I’ve been to Spain many times over my lifetime. My first trip to this wonderful country was when I was just four and we stayed with friends and their family in rural Galicia, on a farm. I loved it. Some of my earliest memories are from that family holiday.
I’ve also explored many other cities around Spain including some of the biggies – Madrid and Barcelona – but, on my most recent trip to Spain, Seville really stole my heart!
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and the fourth largest city in Spain. However the Old Town of Seville is just 2 square miles big, meaning this city is not overwhelming and a great European destination for a weekend break.
Unless you like it hot, the best time to visit Seville would be in the Spring months of April and May or when it starts to cool off towards the end of September. We went in the full heat of July. It’s a very dry heat and yes, I couldn’t sit out in the midday sun, but I did love the heat and in the old town of Seville the streets are very narrow meaning you can walk around happily in the shade most of the time!
Having spent a wonderful weekend away in this beautiful Spanish city, I’m sharing the top things to do and see in Seville. So when you come to planning your own trip you know what to include in your own itinerary.
Top things to see and do on your first trip to Seville
1. Wake up before Seville does
Get out and explore the old town early in the day and wander the warren of narrow cobbled streets and get lost! We did, many times. There is a beautiful calmness over the city when most locals and tourists are still in bed and it’s as though you have the city to yourself. Also if you plan to visit in the summer, like us, you explore in the morning, enjoy lunch then take a siesta in the afternoon before going back out for sunset drinks and dinner!
2. Eat breakfast like a local
After your early rise you’ll need a good breakfast. I think one of my favourite breakfasts in the whole wide world is a simple and traditional Catalan breakfast of pan con tomate (thick slices of fresh white bread smeared with tomato, garlic, olive oil and salt), a little jamón on the side and a good coffee. Naughty, but oh so nice. And you’ll find some of the best jamón ibérico in the world here in Seville. There are so many cafes lining the streets of Seville, we especially liked Restaurante Gonzalo for breakfast just by Seville Cathedral. Find one you like the look of, grab a seat outside and sit back, relax and people watch. What a perfect start to the day!
3. Get to the stunning Real Alcázar before 9:30am
We visited on our second day in Seville and as we realised how sleepy the city is in the mornings we thought we’g get there for just after 9:30am. When we joined the queue it was probably only about 50 people deep, but, it’s also when the massive tour groups start turning up and those who have already purchased their tickets (pre-purchase if you can). And they sweep into another queue right beside you and go straight in whilst you wait for the very slow ticket queue. Honestly, we only queued for 20 minutes but it felt like forever as we saw people stream past.
The Real Alcázar was used for filming of Game of Thrones and it is unbelievably stunning! I wish we’d spent more time in here as you can explore for hours.
4. Be clever about getting your ticket for Seville Cathedral
Firstly, let me explain why you have to come here. This is the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral and also the 3rd biggest in terms of size, after St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and St Paul’s in London! Opening times change between summer and winter. We were there on the last day of Winter (30th June!) so it didn’t open until 11:30am, but note its 9:30am in the Summer.
The trick is to go to the Church of El Salvador (also a very pretty church!) just a 10 minute walk away. It’s a lot less popular than the Cathedral – at 11:30 we were second in the queue. Make sure you specify you want a combined ticket for both monuments. When you get back to the Cathedral you can just stroll past the queues! You’ll definitely feel like you’re winning.
5. Get up high for those panoramic views of Seville
Whilst you’re in Seville Cathedral, climb to the top of the Giralda, the mighty bell tower which incorporates the mosque’s original minaret. It’s high but the burning thighs are worth it for the views, I promise you. You feel like you’re right in the centre of the city looking out over the roof tops.
Another great spot for panoramic views of Seville is the Metropol Parasol. This is a love or hate piece of modern architecture. The locals call it Las Setas (the mushrooms). I personally love this winding and weaving wooden structure. Walking around the top of the monument you feel like you are walking through the rooftops of Seville.
6. Escape the midday sun in Parque de María Luisa
Make sure your time in Seville includes wandering through the beautiful Plaza de España, but when the temperature rises walk through Parque de María Luisa which surrounds it: find the fountains, find the shade and it’ll feel like bliss. Take your time to wander, perhaps find a bench to sit and people watch.
7. Watch the sun set from the rooftop bars
It’s very likely that the sun will shine bright whilst you’re in Seville. This also means you can catch some beautiful sunsets of the city’s rooftops. There are some fab rooftop bars in Seville and two to note that offer stunning views over the Cathedral are the rooftop bar at Hotel Doña Maria (called Diez y Siete Doña Maria) and EME Catedral Hotel. The vibe at Doña Maria is chilled. There are Ibiza-esq sunset tunes coming out the speakers and it’s easy to get a table at sunset. You can sit with space and relax and watch the people below in the square in front of the Cathedral.
EME is a super modern and glamorous style hotel. Louder music plays here and it’s definitely got more of a younger buzz. We did manage to grab two stools right at the front of the balcony with full sight of the Giralda tower. We ordered cava here but the cocktails did look brilliant, though service can be a little slow.
8. Do your own tapas crawl, modern and traditional
Food made up a big part of our weekend. Obviously! I read a lot about the food and where to eat before we arrived in Seville. I created a list of all the places we had to try and created our own little tapas crawls. Each day we decided to explore a different area of Seville and would create our tapas tours around this. Only on our last night did we book a table at El Pinton as we had walked past so many times and it was always full and the interiors looked beautiful. And it didn’t disappoint!
We mixed it up between the traditional tapas bars and the more modern. Our favourites of the trip included lunch at Bodeguita Romero on Calle Harinas, early evening snacks at El Rinconcillo on Calle Gerona and late night dining at Ovejas Negras on Calle Hernando Colón.
9. Go door hunting!
I honestly was not expecting to find Seville so beautiful. And all these beautiful buildings have gorgeous doors! I became obsessed with them! Some are intricate and others look old and tired. Don’t you just love playing the game of guessing who lives behind them? I literally have hundreds of photos of different doors. I feel like each one tells a different story.
Have you been to Seville? Or do you have another favourite European city to explore?
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