Seville might possibly be one of my favorite towns in Western Europe, and I have been to a handful. Laid back, sophisticated, sunny and romantic, it’s pretty much everything you might possibly be looking for on vacation.
In 2015, we ended up traveling to 5 different continents– and after all that travel, I realized that my favorite activity is wandering. Aaron puts little landmarks on a map, noting all the cafes, museums, churches and shops we might want to check out in the neighborhood. Then we just meander, taking our time, laughing, investigating, photographing.
If you love our very joie-de-vivre approach to travel, then put Seville on your travel bucket list. Give it 48 hours (or more if you can!), and Seville will satisfy every craving!
When to visit
Seville is beautiful in the winter. The trees are filled with oranges, the weather is mild. The locals still sleep through the late afternoon at times, but it’s the perfect time to wander if you just can’t put yourself to bed in broad daylight.
Summers are exceedingly hot. Aaron went on a family vacation to Andalusia years ago, and he remembers very little other than sweating at every single landmark. Avoid Southern Spain in the summer if you can.
Where to stay
There are tons of AirBnB apartments in Seville. We stayed here and loved it (Juan is fantastic!), close to the Seville Cathedral and the downtown area (el centro). Everything worth seeing in Seville is walking distance, though, so don’t worry too much about location as long as you’re willing to walk a few miles a day.
If you’re up for a splurge, go ahead and book Hotel Alfonso XIII. This stunning 5-star retreat has impeccable service and a beautiful interior. Or, if you’re like us, enjoy a meal on their patio instead.
Our 48-Hour Itinerary
Day 1: Reales Alcazares, Seville Cathedral, Night Life
Arrive in Seville mid-morning if you can, and check in to your accommodations. Look around– you’re in one of the most beautiful and hospitable European towns.
Grab lunch if you need to: paella (rice cooked with seafood and saffron) is a local specialty, and many restaurants take pride in their own recipe. Hungry for a snack? Try a local churro– it’s nothing like the sugar-crusted stuff at Disneyland. It’s light, fluffy and totally addicting.
Now that you’ve eaten, start exploring! Head to the Royal Alcazar (Reales Alcazares). This is a magical palace dripping with Moorish detail and luxury. Give yourself at least an hour or two to truly marvel at ever detail. Don’t worry– there are lots benches and nooks (especially in the gardens) to rest your feet. Read more about the Alcazar here.
Next, head to the Seville Cathedral that towers over the entire city. Marvel at its size and its gorgeous exterior. Then climb the tower to the very top for panoramic views of Seville. Be sure to wander around the neighborhood of the Cathedral as well; admire its quaint architecture and adorable residents.
If you’ve been traveling all day, head back to your hotel and put up your feet. Relax– dinner doesn’t start till 10PM, 9PM at the earliest. You’ve got nothing but time.
If you’re restless, check out the Plaza Nueva outside City Hall (Ayuntamiento), and people-watch to your heart’s content. If you’re hungry for more, go to the Museo de Bellas Artes— it’s beautiful and as far as Spain goes, only second to El Prado in Madrid.
After sunset, the city really comes to life. Everyone is on the town– grandparents, children, and people in between. Head out and enjoy the scene before dinner. Take a ride on the carousel, or grab a bite of jamón ibérico or olives at a little shop. Munching and strolling is the way of life here– embrace it. If you’re lucky, there might just be a free show at the Metropol Parasol. Either way, it looks beautiful lit up at night.
If you’re in the mood to shop, continue to stroll in the downtown area. At Christmas there’s an artisanal market that remains open till 10PM in the Plaza Nueva. It’s the perfect place to find a special souvenir from Spain.
Enjoy tapas and local wine at a bar of your choice. If you’re a foodie and want to taste Spanish food at its best, don’t pass up on the Taberna del Alabardero. This amazing establishment has a gorgeous dining room and boasts a Michelin star. For its rating, the prices are beyond fair, and the food is fantastic.
Don’t worry if your evening doesn’t end till midnight or later. Spaniards are not early risers, an neither is the sun in winter, apparently. When we were there in late December, sunrise was at 8:30. Sleep in!
Day 2: Plaza de España, Casa de Pilatos, Barrio Santa Cruz
As I said, sleep in. There’s no point in getting up at 8AM unless you like wandering around in the dark. Once the sun has risen, grab a bite to eat at a local cafe. We fell in love with the pastries at Pan y Più, and you can get a slice of quiche and coffee for just a few dollars. Want a Spanish breakfast? It’s all about the baguette and cured ham. Wash it down with some zumo de naranja— fresh squeezed orange juice, a local favorite.
Head south towards the Plaza de España. On your walk, you will see beautiful streets, horse-drawn carriages and unassuming parks. Spanish mornings are calm, so take your time. Try to resist the Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts on the way there– you’re in Europe, after all.
If you enjoy tranquility, bring a book with you to the Plaza. There are plenty of beautifully tiled benches, and a small canal that runs through the place. Take those touristy bridge pictures and then read for a while.
Slowly wander back, and enjoy a leisurely lunch where you please. Regain your strength for an afternoon of exploring.
Visit the Casa de Pilatos, a privately-owned mansion that features Roman, Moorish and Renaissance influences. The courtyard is truly a sight to behold. Grab one of their free audio guides and listen to the history of every room. Then, wait for the upstairs tour in English. A guide will take you through the rooms filled with the family’s oldest collections. Give yourself 2 hours to fully take it all in.
Once you’ve had your fill of history and art, make your way towards the Barrio Santa Cruz. This adorable neighborhood has the prettiest balconies and alleys, and used to be the Jewish quarter. Relax on a bench beneath orange trees, or grab an afternoon coffee before the town takes its nap.
Have dinner at another tapas restaurant, or make your way to the stunning patio of the Hotel Alfonso XII. Eat at Ena By Charles Abellan, the casual option at the hotel. Enjoy scrumptious ceviche, salads and their variation on paella. After dinner, stroll around like everyone else, or get dessert at a tapas bar near your accommodation. We never made it to Las Ovejas Negras, but heard good things from multiple sources.
Day 3: Torch Coffee Roasters, Say Goodbye
Before you leave Seville, give yourself a treat and take a walk to Torch Coffee for a cappuccino and some house-made breakfast. If you’re a coffee fan (ahem, snob), you’re going to want to try this. As you probably know, Europe is not quite as advanced in Third Wave coffee as hipster towns in the U.S., but it’s getting there– or so we hear.
Pack your bags and get ready for your next destination. Bid farewell to Seville and shed a tear that you didn’t have more time to spare.
Our Favorite Seville Resources
- Top 10 Andalucia (pocket-size with map: get the print book, NOT the Kindle version!)
- Seville & Andalusia (more details, beautiful book)