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Things to do in Seville (Sevilla) – Understand
Sevilla is the financial and cultural capital of Southern Spain. The city impresses with wide alleys and a pretty historic downtown. It’s a great mix of big city atmosphere and cultural delights.
Seville (pronounced Seviha in Spanish) has gone through a wave of modernization work and the city appears clean and well managed.
Sevilla gets very hot (think 120 degrees) in summer and the nearest beach is one hour away. July and August tend to be the hottest months (though that wasn’t true in 2015) and many locals leave town instead of investing in an AC. Don’t be surprised to see completely empty streets at Siesta time at 5 PM on a random Wednesday afternoon. No it’s not a major holiday it’s a city that has been largely left behind because of the heat. During my visit temperatures were not bad in the upper 80s and rather low humidity.
I found this very pleasant – I had the city to myself, the AC Seville hotel was super cheap and great – just a few shops were closed.
Things to do in Seville (Sevilla) – Sights
The Sights are located mostly in the Centro Historico area of Seville. While narrow Seville’s version of the narrow streets aren’t as bad other places (Grenada, Malaga).
This is a must see even for the experienced traveler. The Moorish castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and once you step inside you will know why. Spain is one of the few places were Islamic rulers in the 7th century started building castles and those same castles eventually became home to Christian rulers. The Islamic architecture was enhanced and not destroyed with Gothic and Baroque elements.
The best places to see this are the Alcazar de Seville and the Alhambra in Grenada.
The entrance fee will set you back EUR 9.50 per person.
If you have been to Marrakesh and visited the Bahia Palace (look it up) you will find a lot of similarities here. What’s even more lovely though are the huge gardens that are mostly in a immaculate condition. Symmetry is name of the game in these gardens. It’s easy to loose yourself in the garden and just stare at the different views. There is also a maze in the gardens to confuse you further.
Plan at least two hours to be able to fully appreciate the Alcázar de Sevilla.
Directly opposite to the Alcázar de Sevilla is the Seville Cathedral which also has the status as a World Heritage Site. At some points this was the 3rd biggest church in the world. Sadly I did not have enough time to visit it. There entrance fee is another EUR 9.
The Seville Parasol is the world largets wooden structure. If you have an interest in architecture you must have heard about it before. It was designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann and resembles a big mushrooming umbrella. It’s built on top of an old market hall which still happens in the ground floor. The visitor platform is open for a mere 3 EUR and allows for stunning views across the city. If you can go – go 30 minutes before sunset (double check the hours before).
The Parasol is a like an UFO of modernity that has landed in the old city of Seville – it’s a great sight to admire from many angles.
Just about 20 minutes walk outside the Centro Historico is the Parque de María Luisa. The grounds of the Parque de María Luisa are stunningly beautiful and impress with manicured lawns, fountains and lots of unique perspectives.
It also house a number of pretty (but not so interesting) museums.
Plaza de España was purpose built for the 1928 Ibero-American exhibition as an over-sized exhibition hall that is not the seat of several government bodies. The building is a one huge (half) rotunda and looks a bit like the Venetian – there are so many architectural styles combined in one building it keeps surprising you. It takes a while to appreciate this impressive piece of architecture.
Things to do in Seville (Sevilla) – Eating and Drinking
People describe this Mercado as the ‘SF Ferry Building’ of Seville. It’s very clean and bit upscale but not touristy. The tapas and food options look delicious. It’s not cheap though but I felt its worth the higher price.
Visiting Seville in August has its drawbacks – the biggest – many places are closed the whole month or open at odd hours only. These two coffee shops promised great espresso drinks from their Foursquare listing but both were closed while I visited.
La Pepona serves the best tapas in Spain – period.
At least as far as I could find out. The small eatery serves traditional Tapas that have been refined and modernized. Almost every dish was worth a Michelin star – awesome creations of taste on a small plate. I enjoyed it so much that I went there twice (within just two nights in Seville!). The prices are very moderate and given the quality of the food it’s dirt cheap. Don’t miss this treat!
Next to La Pepona this small bar serves lots of craft beers – still a bit of a rarity in Spain where drinking beers usually means one brand. Expect to sample lots of local IPAs (but usually from well cooled bottle – not on tap).
Things to do in Seville – Daytrips
Cadiz has a rich history – it’s were many Spanish ships set sail to the new world and came back laden with that golden stuff. The city profited handsomely and the picturesque ‘centro historico’ shows it. The location on a peninsula – connected only by a small causeway to the mainland – helps as well. The city also received a cool breeze from the Atlantic making the hot days in Southern Spain more bearable.
Cadiz is a major summer tourist destination for Spaniards which come to lounge at the sandy beaches and drink and eat in the pretty downtown.
‘Del la Frontera’ means literately – at the border and Jerez certainly feels more like a frontier town. It does not have the major sights of other towns (though it has a historic center).
As with many Spanish cities in summer it comes to live only after 10 PM every day – that when the kids go on the playground and the adults go drink wine (its just EUR 2 per glass in most restaurants) and eat Tapas sitting outside chatting the world away.
Jerez gets the job done and has it’s own Moorish castle the Alcazar and a pretty cathedral. It’s a good idea to visit Cadiz for the day and return for dinner to Jerez before heading back to Seville on a day trip.
I drove all around southern Spain and while drivers can be aggressive I found it a good experience. I used Avis which provided a quality car with an incredible 40 MPG and a very effective air conditioning.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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