Seville is alive with history and culture, and as you wander the cobbled streets, you can feel the passion beneath your feet. Being the capital heritage centre of Andalusia means there are so many unique and epic things to see and do in Seville, which makes it an excellent place for a 3-night city break to Spain. The home to tapas, flamenco and fiestas, it is sure to impress the eager visitor with its charm.
Of course, there are more things to do in Seville than just the regular tourist haunts, and after spending three days in Seville, I hope that my Seville itinerary suggestions will inspire you to plan a trip to Seville for yourself. So get your walking shoes on, grab your camera and let’s find out what to do in Seville.
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Post updated January 2022
Arriving in Seville
I would expect the first thing you will want to do when you arrive in Seville is to freshen up before heading out to explore the city. I stayed at the lovely Hotel Becquer for my 3-nights in Seville and can highly recommend it. The rooftop pool and fabulous views across the city add to its charm!
I travelled to Seville on a direct flight from London Gatwick with Easyjet and landed in the early afternoon, allowing me time to check out some of the sights near my hotel.
Walk (or kayak) along the Guadalquivir River, Seville
Running through the heart of Seville, this waterway is a place to walk, cycle and familiarise yourself with the city. It was our first stop when we arrived in Seville, and we decided to cross to the other side of the river. The Triana bridge separates the area of Arenal, home to the Plaza de Toros (Bull Ring) and the area of Triana, known for its flamenco and tapas bars.
Crossing the bridge, you will find the famous Triana Food Market located on the remains of the Castle of San Jorge. The market is a place to enjoy fresh local cuisine within a bustling environment. Once across the bridge, the walk will take you past restaurants and bars where visitors can enjoy tapas and beer in the outdoor seating area while watching the activities along the river.
We continued walking towards the Puente de San Telmo Bridge, where great views up and down the river are visible. We noticed how many kayakers there were on the water; this is a favourite watersport in Seville.
You could try a Kayak tour if you fancy having a go yourself. I am pretty hopeless at manoeuvring a kayak, I managed to go around in circles in one in the South China Sea, but that’s another story. Or maybe a gentle cruise along the Guadalquivir River is more your style.
Climb Torre Del Oro
On the other side of the river, we passed the Torre del Oro, “Tower of Gold”. Once it was a prison, then a watchtower and later on a chapel, nowadays it is open for tourists who want a better view of the river.
Restaurants line the streets and lead you to the Teatro De La Maestranza (Opera House) and the Plaza de Toros (Bull Ring).
Visit the Church of El Salvador
Holding the spot as the second-largest church in Seville is the Church of El Salvador. It was built between 1674 and 1712 on the remains of a former mosque that was converted to a Catholic church in 1340. Its unmissable pink facade stands monumentally proud overlooking the Plaza del Salvador, and its doors invite you to slip inside a take a look.
What greets you inside is breathtaking. Baroque carvings and gilding surround you and are an elaborate backdrop for the sculptures and paintings that fill the space. To realise the full scale of the church, you simply have to visit.
Several religious brotherhoods are connected to this church. During the Holy Week of Seville, 30 or more men will carry the large floats, called pasos, depicting Jesus and the Virgin Mary on their backs as penance for their sins for anything from 6 to 12 hours. It is considered an honour to be part of the back-breaking procession, and the position is often handed down through generations of the same family.
Book a Best Tapas in Seville Tour
I must admit that when it comes to eating local cuisine, I’m a bit fussy (my husband may call it irritating!) I’m not particularly adventurous when it comes to food, so when I discovered a tapas tour, I thought it would be a fantastic introduction to the authentic food of Seville and one of the great things to do in Seville at night.
Carlos, a local Sevillian, was our guide and took us to three original tapas bars to try their specialities. He was very knowledgeable and was quick to tell us that tapas is what Seville is famous for, as it has its origins in this city. I should tell you that tapas is in just about every restaurant in Seville and is one of the most popular foods in Spain. It is tough to know where to eat, so a food tour is an excellent way to find the best tapas in Seville.
We sampled braised pork cheeks, spinach with chickpeas, fried fish, cold potatoes and tuna and a dish called ” pringa ”, a sandwich of different meats. It seems that these are firm favourites on most menus.
The tapas were washed down with various beers and wine from Jerez, the town known worldwide for its sherry production. My favourite was a dark sweet orange wine which is a speciality of the region; after all, there are 40,000 orange trees in Seville, so you would expect a few of them to go into winemaking.
We had a lot of fun on our tour and may have come away just a little tipsy and full to bursting with tapas. You can book online here if you want to do a similar best tapas in Seville tour.
One of the most important landmarks in Seville is the cathedral adjacent to the famous Real Alcazar de Sevilla. It is situated in the heart of the old town in Barrio Santa Cruz and is the third-largest Gothic church in the world. A mosque stood on the site in the 12th century, and by the 17th century, additions of gothic and baroque architecture completely changed its appearance and its religious standing in Seville.
Finding Christopher Columbus
Seville Cathedral was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1987 and houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus, the great explorer. Other cities had laid claim to have his remains, but DNA testing has proved that the bones inside Seville Cathedral are indeed those of Mr Columbus.
It is an excellent idea to buy tickets online to skip the queues before you arrive; otherwise, you will be waiting for a while to enter. The Giralda bell tower is accessible by stairs and ramps, and if you want to climb to the top, you will see some incredible views over Seville.
Why you must pre-book tickets for Royal Alcazar of Seville
The Alcazar Real is next to Seville Cathedral, so I thought I could combine a visit to see them simultaneously – wrong!
I was foolish to think that we could simply arrive and queue for our tickets. The mega-organised person inside my head must have been having a day off when she decided to try her luck and turn up without pre-booked Alcazar Seville tickets.
The results were a disaster. We took our place in the queue that weaved its way from the entrance to the Alcazar of Seville around the corner and to its exit, and after the first hour, we were getting fed up.
Out of the crowd, a seller appeared and offered tickets that would allow us immediate access, and the bonus was that she would also give a narrated tour of the interior. She disappeared into the crowd, but like a skilled ninja and with hubby in tow, I stealthily followed her to purchase my tickets.
One problem, unbeknown to us, she only had a certain amount available and had just sold the last two! Not only had we now lost our coveted position in the queue, but we would have to rejoin it and queue in line for another 3 hours to reach the ticket desk!
That sinking feeling
Alcazar of Seville tickets may be on every Seville bucket list and a prize that others feel warrants a long wait in the hot sun but not I. So like a petulant child that has just lost a favourite toy, I strolled away with hubby to work out a plan for our ticket quest tomorrow.
The moral of the Alcazar Seville ticket story
Don’t waste valuable time queuing in the scorching Spanish heat when you can buy tickets online for Alcazar Seville before you arrive and waltz straight through the doors and into the alcazar!
The Metropol Parasol
After the disappointment of not getting tickets for the Real Alcazar, I decided to change tactics from visiting one of the oldest landmarks in Seville to visiting one of the newest.
The contemporary form of the Metropol Parasol claims to be the world’s largest wooden structure and is in Seville’s central area and was constructed in 2005. It cost millions of euros, but the sky-high walkways give you undulating views over Seville and further to the hills.
Six “mushroom” shapes hold up the structure, which casts shade on the area below, allowing a respite from the blistering midday sun.
On the ground floor, you will find a market alongside coffee shops and on the lower ground is the ticket office and the archaeological remains of the previous buildings that stood here.
The walk will only take a few minutes to complete, but you have to admire the artistry that has gone into this incredible structure, and the views are pretty cool. A coffee shop recommendation would be to try “Virgin Coffee”, located on the road next to the Metropol Parasol; their flat white was the best in Seville!
Relax in Ancient Spa Baths
After a full day of sightseeing, we were ready to relax, and a visit to Aire Ancient Baths was the perfect venue.
Located along a narrow unassuming street and behind a large wooden door, there is a secret that Seville is keeping to itself. Aire Ancient Baths claim that once within its walls, “time does not exist,” and I tend to agree with them.
Candles line the way to a courtyard, and you immediately feel at ease within this exclusive sanctuary. Located in the setting of a 15th-century palace, the ambience of Aire transports you back to a time when “taking to the waters” was a natural past-time.
Once I had donned on my swimsuit and complementary slip-proof water shoes, we made our way down the candlelit stairs to the six experiences we would be trying during the evening. Tepid, warm and cold pools relaxed and invigorated us while the “thousand streams bath”, a jacuzzi to you and me, worked our circulatory system and relaxed mind and body.
Time Just Melts Away
The Laconium, “steam bath’ and the Flotarium, “salt bath”, let us drift away with our thoughts. The salt bath was fabulous, and as my body floated around doing its own thing, the soothing Arabic underwater music took me to a faraway time and place when the ritual of a spa bath was part of an ancient civilisation.
At the end of our 90-minute experience, we realised that we had been in Aire for nearly 3 hours. We had arrived at 9 pm and had been left to relax and enjoy the facilities for as long as we required. I then remembered their motto, “time does not exist”, and on this occasion, it certainly had not.
It was the perfect way to unwind after a day of pounding the cobbled streets and was one of my favourite things to do in Seville.
Want to Stay in Seville’s Best Hotel?
Check out availability and prices for Hotel Alfonso xiii – close to Real Alcazar and Maria Luisa Park.
Real Alcazar – One of the most important things to do in Seville
I tried to buy tickets online the previous evening, but they were sold out, so the next morning, Plan B came into action.
After an early call, we headed into the centre of town and joined the walk-up queue for 8.30 am, knowing that Real Alcazar tickets go on sale at 9.30 am. We were amazed that we were not even near the start of the queue, but finally, ninety minutes later, we were inside the oldest functioning royal palace in Europe; mission complete!
The Islamic architecture in the Real Alcazar, combined with the stunning use of colourful tiling and intricately carved details, made it clear why it was a Unesco World Heritage Site. Imposing interior rooms, courtyards and stunning gardens made it a dream to wander around, and I wish I could have been there to smell the air when the orange blossom trees come into bloom.
We spent 3 hours in the Alcazar enjoying the beautiful surroundings, although the formal flower gardens looked quite sparse and, in some areas, just mud patches were visible. I can only imagine that the hot summer Seville had encountered had left the plants gasping for shade and water. Temperatures can rise to 45 degrees!
The Capital of Ancient Kingdoms
Through the centuries, Real Alcazar has been used as the capital for the conquering civilisations that settled in the Iberian Peninsula. From the Christian King Pedro I of Castile in 1364, who built the Alcazar (castle), to the current Spanish royal family, who keeps apartments on the first floor.
No trip to Seville would be complete without a visit here and so make sure you put it high on your list of things to do in Seville.
Watch the world go by at Plaza de Espana.
Located at the end of the Parque de María is the lovely Plaza de Espana. It was built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition and is a mix of Moorish and Spanish architecture with intricately detailed tiling on every surface.
Horse-drawn carriage rides start and finish here and will take you around the park, or you may want to take one of the rowing boats around the small lake that runs beneath the bridges. If you are a fan, you might recognise this square from scenes in Star Wars 2.
Wander through Maria Luisa Park
The Parque Maria Luisa is a large green space close to the river and the site of the 1929 Expo. Hundreds of exotic trees line its shady avenues, and as you wander around, you will find Moorish fountains and pools being home to swans and other birdlife.
Historic buildings are all located close to the entrance of Seville’s impressive museums. We stopped in the small cafe near them for a drink and watched the park visitors go about their daily activities.
Hire a bike if you don’t want to walk
The park is a lovely place to walk around before making your way to its centrepiece, Plaza de Espana, but if walking isn’t for you, then bikes and four-seated buggies can be rented for you to explore on wheels. The bike hire station is located just before you reach Plaza de Espana.
Discover Palacio de las Duenas
I have included the Palacio la Duenas as one of the unique things to do in Seville, as it was one of our favourite places to visit.
Home to the current 19th Duke of Alba, eldest son of the Duquesa de Alba, the palace, which is small in stature but timelessly beguiling, is a joy to discover.
Located in a quiet side street in the Macarena district, the Palacio de las Duenas is like the younger sibling of the grand Real Alcazar.
The City dwelling of the Duquesa de Alba
Constructed in the late 15th century with Gothic and Arabic influences, it was once the home of the Duquesa de Alba, who passed away in 2014.
She was one of Spain’s most famous aristocrats and one of Seville’s best-loved personalities who was happiest wandering around her gardens at this property despite having palaces and castles throughout Spain.
The ground floor and gardens of the house opened to the public in 2016, and it is now a place to find peace and tranquillity in beautiful surroundings. The Palacio is a quieter option to discover the architecture of this area without the hoards of visitors that the Alcazar attracts.
Watch an Authentic Flamenco Show
Flamenco is the beating pulse at the heart of the city, and as you wander through the streets, you will hear the word “Ole” coming from all around.
Flamenco is the dance of Andalusia, and the influences of Arabic, Christian and Jewish interpretations give us the flamenco we see today. A show that I can personally recommend was at the Museum of Flamenco, the only one in the world, so I guess it has to be perfect when performed there!
An Intoxicating Performance
The 60-minute show was full of passion, and the speed of the dancer’s feet was unbelievable. Musicians tapped feet and clapped hands, and sang the intoxicating flamenco lyrics that set the scene for the dancers.
No photography or videoing is allowed during performances, so while you may leave without proof of the fantastic skills of the dancers, you are guaranteed to enjoy the show without any interruptions: a memorable experience and one of the great things to do in Seville.
My honest opinion of Seville, Spain
What month did I travel? October
How was the weather? It was hot and sunny.
Would I recommend the hotel? Yes. Becquer Hotel was a 10-minute walk to the river and a 20-minute walk to the historic city centre, so ideally located. It had a rooftop pool with views of Seville Cathedral.
Would I recommend three days in Seville? I think it is fair to say that this Spanish city is full of history and charm with enough activities to keep the visitor busy. I loved the Moorish architecture, tapas bars and the Andalucian culture and would recommend a trip here for anyone looking to explore Seville in 3 days.
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