One Day in Seville
Seville is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. It is lively, colourful, and steeped in history, and it is a must-visit for anyone exploring the region of Andalucía. There is a mountain of choice when it comes to tourist attractions from the modern to the historical, from food to music, from the relaxing to the adventurous, but what do you do if you’re only able to spend one day there? Well, having had that experience myself, I know that there are some tough decisions to make when it comes to figuring out an itinerary, so here’s what we did with our one day in Seville:
Morning: The Real Alcázar
Andalucía was the last area of Spain to be re-taken from the Muslim Caliphate by the Catholic Monarchs (Fernando II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castilla) in the 15th century, meaning that it is home to some of the most fantastic Islamic architecture in all of Spain. Though it also includes a range of architectural styles from through the ages, the Real Alcázar is a prime example of this – intricate patterns in the décor, extensive gardens with some impressive water features, and beautiful multifoil arches. It is also the oldest royal residence in Europe that is still in use today.
The building itself is beautiful, open, and colourful. It feels very airy – the design of it includes multiple enclosed courtyards and water features. There are audio guides and guided tours available for a small extra fee, but we decided to do it without. I don’t think our experience was at all negatively affected by that at all, though given how big the site is, it’s probably a good idea to get a map if you don’t have a guide. Entrance tickets include access to all of the open areas of the building and all of the gardens, which are practically endless and make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise. Also, keep a look out for the famous peacocks!
Lunch: Paella and Sangría
Spain has plenty to offer in terms of gastronomy outside of paella and sangría but let’s face it, you have to have them at least once during a trip there! There are several varieties of paella that are on offer (including a black one made with squid ink which sounds interesting…), but the most popular is probably paella mixta, made with chicken, chorizo, and assorted seafood. There will be a lot of great places that offer paella and sangría, but I can specifically recommend the Pickea Cervecería not far from the Casa de la Moneda.
Afternoon: Plaza de España
Seville’s Plaza de España is an absolutely stunning sight to behold. Constructed in the early 20th century, it was originally built to showcase a group of industry and technology exhibitions as part of the 1929 World’s Fair. The architecture is heavily inspired by Spanish history – the bridges represent the historic kingdoms of Spain, and each mosaic-tiled alcove represents one of the country’s provinces. Most of the buildings are now reserved for government use, but in the surrounding area there are also museums that contains multiple artefacts from the city’s archaeological collection, including mosaics from the Roman period.
In the sunlight, it practically glitters. It’s a beautifully colourful structure and walking around it, you constantly notice more and more of the details. If you want to see it all from a slightly different angle, you can also take a boat out around the moat that runs around the inner semi-circle or take a horse-drawn carriage past it and around the next-door Parque de Maria Luisa. If you’re lucky, you may even catch flamenco musicians and dancers performing! For the film fans among you, you may also be excited to hear that it has featured as a location for several films, including Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
We actually did this in Huelva, not Seville, (we were still way too full after lunch to eat), but if you’re in search of dinner, then getting a tapas selection will always be one of your best dinner options when in Spain. Again there’ll be a lot of places that offer it, so it won’t be too hard to find.
Evening: Flamenco Show
There are, of course, multiple places in Seville where you can watch a flamenco show, but I cannot recommend El Museo del Baile Flamenco highly enough. The show was utterly spectacular, and especially if you’re a culture nerd like me, you’ll be enthralled the whole way through. Flamenco is an important part of Spanish cultural history – it grew out of the arrival of Roma gypsies in the early Middle Ages and although not always popular with the aristocracy, it has become an internationally-recognised symbol of Spanish culture. The dancers and musicians are immensely talented, and it’s pretty much impossible not to be impressed.
My one recommendation would be to get there in plenty of time to get good seats as it can be somewhat crowded (shows often sell out). If you do go to the Museo del Baile Flamenco, you could also book a museum tour, check out their bar before or after the show, or even take a flamenco dance class!
Tips for visiting Seville
Go outside of the summer months. Aside from the fact that summer in Andalucía can reach some crazily high temperatures, it’s actually just as beautiful at other times of year. We were there in early November, and it was still 25°C and glorious sunshine! This also helps to combat over tourism which is a real issue in many Spanish cities, especially during the summer.
Take time to wander around and admire everything. Walk between your activities instead of taking public transport or a taxi if you can – especially if you only have a day it will help you get to know the city much better, and you may even stumble across something you didn’t expect to! We walked everywhere quite easily (including from and to the bus station at the beginning and end of the day), as most touristy things are pretty close together.
Take a reusable water bottle with you as it can get pretty hot, even in the winter months.
Seville is a beautiful city, and I hope that however much time you have there that you really enjoy it – I’ll definitely be going back at the first chance I get!