Seville is alive with history and culture, and as you wander the cobbled streets, you can feel the passion beneath your feet. The home to tapas, flamenco and fiestas it is sure to impress the eager visitor with its charm. 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-day city break to Spain.
Of course, there are more things to do in Seville than just the regular tourist haunts, and after spending 3-days in Seville, I hope that my suggestions will inspire you to plan a trip for yourself. So get your walking shoes on, charge up your camera and let’s be on our way.
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#1 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 over the Triana Bridge. The bridge separates the area of Arenal, home of the Plaza de Toros (Bull Ring) with 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 seat of the inquisitional court. 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 patrons enjoy tapas and beer seated outside while watching the activities along the river.
Continue to the Puente de San Telmo Bridge, where great views up and down the river are visible. You will notice how many kayakers there are on the water; this is a favourite sport here. If you fancy having a go yourself, you could try a Kayak tour. I am pretty hopeless manoeuvring a kayak, I managed to go around in circles in one in the South China Sea, but that’s another story. So, I watched the grace and elegance of the oarsman from the comfort of the bridge.
#2 Climb Torre Del Oro
Back across the river, you will pass the Torre del Oro, “Tower of Gold”. Once a prison, a watchtower and even a chapel; but now accessible 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) which can also be visited.
#3 Discover Seville’s Palacio de las Duenas
I have included the Palacio la Duenas at the top of my list of suggestions for 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.
#4 Seville Cathedral
Situated in the heart of the city adjacent to the Alcazar this religious building is the third-largest church in the world and the largest Gothic church. 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 housed the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Other cities had laid claim to having the remains of the explorer, but DNA testing proved that the bones were 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 Tower is accessible by stairs and ramps and if you want to see views across Seville, then climb to the top.
# 5 Book a Best Tapas in Seville Tour
I have to admit that when it comes to eating local cuisine, I’m not great. I’m not particularly adventurous and am not a “foodie”, so when I discovered a tapas tour, I thought it would be a fantastic introduction to the authentic food of Seville. Carlos, a local Sevillian, was our guide and would be taking us to three original tapas bars to try their specialities. 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 food was washed down with various beers and wine from Jerez, the town that is known around the world 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.
If you want to do a similar best tapas in Seville tour, then you can book online here.
Tapas menu on old wine containers
#6 Why you need to book Alcazar Seville tickets
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 of the Alcazar 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 Seville tickets may be a prize that others feel warrants such a long wait in the piercing rays of the 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.
Plan B came into fruition the next morning when we woke early and were in the queue at 8.30 am. Alcazar Seville tickets go on sale at 9.30 am when the enormous wooden entry doors open, and we were confident we would be first in the queue. Ninety minutes later, we made it!!
Real Alcazar – One of the most important things to do in Seville
We had made it inside the oldest functioning royal palace in Europe and were ready to discover why it was so popular. 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 could only imagine how gorgeous it smelt when the orange blossom trees came into bloom in the Springtime.
We spent 3 hours in the Alcazar enjoying being in such 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 have 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.
#7 Relax in Ancient Spa Baths
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.
#8 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.
#9 Visit the Church of El Salvador
Holding the spot as the second-largest church in Seville, I have to say that I preferred the Church of El Salvador more than Seville Cathedral. Built between 1674 and 1712 on the remains of a former mosque that had converted to a Catholic church in 1340, it’s pink facade stands monumentally proud overlooking the Plaza de 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.
#10 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.
#11 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.
#12 Wander the walkways of The Metropol Parasol
The contemporary form of the Metropol Parasol claims to be the world’s largest wooden structure and is in Seville’s central area. Constructed in 2005 and costing millions of euros, the sky-high walkways give you undulating views over Seville and further to the hills. 6 “mushroom” shapes hold up the structure, which casts shade on the area below, allowing a respite from the 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!
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 towards Seville Cathedral.
Would I recommend three nights 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 for plenty of great things to do in Seville.
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