Savoring Seville: The Ultimate Guide to The Andalusian Capital
Many of us know Seville as a gem of Andalusia, a place of sprawling Cathedrals, grand palaces, and intricate brown stone structures juxtaposed against rolling green hills. However, it’s hard to truly appreciate its magnificence from just pictures. Because that’s the first word that will probably come to your mind when you see Seville in person: magnificent. The city, the capital of its namesake province, wears its history proudly on its sleeve. It is a history that melds Christian and Muslim ideologies (and structures), creating a truly unique experience.
In our recent travels, Seville is one of those where we had a really long stop, and we are happy we made this decision. We got to tour around Seville’s most famous tourist destinations, such as the one below:
The Alcazar of Seville. A member of the World Heritage List and considered as the single most beautiful palace in Spain, this jaw-dropping structure was first developed by Muslim monarchs. It is truly a palace fit for a king — so much, in fact, that the current Spanish Royal Family still uses its upper floors as their official residence in Seville. This makes it the oldest European royal palace still in use, with the very first structures erected on its site dating back to the first century.
The site opens to tourists from 9:30 AM to 7 PM. There is a fee of 8.50 Euros just to tour the lower floors (General Admission), and another 4 Euros to enter the upper floors. But every penny is worth it!
The Cathedral and Giralda Tower. One of the biggest churches in the world ( read more about what to see in Seville Cathedral and Giralda tower here ), This place would give any cathedral you know a run for its money. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site like the Alcazar, the Cathedral was completed in the early 16th Century. Aside from the world’s largest pearl found among its countless treasures, this was also the spot where the great explorer Christopher Columbus was laid to rest. The Giralda refers to its 343-feet high bell tower, which had a curious past as the minaret of a mosque when the site was still under Muslim rule. Come up here for a great view of Seville
The entrance fee here is 12 Euros, and tourists could get an audio guide for a day tour. It’s worth it — we spent 3 hours here and the guide was a great help.
Plaza de España. This is the prettiest plaza! One of my favorites, this is a great place for people watching and entertainment. There was a good violinist and… bubbles! Yes, like little children, we were entertained by this greatly. We also tried rowing in the small canal in the park. It was kind of like Venice’s gondolas, sans the romantic singing of an Italian guy. There were four of us girls, and we just wanted to give it a go. We thought we looked funny — but hey, we had fun!
One of Seville’s more recent wonders (completed only in 2011), one wouldn’t guess what this thing is made of from afar. It’s made of wood! Approximately 85 feet high and 490 feet at its longest side, this is a real modern wonder. There are four levels you can tour, from the “Antiquarium” museum in the underground to the highest levels which offer a stunning city view.
Palace of the Countess of Lebrija. Found in the busy Calle Cuna, the palace dates back to the 16th century and is thought to be one of the grandest residences in the city. The place has an immense artistic value, from its Roman mosaics to its tiles said to be retrieved from an old ruined convent. If you want a classy house, you might want to take a tip or two from the Countess of Lebrija.
Aside from these places, we also walked around well-known areas such as the Santa Cruz district and the bridge to Triana. In Alameda District, we found a couple of restaurants (Duo Tapas and Antojo) that we really loved. Of course, our three-day tour would not be complete without shopping! In my case, I bought new boots since my old pair gave up on me. It’s my best buy yet!
What kind of travel would it be unless you can taste the local food? That’s why we made it our mission to find Seville’s best places for pleasing the palate. And here are the results of our endeavors!
Antojo. Try this place if you want a great truffle risotto (risotto de calabacín y trufa) and salad (ensalada de presa ibérica, mango y parmesano). You would also want to try their salmorejo, beef, and one of their great desserts! We spent around 15 Euros per head, and that already includes the many glasses of wine and water we drank. The ambience is also really good!
Duo Tapas. This place is almost always full, so you have to time your visit. When we got there at around 5:40 PM, though, there was no one — because it’s still siesta time and they only serve drinks then. Dinner time comes at around 8:30 PM, so it’s still a long wait.
Still, don’t miss their Huevos Rotos con Morcilla y Trufa, Tataki de Atún, Pulpo ala Gallega con Alioli, Tartar Atun, Croquetas, Presa Ibérica, and more! They were all good. We only did it tapas style with wine, but all four of our stomachs were happy. Finally, we tried the Gago Wine, which, despite the name, is pleasantly fruity.
Don Juan. A Michelin Star restaurant, famous for its paella negra.
Petit Comité. This was our last dinner in Seville, and it was really worth it! We had some heavenly beef tataki, mouthwatering octopus with truffle parmentier and egg yolk, duck risotto, and salmon carpaccio. It was pure love!
Mama Bistro. Located in Santa Cruz, we had some really good suckling pig and salad.
Gruppo Spalla. We had tuna here, and it was awesome!
Staying in Seville
Finally, what’s a trip if you can’t find a nice place to stay in at the end of each day? Fortunately in Seville, there are many places you can call home for the duration of your visit. It’s a touristy place, so it’s important to find the best bang for your buck at all times. In that part, I’ve got you covered.
AQ Apartments. We stayed here, and this is my most recommended lodging place for many reasons.
For one, the location is just perfect. Just walk out on the street and you have a ton of breakfast options! The Alcazar and Cathedral is just around the corner. Santa Cruz is just a short walk, too. The Alameda de Hércules is within 20 minutes, so everything is within reach. Of course, there are a lot of cute shops around
The apartment itself is beautiful. The four of us made full use of the Master’s Room plus the pull-out sofa-bed. Despite that, it was still very comfortable. There was a TV and even a washing machine (no dryer, though, but there was a heater and a space to hang our clothes), as well as a kitchen and everything else we needed. There was an iron, extra duvets, a couch, and more! It was essentially our own house in the middle of Seville.
Furthermore, there’s the amazing rooftop view! AQ Apartments had sun lounges, and there is a view to the Cathedral. No need to go to another rooftop bar for the sights. We just bought our own wine and sat there!
For those looking for a cultural piece, AQ Apartments has a Flamenco show on the ground floor that guests can watch for free. They also have luggage storage for those who like to travel heavy. The price is at 276 Euros (298 USD) for all of us four, on a 4 days 3 nights stay. That is something I would love to pay for the quality accommodations!
Like any other tourist destination, there are a few things to keep in mind when you visit this gem of an Andalusian city:
- Getting a taxi to and from the airport is an expensive deal. It’s a 25.40 flat rate. That’s no matter how close you are! It’s annoying because on our last night, we stayed in Ibis which is approximately 10 minutes away. Our flight was early, so we just thought we’d stay there. Our rented car had to be dropped off at the airport, too. Our total bill was 51 Euros (tariff plus flat rate). That would have been acceptable (sort of) if the ride had been to the city center… but for something 10 minutes away? Not right. Consider this when you book your vacation.
- Seville is generally more expensive compared to our other meals in Spain, but that could easily be because of the spectacular quality. We were hitting around 60-90 Euros for the four of us, every meal. Of course, we did not exactly choose the budget range so there’s that.
- Enjoy the romantic ambience! It’s by far one of the most impressive qualities of Seville, best shared with a loved one. It really felt like a home base for us in our Spain trip. So book your vacations, and have a wonderful time!