My husband and I love a mini city break, but I have never fallen so in love with somewhere as much as I have with Seville. Oh my goodness, this city has my entire heart. Seville (pronounced Se-vi-ya) is the 4th largest city in Spain and boasts gorgeous architecture and a rich history. I felt completely at home getting lost wandering the Old Town streets and an overwhelming sense of awe when visiting the main attractions. If I have convinced you that you need to go (which I hope I have) then here are my personal recommendations of what to do in this stunning Spanish city.
Seville is very easy to get to, we flew directly to San Pablo Airport from Bristol, and it was a smooth journey both ways. From the airport there are taxis outside but we hopped on the bus that heads straight into the city. The bus you'll want is 'EA'. There was a man selling tickets right by the bus and it was only €4 each compared to a €30 taxi. There are several stops you can hop off at depending on where you're staying but we hopped off at the Torre Del Oro. From there it was only a short 5 minute walk to our hotel.
(Torre Del Oro)
I noticed there was the option to hire bikes (as you would in London) however, I highly recommend getting around by foot to fully appreciate the detail and beauty of the city. We did over 20,000 steps everyday so wear comfortable shoes! It is tiring on the feet but totally worth it. There is also a tram running through the main roads of the city but we didn't use them as all the main sites were walking distance from where we stayed. You will see lots of horse drawn carriages and whilst you may feel comfortable riding in one of these, we personally did not. It made me really sad to see the horses being worked so hard in the heat, and from what I saw, I'm not convinced they were looked after properly. So I recommend getting around by foot for the most authentic experience.
Where To Stay:
We stayed in a perfectly located boutique hotel called Da Vinci Hotel (literally directly opposite the Cathedral). I would highly recommend booking accommodation as central as possible as it was super convenient and we could pop back to our room whenever we needed to. The entrance to the hotel was a single door and as with a lot of city hotels, goes up rather than the big hotels we may be used to in the UK. The room itself was small but had a big double bed, clean bathroom and everything we needed. You won't be spending your time in the hotel room so you pay for the location more than anything. We booked a standard double room (€50-80 per night) but there was the option of a deluxe double which was a lot pricier. We landed at 12.30pm and were able to check in straight away, which was perfect as it meant we could freshen up and then head straight out to explore. Also, on our last day (check out at 11.30am) we were able to leave our bags behind reception which was also really helpful as our flight wasn't until that evening. I highly recommend finding a hotel that will hold your luggage after check out on your last day if you have a later flight, as I trailing it around the city with you would be annoying (especially in the warmer months).
What To Do:
Wander the Old Town streets
As our first day was only a half day we spent it exploring and just wondering the beautiful Old Town streets. There are lots of gorgeous doors and block coloured walls that make for the perfect Instagram photo (an Instagram husband is highly recommended). My biggest piece of advice when wandering around is to look up. Sometimes the ground level of buildings aren't that appealing but when you look up, the buildings are spectacular. There is also such a different feel between exploring the streets in the daytime and then in the late evening. The daytime boasts the colours and architecture but the evening reveals the buzz and has a vibe of 'anything is possible'. The evening is when the tapas bars come alive and when the locals come out to play. There is just something so magical about people watching the locals in the streets and bars of their home city, listening to their dreamy Spanish accents and absorbing the atmosphere. Pop on some comfy shoes and get lost in the back streets of Seville.
St. Mary Of The See Cathedral
Or better known as Seville Cathedral, is simply breathtaking. I am obsessed with Cathedrals/Churches and although I am not religious, I am always completely blown away by their beauty and history. This Roman Catholic Cathedral is the 3rd biggest Cathedral in the world (after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida in Brazil) and the biggest Gothic Cathedral. I highly reccommend pre-booking tickets online and opting for skip the line tickets (£15 per person) as the queue to buy tickets on the day was extremely long. We went in at 11.45am and spent a good hour and a half in there. There is a lot to see, and you'll want to walk up the Giralda (Bell Tower) so give yourself enough time to fully immerse yourself. The Giralda is included in your ticket so you can head straight on up. Unlike a lot of bell towers, the Giralda is actually a series of slopes leading to the top as opposed to steps, so easily accessible and offers a 360 degree view from the top. It is slightly cooler inside the Cathedral so I would advise taking a little jacket. They didn't't seem too concerned with what people were wearing (some Cathedrals/Churches ask you to cover your shoulders and legs) however, I wore a top that covered my shoulders and a skirt that covered my knees just to be respectful. You can take photos inside but avoid using the flash. Honestly, this Cathedral was so beautiful it made me feel overwhelmed with emotion (and I might have had a secret little tear or two). You have to go.
The Alcázar of Seville
Okay wow. So this place was absolutely phenomenal and perhaps would go as far as to say my favourite thing we saw (although it is extremely difficult to choose!) It is a Royal Palace and Gardens, built for the Christian king, Peter of Castille, directly next to the Cathedral (making it easy to do them both in one day). The term Alcázar comes from the Arabic al-qaṣr, ("the castle" or "the palace", اَلْقَصْر). The Arab influence is very apparent in the Mudéjar decoration and architecture style of the palace. It is difficult to put into words just how beautiful the Palace and gardens are but I can guarantee you will be lost for words with its gorgeous archways, elaborate ceilings and detailed mosaic floors and walls. The gardens are an oasis of tranquility, scattered with beautiful water features, majestic palm trees and little archways that made me feel I was in a secret garden. It truly is one of the most magical things I have ever seen. One of the courtyards in the Palace was actually used for filming a scene in Game Of Thrones (which if you are a nerd like me, is pretty cool). Again, I recommend pre-booking your ticket online so you avoid the long queue (tickets were €12.50 each). We did also pre-hire audio guides but if I'm totally honest we only used them for the beginning part of the Palace and then we were too in awe of the architecture to focus on the audio guide, so just allowed our eyes and imagination to wonder like children in a sweet shop. There are boards around giving you insights into what everything is but if you would prefer a more in depth history then I recommend getting the audio guides (they weren't expensive, less that €10 each I think and you can pre-book them). There is so much to see inside the Palace, let alone out in the gardens so give yourself enough time. We booked our tickets for 3pm (to fit in with the earlier Cathedral tickets) and were in there right until close (5pm) but sadly those 2 hours just were not long enough to fully indulge in all there was to see. So I highly recommend getting in there earlier than 3pm if you can so you can take your time. There is a little cafe in the gardens and toilets too. Also, worth mentioning there are several peacocks roaming the gardens (mainly gathering around the cafe). This may seem like a strange point to include, but if you are terrified of birds like I am, it is good to know! You won't have a problem though if you steer clear of the outside seating in the cafe. You will not regret your visit here and we could have spent all afternoon wandering the picturesque rooms of the palace and relaxing in the gardens.
Plaza De Espana
This is another absolute must see when you visit Seville and surprisingly, it is free to wander round the plaza (although I would be more than happy to pay to experience what I can only describe as the most exquisite square I have ever seen). The Plaza De Espana is slightly further out of the city centre but still very doable to walk it. We just used Google maps and it can't have taken us more than 15 minutes to get there from the centre. Be prepared to be absolutely blown away when you turn the corner and enter the Plaza. It was breathtakingly beautiful and I was in awe of the lavishly ornamented architecture. The Plaza De Espana is a huge, almost perfectly symmetrical half-circle, embellished with buildings running continuously around the edges, accessible via the bridges that cross over the moat. You can hire little row boats to go around the moat (€12 for 15 minutes) however, we chose to walk around and admire the incredible tiled alcoves that run all along the edges instead. Each little alcove represents a different province of Spain and alongside each alcove are a pair of mini bookshelves, said to be used as a little free library by lots of visitors. One thing we did see whilst visiting the Plaza were young girls in beautiful white dresses (that looked like wedding dresses) having what I can only describe as their own little photoshoot. After a bit of research, I discovered these young girls had just had their first Holy Communion (a cultural and religious event for practicing Catholic children, it is much akin to a wedding with all the same trimmings, sometimes even more elaborate). A final (although slightly nerdy) fun fact about the Plaza De Espana, is it was used in the filming of Star Wars, which I think is awesome. This would be the perfect place to people watch to your hearts content.
Commonly known as Las Setas (The Mushrooms) due to the appearance of the wooden structure. It is located at Plaza de la Encarnación and was launched to revitalise the square. Although admittedly, it is completely random, I think it's worth a visit. There are a few restaurants and bars around the square, so it makes an interesting view if you fancy a drink. You can also buy a ticket (€3 each) to go up and walk around the top of the structure. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised walking along the top of Las Setas. It's difficult to explain but the view of the city from the top is one I'm glad I saw. There is a little bar/cafe at the top as well and you get €1 off a drink with your entry ticket.
Walk Along The River
This was something we did to fill time but I'm so glad we did. There is a beautiful walkway alongside the water, scattered with palm trees, benches and parks. I recommend taking a book, sitting on one of the many benches or under a palm tree and immersing yourself in the mañana mañana culture (mañana means tomorrow, and this saying perfectly describes the slow, laid back culture of the Spanish).
Where To Eat:
Blog coming soon!
Things You Should Know:
We noticed a lot of women lingering around all the main attractions trying to sell these little sticks (looked like a stick of Rosemary to me), apparently it is meant to bring good luck, however, I'm pretty sure it's a bit of a con to make you part with your money. We avoided them. Aside from this we both felt very safe in Seville, which is unusual for a city.
Their English is extremely good and we didn't come across anyone who couldn't speak/understand English on some level. However, that being said, I personally believe it is only respectful to learn a few of the basics before you go. Duolingo is a great free app you can use.
We went at the end of March and although it was warm in the day (20-24 degrees celsius) it was chilly in the mornings and evenings, so recommend taking a jacket for the start and end of the day.
We went for 3 days and 2 nights and it was the perfect amount of time to see everything above, however we could easily have stayed longer.
Honestly, Seville has a piece of my heart. The architecture is dreamy, the atmosphere is intoxicating and the people are so kind. This Spanish city truly is magical and I would return in a heartbeat.
Love Georgia xx