. She lived 11 years after that, so I perpetually had an “old dog.” Back to the point… try this place for its nice interior, arroz negro (black rice), and specialty dessert.
El Rinconcillo – With a history as a tavern in the 17th century, this is the oldest bar in Seville. It has been in the same family for over 250 years (read more about their history). Heads up, they close for the month of August (you should’t visit that month anyway though!).
Bodega Santa Cruz – While I wouldn’t describe any of the employees I’ve encountered working here as “friendly” in my two visits, this tapas spot is one of the most famous in Seville. You can get a large variety of dishes and leave absolutely stuffed for about $20 for two people. Be sure to get the fried eggplant with honey (berenjenas con miel).
La Sacristía Tapas- Around the corner from Bodega Santa Cruz, you’ll find La Sacristía Tapas. Service is quick, the food is hot and very affordable for being on the main pedestrian street. Snag a spot outside and get a peek at La Giralda in the distance.
Filo – This spot is one of the few in Seville serving an English/American style breakfast and brunch. Plenty of vegan and healthy options as well if you need a break from the pork and mayonnaise.
La Brunilda Tapas – This was a more recent discovery and clearly it was just new to me, because there was a line out the door right when it opened. Get the risotto with mushrooms and Idiazabal cheese.
El Pintón – The ambiance is extraordinary with high-quality cuisine and service to match. Be sure to make a reservation.
For traditional Spanish cakes, head to either Confitería la Despensa de Palacio or Confitería La Campana. Both historical bakeries offer sweet treats and a coffee counter.
When to visit
In most of my travel guides, I usually recommend avoiding a destination in winter. However, the best time to visit Seville is in winter. You’ll see oranges everywhere like huge ornaments hanging from the trees. From late November to early January, the city is lit up with lights and decorations for Christmas and Three Kings’ Day.
Then, if you visit in March you’ll be treated to the smell of orange blossoms. Semana Santa (Holy Week) would also be a special time to visit. During the week leading up to Easter, the area around the cathedral hosts the largest processions in the world. Read more about the history and events on each day.
I live about 90 minutes away and I’ve never actually visited from June-October. In summer, it is simply too hot to be outside enjoying the city. With the exception of the spacious pool at the Hotel Alfonso XIII, most pools are usually quite small and hardly offer much relief.
Transportation Travel Tips
Overall, Seville is a very walkable, mostly flat city. From the Plaza de España in the south to the Setas in the north is about a mile and a half.
If you are driving, I would recommend scoping out the parking situation before hand. I always use street view in Google Maps to find the most accessible parking lots. Seville is a city you don’t want to get stuck going down the wrong road… and I say “stuck” literally because I have actually seen sedans get stuck in the narrow streets and tight corners. I usually park in the underground lot located right here.
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