If you are wondering what to see in Seville on holydays, we will show you the best places to visit.
Seville casts a spell on visitors from the moment they set foot in the picturesque cobblestone alleys and stroll along the palm-lined promenades. Elegant buildings, antique lampposts and horse-drawn carriages create a magical ambience, and the sights are as impressive as the atmosphere.
Seville’s cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Christendom with a majestic tower that was once the minaret of a great mosque. Another relic of the Moorish past, the Alcazar dazzles with its lavish Mudejar decoration and lush gardens.
Discover the charm of this quintessential Andalusian city in the quiet courtyards and narrow streets of the medieval Barrio de Santa Cruz.
Stroll through the beautiful Maria Luisa Park and soak up the sun in the Plaza de España, Seville’s most elegant square.
Fun-loving tourists will want to see the flamenco shows and participate in the city’s famously extravagant festivals. Plan your trip to this charming city with this list of things to do in Seville, Spain.
1. Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in Christendom, unmatched for its impressive scale and abundance of artistic treasures. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this incomparable monument was built between 1402 and 1506 on the site of the city’s main mosque.
The Giralda Tower was originally the minaret of the mosque built in the 12th century by the Moorish Almohad rulers. This 93-meter high cathedral tower remains the emblem of Seville.
Upon entering the cathedral, visitors are struck by the immense proportions of the nave. The five-aisle interior stretches 117 meters long and 76 meters wide and rises 40 meters high. This overwhelming space is the grandest Gothic interior in Spain.
The main chapel has a resplendent altarpiece, considered a masterpiece of Gothic wood carving. In the center is a silver image of the Virgin of the See surrounded by 45 scenes from the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin.
In the south transept is an impressive monument to Christopher Columbus, commensurate with his historical stature.
Behind the Main Chapel is the Royal Chapel. Built between 1551 and 1575, this domed Renaissance chapel contains the royal tombs.
The Main Sacristy is a magnificent 16th century chamber, containing a large chandelier and a crucifix by Pieter de Kempeneer. Inside the Main Sacristy, the Treasury displays the precious gem-adorned crown of the Virgin of the Kings.
Another notable feature is the Patio de los Naranjos, which was the courtyard of the mosque. The octagonal fountain in the center is a remnant of the fountain used by worshippers for religious ablutions in Moorish times.
On the east side of the Patio de los Naranjos is the Biblioteca Colombina. Christopher Columbus’ son, Hernando Columbus, assembled the collection of this library between 1496 and 1539, and it is one of the most important collections of Renaissance-era volumes in Spain, with a special focus on the humanist writings of the Golden Age.
One of the highlights of the collection is the Libro de las Profecías, a biography of Christopher Columbus.
The best way to appreciate this magnificent cathedral is on the Cathedral and Alcazar tour. Not only will you save time waiting in line on this two-hour, small-group tour, but you’ll also learn about the fascinating history of Seville and these two UNESCO World Heritage Sites from an expert guide.
For a break from visiting the cathedral, head to Calle de las Sierpes, north of Plaza Nueva. This narrow pedestrian street is Seville’s main shopping street, lined with stores, cafes and restaurants.
For a special treat, stop at Confitería la Campana to sample tempting Andalusian confections such as candied figs, oranges and pears.
2. El Alcázar Real
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alcázar Real was originally the medieval fortress of the Moorish rulers and later of the Christian kings. The palace was built in the 10th century for the Moorish rulers. In the 11th century, it was ruled by the legendary Moorish ruler and poet al-Mutamid.
After the Christian reconquest in the 1360s, Moorish architects created the Mudejar-style buildings for King Peter the Cruel.
Visitors enter the palace through the Main Gate, which leads to the Courtyard of the Maidens. This elegant courtyard was built between 1369 and 1379 and is an example of Islamic architecture, with magnificent arches featuring open arabesque work on 52 marble columns.
The oldest of the rooms, the Ambassadors’ Hall, has a splendid stalactite dome with decorative friezes and inscriptions in Arabic script. Opposite the Lion Courtyard is the Audience Hall, one of the most ornate rooms in the palace, with a lavish coffered ceiling.
Be sure to save plenty of time to explore the gardens. These beautiful gardens are filled with lush palms, sweet orange trees and colourful roses. In traditional Andalusian style, courtyards, decorative pools and refreshing fountains are the centrepieces of the landscape.
Opposite the Alcazar is the Casa Lonja, which houses the UNESCO Archive of the Indies, an archive of documents from Spain’s colonial years in the New World.
3. Parque de María Luisa
Within the Maria Luisa Park, the Plaza de España is one of Seville’s most impressive landmarks for its scale and grandeur. The enormous 50,000 square meter plaza is surrounded by the balustraded balconies of a neo-moresque Renaissance building.
This semicircular building curves around it, following the shape of the canal that runs through the square.
A monumental fountain is the elegant centerpiece of the square, while the peaceful canal is spanned by four pedestrian bridges.
Tourists can rent a rowboat in the afternoon to experience the “Venice of Seville” or opt for an equally romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through the park.
Maria Luisa Park, with the Plaza de España at its center, was the site of the Universal Expositions in 1929.
The park is close to the river, and the main entrance is on Avenida de Isabel la Católica. This large and beautiful green space was created by Infanta María Luisa Fernanda de Borbón. The grounds are filled with exotic palm trees, orange trees, elms and Mediterranean pines.
Beautiful historic buildings and colorful tiled benches add to the dreamy ambiance of the park, and the landscape features decorative flower beds, shady avenues, Moorish fountains and ornamental pools.
4. Barrio Santa Cruz
Full of old-fashioned charm, the Barrio de Santa Cruz is one of the most charming places to explore in Seville.
It was the Jewish quarter during medieval times under Moorish rule, when many of the churches in the neighborhood were originally synagogues. The Barrio de Santa Cruz is located between the cathedral and the Alcázar of Seville.
This medieval quarter is characterized by its maze of cobblestone pedestrian streets (too narrow for cars), whitewashed houses with attractive courtyards and picturesque plazas with outdoor cafes. Many of the quiet courtyards, such as Plaza Doña Elvira, are planted with fragrant orange trees. Plaza Santa Cruz has rose bushes and a 17th-century wrought-iron cross in the center. In Plaza Refinadores, visitors will find a statue of Don Juan Tenorio, a famous local literary character.
Barrio Santa Cruz has two museums worth mentioning: the Centro de Interpretación Judería de Sevilla (Calle Ximenez Encisco 22A), which illustrates the history of the city’s Sephardim, and the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, a 17th-century hospital for retired priests, which now houses the Focus Abengoa Foundation’s collection of Spanish painting and sculpture.
One of the special things to do in Seville is to stroll through the Jardines de Murillo, beautiful gardens filled with palm trees, fountains and colorful tiled benches. For an excellent view of the cathedral, head to the Plaza del Patio de Banderas.
5. Seville Museum of Fine Arts
Seville has an exceptional fine arts museum, housed in the evocative 17th century Convento de la Merced. This museum is considered the best collection of paintings in Spain after the Prado in Madrid. The collection covers works of art from the Gothic period to the 20th century.
The representation of works by 17th century Spanish painters is especially notable.
Visitors will see some of the best paintings by famous Spanish artists such as El Greco, Pacheco, Velázquez and Alonso Cano. The museum focuses especially on the masterpieces of Murillo, as well as works from the Sevillian school of the 17th century. Zurbarán’s religious paintings are also excellent.
6. Salvador Collegiate Church
A five-minute walk from the cathedral and normally included in the cathedral entrance fee, the Iglesia Colegial del Salvador is a stunningly beautiful baroque church.
Construction began in the late 17th century on the site of Ibn Adabbas, Seville’s main mosque, and many additions have taken place since then.
Bright pink in the afternoon light, its ornate facade is influenced by the Mannerist style, and the richly carved and gilded interior is a treasure trove of Sevillian Baroque detail and a stunning work of art.
Among its most spectacular altarpieces are the Sacred Christ of Love by Juan de Mesa and the Jesus of the Passion by Juan Martínez Montañez.
Also noteworthy are the soaring dome, the 18th century organ and the sacramental chapel. Like the cathedral, this beautiful church also includes a courtyard with orange trees.
A practical tip is that you can buy a combined ticket for the Iglesia Colegial del Salvador and the Cathedral of Seville here, which allows you to skip the typically long lines at the cathedral.
7. The Holy Week of Seville
The celebration of Holy Week in Seville is one of the most exciting festivals in Spain.
Following centuries-old traditions, Catholic brotherhoods and sisterhoods from different neighborhoods of the city participate in elaborate processions.
Dressed as penitents, they carry impressive floats displaying decorated figures of saints. The main procession is on Good Friday eve and Good Friday morning, and the ceremonies held in the cathedral during Holy Week are particularly splendid.
During the rest of the year, visitors can still see the famous icon of the Holy Week procession in the Basilica de la Macarena.
This church holds the figure of the Virgin of the Macarena, which is displayed on a lavish float during Holy Week. With a tender expression and tears running down her cheeks, this figure of the Virgin evokes an emotional response.
8. Flamenco Dance Museum of Seville
Seville is famous for its flamenco, a flamboyant art form with roots in gypsy culture. Flamenco includes both dancing and singing, but most importantly, it is an expression of the soul.
The best flamenco dancers have technical prowess as well as a special gift for channeling emotions.
The Museo del Baile Flamenco celebrates the beauty of flamenco with exhibits of all aspects of the art: dancing, singing and guitar playing.
This innovative museum features flamenco costumes, creative video displays and other educational exhibits. The museum also has a Flamenco School and hosts professional flamenco shows every day.
Attending a flamenco performance is one of the most popular activities to do in Seville at night.
Another place to see authentic flamenco dancing is the Palacio Andaluz, a traditional tablao (small venue) style theater, which offers intimate performances.
This 19th century theater is near the Basilica de la Macarena. For free flamenco shows, La Carbonería is a popular venue, but you have to get there early to get a seat.
9. Barrio de Triana
This historic neighborhood of Seville has its own character and identity. Across the river from Seville’s main tourist attractions, the neighborhood has the ambiance of being a world apart.
Similar to the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the Barrio de Triana is a labyrinth of narrow streets and cobblestone alleys leading to atmospheric plazas. What distinguishes the Barrio de Triana is its heritage as a traditional potters’ quarter, as well as its gypsy community.
For centuries, the inhabitants of this neighborhood have used clay from the banks of the Guadalquivir River to create authentic Andalusian pottery.
The ceramic workshops of the Barrio de Triana, located mostly on Calle Callao, Calle Antillano Campos and Calle Alfarería, are especially known for their fine azulejos, glazed ceramic tiles adorned with colorful geometric patterns, a legacy of Andalusia’s Moorish aesthetic.
The boutiques in this neighborhood also sell beautiful decorative ceramic plates, cups, jugs, serving pieces and other objects for the home.
After browsing in the small stores, tourists will be ready for a meal at one of the neighborhood’s riverfront restaurants; many have outdoor terraces overlooking Seville’s monuments.
An interesting fact about the Triana neighborhood: From this neighborhood, near the San Telmo bridge, Magellan set out on his voyage around the world.