Last Updated on May 22, 2023
Seville, Spain’s vibrant capital of Andalusia, captivates visitors with its rich history, enchanting culture, and breathtaking beauty. Nestled along the Guadalquivir River, Seville is a city of architectural wonders, adorned with grand palaces, ornate cathedrals, and charming narrow cobblestone streets.
It is also the birthplace of flamenco and a melting pot of diverse influences.
From the iconic Alcázar to the lively Triana neighborhood and the vibrant Plaza de España, Seville beckons travelers with its warm climate, delectable cuisine, and an irresistible blend of old-world charm and contemporary allure.
While there is much wonderment in the city, we’re recommending our top, not-to-be-missed sites and experiences.
Visit the Alcázar
Explore the stunning Alcázar, a royal palace renowned for its magnificent Moorish architecture, lush gardens, and intricate tilework. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit in Seville.
Upon entering this 10th-century Moorish fortress with Gothic, Renaissance and Mudéjar architectural styles, visitors are treated by a stunning array of intricately designed courtyards, lush gardens, and opulent interiors. The architecture features exquisite tilework, decorative arches, ornate ceilings, and delicate stucco work, showcasing the artistry and craftsmanship of the different periods in its history.
The gardens are a true paradise, featuring a harmonious blend of Islamic and European landscaping. The Gardens of the Alcázar offer a serene escape with their vibrant flower beds, tranquil ponds, sculpted hedges, and shaded walkways.
Another noteworthy feature is the Baths of Lady María de Padilla, an underground rainwater cistern named after a legendary mistress of Peter the Cruel. The unique architectural design and the atmospheric lighting create an otherworldly experience.
Marvel at the Seville Cathedral
Also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, this awe-inspiring architectural masterpiece is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world. It stands as a testament to Seville’s rich religious history and cultural significance and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Construction of the cathedral began in the 15th-century on the site of the city’s former mosque, incorporating some of its elements. The cathedral’s imposing exterior features intricate Gothic details, towering bell towers, and a stunning central nave.
The most iconic feature is the Giralda, a minaret-turned-bell tower adjacent to the cathedral. Visitors can ascend the tower’s ramps, originally designed for horseback, to enjoy panoramic views of the city.
The cathedral’s expansive interior exudes grandeur and opulence. The soaring central nave, flanked by rows of chapels, is adorned with richly carved choir stalls and magnificent altarpieces. The main altar, the Retablo Mayor, is a breathtaking masterpiece featuring intricate gold leaf and intricate religious sculptures.
One of the most revered features of the cathedral is the Tomb of Christopher Columbus. The tomb, carried by four allegorical figures represents the four kingdoms of Spain at the time and is held aloft by the figures of faith, hope, and charity.
Wander Through the Santa Cruz Quarter
Patio de Banderas is one of the Quarter’s highlights, a charming square surrounded by awe-inspiring structures and lush orange trees. It’s a tranquil oasis to relax and soak in the atmosphere.
Another notable square is Plaza de Santa Cruz with its picturesque fountain, quaint cafés and restaurants.
The neighborhood is home to several important landmarks. One of the most prominent is the Hospital de los Venerables, a 17th-century building that now houses an art center dedicated to the works of painter Diego Velázquez.
The Casa de Pilatos, an exquisite palace blending Mudéjar and Renaissance styles is another notable attraction.
Santa Cruz Quarter is known for its lively atmosphere and vibrant nightlife. Its narrow cobblestone streets are filled with hidden squares, lingering echoes of its multicultural history, traditional tapas bars, flamenco venues, and charming shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs. Visitors can indulge in delicious Andalusian cuisine, sample local wines, and experience the passionate rhythms of flamenco in this lively neighborhood.
Experience the Plaza de España
Located within the expansive Maria Luisa Park, this Plaza one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and a remarkable example of regional architecture. Built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, the Plaza showcases a harmonious blend of Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles, creating a captivating and grandiose setting.
Plaza de España incorporates a semi-circular building that wraps around a central plaza. The structure is adorned with elaborate ceramic tilework, ornate balustrades, and intricate decorative elements. Towers rise at both ends of the building, and a series of bridges cross over a moat-like canal, adding to the visual allure. A large fountain is situated in its center.
The plaza’s most distinctive feature is its series of alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. These alcoves are beautifully decorated with colorful ceramic tiles, depicting historical events and scenes from each region. Visitors can stroll along the alcoves, taking in the intricate tilework and appreciate the artistic representation of Spain’s diverse heritage.
It’s a wonderful place filled with people enjoying leisurely walks, relaxing on benches, or renting rowboats to navigate the canal.
Of no surprise, this picturesque plaza been featured in several films, including “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” all adding to its cultural significance and allure.
Watch a Flamenco Show
Flamenco is a passionate form of music, song, and dance that originated in Andalusia, Spain, and Seville is considered one of the birthplaces and heartlands of this art form. Experiencing a flamenco show in Seville is a must for those who want to immerse themselves in the authentic and captivating spirit of this traditional art.
Various venues offer flamenco shows, ranging from intimate and traditional to larger theaters and performance spaces. Shows typically feature a combination of live music, singing, and powerful dancing, all coming together to create an unforgettable performance.
The music in flamenco shows is typically driven by the soulful sounds of the guitar, accompanied by rhythmic hand clapping (palmas) and percussive footwork (zapateado). The haunting vocals express intense emotions, telling stories of love, passion, and longing. The intricate footwork and expressive movements of the dancers are a highlight, as they convey the raw energy and emotion of the dance.
It’s advisable to book tickets in advance for flamenco shows in Seville, especially during peak tourist seasons, as they can be in high demand. Additionally, some venues may offer dinner and show packages, combining the vibrant flamenco performance with a delicious meal of Andalusian cuisine.
Take a Boat Trip on the Guadalquivir River
This is a delightful way to experience the beauty of Seville from a different perspective. The river, the second longest river in Spain, runs through the heart of the city and has played a significant role in its history and development.
River boat trips offer scenic views of Seville’s iconic landmarks and architectural treasures providing the opportunity to see the city’s stunning attractions from the water.
Passengers can catch glimpses of the Torre del Oro, a medieval tower that once guarded the city’s port, and the Maestranza Bullring, one of the oldest and most important bullrings in Spain. The picturesque bridges that span the river, such as the Triana Bridge and the Isabel II Bridge, are also noteworthy sights.
Guided commentary or audio guides assist provide information about the history, culture, and significance of the Guadalquivir River. These informative narratives provide insights into the river’s role as a strategic waterway for trade, exploration, and cultural exchange throughout the centuries.
Boat trips are available in various formats, ranging from short guided tours to longer excursions that include meals or evening cruises. Some boats offer open-air decks for panoramic views, while others provide indoor seating and facilities for comfort.
Sample Tapas and Local Cuisine
Allow yourself the indulgence of tasting the culinary delights of Seville by savoring tapas at traditional bars and restaurants.
Seville rocks the tapas culture with favorites such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce), salmorejo (a thick tomato soup), croquetas (fried creamy croquettes), and montaditos (small sandwiches).
If you love gazpacho, you can thank Seville for this. The refreshing dish is especially welcomed during warm weather months as the chilled soup includes tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, olive oil and vinegar, culminating in a delightful flavorful dish.
And don’t forget to try out Seville’s orange wine. The area is famous for its oranges, and orange wine is a unique local specialty. It’s made by fermenting the juice of bitter oranges, resulting in a distinctive and slightly sweet flavor and often enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with desserts.