As you might have read, I love the city of Sevilla: it is my home away from home. I have lived there and visited numerous times afterwards. I just can’t get enough of the delicious food, picturesque alleys and great atmosphere. Time to share some of my best advice and spread the love!
In this post, I will give you advice for your first visit to Sevilla. What should you know about the city and what should you definitely see or do?
How to get from the airport to the city. Right outside the airport is a bus stop where you can catch the ‘EA’ bus going to Plaza de Armas. It also stops at Torre del Oro, which is convenient if you are staying near Santa Cruz, Arenal or Centro.
How to get around. To be fair, Sevilla’s public transport is not ideal: many streets are too narrow for busses, so the area serviced is limited. Walking is your best option or you could hire bycicles, but I would only use them outside of Santa Cruz’ cobblestone streets. Taxis are pretty affordable too. Avoid driving in Sevilla: it is not an easy task navigating the streets and parking is almost impossible.
Where to stay. You might consider several neighborhoods to stay in. Santa Cruz is most popular and a good choice if you want to be close to the action, but can be noisy and expensive. Centro, Arenal, Alfalfa and Encarnacion-Regina (where I used to live) are pretty central and are a good choice. Triana, Macarena and Alameda de Hercules are authentic neighborhoods but further from the centre. Over the years, we have stayed in Airbnb’s and hotels, feel free to ask for recommendations! Whatever hotel you book, I’d not include breakfast since there’s plenty of places to get a better breakfast for less.
What to see or do
Sevilla offers a lot of sights and activities, so you could easily fill a few days. If you only have a short time, I would say the following activities or places are key to getting to know Sevilla, even though some are touristic:
Alcazar palace. The Alcazar never gets boring. This palace has a beautiful interior, full of ‘azulejos’ (Spanish tiles), but I enjoy the large gardens even more. It gets busy nowadays – maybe due to its appearance on Game of Thrones as Dorne – so come early!
Plaza Espana. This huge square, shaped like a half circle, was built for a world exhibition. All of Spain’s regions have their own little nook showcasing their best qualities. Usually – though not always – the canal is filled and you can rent a rowing boat. You are almost guaranteed to catch a flamenco street performance here as well!
Cathedral and Giralda tower. I’m not usually very interested in churches, but Sevilla’s cathedral is something special. For starters, it is really, really big. The interior has beautiful details and contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The Giralda tower, symbol of Sevilla, is a former minaret – look for the Arabic details – built when the city was under Muslim rule. You can climb the tower (prepare yourself, it’s quite a climb!) for great views over the city.
Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is the old Jewish quarter of Sevilla, and consists of a labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone alleys and patios with fountains. It also has a lot of bars and restaurants. Just walk around the area by yourself or join a walking tour – there are several free tours, including some themed ones. We did the ‘Legends and myths’ free tour once and really enjoyed hearing some fascinating stories!
If you have some more time to spend, consider these activities or sights:
Metropol Parasol (aka ‘Las Setas’). Back in 2008, I lived around the corner of the square where this structure, back then just concrete, was being built. We called it ‘the ugly mushrooms’ and never expected it to turn out this great! It is a wooden structure, shaped like giant mushrooms (‘Setas’), housing a market, restaurants, a museum and a viewing platform at the top. Go into the building’s basement to get tickets for just a few euros (including a drink voucher) and access the ‘roof’ via an elevator. There you will find a walking path above the wooden structure offering views over the city. It is opened until quite late, so you can also watch the sunset or night skyline from Las Setas.
Explore authentic neighborhoods. I don’t think any other city is as perfect for just wandering around as Sevilla. It has loads of small alleys, with surprises waiting around every corner (such as a beautiful patio). Santa Cruz is perfect for this, but I also like the area around Calle Feria and Alameda de Hercules, where you feel like you really catch a glimpse of daily life. Plenty of bars and restaurants for a break too.
Torre de los Perdigones. This narrow tower, located a bit out of the centre, houses a ‘camara obscura’. It allows you to see the city ‘live’ on a large white disc, through a mirror that can be moved. Tours include fun and interesting explanations about the buildings you see and the history of Sevilla. Basically it’s a full city tour whilst you remain in one place!
Parque de María Luisa. Right next to Plaza Espana is this huge park. It has beautiful fountains and hidden corners. Bring a book or get some snacks (for example at the ‘Mercado de Triana’, find a relaxed mosaic park bench and enjoy a picnic. This place just never seems to bore me.
Visit a flamenco show. Sevilla is famous for flamenco. There are lots of venues offering shows, but usually the ones that combine (pricy) dinner with a show are not the best. My recommendation would be Casa de la Memoria. Be sure to buy your tickets for the evening show in the morning or afternoon.
Stroll along the river. Along the Guadalquivir river is a path perfect for an afternoon or sunset stroll. Don’t forget to stop by the Torre del Oro, that houses a small museum you can visit about maritime history.
And last but definitely not least…
Going for food and drinks counts as an activity too. At least, in Sevilla it does. The food, mostly tapas, is absolutely delicious, but the atmosphere in the bars is what makes this experience so great. There are way too many good restaurants and bars to list here, so check out this blog for recommendations. Make sure to try ‘tinto de verano’ (a refreshing, fruity drink with red wine) and ‘salmorejo’, a cold soup that I think is absolutely divine with some bread.
These tips should be enough to keep you busy for a few days. If you have still have a day left and are looking for something to do, you could consider a day trip to for example Córdoba, Cádiz or Jerez. All of these places are easy to reach by train and worth a visit! Read this blogpost for more information.
I love to talk about Sevilla, so don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.