We visited the beautiful city of Seville, in the Andalusia region of Spain, over Easter. We had three full days and whilst one more day would’ve been ideal, it was still plenty of time to see most of the sights.
Here’s my suggestions of the top things to do in Seville.
Cycle around the city
I love a city that you can cycle in and Seville is a GREAT city to explore by bike. We also cycled in Copenhagen when we went for Easter a few years ago and it’s one of my favourite things to do as you can see so much.
You can opt to do a bike tour or just hire a bike and explore the city on your own. There are bikes all over the city that you can pick up at various points – like in London. We chose to hire a bike from a local company and it was only €10 for the whole day.
The city is very safe to cycle in as there are dedicated cycle lanes pretty much everywhere! Plus, Seville is pretty flat so no need to worry about cycling up hills.
Seville Cathedral & La Giralda
Seville Cathedral sits in the centre of the city and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It’s built on the site of a Moorish Mosque, which was taken from the Moors in 1248. In the 13th century the mosque was sadly destroyed, apart from the orange court and the Giralda Tower. Construction of the cathedral began in the early 1400s and took around 100 years to complete!
It’s one of the three largest churches in the world, along with St Paul’s in London and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. And I’m lucky enough to have seen all three!
The queues to visit can be very long, however you can purchase tickets to skip the queue at around €17.
The Giralda Tower is very beautiful and is clearly Moorish in design. You can see it towering at various spots around the city and you can actually walk up it to where the bells are!
Alcazar of Seville
We stupidly didn’t go inside, hence why I’m adding it so you DO NOT make the same mistake! In our defence it wasn’t open for all the time that we were there, because of Easter, but there was definitely one day it was open as we saw the queues outside the gate. Speaking of queues, as with the Cathedral, you can skip the queue by paying a bit extra.
Alcazar of Seville is the former Royal Palace, with ‘Alcazar’ meaning ‘castle’ in Spanish. In fact it’s one of the oldest palaces in Europe that’s still in use as King Felipe V visits when he is in Seville. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Its construction started back in 913 where instruction was given to build a castle on the site where a Roman fortress once stood. It was then expanded on in the 11th century. In the 14th century when the Spanish recaptured it from the Moors, it was expanded again. It’s now a complex of palaces.
Setas de Sevilla
Setas de Sevilla, or ‘mushrooms of Seville’ is a must-do experience. Its official title is ‘Metropol Parasol’ but it’s affectionately refered to as the Mushrooms of Incarnation.
It was the winning project run by Seville City Council to renovate La Encarnación square. Berlin designer Jürgen Mayer was inspired by the arches of Seville’s cathedral as well as the fig trees of a nearby plaza so he designed a structure of six mushroom-like parasols.
What I found absolutely fascinating is that it’s made of Finnish pine wood!
You can walk under the setas for free but you really want to experience it from the top! For just €10 you can get the lift up and then walk around the setas, getting an amazing, panoramic view of the city. If you want to experience it at sunset, it costs a little bit extra. It doesn’t take very long so this is definitely something to put on your list, even if you don’t have loads of time in the city.
Every night there’s also a light show, which we got to see at dinner one night at a rooftop restaurant.
Plaza de España
Have you even been to Seville if you’ve not visited Plaza de España?! It was designed by Seville architect Aníbal González as part of the Ibero-American Expo in 1929. It is SPECTACULAR.
Built in a mix of architectural styles, including Moorish and Renaissance Revival, the plaza is 50,000 square metres and the canal is 515 metres in length. The four bridges represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain.
49 Spanish provinces are represented, in alphabetical order, from one end of the plaza to the other by beautiful tiles. It’s tradition for Spaniards to sit on the bench in front of their provence and have a photo.
You can hire a rowing boat and row along the canal. We visited twice and both times there were flamenco dancers so if you don’t get an opportunity to visit a flamenco bar, you’ll spot them here.
Maria Luisa Park
Whilst Plaza de España sits within the Maria Luisa Park, it’s easy to not explore the rest of it. Be sure to walk or cycle to the other parts as there are some beautiful buildings, such as the Mudejar which is now the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs.
Cruise on the Guadalquivir
I love a river cruise! For just €18 per person you can take a guided one-hour cruise along the Guadalquivir river where famous landmarks and areas will be pointed out to you along the way. There are a few companies offering tours so do a bit of research for which you would prefer. The one we did seated loads of people but there are also much smaller, more intimate boats that you can go on.
Drinks on a rooftop
With such gorgeous landmarks, you’ll definitely want to see Seville from a rooftop! There are lots of rooftop bars and restaurants around the city and one or two along the river. We visited two rooftop bars (La Terraza del Eme and La Herre) and one rooftop restaurant (Recoveco) when we were in Seville but for lots more recommendations from the Rooftop Queen, check out Fee’s blog.
Torre del Oro
Torre del Oro translates as ‘Tower of gold’ and is so called as a reference to the city’s prosperous period when ships would offload their cargo of gold. It dates back to the 12th century and was built as part of the Moorish city wall by the Almohads. It was used to help control shipping on the river and help prevent enemy ships from sailing along the Guadalquivir.
At one point in its history it served as a prison. Today, at the top of the tower is a small maritime museum where you can find antique sea maps and shipping instruments.
Explore the neighbourhoods
Seville has lots of lovely neighbourhoods to explore, by foot or bike. The area around the cathedral is called Alfalfa but head just around the corner from the Alcazar of Seville, following the wall, to see Santa Cruz, the Jewish neighbourhood. It’s a bustling area with lots of tapas and flamenco bars. There are many cobbled streets and lovely little streets to wander down.
Be sure to head across the river to Triana, which has lots of restaurants along the river, a food market as well as some historical sights. It was the former Gypsy Quarter and many famous flamenco dancers and bull fighters hail from Triana.
Experience Semana Santa
Semana Santa celebrates Holy Week in Seville and takes place over Easter. It’s one of the biggest festivals in Andalusia, the second biggest being Feria de Abril, which follows two weeks later. It’s certainly an experience! Every evening in the Holy Week, leading up to Easter Sunday, there are processions from all the churches who follow a specific route to the Cathedral and then back. This tradition has been taking place in Seville since the 16th century.
It is very popular, with about 50,000 people attending. Whilst it’s amazing to see, it caused us a lot of hassle trying to get to the restaurants we’d booked, as they pretty much block every street in the centre. We almost missed dinner one night as it should have been an 18 min walk and turned into an hour and 15 mins… So factor this in if you’re visiting during Semana Santa!
Also, you may at first be slightly alarmed by how people are dressed in the procession. Apparently this is what people wore centuries ago to remain anonymous when they went to confession.
On Easter Sunday itself there is no procession at night but rather one during the day. We also spotted marching bands and people seated outside the Cathedral to watch mass.
Seville is truly a beautiful city, steeped in history and culture. I highly recommend a visit to Seville!