31+ Things to Do in Seville
Seville is one of Spain’s most beautiful and popular cities, attracting tourists from around the world. This gem deserves a lot of time, and to fill it, Seville offers a great selection of activities for visitors.
Places to See
- Marvel at the Plaza de Espana. Alright, I have to admit that I didn’t think this place looked so great in photographs. But it’s a must-see in Seville, so I went. It is unbelievably beautiful in person. The size and grandeur of the plaza is absolutely incredible, but its real beauty is in the details. There is significant and stunning tile work all around the plaza. You can see all the little sections each depicting the cities of Spain. Absolutely gorgeous. & if you go to the east side of the plaza, the crowds there are significantly less.
- Visit the Real Alcazar (royal palace). This place is one of the many architectural splendors of Seville. What I really enjoyed about it was the integration of the gardens. It is so, so beautiful. This is a must-see for your visit.
Make sure to buy tickets online!! I did not and waited 2 hours in the hot sun for entry – during the off season. This is definitely a place at which you’d want to skip the line.
- Visit the Cathedral of Seville and la Giralda. These two go hand in hand since la Giralda is the tower of the Cathedral. The Cathedral is extremely beautiful on the outside. The inside is also very nice, but if you don’t like religious art (like me), it’s not worth the money to go inside. However if you do, you can see Christopher Columbus’s grave and get views of the city from the tower.
Be sure to buy tickets in advance for this too. The lines can also be very long.
- Visit the Casa de Pilatos. This house, called the “House of the Pilot,” is so so beautiful. Probably one of the most beautiful displays of tiles and architecture I saw in Seville – even though there’s so much beauty in that city. I didn’t think it was worth the time to take the tour upstairs as it’s very bland.
- Stroll through Maria Luisa park. This park is huge, and although quite popular, it actually feels like a relaxing escape from the city.
- See the Plaza of America. You might miss this smaller plaza next to Plaza de Espana, but it’s worth the short walk over. It’s a beautiful plaza with a small water feature and just as much beautiful ceramic tile work as is expected in Seville.
- Take a picture of the Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla. That’s a mouthful, right? This is Seville’s bullfighting ring. I say “take a picture” because, obviously, bullfighting is animal abuse and I don’t want to promote that on my website.
- Spot the Torre del Oro. Even though the Torre del Oro translates to “tower of gold,” it’s made of stone. However it’s still a landmark to see and you can go inside for a small fee.
- See the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla. This is like the Town Hall and it’s off of Plaza Nueva. If you’re in the Plaza, this building is kind of ugly. However, go to the back, and it’s the most beautiful work of art you’ve ever seen. You can’t go inside but I was so charmed by this building, I decided to put it on the list.
- Visit the Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. The Fine Arts Museum of Seville is a small but intimate museum. You get to see a lot of artwork from a variety of artists located in Seville, so it gives you a better sense of the city’s unique history – and artists you’ve probably never heard of before, even though the legend Velasquez was born in Seville himself.
- See the Archivo de Indias. Even though it’s named “Indias,” this archive has a tonne of information pertaining to the first Spanish interactions with the Americas – which were initially thought to be India.
- See the Museo del Baile Flamenco. This museum is dedicated to Seville’s art, the Flamenco. However I didn’t learn that much there, if anything, and was really disappointed. The museum takes up a lot of space with not that much information to tell. I’d say it’s not worth paying for to get in.
See the “activities” section for more on Flamenco in Seville.
- Visit the Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija. This “palace” is the former home of an art collector who lived in the 1800s, and it’s now a museum that displays the arefacts within. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous, and the tour upstairs showed even more beautiful rooms. It’s a must-see for an interior design lover.
- Also see Las Duenas. Another house turned museum, Las Duenas is another place to put on your list for Seville.
- Also see Casa de Salinas. Yet another beautiful house to add to your list is Casa de Salinas. I did not visit but this one looks the smallest of all the house museums.
- See the Hospital de los Venerables. The Hospital de los Venerables is actually a Baroque church with a collection of art, many of which is by Velasquez.
- Visit Casa de la Ciencia. Casa de la Ciencia is Seville’s science museum. You can easily see their exhibits on their homepage. It’s in a beautiful building but was unfortunately closed when I came by.
- Get more modern at the CAAC. The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo is Seville’s modern art museum, a contrast from the city’s many historical sights.
- See the Ceramics Museum. Located in Triana, the Centro Ceramica is a museum dedicated to one of Seville’s finest art types.
- Visit the Archaeological Museum of Seville. Off of the Plaza of America, the Archaeological Museum of Seville has artefacts pertaining to Seville’s lengthy history.
- Visit the Museo de Artes y Costumes Populares de Sevilla. Also off the Plaza of America, this small museum houses art and costume artefacts of Seville.
- Stop by the Military Historical Museum of Seville. This museum is located at the Plaza de Espana, so if you’re interested, you may as well pop in when checking out the Plaza.
- See a Flamenco show. Flamenco is the dance movement for which Seville is famous. It’s worth about an hour of your time, of not more, to see a Flamenco show – the art of which Seville is very proud. I went to Casa del Flamenco to see a show. It was an hour long, no food or drink, just watching the performers up close. I had a positive experience, but you can also see guides to other Flamenco venues here and here.
- Learn Flamenco yourself! If you are so inclined, you can also take a class on Flamenco. Unfortunately I had a difficult time finding one that allowed reservations for solo travellers but it’s a great idea for travelling in Seville with a friend.
- See the Metropol Parasol. The Metropol Parasol, also called Las Setas, is one of the most unique pieces of architecture in Seville. There’s a small archaeological museum below the Metropol (dating back to Roman times), but many people like to take the elevator up to the top. It’s cheap at 3 euros but I felt the walkways were too far from the buildings for decent views and photos.
- Relax at a Turkish bath. Turkish baths also have a history in Andalusia, so treat yourself and say it’s a “cultural experience.” Seville has Aire Ancient Baths, which is actually housed in a historical building. A blog post will be coming up on my experience there – but the short version is that I recommend it.
- Head out to Triana. Triana is across the river from the main section of the city, and it’s considered a more local area to explore in Seville.
- Have a drink in Seville’s oldest bar. Opened in 1670, El Rinconcillo is Spain’s oldest bar, and locals swear it looks exactly as it did the day it opened. It’s very charming, but note that you will not be the only one with the idea of drinking there – it’s quite crowded.
- Shop at a market. The Triana Market is one of Seville’s most popular.
- Take a trip out to Italica. Though not technically in Seville, Italica is too close to not include in a Seville post. You can easily take a bus from Plaza de Armas to Santiponce and end up at Italica, which was once a very important Roman city. Today it is an archaeological display.
Seville is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to and it has a tremendous amount to do surrounding its rich art and history. It’s an art, history, and architecture lover’s dream city, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit it.
What is your favourite thing to do in Seville?Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 in Destinations
Tags: andalusia, seville, spain
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Ronda is a small town in Andalusia and it’s a popular spot for tourists, especially because of its super tall bridge. I opted to go here as part of a day trip but I have to be honest; the blog posts I found made it sound like there wasn’t much to do in this small town. When I got there as part of an organised trip, we were given a good walking tour and a little over an hour to explore. That was not nearly enough time. The town actually has a large number of things to do, especially for people who love architecture.
With all my highlight blog posts, I aim to tell you what I did. However, I also hope to inform you about what I missed.
A little bit of history: Like many other Andalusian towns, Ronda has a lengthy history that dates back to prehistoric and Roman times. It fell into the hands of the visigoths, the Arabs, and the Christians. In 713, Ronda was even the capital of a province called Tacoronna – however it was never a super important centre. Bullfighting even originates as an organised sport in Ronda. Dating to the 18th century, Ronda holds Spain’s first bullfighting ring and they celebrate their heritage with a festival (more below). More recently, Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent a lot of time in Ronda. You can see their sculptures in the city today.
Unfortunately, the city suffered an earthquake within recent centuries – probably the one of 1884 – that destroyed much of the town. Though you’ll see Ronda is quite beautiful, the town did need to be rebuilt and most of it is not very ancient.
Of course the main attraction of Ronda is the bridge, which actually is very impressive in person. It’s called Puente Nuevo and it was completed in 1793 to connect the “old town” and the “new town” together. If you’re inclined to get a complete photo of the bridge, you can take a path down at the intersection of Calle Tenorio and Calle Sor Angela De La Cruz. The photo area takes about 20 minutes to get to from the bridge itself, but does of course involve a steep uphill climb back. You can also get good views at Casa don Bosco (more on that below).
The city is super pleasant to walk around. If you want a good view of the countryside, Mirador de Ronda has a beautiful garden with a cliff overhang. It’s right next to the bullfighting ring of Ronda, the oldest one in Spain. You can still visit the bullfighting ring but they actually don’t have bullfights here except for during their big festival, Feria de Pedro Romero. Here you can also see some statues of Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway. Our tour guide said that you can also take the elevator atop Hotel Catalonia Ronda to get a view inside the ring if you want that photo.
Some other popular places to stop by include Iglesia de la Merced and Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor. The latter is also located on a picturesque square. Some less popular spots to see include two older bridges, Puente Viejo and the Arab Bridge, which isn’t super attractive but is centuries old! Many people also don’t realise that Ronda still has its old walls. If you go towards the south of the town, you can see Puerta de Almocábar and some of the old city walls. They date back about 800 years!
In this area, you can also see the ruins of Castillo del Laurel and the Alcazaba.
There are also several buildings you can go into. I opted to visit Casa don Basco, which has great views of the Puente Nuevo without the walk. It’s a house museum which is very cute, but is not particularly special against some other places. However, the gardens are small but absolutely gorgeous. The tiles, the view, the flowers, the fountain, and the alcove – they’re all very delightful. Entry is only about 2 euros so I highly recommend stopping by. Other travellers on my tour opted to see the Casa del Rey Moro, which they enjoyed as well. What’s unique is that it’s a water mine, and you can go down and see the river from the house. It looks very beautiful in pictures.
Also beautiful in pictures, Mondragon Palace also looks amazing. I wish I’d had time to visit here as well. Also worth mentioning are the Arab Baths, which are well preserved and – as you can guess – date back centuries to the Arab rule of Ronda.
Ronda also has a few smaller museums and places to see, but it really is a charming place to walk around. I really enjoyed it and wish I could’ve stayed to see a few more sites. If you go to Ronda, which I do recommend, you should spend several hours or a day there. A lot of people stop by to see the bridge but there’s so much more to Ronda than that.
Have you ever been to Ronda? What did you think?Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Destinations
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Highlight: the Alhambra
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alhambra in Granada is often deemed one of the must-sees of southern Spain. It’s an architectural splendor with very well preserved palaces and gardens. It’s the most visited monument in Spain and is very well deserving of the title.
Please note that this sells out months in advance so you will need to book your ticket ahead of time.
Andalusia’s history revolves around its many kingdoms and the changes that occurred over time. The Nasrid Kingdom was an Islamic one and was the last Muslim state in western Europe. In 1238, the Sultan made Granada the seat of the court. He chose to build on top of a hill, which as you can see today is very grand and also quite beautiful. The Alhambra (meaning “the red” in Arabic) was intended to be a fortress and was built to be much like a palatine city. Of course the palaces were built to house royalty but also had amenities for the others who lived on the property. The Nasrid Empire fell in 1492 and the Catholic Monarchs made construction changes to the great structure already there to make it more Christian. However we can see today that its Muslim origins are much more prominent.
The Alhambra was neglected until the mid-1800s, when it became a popular tourist site as it still is today.
The Nasrid Palace is absolutely gorgeous, and I cannot stress that enough! Though it feels like one big palace, the Nasrid Palaces actually consist of the Mexuar, Comares and Palace of the Lions. You start your tour off in the Mexuar. This was built in the early 1300s for administrative use, but its beauty sets the tone for what you’ll see during the rest of your visit. Since it’s one of the shortest areas in the palaces, without such high ceilings, you can see much more detail along the ceiling and the top of the walls. Absolutely gorgeous.
The Comares Palace came a few decades later and was intended to separate the public and private spaces. The most recognisable space is the Court of the Myrtles, which wraps around a large pool of water. However, the most divine space in my opinion is the Throne Room. It’s large and though quite dark, there is an incredible amount of detail in this space. It’s exemplary of why the Alhambra is so well visited. It also has a unique roof/ceiling made of intricately carved wood (I think).
The Palace of the Lions is the most iconic interior (exterior?) of the Alhambra. The courtyard has porticos that are festooned with divine carving. The centre is the namesake, a fountain with lion statues. Each of the 12 lions is actually different in some way. Water flows in four directions from the centre, which is symbolic of the four rivers of Muslim paradise. Of course, getting water to the top of a hill/mountain was a great feat in history, so this space would’ve been even more impressive centuries ago. There are a few rooms off of the courtyard, all very well preserved and carved. My favourite feature is the muqarnas ceilings, which is also described as “honeycomb.”
One of my favourite spots in the palace was the Hall of the Kings, which is another highly festooned area that actually has a few Christian paintings in the alcoves. It’s one of the only times you remember that this place was once converted to a Christian space. I also really liked the Hall of the Two Sisters. It too is exquisitely decorated. This is where you’ll start your exit.
Towards the end of your tour, you can walk through the Christian rooms. Some were closed off when I was there. Though their history is still fascinating, these rooms aren’t much compared to the others. You can also see the baths before exiting to the beautiful gardens. I recommend spending some time here as well.
Without a ticket, you can explore the Charles V Palace. It’s a very grand square and circular palace that was erected in 1527, and it was actually intended to be a symbol of religious unity as King Charles V decided to not tear down the spectacular work the Muslims created. It’s a very Italian-style building, as it was built by an Italian. You can only go inside a small portion of the Palace to see some artefacts in a small museum.
Your ticket also includes entrance to the Alcazaba, which is the ruins of the fortress and palatine city. You can clearly see how the centre was laid out, but it is a ruin so it’s slightly less exciting than the palace. There’s also the Generalife, which you’ll actually have to access outside of the Alhambra grounds. Admission is included in your ticket.
You will need to buy tickets months in advance so please purchase them as soon as you can!
Also, let me warn you that this is a very very steep climb. I walk a lot and am pretty healthy but it was difficult for me. I’d recommend taking the shuttle or bus up. There are a few places around town where you can catch them.
The city of Granada is also beautiful and has a lot to do. It deserves more time than I gave it. If you’re a slow traveller or are looking to get to know the city, you’ll need a full day in Granada alone without the Alhambra.
Granada has been a fortified site since the 800s, only a few centuries before the Alhambra was built. Much of its history revolves around the Alhambra.
Granada has many gates, one of which being the Gate of Elvira. This is a large gate that today stands between the old parts of the city and the new parts. Another place to visit is the Cathedral of Granada. Though the area surrounding it is quite touristy, it’s also beautiful and gives off a medieval town feel since the streets are so narrow. The souvenirs here consist of pottery and nuts, so it’s also fun to window shop and see all the ceramics and housewares, and try a few snacks.
When you pass to the other side of Calle Gran Via de Colon, the feel becomes much more modern and this area is more prone to restaurants. This is where you can go up to Albaicin, the old part of town that you can see in many views from the palace. It is a residential area so much slower. However, if you go to the Mezquita Mayor de Granada or the Mirador San Nicolas, you can get fantastic hillside views of the Alhambra. It’s a quiet but nice walk up, and for a fit person may take about half an hour.
There’s also a handful of small house and art museums to visit around Granada. I wanted to visit Carmen de los Martires but it was closed when I went by. However, the Alhambra was so magnificent that it sucked up a lot of my energy for appreciating interiors that day. I needed some time to process the beauty I’d just beheld before moving onto another architectural highlight. I almost did a Hammam (Turkish bath), which would’ve been a great way to relax and rest my sore body. I did one in Seville (blog post coming soon) and recommend it.
I really enjoyed the Alhambra and haven’t geeked out over a place as hard in a long time. Architecture and history isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel like even the nonchalant would enjoy this splendor. If you couldn’t tell by now, yes, I do highly recommend visiting!
Have you ever been to the Alhambra? What did you think?Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in Destinations
Tags: andalusia, europe, granada, spain
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