Sitting at the heart of Andalusia, Seville is Spain’s sunniest city, making it the perfect destination to visit all year round. The city’s Moorish history is reflected through a magnificent line-up of Mudejar palaces and mansions while the world’s largest Gothic cathedral dominates the skyline. Traditional tapas bars, experimental eateries and boutique hotels line the cobblestone streets, and rooftop bars draw crowds from January through to December. Discover where to stay, what to see, and where to eat and drink with this Seville travel guide.
Where to stay in Seville
Hotel Casa de Colon
Set within a pretty 18th-century building, Hotel Casa de Colon provides the character and aesthetics of a more upmarket hotel but without the attached price tag. The family run property combines Moorish architecture and influences, period furniture and features, and contemporary touches like exposed brickwork, turquoise splashes and colourful upholstery to create a beautifully unique setting. Sitting right at the heart of the city, the location is equally impressive – step outside the front door and you’ll see the cathedral looking back at you – with historic sights, an array of shops and some of the city’s best bars and restaurants all located on its doorstep. All in all, it’s a fantastic hotel for those who want to adhere to a budget without compromising on location or visual appeal.
What to see in Seville
Seville Cathedral and the Giralda Bell Tower
The world’s largest Gothic cathedral, Seville Cathedral is no doubt impressive from the outside thanks to its soaring minarets and intricate architecture, but it’s once you step over the threshold that you realise its sheer scale. A soaring 20-metre-tall altarpiece gilded in gold sits at the centre, surrounded by grand vaulted ceilings and bold stained glass windows. Climbing the Giralda bell tower is a must for impressive views over the city’s rooftops and the cathedral’s very own orange tree courtyard.
Real Alcázar of Seville
The Unesco-listed Real Alcázar of Seville is the city’s main attraction thanks to its awe-inspiring blend of Christian and Mudéjar architecture. The building has a colourful history and today its upper levels are still used as the official residence of the Spanish royal family, making it the oldest palace to still be in use in Europe. With two levels of striking Moorish arches and a central pool surrounded by trees, the Maidens Courtyard is a particular highlight while the perfectly manicured gardens are interspersed with yet more examples of magnificent architecture. The palace gets very crowded so be sure to arrive at about 9.15am (15 minutes before opening) to be one of the first in the queue.
Casa de Pilatos
Offering a more serene palace experience than the Real Alcázar of Seville, Casa de Pilatos is much smaller but arguably much prettier. Dating back to the late 15th century, it marries Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance features with colourful tiles and decorative ceilings. Decorated in vibrant sunflower yellow, the cheery garden provides an instant mood booster.
Palacio de las Dueñas
Another good alternative to the Real Alcázar of Seville, Palacio de las Dueñas really does feel like a miniature version of the royal palace. The gorgeous plant-filled courtyard and aromatic lemon tree garden are the main highlights, both of which look particularly splendid in the early morning sun. Having only opened to the public in 2016, this spot is still relatively unknown, making it a more peaceful destination than the other palaces.
Maria Luisa Park
A stroll through the pretty Maria Luisa Park is the perfect start to a day of sightseeing in Seville, passing fountains, hidden walkways and Moorish influences along the way. End the walk with a stroll up the main boulevard in order to see the Plaza de España and its pulsing fountain beautifully framed at the end of the walkway.
Plaza de España
Built for the Spanish-American Exhibition of 1929 (a major international fair), Plaza de España is a sprawling complex made up of vast terracotta buildings, Venetian-style bridges, mini canals, fountains and colourful tiles depicting historical scenes. It’s all very extravagant and a main tourist hub thanks to its rowing boats, horse carriage rides and daily flamenco shows.
Where to eat in Seville
One of Seville’s most popular tapas restaurants, Ovejas Negras puts a contemporary twist on a traditional tapas restaurant with modern plates served to a soundtrack of loud music and excitable chatter. Menu highlights include the stewed beef brioche topped with chipotle mayonnaise, the pork belly nuggets with sweet and sour sauce, and the Iberian pork carpaccio. A fantastic selection of wine is also available along with indulgent desserts such as New York cheesecake and sweet chocolate brownie. Be sure to arrive the minute they open or be prepared to wait.
La Azotea – Calle Zaragoza
At first glance, La Azotea looks rather clinical thanks to its bright lights and industrial furnishings, but once it’s filled with diners – as you can expect it to be every evening – the modern restaurant has a real warmth and buzz to it. The inventive menu makes for an exciting dining experience with mini hamburgers (served in their own McDonalds style box with a side of fries), traditional croquettes and mouth-watering braised pork cheek among the highlights. An array of fresh shellfish can also be cooked to your liking.
Perfect for those craving something more substantial than your typical Spanish breakfast, Gusto serves a wide variety of breakfast options up until midday. Choose from a cooked English, an American stack of pancakes or a simple bacon bap. Located right by the cathedral, it’s a great place to fuel up before a few hours of sightseeing.
Bar Casa Placido
Sitting on the corner of a pretty cobbled street, this authentic tapas bar is ideal for a long lunch with a side of beer and sangria. The dishes are rustic but hearty with patatas bravas, braised oxtail and cold meats among the options and you can choose between three different sizes. Sit outside to indulge in some people watching or inside to dine under a ceiling lined with jamon.
A charming little tapas bar located minutes from the cathedral, Maestro Marcelino is the place to go for melt-in-your-mouth cuts of meat and flavoursome slabs of cheese. With retro canned goods and artisan produce lining the shelves, it doubles up as grocery store reminiscent of days gone by. Metal bar stools, a tiled floor and a wooden beam ceiling complete the aesthetic while black pudding, Iberico ham and chorizo are freshly cut in the butcher’s corner and served with pickles, chutney and warm bread. The friendly and knowledgeable staff further enhance the dining experience.
Founded in 1670, El Rinconcillo is Seville’s (and possibly Spain’s) oldest tapas bar and today provides an authentic dining experience. Despite being popular with tourists, it still draws plenty of locals thanks to its exuberant atmosphere and traditional tapas. Smartly dressed yet no-nonsense bar staff will chalk your order on the bar top, adding to it as you go, and the food is handed straight over the counter to be eaten while standing. Original features such as wood panelling, barrel tables and tiled walls still remain.
Where to drink in Seville
Café Taberna de Picalagartos
One of the few bars in Seville that serves Mahon rather than the ubiquitous Cruzcampo, this quaint restaurant is the perfect spot for a post-dinner beer or two. Wooden chairs and tables are placed against colourful tiled walls and cheerful staff chat away with the locals propping up the bar.
A lively restaurant that draws in large crowds, the bar at Mamarracha gets absolutely packed on Friday and Saturday evenings but on Sunday it’s a peaceful spot for a few glasses of red with a side of olives. Jars of pic ‘n’ mix and other bar snacks are also available along with a range of tapas dishes.
Pura Vida Terraza
More laid back and affordable than the nearby EME rooftop bar, Pura Vida Terraza boasts unrivalled views of Seville Cathedral. The vast terrace has large sofas that are great for big groups as well as a number of small tables. Arrive early evening in order to claim a prime position for watching the sun disappear behind the Giralda bell tower, transforming the sky into glorious shades of pink and orange as it goes.