It only took me a minute to fall in love with Seville. The fusion of ceramic tiles and Moorish architecture alongside tapas bars ringing with Flamenco music is intoxicating. I could easily spend weeks exploring its intimate and alluring charm, but with 3 days in Seville I experienced the highlights.
Seville is located in Southern Spain and is considered to be the capital of the Andalucia region. Early origins of the city trace back to 2,000 years ago, and legend has it Hercules founded the city. Seville’s history is heavily influenced by its geographic position – Moorish and Islamic influences from Northern Africa as well as Roman and Gothic Catholic influences seen in many cathedrals.
Seville is a must within any Spain itinerary, and is also a convenient base for day trips in Andalucia. If you’re looking to plan the perfect trip, this itinerary will help you plan 3 days in Seville without having to do all of the research that I did.
3 days in Seville
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Explore the Plaza de Espana
To start off your trip, I would recommend heading to the Plaza de Espana, what I consider to be the most impressive attraction in the city. This monument is dubbed “the Venice of Seville” for its romantic canals and arched bridges decorated in azulejos (Spanish tiles). Along the perimeter of building’s columns you’ll find tiles that represent the 49 different provinces of Spain.
You can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half in the Plaza de Espana, depending on your pace. You can rent a row boat to paddle down the plaza for 45 minutes at a time, which costs 12 EUR. There are also daily Flamenco shows played by street performers. The plaza is open to the public and free of charge.
Relax in Parque de Maria Luisa
The Plaza de Espana is actually only one part of the award-winning Parque de Maria Luisa. This park is the largest green space in Seville, which is covered in orange trees, mediterranean pines, ivy, and botanical gardens. You’ll also find several Moorish-style fountains, ponds, and even a few small waterfalls throughout the gardens.
Again, you can spend as little as 30 minutes or even two hours here if you’d like to take this in at a leisurely pace. There are many park benches that are perfect for stopping and having a picnic while taking in the natural surroundings. You can also rent bikes or jump on a small train through the park for kids. Entrance here is free of charge as well.
Enjoy an evening Flamenco Show
To end your first night in Seville with a bang (quite literally) I recommend booking a Flamenco show. Seville is the birthplace of Flamenco, which is a popular type of guitar music and singing alongside passionate dancing in traditional Spanish attire. The music’s origins trace back to the neighborhood of Triana, where the Roma population sang passionately about working-class struggles.
Although there are many impromptu street performances of Flamenco, you really need to see a show to get the tradition experience. Shows usually start at 7:30 p.m. or later, and last about two hours. Depending on the type of show you book, prices will vary between 20 EUR to 45 EUR if dinner is included.
Explore the Royal Alcazar
I recommend taking advance of your second day in Seville, instead of sleeping the morning away like many of the locals do! The Real Alcazar de Seville is a former fortress converted into a royal residence and palace. This UNESCO world heritage site is renowned for the intricate tile work, Moorish architecture, and lovely palace gardens. You may also recognize this site as a Game of Thrones filming location.
I would plan on spending an hour and a half to two hours here. The palace does get crowded here at any time of the year, so I recommend coming here in the morning to give yourself enough time. Hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance cost is 11.50 EUR. If you’d like a guided tour of the palace to learn all about the history, you’ll have to book this in advance.
Visit the Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower
Right across from the Alcazar palace you can’t miss the Santa Maria de la Sede, also known as the Seville Cathedral. This church is actually the largest Gothic Church in the world and holds the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The foundation of the church was built on the remains of the Moorish mosque. In fact, the Giralda Bell Tower used to be an Islamic Minaret.
You can visit inside the Cathedral and climb the Bell Tower in under an hour. Entrance costs 9 EUR and hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except in summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Keep in mind on Sundays there are limited hours because of church so it is only open from 2:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Have lunch in Santa Cruz
Right around the corner from the Cathedral you’ll find yourself in the Santa Cruz neighborhood. While the main drag of Santa Cruz may be touristy, the charming side streets and quiet and blooming with life. Potted plants, orange trees, and citrus-colored buildings frame the narrow alleyways and corridors.
If you venture onto these side streets you’ll find charming tapas bars and restaurants that are a great place to stop for lunch. After this you may want to take a small siesta nap before continuing your exploration in the late afternoon.
Visit Las Setas at Sunset
Without a doubt the most picturesque vantage point to watch the sunset is from Las Setas de Seville. Also known as Metropol Parasol, this mushroom-shaped structure has a rooftop walkway where you can take in the Seville skyline at sunset. The structure is 22 meters high and is breathtaking from underneath as well as on the very top.
You should allocate about 40 minutes to complete the entire loop, but you’ll want more time if you are planning on watching the sun set. Along the walkway there is a small cafe and bar if you’d like to have a drink while taking in the view. Las Setas is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and costs 3 EUR to access the rooftop walkway.
Head to the Seville Markets
Like other cities in Spain, Seville is a late riser in the morning However, even if you are not a morning person either, you can still catch the bustle by visiting some of the Seville markets around 10 a.m. Whether you’d like to buy local produce to buy yourself or you’d like to pick up breakfast along the way, Seville markets offer a unique culinary experience.
- Mercado Lonja del Barranco is a gourmet food market on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. This former iron building was converted into a glass pavilion which features ready-made tapas, smoothies, tacos, sushi and more. (Open daily 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.)
- Mercado de Triana is located right across the bridge on the other side of the river. This market offers a more traditional Spanish market experience, with a chaotic yet captivating array of vendors selling fruits, veggies, spices, and fish. The market was recently renovated and has bites like arepas, sandwiches, and green juices. (Open daily 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.)
- Mercado de la Encarnacion may be located right under the modern Las Setas structure, but the market itself is pretty traditional. Locals shop here for all sorts of produce, meat and seafood. The vendors take great pride in displaying their products here, and the market gives a glimpse into life living in Seville. (Open daily 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Sundays)
Explore the Triana Neighborhood
The Triana neighborhood provides an authentic slice of Seville that is hard to come by in the city center. Just by crossing the river you’ll see a world’s difference in the local culture. Everyone speaks Spanish as the default instead of English for tourists. The tapas menu is scribbled in Spanish on a small chalkboard. The streets are lively with locals, instead of tourists. Even though the neighborhood might not have as many iconic monuments, it makes up for in the raw passion ingrained into the neighborhood.
Not to mention the Triana neighborhood is filled with history, and the birthplace of Flamenco. Historically this neighborhood was for the poorer, working-class citizens, but today it’s a favorite area among locals. Stroll through tiled dwellings and pastel churches, then grab some authentic tapas on the way.
Relax along the river
As you may gather from the photo above, relaxing along the river is a past-time of locals and tourists alike. On the Triana side, there are several tapas bars that overlook the city center of Seville. On the opposite side you have a view of the colorful facades of Triana.
You have the option to walk along the promenade or even rent a bike to explore Seville’s riverside. If you’d like to take in the views from the water, you can hop on one of the river cruises from the nearby port. I recommend booking in advance to secure your seat.
Seville in January
We took our trip to Seville at the end of January, and I couldn’t recommend this time enough. The city was still very lively, and the crowds of people (mainly around the Cathedral) were manageable. The pace was easy-going, as we never had to rush or wait too long in line.
Seville gets extremely hot in the summer, so winters are mild and comfortable. At the end of January I was wearing short sleeves with a jacket, and then maybe a scarf in the evenings. Even though the weather predicted rain the entire time we were there, it was a combination of overcast and sunny the entire time we were there. We were fortunate that we never had rain!
Some of the hours are slightly amended for the off-season, but again: everything was open. There was a pleasant blend of locals, tourists from elsewhere in Spain, and foreign tourists like ourselves. If we ever go back to Seville, I think we will go in winter or early Spring, and I would recommend the same to others!
- Shop local at these sustainable clothing stores in Seville.
- Consider traveling here in the shoulder and off season. This helps prevent over-tourism in the summer months.
- Search for locally-owned hotels and apartments to stay in.
- Explore the city by walking or renting a bike.
- Bring your reusable water bottle and tote bag to avoid single-use plastic.
- Read more about responsible travel here.
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