Seville is the capital of Andalucia, the largest city in southern Spain and the fourth largest in the entire county, as well as its only river port. The city flourished into one of Spain’s treasures during the 17th century, the evidence of which remains in the astounding beauty of the architecture and gardens that still draw crowds to this day. It’s also the warmest major city in Europe, with average daily highs of 36°C; Seville is hot. It’s so hot in fact, that the city all but shuts down for six hours each afternoon, resulting in a thriving night-life culture that continues until the early hours the following day.
For us Seville was a bit of an afterthought; our stepping stone from Spain into Portugal. But it shines so brightly, literally, that we left captivated by an old city carrying its tradition into the 21st century. We spent two nights in the city and it was nowhere near long enough.
We arrived to Seville via rideshare from Málaga using Blablacar. The journey took just over two hours and cost us €14.25 each. I’ve talked at length about ridesharing before, but it really is a great way to get around Spain in particular. Pick-up locations are often central or flexible, drop-offs are either central or to your door, and there’s the all-important human interaction aspect, invaluable as a traveller. For us the most convenient part about ridesharing is the departure times. If a bus isn’t leaving (or doesn’t have a cheap ticket) when you want to leave, chances are someone else will. I thoroughly recommend trying it at least once.
Buses from Málaga to Seville operate up to eight times a day. The journey is around 2.5 hours long and you can get tickets with ALSA for as little as €5.25 if you book in advance.
Due to the Renfe website being down at the time of writing, I can’t give exact info for the Málaga to Seville trains. The journey takes approximately two hours via Cordoba, and tickets are roughly between €30 and €40. In times like these I use Trainline.eu and Rome2Rio for journey planning.
If you are coming to Seville from Granada expect to spend roughly three hours on a bus or a train, with the bus being about 30% cheaper on average. From Cordoba the journey takes only 45 minutes on the train but 1.5 hours on the bus, with a similar price difference. For the latter journey I would seek out a rideshare.
Seville airport serves more than 40 destinations throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Vueling and Ryan Air both operate out of Seville so there will always be cheap terrible flights available. The airport is only 10km outside of the city so buses take 30 minutes to reach the central train station and cost €2.40 per person.
Getting around Seville is mostly done on foot, but it can be tiresome in the heat. Harness the power of the buses and small Metro service if you are staying outside the city centre, single bus tickets are €1.40.
We chose a room in a local’s apartment using Airbnb. Our room served us well with an ensuite (and fan) and the apartment had an amazing roof-top terrace, although it was always too hot to spend more than two minutes up there! It cost €21 per night for both of us.
Hostels in Seville have dorm rooms from €18 to €28 per night. Many have roof-top terraces (it’s a theme in the city) and some offer free meals and walking tours for their guests. Two of the highest rated are La Banda Hostel (really cool boutique music & art hostel) and Hostel One hostels.
Using Airbnb you can find private rooms in Seville from around €20 per night, with an average €40 per night. A whole apartment will cost from €32 per night but the bulk are around €55 per night. There are some beautiful spaces in Seville and you would definitely be getting value for money by booking an apartment.
Seville hotels are elaborate affairs and are generally expensive. The cheaper places tend to be reviewed badly but you can still find a handful of double rooms under €50 per night if you are careful. If you’ve got the budget try to spend above €55 per night to ensure you’re staying somewhere nice. The upper price limit in Seville is only restricted by your budget.
We stayed on Av. de Menéndez Pelayo, right on the border of the central city. If you can stay within this road (it’s a kind of ring-road) then you will be able to walk most places. If you do chose to stay further out then make sure to stay within the A-4 and SE-30 roads so you can easily access public transport.
I think I’ve mentioned that Seville is a warm city. I don’t mean to harp on but the climate defines so much about Andalusian lifestyle. When it’s 39°c until 8pm in June (it gets hotter in July and August), and often still 35°c at midnight, there’s a specific set of rules you follow to be able to stomach the heat. Here’s a typical Andalusian day.
06:00 to 07:00 – Wake up early because it’s hot. Hate on the heat. Shower.
08:00 – Leave the house to get things done before it gets too hot. Find coffee, juice and tostada for breakfast (more on this later). Work, sight-see, tourist, whatever it is you need to do.
12:00 – Start to think about getting home, need to get indoors before the sun bonds your shoes to the pavement. Grab food, ice-cream, ice, water and beers on the way home.
13:30 – Definitely inside by now and most likely naked in front of a fan. Consume lunch and eat ice.
15:00 – Siesta time. You are tired because you were up so early and because of the heat. Getting to the hottest time of day so best to sleep.
19:00 – Awake by now, watching movies, reading or travel planning. Probably beer time.
20:00 – Time to shower again and think about leaving the house. Optimistically put on socks.
21:00 – Insta-sweat as soon as you step out of your building. The city has come alive again and it’s time to find some food and refreshing drinks. Wander the streets clinging to the spray-mists from restaurant awnings, eating tapas and drinking cañas. More work, sight-seeing or touristing.
24:00 – It’s finally cool enough to stand or sit in one place. Most likely a bar with music.
01:00 – Start thinking about either heading home or having a big night. Most of the kids have gone to bed now.
02:00 – Probably home and getting into bed to catch a few hours sleep.
Not a bad life really and if you are a local you can probably add lots of friends to the mix.
We were mainly interested in finding good tapas and beer, and checking out some great architecture. Both of which were easily accomplished in Seville.
Alameda de Hercules is a nightlife hotspot where you will find restaurants, bars, live music, flamenco, people, art and culture. It’s a great place to explore and there’s something for everyone. If you venture east a few streets you will come across Mercado de Feria – the oldest market in the city where it’s all about the seafood. We ate at La Cantina by recommendation from our Airbnb host and it was stunning. Order what you want and your name gets written on the wall, keep ordering and you get some marks next to your name. When you’re finished the marks get added up, you pay and your name is erased. It’s a bit chaotic and you might have to stand but the food is so fresh and there’s a great atmosphere. Our meal for two including drinks was €17.80.
Manzanilla is a local drink worth a try, if it’s not served with almonds you need to ask for them.
Confiteria La Campana is the place to hit up for breakfast, it’s legendary. At the back of the building is the standing area where you can get your fix of café, tostadas and juice with the locals at the breakfast bar. If you fancy something a bit more involved you can sit and order from the table. I dare you to not buy anything sweet from the display cabinets. We spent €7.70 on breakfast and coffee for two.
Mercado de Triana is another killer food market, this time on the opposite side of the river. The seafood here is immense, but this time we just stopped for beers and air conditioning. Make sure to save a little room because once you’ve done with the market you need to walk around the corner to Cerveceria La Grande San Jacinto; a brewery and seafood dreamland. We actually found it by chance and walked passed, craning our necks watching 40 to 50 people crammed into this tiny bar absolutely annihilating plates of every kind of seafood imaginable. We plunged into the salty melee to join the feast. Beers, olives and more king prawns than two of us could eat cost €4.80. They are heavy on the rock salt, heavy on the attitude, and the breadsticks are free. Dreams.
Two great places for tapas are Bodega Santa Cruz and Taberna Aguilas. Bodega Santa Cruz doesn’t look flash, but the food can be awesome. We spent €6.60 on Solomillo Al Whisky (pork medallions) tapas and cañas. Taberna Aguilas has a more rustic, intimate feel, but again the food is fantastic. We tried Queso de Cabra and Pringa tapas (must try in Seville) and cañas for €7.90. You can see the theme here; great food, little money.
Also on our list were Bicicleteria and Cerveceria Internacional but unfortunately both were closed when we visited. Take note here, websites will often have unintentionally misleading or outdated information especially in regards to opening hours. Disappointing when you’re on foot. Bicicleteria is a bit exclusive and apparently they might not let you in even when they are open. There’s no sign of life from the street so it’s hard to tell if they are being snobs or if they are actually closed.
The Plaza de España is an excellent example of the Renaissance and Moorish style of architecture that Seville is known for. It’s a surreal, uniquely Spanish experience; a huge complex built in a half-circle with bridges crossing an artificial canal. I recommend spending an hour or so there, walking the pavilion and checking out the tiled alcoves. The plaza is actually located on the edge of the beautiful Maria Luisa Park, so see both in the same visit. The park is stunning; like walking through a Spanish fairytale.
The Seville Cathedral (link caution – Spanish) is hard to miss and is worth a visit. It’s actually the largest cathedral in the world “as the two larger churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter’s Basilica, are not the seats of bishops” (wikipedia). It’s free to enter on a Sunday but only open for ‘cultural visits’ (that’s you) from 14:30. You can climb the bell tower ‘The Giralda’ for a fee. Once you are done at the cathedral head to Plaza del Cabildo on a Sunday for the ‘collectors’ (flea) market.
Las Setas De Sevilla – or the ‘Metropol Parasol’ – is the big wooden cloud thing that is apparently mushrooms. There’s the plaza, a market and a museum. We didn’t think it was that amazing but you will likely be in the area at some point so go see it and take a photo.
Is that enough? Good. Spend at least three full days in Seville, more if you can, it’s a great city.
Hint – Many small unlikely shops in Spain will offer sandwiches if you ask, great for when you get caught out when all the main food shops are closed. It will likely be bread, cheese and shaved ham but it is cheap, food, and it goes down well with a couple of beers from their fridge.
Seville for two nights;
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