I have to confess that I hadn´t visited Sevilla since 2008 (Business trips don´t count) After returning from a city break in this beautiful city, I´m sharing the places I visited in this latest post.
Here´s my experience of the city which is the Capital city of the Andalusia region. I have arranged the tips in five different sections.
Culture in Sevilla
Seville has no shortage of cultural activities or historic monuments. The Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias are UNESCO World Heritage sites. All three are must see locations.
Here are fifteen tips on how to plan your visit.
The Cathedral of Seville
If you have chance to book ahead it will save you time. Book online – Seville Cathedral Tour to avoid long queues. Skip ahead by prebooking on Ticketmaster. (I didn´t get chance to do this)
Check the opening times, especially if you arent staying many days in Seville.
- Monday 11am to 3:30pm
- Sunday 2.30pm to 6pm
You can get an audioguide (at an extra cost) to guide you around the monument (several languages) although I found it difficult to find the numbered panels which linked up to each explanation at first. The numbers should be larger and more visible. However once I managed to work that out the guide was well translated in english and very detailed.
Plan a few hours for the visit. I noticed that some areas of the Cathedral gets busy at certain times. As part of my visit I walked up the Giralda tower. There are brick ramps going up inside the tower rather than stairs. This makes it a more comfortable hike up and safer too. The walk up the 100 metre tower needs some energy to get up. There are small landings every few stages up. These are welcome stops. There you can stop to admire different pieces on exhibition or admire the view as you ascend.
Alcazar de Sevilla
The Alcazar is a group of palaces and gardens. Part of which is still used as a royal residence, whenever the current monarchs visit Seville. I would recommend at least three hours for your visit. The space is quite immense
(I didnt actually manage to visit the whole outdoor area, which spans 60.000 m2 )
After visiting the Alcazar twice, what most strikes me are the stunning gardens. The gallery of the grotesques, an elevated walkway over the main garden is spectacular. The scent of jasmine as you wander through the different areas and the immaculately trimmed shrubs will captivate the imagination of any visitor and enthrall gardeners.
The buildings reminded me of the Alhambra palace somewhat. If you have seen one of the monuments it doesn´t mean you don´t need to see the other. They are very different although from similar periods of history.
Book your passes to see these beautiful gardens:
Archivo de Indias
Despite this being a UNESCO World Heritage site the entrance is free. Next to the Cathedral this grand building known as the General Archive of the Indies is actually the Archive of South America. Christopher Columbus set out to discover India but reached South America instead.
The documents of his voyages and the Spanish fleets over those productive years are held here on this site.
Inside there are exhibits of canons, maritime memorobilia and other displays detailing the history of battles and ships of the Spanish armada. (shown above a trunk for bringing valuables or documents back to Spain with a very complex locking system)
My personal highlight of the visit was seeing the coins recovered from the seabed, from the ship Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes.
Romantic City Break
Hotel Casa 1800
My three night stay was at Hotel Casa 1800 in the Santa Cruz district. This hotel couldn´t have been in a better location. Next to one of Seville´s main squares and right beside Seville Cathedral. Many popular bars and restaurants are in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood too.
This comfortable hotel has 33 rooms and a superb roof terrace with views of the Giralda. The luxurious interior recreates an Andalusian palatial home, built in 1929, the carefully selected interiors are in keeping with the buildings style.
The highlights of my stay here were the afternoon teas and the staff. From 4.30pm – 6.30pm an afternoon tea with sandwiches, fruit, tea, coffee and other snacks was set up in the courtyard for guests (complimentary) This was a great moment to head back before dinner, charge the mobile phone and take a rest from all the walking.
The staff spoke good english and were extremely helpful during the three days I stayed there. They recommended several restaurants to me and also checked once a day if extra towels or water (also complementary) was required.
Bathroom amenities are Molton Brown (a personal favourite of mine) and the wifi was great. A good strong signal which I really value as a travel blogger. It´s been quite a while since I´ve been in a hotel with such a good wifi connection.
Calle Rodrigo Caro 6, Sevilla
Typical Horse Ride
45 euros for a horse carriage ride around historic Seville. This flat rate (excluding Feria/Easter week) is good for everyone as no haggling or bartering is required. I took the ride from Plaza de España, through Parque de Maria Luisa and along to Seville Cathedral.
This is a nice option to cut down on walking. Seville is a large city and to cover lots of different sights in two days was ambitious. I walked around 11 kms each day.
The horseman on our carriage explained in Spanish the sights along the way in some detail. You can actually take the ride from different stops around the city (Alcazar, Archivo de Indias, Plaza de España, Cathedral..)
Boating in Plaza España
Plaza de España is a large open space (around 50,000 m2) which was built for the IberoAmerican Exhibition in 1929. There are 48 benches covered in highly decorated ceramic tiles, representing the 46 Spanish provinces. With a boating lake and four bridges across the water this square makes a great place to walk around or to take a boat along the water to see the square from another perspective.
Sevilla for Families
Boat ride along the Guadalquivir
Seville has plenty of activities for children and families. A firm favourite is to take the cruise along the Gualalquivir river. The boat ride leaves from the Torre del Oro every hour. The route goes down along the river to the Expo and sailing underneath several bridges along the way. Look out for ducks and turtles on the riverbanks. There are toilets aboard the boat and seats outside and inside.
Torre del Oro
This striking tower on the riverbank is now the Naval Museum. Built in 1220 this watchtower has three floors. On the ground floor is the museum entrance and some exhibits. On the second floor the main part of the museum with Replicas of historic ships, cannons, flags and maritime relics. On the third floor you have a view across the river and over to the city too. (Around 45 minutes for the visit)
Isla Magica Theme Park
This theme parks has rides and attractions for children of all ages. In Summer the water area will be a great option to cool off.
Plan ahead and book Isla Magica Tickets online.
Acuario de Sevilla
The Aquarium is a popular option for families. Down from the Plaza de España, on the edge of the city this large complex also has a Ferris Wheel next door too. It opens everyday from 10am and would be good place to rest from the hot sun on summer days.
Seville for Foodies
Tapas & Wine
The Streets of Seville is packed with tapas bars and places to eat. Two of the places I enjoyed while I was there were La Azotea and Ovejas Negras.
La Azotea – Super fresh fish, lots of great wine choices. The waiters couldn´t have been more friendly. Excellent English. I ate here twice and everything we chose was superb. My highlight. Torrijas for dessert with Orange blossom water. (I ate at Mateos Gago, 8. but they have other locations in the city)
Ovejas Negras – It gets busy. Best to get there by 8.30pm. Arriving around 9pm and I just managed to get a spot at the bar. The waiters are very accomodating and friendly. Oh and fast. Lots of delicious tapas in a casual setting. The Chicken Gyoza and Tortilla were two delicious choices. While I was eating I noticed a group come in, they requested vegetarian tapas. The waiters took good care of their requests even despite the place being packed and frantic. Tinton, a red wine with gin mixer seemed to be very popular in here. The measures were generous ; ) Calle Hernando Colón, 8 (close to the Cathedral)
La Campana on Calle Sierpes. This well known Cake shop and Bakery has been in business since 1885. This is one of the must see places as you walk through Sevilla. The traditional shop front and eye catching window displays will entince you in.
Horno de San Buenaventura, another historic bakery in Seville. I visited the one on Avenida de la Constitución 16 for coffee and cake. Such a huge selection, quite difficult to choose. The original location was in Carlos Cañal and dates from 1385.
Photos of Sevilla
Las Setas de Sevilla
A modern addition to the city just five years old, this canopy above the Encarnacion Market is a stunning structure for photographers and architects. You can go up onto the Metropol Parasol (access on floor -1) for just a few euros. The view over the city is impressive.
Whether you take photos from the tower above, from the ground, in bright sunshine or at night there is no competition with the symmetry and beauty of this belltower. The Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh served as the inspiration for this Spanish monument built in the 12th century.
Maria Luisa Park
The Pavillions built for the Expo in 1929, the beautiful sculptures and the gardens themselves all provide great images for photographers. The 40 hectare site has plenty of settings and landscapes to shoot. This park was once the gardens of the Palacio San Telmo but later was donated to the city of Seville in 1883. In 1914 it was opened to the public.
Useful Sevilla Links: