Dubbed as the capital of Andalucia in Southern Spain, Seville is a city booming with ancient and modern culture. Moorish palaces are juxtaposed next to Catholic Cathedrals. Flamenco music ricochets off narrow corridors and ceramic tiles. Tapa bars keep the city lively and well-fed, 7 days a week. Already with 3 UNESCO world heritage sites, the list of things to do in Seville gets longer every year. 

This is why Seville is one of my top picks as a culture-focused destination. With a diversity of attractions from various regional influences, Seville has much to offer for every type of traveler.

Best Things to do in Seville

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*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I earn a commission on any accommodation or tours you book through my site. This helps me keep my website running with free information like this. Thank you for your support!

History of Seville

Seville may look young and lively, but she’s actually over 2,000 years old. The rule of the Moors from the 8th century can be seen in the Moorish architecture (similar to what you’d find in Morocco and other parts of Northern Africa.)

Later the Spanish Christians took over and exiled the Muslims and Jewish population. This led to the construction of the Seville Cathedral, now considered one of the largest churches in the world.

Seville later became the richest city in Spain during the time of Spanish colonization of the Americas. Unfortunately, Seville directly benefitted from the conquests that exploited indigenous communities and slaves in the Americas. Today the tomb of Christopher Columbus is still held in the Seville Cathedral.

Seville fell off the radar for almost a century, but started to make a comeback during the industrial revolution that brought revenue back into the city. The city hosted two world fairs, one in 1929 and another in 1992. The latter was a major catalyst to transforming the city into a major cultural destination that it is today.

Today the city is the 4th largest in Spain, packed with passion and culture. You could likely get lost for weeks in enchanting Seville without getting bored. However, you narrow down this list and do 3 days in Seville easily.

Explore the Real Alcazar

The most noteworthy of the three UNESCO sites in Seville is the Real Alcazar. From a fortress, to an Arabian-style palace, to a royal residence for the Christian king, the Real Alcazar is a testament of the various influences throughout Seville’s history. The site is known for its decadent tile work and secluded palace gardens, all which remain seemingly untouched.

Now a Game of Thrones filming location, this attraction is pretty busy during every time of year. If you want to avoid the crowds, I suggest heading here in the morning.

Entrance costs 11.50 EUR and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re interested in learning about the history of the palace in depth, it’s best to book a historical tour with a guide.

Experience the magical Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Espana bridge, one of the best things to do in Seville.

Known as the Venice of Seville, the Plaza de Espana allures visitors with its half-moon canal and intricate azulejos (Spanish tiles). It was originally constructed in 1929 for the first expo in Seville to represent the connection between the old and new (colonial) world. If you look close enough you’ll see that the tiles displays each of the 49 provinces of Spain.

Today there are several events taking place in the Plaza throughout the year. Almost on any given day you’ll find impromptu Flamenco shows performed by street performers. You can also take a romantic ride through the canals by renting a row boat.

The Plaza de Espana is free and open to the public 24 hours a day. If you want to rent a row boat, the cost is 12 EUR for 45 minutes.

Have a picnic in Parque de Maria Luisa

(Photo via flickr)

When visiting the Plaza de Espana, don’t skip out on exploring the rest of the park. The award-winning Parque de Maria Luisa is the largest green space in central Seville. Take refuge from the sun on a hot summer’s day under the orange trees and mediterranean pines while exploring the Moorish-style fountains and botanical gardens.

Parque de Maria Luisa is free and is easily accessible by walking around. You can also rent bikes or jump on a trolley if you have kids. You’ll find some vendors selling food, otherwise you can bring food here for a picnic from the market below.

Climb the Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower

Seville Cathedral, one of the best things to do in Seville. Gothic church overlooking Spanish city skyline.

(Photo via Flickr)

Another UNESCO world heritage site in Seville is the Santa Maria de la Sede, also known simply as the Seville Cathedral. Construction took over 100 years in the 14th century, and it was built on the remains of a Moorish mosque. Today the cathedral is recognized as the largest Gothic cathedral in the entire world. It holds the tomb of Christopher Columbus and various treasures from throughout the centuries.

The most iconic feature of the Seville Cathedral is the bell tower called “La Giralda”. The Moors originally built the structure as an Islamic minaret. Later during the Catholic rule they added a Gothic structure on top to transform it into a Bell Tower. Today you can climb to the top and take in the 360 view over the city center.

The Seville Cathedral and Bell Tower is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from September to May. June-August the hours are extended to 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Keep in mind that on Sundays the church is only open from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. to the public. You can buy your tickets at the door, or skip the line by booking them online.

Catch the sunset at Las Setas

Las Setas de Seville or Metropol Parasol, a skyline walkway looking over the city. It is one of the top things to do in Seville.

As one of the newer attractions in Seville, this attraction put the North side of the city on the map. It’s commonly called Las Setas de Seville, but you’ll also see it called Metropol Parasol or Mushrooms of the Incarnation. The award-winning project consists of mushroom-shaped parasols with arches inspired by the Seville Cathedral. This structure is an impressive 22 meters high with five levels!

You can admire its beauty from below for free, but the most impressive views are at the very top along the panoramic walkway. Here you’ll have a 360 degree view of the skyline of the Seville. Watch the pastel sky melt over the city by coming here at sunset.

It takes roughly 40 minutes to walk around the entire structure, and many a bit more if you decide to stay for sunset. There is also a small coffee shop and tapas bar up top if you decide to have a drink to take in the view. Entrance costs 3 EUR a person, and Las Setas is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Wander through the Palacio de las Duenas

This 15th century palace is another testament of the elegant Mudejar style of architecture. Palacio de las Dueñas is fitted with enchanting archways and facades, all decorated with detailed tile work. The palace has 11 patios and nine fountains in a lush courtyard setting. This is one of the few great historic houses in Seville, and was only recently opened to the public in 2016.

The palace is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April through September, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October through March. The cost of admission is 10 EUR, and you can buy it online or in person to see it on your own.

Experience Flamenco music

Flamenco is an entire sub-culture of Spain, and it was born in none other than Seville. The melancholy, yet passionate music combines sounds of Spanish Folklore with African and Indian influences. This music traces back to the Roma population, who sang about working-class struggles in the neighborhood of Triana.

Today there are various Flamenco venues throughout Seville where you can see the traditional dancing, singing, and guitar strumming. There are some more touristy than others, however. We loved this traditional Flamenco show in the Triana neighborhood, which included a free drink.

Flamenco shows typically consists of two parts with an intermission in between. Some shows include dinner as well, so the price can range anywhere from 15-45 EUR. We found that many shows booked up quickly, so I would recommend booking in advance.

Attend the Feria de Abril

(Photo via Flickr)

If you love flamenco, or just love to dress up and dance, definitely consider coming to Seville for the Feria de Abril. This week-long festival commences every year in Seville, two weeks after Easter. In the style of a traditional Spanish Fiesta, Feria de Abril has been celebrated in Seville for more than 150 years.

The festival started as a livestock fair, but today is much more about being a fashion show and place to party. The festival takes place at 9 p.m. to the next morning with tents set up selling food, drinks, tapas, and more.

At the festival women dress in traditional Flamenco dresses in every color and pattern with their hair pulled back with a flower in their hair. Men typically wear suits or traditional attire. If you’d like to go to the festival but don’t have anything to wear, no problem! There are tons of shops around Seville that sell these unique pieces.

Indulge in the tapas culture

With over 4,000 tapas bars in the city, Seville does not get enough credit as a foodie destination. Tapas are essentially appetizer-sized plates meant for sharing with friends at the bar. But tapas are much more than bar food. It’s a way of life for the Spanish, which included relaxing with friends over food and drinks into the late hours of the night.

In Seville one must indulge in the tapa experience over a glass of wine or a beer, which is popular in particular in Seville. Most tapas are around 5 or 6 EUR each, and come essentially in micro-portions. Tapas bars tend to open late and stay up as late as 2 or 3 p.m. Otherwise, you can also book a tapas food tour in the daytime.

Stroll through the Santa Cruz neighborhood

At the epicenter of Seville you’ll find the Santa Cruz neighborhood, the most popular area of town. Skip the tourist traps along the main street of this area of town and get lost in the vibrant side streets, blooming with orange trees, potted plants and tradition Spanish decor. Here you’ll find many boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants to stop for tapas.

One of my favorite hidden gems in this area is Plaza del Cabildo. The painted arches are in a hidden corner of the city, and most pass by without wandering down this little alleyway. It’s an ideal place to stop and relax in the shade.

Explore the Guadalquivir Riverside

(Photo via Flickr)

The Guadalquivir River is an important attraction in Seville in and of itself. It is considered to be the only navigable river in Spain and was a strategic part of Seville’s history. Also, the very first ship to travel around the world in 1519 left from this river in Seville!

Relaxing by Seville’s riverside is one of the best ways to cool off or rest your legs. The promenade along the Guadalquivir is a great place for walking or biking.

Also along the promenade is Toro del Oro featured in the photo above, which is a 12th century fortress that overlooks the river. The monument also holds the Naval Museum of Seville.

There’s also many activities you can do on the water, depending on if you’re more adventurous or if you’d like to relax. You can rent kayaks or take a kayak tour on the river. Otherwise you can book a boat cruise and take in the city from the water.

Check out the Seville Markets

10 most iconic things to do in Seville. Mercado Lonja del Barranco gourmet food market with trendy decor in a glass building.

Mercado Lonja del Barranco may be the best attraction for foodies in Seville. What used to be an industrial Iron building is now a glass pavilion housing some of the best cuisine in town. From tapas to paella, sushi, smoothies, and tacos, this gourmet food is full of all kinds of flavors. The upscale and trendy decor makes it a popular meeting point for many locals on the outdoor patio.

Entrance to the market is free, and is open from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day. Dishes range from 6 EUR up to 15 EUR each, depending on the item.

Explore the Triana neighborhood

To escape the crowds of the city center, head to the over side of the river into Triana. This neighborhood is the heart of Seville’s passion and character. The laid-back and authentic atmosphere is a favorite among locals, especially along the Calle San Jacinto street filled with tapas bars and restaurants. You can also visit the Mercado de Triana here for a traditional market experience.

Even though Triana might not have large attractions like the city center, it still has just as much history. Historically this was the neighborhood for the working class, who then gave birth to Flamenco. Also, much of the tiles throughout Seville’s famous monuments were made in Triana.

Unwind at the Mudejar-style spa

(Photo via Flickr)

Centrally located in the Santa Cruz neighborhood around the corner from the cathedral you can relax like royalty in this Mudejar-style spa. Aire Ancient Baths Sevilla is a former palace, which dates back to more than 5 centuries. The spa features several baths, courtyards, and even a private rooftop pool for an intimate and tranquil experience in the city.

A visit to Aire Seville would be ideal for couples or even solo travelers. Unwind after a long day of sightseeing with a variety of spa packages. Prices range from 37 EUR for an ancient thermal bath to 115 EUR for an ancient thermal bath with a 60 minute massage add on. You can also book a range of other spa treatments like facials or oil treatments.

Explore La Casa de Pilatos

(Photo via Flickr)

The only civil palace (instead of royal) in Seville is the Casa de Pilatos. Filled with Greek artwork and Roman statues, this 16th century house is an example of Italian Renaissance in civil architecture. Casa de Pilatos also combines Spanish Mudejar elements like arches, tiles, and courtyards that are typical for palaces in the region. It is considered the “prototype Andalucian palace“.

You can easily spend up to two hours here taking in the detailed tile work and history filled within each of the palace rooms. The ground floor is considered the summer palace and costs 8 EUR to visit, while the upper floor is the winter palace and must be seen with a scheduled guide for 10 EUR. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and extended to 7 p.m. during April through October.

See the Tabacco Factory turned University

Tabacco factory Sevile, now a university

(Photo via Flickr)

The very first Tobacco factory to be established in Europe was in Seville. After a period of decline in Seville, the city had to regain its wealth by developing local industries. In the 18th century this factory was built with Baroque and Renaissance elements. Today it is used as one of the faculty buildings for the University of Seville. It was also the setting of the popular Opera Carmen.

To visit the building you don’t need much time, and the price is free of charge. However the building is not open to the public all the time since it is part of the University. The official hours are everyday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and it is closed on Friday and Sunday.

Visit the History Museums

(Photo via Flickr)

If it’s either raining or too hot outside, you should definitely check out some of Seville’s museums. The city doesn’t brag about it’s impressive collection of art, history, and culture galleries, but really it should. You should note that many museums are closed on Mondays.

The Museum of Fine Arts of Seville is a former convent that houses a collection of Spanish art from the medieval period, the Golden era, and up until the the 20th century. This collection includes work by the famous painters Murillo, Pacheco, and more from the Golden era. The courtyard and gardens are also worthy of exploring.

The Archaeological Museum holds the most important archaeological facts from all of Andalucia throughout the centuries. The museum covers everything from the Neolithic, Roman, and Moors and is located near the Plaza de Espana. This Museum is closed on Mondays.

Flamenco Art Museum is actually a museum and concert hall known for its Flamenco shows. You can visit the museum and learn about the history of the art, guitar playing, and traditional costumes, and then see a show afterwards.

Archives of the Indies is one of the 3 UNESCO heritage sites in Seville. These archives house some of the most important artifacts from the Spanish colonial conquest in America and the Philippines. Many of these original documents include the journal of Christopher Columbus, maps and plans of colonial American cities. Entrance to the museum is free of charge.

Take some day trips from Seville

(Photo via Flickr)

You could easily spend an entire week in Seville and dedicate two of those days taking day trips. The capital city is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding Andalucia region of Southern Spain. Luckily you don’t need a car to explore these regions because many tour companies offer packages to these destinations.

  • Granada seen in the photo above is one of the most popular day trips from Seville. The city is filled with more fascinating Moorish architecture and UNESCO palaces along surrounded by breathtaking mountains.
  • As Southern Spain is right across from Africa, you can take a day trip to Gibraltar. This sight is considered the gateway from Europe into Africa and has some of the most dramatic coastal landscape.
  • You can even take a day tour of Tangier Morocco while in Seville! This involves taking a 60 minute ferry to Tangier with the luxury of having a private guide to navigate through the stunning souks and Medinas of Morocco.
  • 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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*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I earn a commission on any accommodation or tours you book through my site. This helps me keep my website running with free information like this. Thank you for your support!

READ MORE:   3 Days in Seville: The Perfect Itinerary

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