Sevilla, Plaza de Espana

Your Trip to Seville: The Complete Guide

••• Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

When many people think of Spain, a few images immediately jump to mind: sunshine, flamenco, and tapas likely among them. Of course, Seville is the city that most closely fits this dreamlike ideal of typical Spain, but it’s also so much more than that.

As the capital of Spain’s southernmost region of Andalusia, Seville has long been tied to legendary figures that seem to leap right off the pages of a storybook. It was once home to Ancient Roman dignitaries who helped lead one of the most iconic empires in history, and later to kings and queens whose legacy lives today in their grandiose palaces and gardens.

But Seville has also been home to generations of artists, poets, dancers, and dreamers whose passion helped forge Andalusia’s proud cultural identity. In fact, Spain’s most iconic art form—flamenco—was born here centuries ago, when oppressed individuals living in poverty began to channel their anguish into music and dance.

The Seville of today is a perfect storm of elegant old-world glamour, gritty passion, and the friendly, laid-back lifestyle that makes southern Spain one of the most welcoming places in Europe. It’s one of the most fascinating destinations in the country and a welcome addition to any itinerary. 

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: Springtime in Seville is nothing short of magical as flowers bloom throughout the city and important events like Holy Week and the April Fair pop up on the calendar. The weather is pleasantly warm, and you’ll find plenty of locals out and about enjoying the sunshine and ambiance. 
  • Language: Spanish—though staff at most tourist attractions and hotels and some restaurants will speak English.
  • Currency: Euro
  • Public Transportation: The city bus network, known as TUSSAM, is the cheapest and most extensive public transport system in Seville. There is also a small metro system and one tram line (confusingly called "MetroCentro"), and the popular Sevici public bike rental program.
  • Travel Tip: Book your visit to the Real Alcázar online in advance. Ever since it was used as a filming location for "Game of Thrones" (fans may recognize it as the Water Gardens of Dorne from seasons five and six), its popularity has skyrocketed among visitors. The extra euro you’ll have to pay for booking online is well worth avoiding the hours-long line to purchase day-of tickets. 
Las Setas

TripSavvy / Paula Galindo Valle

Things to Do

Seville is packed with architectural and cultural gems, a fantastic food scene, and some of Spain's best (and most authentic) flamenco. The city center is compact and easy to get around, but even if you do take a wrong turn, you’ll still likely stumble onto a gem—Seville is one of the best cities to let yourself get lost in.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Explore all of Spain without leaving Seville at the grandiose Plaza de España. This stunning square in María Luisa Park features small, brightly colored alcoves representing each of Spain’s 48 provinces (besides that of Seville itself). 
  • Head across the river to the lively neighborhood of Triana. This eclectic barrio is fiercely proud of its local identity, to the point where residents often refer to themselves as being from Triana rather than from Seville. It’s known for its beautiful hand-painted ceramics, so be sure to pick one up as a souvenir.
  • Seville is almost more beautiful when seen from above. Head up to the top of the Las Setas monument at sunset and enjoy a drink from the bar while taking in stunning 360-degree views across the entire city. 

Learn more about how to enjoy the Andalusian capital with our full guide to the best things to do in Seville.

What to Eat and Drink

If you came to Spain searching for tapas, you’re in luck: Seville is one of the best places to enjoy this staple of national cuisine. While tapas don’t come free with your drink as they do in other cities (Granada is especially famous for this), Seville’s scene is hard to beat—it’s home to a whopping 3,000 tapas bars. Expect standing-room-only crowds at the most popular spots, and don’t fill up on too many tapas at one place—bar crawling is part of the fun.

Whatever you do, don’t wash down your tapas with sangria. It’s not really something locals drink out in public in Spain (many prefer to make it at home), and if you see it served in bars, it’s usually an overpriced, low-quality version made for tourists. Instead, if you want something similar and much more authentic, join the locals and order a tinto de verano, or a refreshing cocktail of red wine and lemon soda. Other popular drinks in Seville are vermouth (especially as a pre-tapas aperitif) and sherry wine, which hails from nearby Cádiz province and comes in a delectable spectrum of colors and flavors.

Be sure to check out our complete guide to typical foods in Spain and our primer on Spanish mealtimes—which are admittedly confusing to navigate for first-time visitors—to help you eat like a local in Seville.

Where to Stay

If you want to be close to the sights, the central Santa Cruz neighborhood is hard to beat for accommodation. It’s well-connected, breathtakingly beautiful, and full of magic around every turn—but its popularity means it can be quite crowded and noisy at times. If you prefer something a bit calmer, the Arenal neighborhood between Santa Cruz and the river is much more relaxed without sacrificing convenience or charm.

The further out you get from the city center, the more the authentic Seville will start to emerge. Areas like El Porvenir, Macarena, and Alfalfa provide a fascinating look at local life in the city, with the main tourist attractions still easily within reach. Hotels and apartments here will also be more affordable than in the city center.

Getting There

Seville is home to a mid-sized airport, so flying directly here is a great option if you’re coming from elsewhere in Spain or Europe. However, the larger airport in nearby Málaga is better connected to overseas destinations like the US. You can also reach Seville by train with Spain’s excellent national rail network, and hundreds of buses from all across the country make their way into Plaza de Armas station every day. 

Culture and Customs

Seville is an overwhelmingly safe, friendly city. Locals are proud of their beautiful hometown and happy to help visitors explore and feel welcome. However, take the same precautions you would in any other city in Spain, such as keeping an eye on your valuables and not accepting gifts from strangers on the street. You may see women in the area around the cathedral offering passersby “free” sprigs of rosemary as a “gift.” Still, a polite yet forceful “no, gracias” is often enough to get them to leave you alone.

Money-Saving Tips

  • Travel between the airport and Seville proper on the EA bus. The local bus network, TUSSAM, operates this line, and a ticket costs just 4 euros instead of 22 euros and upwards for a taxi.
  • If you’re interested in visiting the Cathedral, head to the smaller but also impressive Iglesia de El Salvador first and buy a combined ticket. This will get you into both the Salvador church and the Cathedral and costs the same as a normal ticket to the Cathedral—giving you access to two amazing churches for the price of one. Plus, you’ll even get to skip the long line at the Cathedral.
  • Many of Seville’s monuments and museums have set times during the day, or even entire days of the week, where entry is completely free of charge. Be sure to check out the schedule on the website of whichever place you’re interested in visiting—you may be pleasantly surprised to find that one of the free times lines up with your schedule.
  • There are also plenty of ways to enjoy Seville completely for free. Stroll around Plaza de España and Maria Luisa Park, go for a walk or run along the Guadalquivir River, or simply get lost in the winding streets of Barrio Santa Cruz—the possibilities are endless.
  • Given that Seville is the birthplace of flamenco, seeing a show while here is all but essential. However, skip the flashy touristy experiences and head to a more low-key peña flamenca, or flamenco bar, to see authentic flamenco among the locals without paying an arm and a leg. Places like T de Triana and Casa Anselma have regular, free performances, though be sure to treat yourself to a drink or two to enjoy during the show. 
  • Skip the pricey hotel breakfast and enjoy your morning meal with the locals. Eating breakfast out is a cherished tradition in Seville, and every morning between 10 and 11 a.m., you’ll find local workers and families heading out to their neighborhood café for a quick bite, some coffee, and good conversation before getting on with their day. Many traditional spots will serve up the classic Sevillano breakfast of toast, coffee, and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for well under 5 euros.