What do do in Seville (+restaurant & hotel tips)
No matter how much I travel, I have never gotten such positive response as when I told people that I was visiting Seville. It seems that it has left a positive mark on almost everyone who has ever been there. I got tips on things to do and places to eat from many people (thank you!), and I can confirm that: Yes, Seville really is as fun as everyone tells you. If you have a trip to Sevilla coming up soon, you really need to read this article. In this guide I share the best tips for sights, restaurants and hotels in Seville!
Things to see in Seville
The highlight of Seville is undoubtedly the Real Alcázar. To help you a bit with your Spanish: Alcázar means palace, and Real means royal. So: this is the royal palace of Seville, and royal it is! The style of construction is really fairytale-like, because it combines Christian styles with Moorish influences. The current version of the Alcázar was built in 1364, right where the former Alcázar was built by Arab kings. The new Alcázar was designed by many Moorish designers, so the (beautiful) Moorish influences can be clearly seen.
The palace has played a role in a number of well-known films and series such as Kingdom of Heaven and of course Game of Thrones. I found the famous courtyard the most beautiful part of it all, the Patio de las Doncellas. This is an elongated pond with sunken gardens on both sides. Visiting Real Alcázar is simple: you just buy a ticket at the door, which is € 9.50. Please note that there is only one entrance and one exit. In general, the queue is not that long, but do make sure to use sunscreen (I use and swear by this one), because if you do have to wait a little longer, there is no shadow to hide. One of the most beautiful things here are the plants that grew literally everywhere!
Skip the line tickets: Don’t want to wait in the sun, or is the queue very long during summer? Then buying a skip-the-line tickets where you visit the Royal Alcazar with a guide might be a good idea. If I return, I would definitely consider taking a tour because you learn so much more about the history.
Cathedral of Seville
The Cathedral of Seville is undoubtedly the city’s eye catcher, and also the center of the city, as is often the case in European cities. This Gothic church is 127 meters long, 83 meters wide and 43 meters in height. It is the largest Gothic church in the world! It is also the third largest church in Europe, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The church is built right where the city’s main mosque used to be. The church houses the tomb of the explorer Christoffel Columbus. A big recommendation is to climb the tower, which is called Giralda, the only remaining part of the mosque. It was used as the minaret, and was once even the tallest in the world. You can pay a visit to the church and the Giralda for € 9, between 08.00-14.00 and 16.00-19.00.
Skip the line: You rather skip the queue, visit the church with a guide and find out more about the history of one of the largest churches in Europe? Then it’s worth to take a look at these skip-the-line tickets.
Barrio Santa Cruz
This is the Jewish part of Seville, one of the most authentic and charming neighborhoods. This is also the place where, as a tourist, you will most likely find your hotel. This neighborhood was where many Jewish people lived, until they were banned from Spain in 1492 (familiar story?). The neighborhood fell into disrepair, and was only revived in the eighteenth century. Now you can find many shops, restaurants, churches and squares here.
Plaza de España
The picture that you find on many postcards is that of Plaza de España, a characteristic and striking crescent square with water and boats. Like the Eiffel Tower, this attraction was also built for an exhibition: in 1929 the square was built for the Ibero-American exhibition. Along the sides of the square you can find 52 frescoes, showing all Spanish provinces. The square can be seen in the Star Wars film from 2002. It is a bit of a walk, just outside the compact center, but it’s definitely worth it!
Parque de María Luisa
Opposite to the square you can find the María Luisa Park, a vast lush city park. The park its current design dates from 1911, but has been accessible to the public since 1893, after parts of it once served as a palace garden. A part of the Ibero-American exhibition from 1929 took place in this park. The layout of the park resembles a ‘Moorish paradise’, which it definitely succeeds in doing. A wonderful place to escape from the Andalusian heat.
Torro del oro
The Tower of Gold dates back from the 12th century, reflecting the Moorish influences clearly. Together with the Giralda, this tower was the most important Moorish building from that period. It was once part of the city wall that protected the city, but nothing of that remains. The name, that means Tower of Gold, refers back to the time when Seville became a rich city by Maritime trade, and all ships were unloaded in the port of Seville. From here you can take a nice stroll along the the water.
This building stands out because of its modern style, and reminded me of the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias in Valencia. It is said that Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden construction in the world, and was built in an effort to revive the neighbourhood. The building houses an archaeological museum and a panoramic terrace on top of the Parasols. Underneath you will find a square where we grabbed a bite, and where you can find many cafes and restaurants. You could also climb the building for a nice view, but I found that after climbing the much higher Giralda, this was no longer necessary.
Looking for a nice road trip itinerary for Andalusia? Then check out this article!
Restaurants and bars in Seville
You can eat the best tapas in Seville here (according to our hotel receptionist). And although I didn’t try all of the tapas in Seville (a girl can dream), this was truly one of the best meals we had in Andalucia, really delicious and very affordable. It’s always very busy here so make sure you go there early! And since Seville is the birthplace of tapas, you can’t possibly pass on that delicacy on your city trip :)
Restaurante La Piemontesa – La Casa del Tesorero
If after a couple of days in Andalusia you are done with tapas, and rather eat at a nice Italian restaurant, I can recommend the La Piedmont restaurants – La Casa del Tesorero. In this beautiful restaurant you can still see remains of the foundation of the historic city walls and pizzas are baked on wood-burning stoves. So good.
Rooftop bar @ EME Catedral Hotel
The hottest rooftop bar of the city is found on top of the EME Catedral Hotel. We accidentally walked into it on our way home, where I suddenly saw a very nice bar on top of a hotel next to the cathedral. We just went to check if they would allow us in, and they did! The cocktails are quite pricey (€ 15), but I don’t drink that much anyway, so we had one drink with a view of the ancient cathedral. Magical! (You are not you allowed to take a photo camera with you, so I don’t have any pictures yet .. strangely smartphone are allowed! :-))
Hotels in Seville
€ – If you don’t have a problem sharing a bathroom with other guests, you can stay in Seville in a hotel room at Montorena for €30 a night. The hotel is centrally located and has a nice rooftop terrace. Check out the most recent prices here.
€€€ – I looked down from the Giralda the sparkling rooftop pool at Hotel Casa 1800 and I told myself to stay here next time we visit. Well, the price is not too cheap. But it is such a stylish hotel! And it is located right next to the cathedral. Check out the most recent prices here.