With opulent palaces, cosy hidden squares and a sun-infused culture, there’s a host of wonderful things to do in Seville. Find Spanish masters and trendy tapas in our guide to the best of the city.
With the scent of jasmine wafting through the streets and orange trees lining tiny courtyards, Seville is a city to be savoured. Drenched in sun for much of the year, warming rays light up Moorish buildings and tiny honey-coloured laneways.
A long history has bestowed Seville with a synthesis of architectural styles; a vibrant colourful culture; and a host of wonderful things to do.
Witness the lavish displays of Christian wealth in palaces unable to resist the allure of Islamic design. Explore works of art by Spanish masters that are as sumptuous and decadent as the rooms they hang in. Roam green spaces, explore cobbled lanes and enjoy sundowners in hidden squares.
We’ve organised our favourite things to do in Seville by the magical areas of the city. Barrio de Santa Cruz is the tourist centre; El Centro is the old town hub.; South Seville has the green spaces and palatial squares; West Seville is the commercial core.
But all four corners of Seville have something in common. The unmissable charm of Spanish culture in a beautiful city.
Our guide to the best Seville attractions includes where to stay, how to get around and our hottest tips for an authentic tapas experience.
Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.
IN THIS GUIDE
THINGS TO DO IN SEVILLE, SPAIN
THINGS TO DO IN SEVILLE / BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ
Santa Cruz is the heart of the tourist centre in Seville. Here you will find the Royal Palace and Cathedral along with hidden squares, rambling laneways and thoroughly impressive art galleries.
1 – WANDER THE REAL ALCÁZAR & GARDENS
The Real Alcázar is a royal palace built for the Christian King Peter on the site of an Islamic fort. After the Christian conquest, future kings set about enhancing the complex to exhibit their wealth. Intricately carved facades, lavish gold ceilings, richly decorated tiles, and orange-filled courtyards combine to make the Real Alcázar an exotic, opulent palace and a wonderful thing to do in Seville.
The most impressive building inside the Alcázar is the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro. It contains some of the best examples of Mudéjar architecture in Seville – a form of design with heavy Moorish influences.
2 – VISIT SEVILLE CATHEDRAL
When it was completed in the 16th century, the Seville Cathedral surpassed Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world. Built to demonstrate the city’s wealth, the fifteen doors on the 4 façades depict scenes of the bible in exquisite detail.
Inside, the tomb of Christopher Columbus and his son take up prime position under the vast gothic ceiling. But the highlight of the Seville Cathedral is the Chapter House. This extraordinary domed chapel features paintings by the grandmaster, Murillo.
Don’t miss the roof tour for a bird’s eye view of Seville and to learn more about the building.
3 – CLIMB GIRALDA TOWER
When the Christians originally captured Seville in 1248, they used the mosque as their cathedral. But, 175 years later, the decaying building was eventually destroyed. Seville Cathedral was built in its place.
A few Islamic details remain, the most obvious of which is the minaret – later converted to the Giralda Tower. As the bell tower, it provides the best vantage point to take in the immense scale of the cathedral.
Access to the tower is included in the Cathedral ticket price (€9), however, entry is timed to reduce congestion. On the way out, don’t miss the impressive carved wooden door.
4 – EXPLORE THE ARCHIVO GENERAL DE INDIAS
For 100 years much of the wealth of the Spanish Empire flooded from the Americas across the Atlantic and up the Guadalquivir River into Seville. When the river silted up, trade turned to Cádiz (read our Cádiz guide here). However, the records for Spain’s involvement in the Americas still reside in Seville’s Archivo General de Indias.
While the archives contain important documents relating to the country’s history, the grand Spanish Renaissance architecture is the real reason to visit. The upper floors with ornate vaulted ceilings, wood-panelling and marble floors are particularly impressive. Don’t miss the beautiful inner courtyard.
5 – SEE THE MASTERS AT HOSPITAL DE LOS VENERABLES SACERDOTES
Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes is a former hospice that has been converted into an art gallery containing some of the city’s most treasured paintings. The collection includes 12 masterpieces by Zurburán, Montanes, Murillo and Velázquez – the heavyweights of the Spanish art scene.
Alongside the permanent collection of masters, there’s a contemporary exhibition which showcases the diversity of Seville’s flair for art. The highlight of Hospital de los Venerables is the ornate Baroque church. It’s a breath-taking display of craftsmanship with thousands of stories portrayed on the walls and ceiling.
Don’t miss the beautiful patio with orange trees arranged around a sunken fountain.
6 – ROAM THE JEWISH QUARTER
The medieval Jewish quarter of Seville is a tangle of twisty laneways and tiny squares. Visit Casa de Murillo – the former home of the famous Spanish painter. There is a small but interesting exhibition about his life and his connection with Seville.
However, the best thing about the area is getting lost in the labyrinth of laneways. It’s the perfect place to wander around, find a local tapas bar (or a touristy one), and enjoy a late afternoon G&T in a courtyard framed by orange trees. Plaza Alfaro and Plaza Doña Elvira are two beautiful squares to check out.
THINGS DO DO IN SEVILLE / EL CENTRO
Seville’s old town core is the hub around which the city revolves. Located north of the cathedral, El Centro is where you’ll find Seville’s famous shopping strips, vintage stores, independent coffee, palaces and flamenco.
7 – SEE THE CITY FROM METROPOL PARASOL (LAS SETAS)
Metropol Parasol (locally known as Las Setas or Setas de Seville), is thought to be the largest wooden structure in the world. It takes the form of several giant mushrooms curving over La Encarnación square in El Centro. Taking in the views from the panoramic walkway is a cool thing to do in Seville.
In a basement under the structure, Roman and Moorish remains are on display in a small museum. There is a market at street level, whereas levels 2 and 3 are the outdoor terraces. Take the lift to the top and stroll its undulating walkway for a unique vantage point over this very photogenic city.
8 – STROLL PALATIAL CASA DE PILATOS
Casa de Pilatos is a beautiful palace in the centre of Seville. With strong Mudéjar influences, the lower courtyard contains an Italian Renaissance fountain and sculptures, flanked by a gothic chapel. Upstairs, where the owners lived until a few years ago, the Mudéjar windows light up rooms decorated like a grand European house. The huge collection of azulejo (Spanish tiles) is one of the largest in the world.
It’s a beautiful place to stroll around and one of the many Seville attractions that blend interesting architectural styles. Upstairs is only accessible via a 30 minute guided tour (in English).
9 – SHOP ON CALLE SIERPES
After soaking up the intriguing architecture and history through Seville’s attractions, head to Calle Sierpes to embrace the commercial side of the city. Here you’ll find everything from tacky tourist souvenirs to authentic Spanish embroidery and elaborate flamenco gowns.
Confitería La Campana is an institution that has been churning out pastries for generations. Papelería Ferrer is the oldest stationary shop in Spain, while Sombreros Maquedano can cater to all your millinery needs.
The shopping hub around Calle Sierpes is pedestrianised and covered with canopies in summer to shelter from the relentless Seville sunshine. Start at Sierpes, then head down Calle Rioja, Calle O’Donnell and Calle Velázquez.
10 – CATCH A FLAMENCO SHOW
Once considered too vulgar for Spanish sensibilities, Flamenco is now a defining marker of the national identity. It was recently recognised by UNESCO’s World Intangible Culture Heritage. Whatever that means, the art form that comprises poetry, song, guitar and dance is a cool thing to do in Seville.
The Museo del Baile Flamenco is both a museum to the Flamenco art form and a live performance venue. Discover paintings, dresses and interactive displays before settling in for a night of stomping, clapping and swirling. The tiny space comes alive in a rousing and thoroughly captivating performance.
THINGS TO DO IN SEVILLE / SOUTH OF THE CITY CENTRE
With green spaces and the riverfront, the area south of the city centre is a great place to get outdoors in Seville. Home to the famous Plaza de España, and the overlooked Fábrica de Tabacos, there’s a lot to see in this corner of the city.
11 – EXPERIENCE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA
Built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, the semi-circular Plaza de España is a lavish mix of Art Déco and Mudéjar designs. Adorned with tiled alcoves depicting each of the provinces of Spain, the plaza is both a work of art and a nod to the country’s innovation successes.
Rowboats cruise under romantic bridges and along the 515m canal that has been cut into the plaza, while tourists lean against columns snapping selfies. It’s a beautiful space spread over 50,000 square metres and the building itself is a design masterpiece.
12 – AMBLE PARQUE DE MARÍA LUISA
Work began in 1914 to redesign the María Luisa Park in preparation for the Ibero-American Exposition at the Plaza de España. It’s a lush botanical garden with palm and orange trees, along with hundreds of exotic plants from all over the world.
The expansive gardens feature wide boulevards, small pavilions, ponds and fountains tiled in Moorish designs. The most impressive are the Fountain of the Lions, and the Monument to Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer.
Stroll or take a bike ride through this lovely green space. The shady benches are an ideal spot to take a break from the Seville heat.
13 – CHECK OUT ANTIGUA FÁBRICA DE TABACOS
The Antigua Fábrica de Tabacos was a former tobacco factory that is now the home of the University of Seville. It’s a whopping Renaissance building with detailed cut-stone facades, inner courtyards and palatial halls.
It’s free to wander in and have a look around, picking out the areas that were used for tobacco production and those that housed the royal management in grand opulence. However, you can also book a free tour which includes access to the Conference Hall, the Library, the main chapel and many of the university faculty buildings. Contact them via email here.
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14 – GET DEFENSIVE AT TORRE DEL ORO
Set on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, the Torre del Oro was a key defensive tower dating back to the 13th century. It’s the last remaining remnant of the Moorish walls that once enclosed the city.
There is a small naval museum exhibited over 2 floors inside, but it’s not the most inspiring thing you’ll witness in the city. The viewing platform on the roof terrace, however, is a wonderful thing to do in Seville.
River cruises leave from in front of the tower and the tree-lined riverfront is a great place to explore on foot or on bike. Several wine and tapas bars are located in the streets just behind the tower.
THINGS TO DO IN SEVILLE / WEST OF THE CITY CENTRE
With the buzz of Seville’s main commercial area and world-class art, the area west of the city centre is alive and kicking. Go from exquisitely decorated chapels dripping with gold to munching down on tapas in the local market.
15 – SEE WORLD CLASS ART AT BELLAS ARTES SEVILLE
The Museo de Bellas Artes is one of Spain’s premier art collections. The beautifully restored convent houses a few grandmasters from the 15th to 20th century, including El Greco, Velásquez and Zurbarán. But the highlight are the towering paintings by Murillo dramatically hanging in the former church.
There are brooding works from the Middle Ages, all the way up to 20th-century modern art, including an excellent Baroque section. It’s a beautiful space and a cool thing to do in Seville in the middle of a hot day.
16 – SHOP LOCAL AT MERCADO DE TRIANA
The Mercado de Triana (Triana Market) was built on the site of the Castle of San Jorge, the seat of the inquisition since 1481. Today, strolling through the network of stalls is a sensory experience. Packed with local produce, the scent of spices competes with the aroma of fresh fish. The lively chatter of important negotiations hum over the clatter of cutlery devouring tapas dishes.
There are traditional Spanish stalls alongside artisanal suppliers; each with their details hand-printed on ceramic panels. Try a coffee and pastry at Café Bocasú; the local beer at Loli Brewery and the Spanish take on pizza at Obrador la Osa.
17 – LEARN ABOUT BULL FIGHTING AT PLAZA DE TOROS DE LA REAL MAESTRANZA
Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería is the oldest bullring in Spain. With a capacity of 14,000 bullfighting fans it’s also one of the biggest. Fortunately, you can learn about this deeply held tradition without needing to witness a fight.
Tours operate in both English and Spanish, and while a little disorganised, they take you into the arena and other parts of the stadium otherwise inaccessible. There’s a museum included on the tour which features some of the legendary names of Spanish bullfighting.
18 – SPOT REPLICAS IN HOSPITAL DE LA CARIDAD
Originally a hospice for the poor and the elderly, the Hospital de la Caridad is now home to superb works of art by Golden Age Painters including Murillo, Zurbarán and Valdes Leal.
The star attraction is the opulent, gilded 17th-century chapel; one of the finest baroque masterpieces in the city. Dripping with gold and richly decorated with sculpture, artworks and altarpieces, visiting the chapel is a captivating thing to do in Seville.
Four of Murillo’s paintings were stolen from the Hospital de la Caridad by Napoleon’s troops and later popped up in the National Galleries of London, Washington DC and St Petersburg. See if you can spot their replicas hanging in the church.
THE BEST BARS & TAPAS IN SEVILLE
Tapas is taken very seriously in Seville and rightly so. Traditional old haunts co-exist with trendy new upstarts serving innovative alterations to classic Sevillian staples. Afterwards down cheap beers in local bars, wine on street corners or sip exorbitant cocktails in sky-high locations.
It’s a tight squeeze at Bar Alfalfa, but it is worth it for the traditional tapas (try the solomillo and the croquetas) and bustling Spanish atmosphere. Dusty bottles line the shelves behind a row of hams hanging from the ceiling. This is cosy neighbourhood eating at its finest.
BAR EL COMMERCIO
Widely regarded as serving up some of the best churros in town, Bar el Commercio is brimming with Seville atmosphere from breakfast to sundown. With winning tortilla, a huge array of montaditos and do-it-yourself service, el Commercio is an authentic gem.
Step away (slightly) from tradition and try innovative tapas with an Asian twist at Duo Tapas Bar. Their location in a courtyard with fairy lights hanging from an old church, adds to the allure. Their pork cheeks are the star offering, but their extensive vegetarian options are a welcome change.
Bartolomea is another modern tapas offering with innovation flowing from their relaxed, modern space. Their Ibérica pressée with apple purée and pistachio pesto was the best dish we devoured in the city and the drinks list is creatively joined up with the menu.
LA CACHARRERIA IN EL CENTRO
Breakfast at La Cacharreria in El Centro is all about toasties, sandwiches, bagels and waffles. It’s good wholesome, unchallenging breakfast. Simple dishes; well-executed. Get there early to grab a table in the graffiti-decorated square out the front.
EME CATEDRAL HOTEL
The cocktails at EME Catedral Mercer Hotel are twice as expensive as everywhere else, but they’re worth it. Just remember, when you order that colourful daiquiri overlooking a stunning view of the cathedral, you’re not just paying for the drink. Shimmy your way up to the front of the glass panels for a Seville sundowner to remember.
ALAMEDA DE HÉRCULES
The coolest part of Seville for nightlife is the area around Plaza Alameda de Hércules, just north of the centre. There are plenty of quirky places to grab a drink, weird bookshops, and excellent tapas joints and a garden for a late-night rest of your way home. Seville’s nightclubs and gay scene is centred around Almaeda de Hércules.
DAY TRIPS FROM SEVILLE
Perfectly placed to take advantage of the Andalusian region, there’s a host of great day trips from Seville. Whether you’re looking to sample a local jerez (sherry) or explore the famous pueblos blancos (white villages), here is our pick of the best outings.
Just 7 kilometres out of the centre, Itálica is an easy day trip from Seville. The incredibly well-preserved ruins were once part of the most important and advanced Roman city in the world. Guided tours can be arranged with or without transportation from your hotel.
Córdoba is a fascinating Andalusian city and our favourite day trip from Seville. Visit the Mezquita-Catedral, one of the most remarkable buildings in the world, and stroll through beautiful patios. If you only do one day trip from Seville, make it this one. All the details are in our guide to Córdoba.
Jerez de la Frontera is part of the sherry triangle in southern Spain. With 10 trains per day and just over an hour travel time, it’s an easy day trip from Seville. Join a sherry tour, take tastings in a square and sit down to some of the best food in the Andalucía region.
Cádiz is an ancient town by the sea with wide boulevards flanked by imposing terrace houses. There’s a relaxed charm, a sense of worn grandeur, Roman history and excellent local tapas bars. It’s around 1 hour 30 minutes by train from Seville to Cádiz. See our guide to Cádiz for more information.
The white villages (Pueblos Blancos) of Andalucía are tiny villages where all the buildings are whitewashed. Set amongst rolling green hills and rocky outcrops, they’re a joy to drive around. Arcos de la Frontera is one of the best and only a one-hour drive from Seville. Private tours can be organised, otherwise, we have a complete guide to taking your own road trip through the Pueblos Blancos.
WHERE TO STAY IN SEVILLE
Seville is a very walkable city. In fact, most of its charm is experienced in the hidden laneways and intimate nooks tucked behind orange-lined squares that you only find with serendipity. So, we recommend staying as central as possible to take full advantage.
Fortunately is this a very cost-effective city. You can easily find a bargain in the compact centre of the old town or splash out on luxury in a modern resort-style hotel.
UNIQUE & HOMELY
This family-run hotel has a unique design, beautifully appointed rooms and an interest in classical music. Breakfast is on the roof terrace which has views of the Cathedral. Music recitals in the evening complete a classy but homely stay.
This stylish modern hotel is perfectly located just across the road from the Catedral. The interior is beautiful throughout with comfortable decent sized rooms. The rooftop terrace has the best views of the city and there’s small pool as an added bonus.
Hotel Alfonso is not cheap. But it’s rare that such a beautiful old hotel has managed to modernise so elegantly. Rooms are individually decorated and it is all you would expect (and more) from a truly world-class establishment.
HOW MANY DAYS IN SEVILLE?
We recommend three days in Seville; however, you could easily stay longer.
If you only have a weekend – and Seville is a great European weekender – two days would allow you to see most of the main attractions. However, it’s probably not enough time to fully absorb the Spanish culture that make Seville such a great place to visit.
In 3 days you could catch most of the main sights, plus allow for some time to amble the streets, try a selection of tapas bars and enjoy more of the incredible art scene in Seville. We have a full itinerary for 3 days in Seville which includes how to see everything as efficiently as possible.
HOW TO GET TO SEVILLE
Seville is a very accessible destination with good flight connections from other European cities and a great local train network.
Sevilla International Airport (or San Pablo Airport) is a 20-minute taxi ride to the centre of town. The cost of a taxi will be around €22 (+ €1 per bag) and the taxi rank is just outside the main terminal.
A bus (€4) runs from the airport to town roughly every 20 minutes from around 5am to 1am. It makes a number of stops including Sevilla Santa-Justa train station and Plaza de Armas. Journey time is around 35 minutes.
The Spanish rail network is excellent with high-speed trains connecting most of the main centres. If you’re already in the country, train is the best way to get to Seville.
Trains regularly connect Sevilla-Santa Justa Train Station with other major Spanish cities including Córdoba (45 minutes), Madrid (around 2, hours 30 minutes), and Málaga (2 hours). There is also one daily service from Barcelona which takes 5 hours and 30 minutes.
WHEN TO VISIT SEVILLE
The best time to visit Seville is from March to May when fresh growth makes the trees and gardens a lush green, the temperatures are not too high, and the rains of winter are beginning to ease. In particular, a weekend to Seville in March and April can be a cheap way for northern Europeans to get some winter sun while enjoying a historically interesting place.
Seville is the hottest city in Europe where summer temperatures reach into the forties. Therefore, its best to avoid June to September. We have more information about what to do in each season in our 3-day itinerary for Seville.
WHAT TO BOOK BEFORE YOU GO
Seville is a popular place for a good reason. Many attractions will have long queues and some need to be booked in advance. Please note – we will earn a small income if you book your Seville attractions from these links.
In particular, queues at the Real Alcázar can be staggering. This is one we definitely recommend booking before you go. When you arrive, make sure you stand in the queue for pre-purchased tickets. Despite the oppressive length, it moves a lot faster than it looks like it’s going to.
Flamenco performances can also be very popular. Book online before you travel, otherwise head directly to the venue the first day you arrive in Seville.
MORE READING FOR YOUR SPAIN TRIP
Andalucía is one of our favourite areas in Spain. With an excellent climate, world-class cities and beautiful nature parks, it’s a fantastic southern European destination. Here are more of our guides from the area.
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