Spain’s Andalusia region is an increasingly popular destination for travelers from around the world. Located in the southern part of the country, this vibrant province is known for its Moorish-inspired architecture and sunny beaches, along with incredible tapas and sherry wine. So put on your walking shoes and grab your sun hat as we take a tour of Andalusia’s capital city with this list of 10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Seville, Spain.
It’s a Top Destination for a Reason
Seville is the perfect place from which to explore southern Spain. Seville had a front-row seat to Spain’s Golden Age of Discovery as the Andalusian capital. The city is filled with gorgeous buildings and hidden gems as a result.
From the opulent Royal Alcázar and massive gothic cathedral to the modern Metropol Parasol art installation, there are plenty of things to do in Seville to interest all visitors. And the best part – a visit to Seville won’t break the bank. Andalusia is a relatively affordable region for most visitors. This is why it’s a particularly attractive destination for those on a budget.
1. Wander the Winding Streets of Barrio Santa Cruz
There’s no better place to begin your Seville itinerary than by wandering the narrow cobblestoned streets of Barrio Santa Cruz. Located in the center of Seville, this neighborhood is situated in what used to be the city’s Jewish Quarter. The area has a delightful maze of narrow streets lined with tapas, bars, and cafes.
Barrio Santa Cruz is the perfect introduction to Seville’s charming Andalusian vibe. It’s also a great spot to pause for a drink or a snack and watch the world by. In addition, this historic neighborhood is conveniently located right next to some of the city’s most important tourist attractions. So rest assured that you can pop back over to Barrio Santa Cruz anytime you need to take a break from sightseeing and relax a spell.
2. Marvel at the Royal Alcázar, an Ancient Moorish Palace
The Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the city’s most spectacular buildings and should top your list of amazing things to do in Seville. The compound started as a Moorish fortress in the Early Middle Ages. It was then converted to a royal residence after the Christian reconquest of Seville in 1248.
The Alcázar’s origins are clearly visible in its lavish architectural style. Stunning arabesque designs and embellishments adorn every inch of the palace – both inside and out. These designs are an expression of the area’s distinctive Mudéjar style. This technique includes a blending of features typically found in Islamic art and Christian themes – work that was completed by Moorish craftsmen hundreds of years ago.
When visiting the Royal Alcázar, be sure to save some time for the lush palace gardens. This green space was famously used as a shooting location for the HBO television series Game of Thrones.
3. Explore the World’s Largest Gothic Cathedral
After finishing your tour of the Alcázar, head across the Plaza del Triunfo to the magnificent Seville Cathedral. Constructed in the fifteenth century, this imposing structure is not only the biggest cathedral in Spain – it is the world’s largest gothic cathedral.
One of the church’s biggest claims to fame is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. This splendid casket is held aloft by ornate figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain during Columbus’ lifetime. While there is some controversy as to the authenticity of the remains, the tomb is very striking. It’s definitely worth seeking out during your visit.
Like many important buildings in Andalusia, the cathedral is constructed over top of a former mosque. Today the only section of the mosque that remains is the bell tower, known as the Giralda Tower. Be sure to climb to the top for fabulous views of the Seville cityscape.
4. Admire the Sunset from Las Setas (Metropol Parasol)
For more incredible views of Seville, head across town to the Metropol Parasol. A complete visual departure from the other buildings in the city, the Metropol Parasol is a unique art installation created by artist Jürgen Mayer.
This unusual monument consists of huge wooden structures that are linked together in an undulating mass. The structure is known locally as “Las Setas,” which means mushrooms in Spanish because they resemble giant fungi. For a closer look, take an elevator to the top of the sculpture. A walkway leads around the top of the installation and provides breathtaking 360-degree views of the entire city.
Pro tip: try going up at sunset or nighttime. The entire structure is lit up with an intricate light display for a memorable light show.
5. Visit the Ever-Photogenic Plaza de España
For one of the most Instagram-worthy destinations in Seville, head to the Plaza de España.This magnificent palace was created for the Ibero-American Expo in 1929. While you can’t actually go inside the palace, the adjacent plaza is stunning and features a beautiful fountain along with a small canal.
The building is so photogenic, in fact, that it has been used as the shooting location for several major films – including Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The plaza is located in the middle of Parque de María Luisa, one of the city’s best parks. It’s the perfect place to escape the heat (and the crowds) as it’s packed with secret fountains and lovely shaded areas.
6. Go on a Tapas and Sherry Crawl
One of the more enjoyable things to do in Seville is to sample the local food. The city is filled with countless bars serving traditional tapas and the favorite local beverage – sherry wine.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider visiting the local favorite, Casa Morales. Other worthy options include Las Teresas, Bar Alfalfa, and historic El Rinconcillo (Seville’s oldest continuously operating bar – in business since 1670!).
Be sure to try some sherry on your tapas crawl. This distinctive fortified wine originates from the nearby city of Jerez de la Frontera along with the Sherry Triangle region. If you have time to explore the area, consider visiting the Sherry Triangle. There are loads of interesting things to do in Jerez (in addition to drinking sherry, of course).
Pro tip: to order sherry at a bar, ask the specific type of wine that you’d like to drink – such as a fino or an amontillado. Don’t ask for a sherry as it’s not a term used locally.
7. Watch a Flamenco Show
If you’ve never seen Flamenco in person, then be sure to catch a show when you’re in Seville. Flamenco is a traditional Andalusian art form that combines complex guitar music with dancing and singing. The costumes are gorgeous (both for the men and women), and the music is incredible.
It’s quite intense and powerful, so be prepared for an emotional experience! While several establishments in town play Flamenco music, the Casa de Flamenco is a highly rated venue in Barrio Santa Cruz that usually has a show every night.
8. Tour the Roman Ruins at Itálica
For a fascinating look at the area’s history, head to the nearby village of Santiponce. Here you’ll find Itálica – an unusually well-preserved Roman city and one of the most interesting things to do in Seville.
Founded in 206 BC, Itálica features a sizable largely-intact arena. You can also see the remains of many ancient homes and other buildings in the former city. Itálica is located only 20 minutes away from Seville and is easy to reach by car. The entrance is free for residents of the EU (otherwise, it is €1.50).
9. Climb the Torre del Oro
The Torre del Oro is a 13th-century tower that is located along the city’s riverfront. Originally constructed to defend the city from invaders, today, it is open to visitors who wish to climb to the top. While not the tallest building in the city, the tower has great views of the river (and the Cathedral).
Torre del Oro translates to the Golden Tower in Spanish. While the structure is not actually made of gold, it sometimes casts a golden reflection on the river thanks to its yellow hue. A small nautical museum is located in the middle of the tower, displaying relics from Seville’s maritime history.
10. Take a Day Trip to Cadiz
Before leaving Andalusia, consider taking a day trip to Cadiz. Located only 90 minutes from Seville by train, Seville is a charming city on the southwestern coast of Spain with a fun beachy vibe.
One of the best things to do in Cadiz is to enjoy the seashore. Playa de la Caleta is located between two picturesque castles and is one of the city’s best-loved beaches. Other highlights include the Cadiz Cathedral and the archeological remains of the Teatro Romano (ancient Roman theater).
Best Time to Visit Seville
Before heading to Seville, be sure to keep in mind:
- The best time to visit Seville is in the spring or autumn. February and March are especially magical months when the orange trees are in bloom.
- The high season is from April-June, so be prepared for crowds if you visit during this time.
- Be warned that temperatures soar to an average of 96 F (35.5 C) in July and August. As a result, many locals flee the city and head to the coast during this time.
- For fewer crowds, consider visiting Seville in the winter for mild temperatures and fewer crowds.