In search of a last-minute winter getaway, we ended up in the beautiful city of Seville in southern Spain for a short city break. Once the capital of Andalusia Spain, Seville has a very rich history like no other European region. Whilst it may not have the bustling city life of Barcelona, Seville certainly wins in history and culture. We were absolutely swept off our feet by the beauty and loved every moment of learning about the multicultural history of the city. From Moorish Mudéjar palaces to Rennaisance baroque churches, Spanish bullfighting to Flamenco art, Seville has so much to offer. In our opinion, 3 to 4 days there was just the right amount for a Seville city break. It was enough time to leisurely see all the sights, admire its architectural beauty, learn its history and fully soak up its vibrant atmosphere. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Seville and information about our trip!
What’s the weather like in Seville in December?
Since we’re from the UK, it is not surprising that we find winter in Seville relatively mild. You’ll still need a big jacket, and perhaps a scarf at hand, as it gets cold in the mornings and at night (e.g. around 6-8 degrees). But during the day, you get some nice sunshine that brings the temperature up to around 17-20 degrees, which is really pleasant. December is also the start of the rainy season in southern Spain so it’s best to pack an umbrella with you. We’re lucky that we got some glorious sunshine for 3 out of the 4 days during our Seville city break. On our final day, it rained the whole day and, without the sunny warmth, it certainly got rather chilly.
Where to Stay in Seville
In the city centre! Seville is quite a compact city so staying in the city centre would put you within walking distance to everything you need to see & do there. We stayed at Room 007 Select Hotels Tetuan, which is located right at the heart of Seville Old Town and within a 10-minute walk to every sight of the city. Room 007 Select Hotels Tetuan is a “lean luxury” hotel, meaning a minimal affordable luxury for short stays without all the extra facilities/amenities. It makes a decent option if you’re looking for somewhere modern & comfortable for a short city break right at the heart of the city.
Wear a pair of comfy shoes and you’re good to go around Seville! As long as you’re staying in the city centre, everything is within walking distance. The roads are very easy to walk in as well (no hilly roads like Lisbon!) so it’ll make a lovely stroll around the city. There are also great metro & bus links around the city if you need to explore a little further out from the city centre.
If you need to get a taxi, we recommend using the Free Now app. Taxis are generally easy to hail down in Seville but most wouldn’t have a card machine. Using the Free Now app to order a taxi can sort out this problem for you. Uber is also available in Seville but is not as popular. We would recommend using Free Now for the best convenience. Our Free Now taxi ride from the city centre to Seville airport, a 25-minute ride, costs €28.
For the cheapest option from the airport, you can take the Seville Airport Bus for €4 one-way that takes you to Plaza de Armas bus station with a few stops in between.
Other Useful Tips for Visiting Seville
Cards are widely accepted in Seville except for a few small independent shops. Taxis and some tourist activities (e.g. boat rides & carriage rides at Plaza de Espana) are cash-only.
Yes, but the main language is Spanish and you may encounter a lot of people who can’t speak English too well. Don’t worry though, most places will have at least one person who can speak English to assist you.
We find that the prices are generally on the cheaper end by European standards. For instance, a cup of coffee costs around €2.
A lot of restaurants will open at either 8.30pm or 9pm for dinner service.
Churros Breakfast at Bar El Comercio
They say the best churros can be found at Bar El Comercio in Seville, so that’s my first stop for the trip! Bar El Comercio is a standing tapas bar/cafe that has been around since 1909. It was absolutely buzzing in the morning, packed with locals grabbing a quick breakfast & coffee there.
The biggest surprise is that these aren’t the sugary churros we’re used to seeing in London Winter Wonderland and dessert places. These churros strongly reminded me of Chinese dough sticks and are what churros in Seville are like. I had the Churros con Chocolat, which comes with quite a big rich cup of hot chocolate. It was a little bit more watery than I expected but still nice nonetheless.
You may have noticed the similarity between La Giralda of Seville and Marrakech’s Koutoubia. This is because they are indeed twin sister towers! La Giralda was originally built as the minaret of the Great Mosque of Seville (which is now the Seville Cathedral). It was converted into a bell tower when the mosque was converted into a cathedral after the Reconquista. The structure of La Giralda remained mostly unchanged except for the addition of bells, crosses, and the Giraldillo (the rotating weather vane at the very top for indicating wind direction).
Here is a fun fact about La Giralda. Given that there are no lifts or escalators, it only takes 17 steps to reach the top of the tower! How is that possible? This is because, after the 17 steps, the remaining pathway to the top is a ramp instead of stairs. Ramps were built at the time for the muezzin to arrive at the minaret by horse for the adhan (call for prayer)!
As mentioned above, the Seville Cathedral used to be a mosque before being converted into a church. That is why it’s intriguing to see some hints of Moorish architecture still remaining all across the complex. Seville Cathedral is the fourth-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church. It is the resting place for a few important historical figures such as Christopher Columbus, Fernando III of Castile, etc. The cathedral has 15 doors across its four facades and our personal favourite was the Door of Forgiveness.
Lunch at Al Wadi
Just next to the Cathedral, Al Wadi is a popular halal Middle Eastern restaurant in central Seville. We had the Kabseh – one lamb, one chicken – which came in a huge portion. However, it was rather unfortunate that the seasoning on the meats was lacking. We did have a very nice Moroccan tea that we both enjoyed a lot. We actually returned to the restaurant on another day just for the tea but, unfortunately, it was unavailable. The staff offered us Mint Tea on that occasion and, sadly, it wasn’t great. Overall, it was certainly a hit & miss.
Plaza de Espana
The beauty of Plaza de Espana is second to none. It was like something straight out of a fairytale, featuring stupendously gorgeous architecture and an immaculate atmosphere. Initially, I expected it just to be a photo spot but we ended up spending hours just soaking up the vibes and views. The Plaza de Espana is located within Maria Luisa Park and was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. You can find a marvellous blend of architectural styles including Moorish, Renaissance, Baroque, etc.
There are four bridges over the moat, representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. Each of the colourful tiled benches showcases a Spanish province and depicts a significant historical event that took place. It’s incredibly interesting and, of course, super picturesque. My personal favourite though was catching the Flamenco dance & music performances. We originally planned for a little boat ride along the moat but unfortunately didn’t carry any cash with us to get on one.
- Admission: Free
Shopping in Old Town & Calle Sierpes
It’s the husband who needed to get a few things so we ended up doing a bit of shopping. The Old Town shopping district has plenty of shops and international brands around and the main shopping street is called Calle Sierpes. Since the 15th century, Calle Sierpes has always been the city’s commercial heart and an important trade centre. No cars are allowed in the area and the atmosphere is charming and bustling. My husband did manage to treat himself to a few things that are cheaper than the UK prices.
Dinner at Tanto Monta
After shopping, it’s dinner time. We decided to hit up this popular halal European restaurant called Tanto Monta. Its menu features a range of halal Western dishes as well as Spanish tapas, so we were incredibly excited to get a taste of Andalusia. Unfortunately, the food really fell flat.
We started with a Spanish Tortilla with Potatoes and, not only did it severely lack seasoning, but it was also immensely dry to taste. The croquettes were only very slightly better and the only somewhat satisfactory dish was the fried chicken wings. For mains, we had the ribeye steak and the seafood paella – both were below par and the food just wasn’t great. On a more positive note, they had a big TV screen showing the World Cup football matches which saved the entire experience a little.
Breakfast at Chok
I stumbled across Chok after my breakfast visit to Bar El Comercio and made a mental note to pop by for breakfast the next day. The display of all the alluring pastries and doughnuts was simply too hard to resist! After a long internal debate on what to get, I settled with the cruffins – one chocolate and one vanilla, as well as a cup of coffee. Ultimately, they are just stuffed croissants but they were nice. I enjoyed the chocolate one more than the vanilla one.
Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador
After the Seville Cathedral, Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador (a.k.a the Church of Divine Savior), is the second most important church in Seville. The church was actually a former mosque, which was demolished and built into a Baroque church. You won’t be able to miss its striking red-brick facade looming over Salvador Square. We didn’t visit inside the church but we know that the church is famed for its soaring dome and extravagant altarpieces.
- Admission is included in tickets for Seville Cathedral & La Giralda.
Quick Bite at Empanadas Mavlon
One thing I noticed about Seville is that there are plenty of small little empanada shops for people to grab a quick bite. I ended up at Empanadas Mavlon, a European chain specialising in Argentinan empanadas. There are so many different flavours to choose from. It did take a little while to narrow it down to Tuna and the Christmas special Truffle empanada. Both are great but the latter definitely stood out more. For the sauce, I went with chipotle mayo which paired well with the tuna empanada.
Alcazar Palace tour with Original Travel
The Alcazar Palace is the sight I was most excited to see in Seville. I have always wanted to see the stunning architecture and learn all about the rich history of Andalusia through the palace. Original Travel has kindly arranged an amazing tour of the Alcazar Palace for us, as well as other neighbouring sights, which certainly made our visit a memorable one.
We met with our guide, Rafael, at the gates of the palace. From the very moment we stepped through the palace gates, Rafael explained extensively every subtle detail and history of the palace. The amount of architectural and historical details is jaw-dropping there. Every detail tells a story of a different time, including many long-lost histories that tend to be forgotten in modern times. Everything from the Umayyad & Almohad of the Islamic Empire, to the Christian Era of the Spanish Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, a mark has been left in this palace for you to uncover. Not only did it reveal an era of wealth and prosperity, but also the rich diverse society and technological advancement brought together from different cultures & influences. Look close enough, you’ll find various influences from India, China, Persia, the Middle East, Africa, Romans, etc.
- General ticket: €13.50 per adult
- Admission to visit the Royal Bedroom: €5.50 extra per adult
- The Alcazar has a maximum capacity of 750 visitors. Waiting times could get really long during busy seasons. It is highly recommended to book your ticket and time slot online prior to visiting.
General Archive of the Indies
At the Alcazar, we were shown a room where the very first international trade happened, with people from four continents coming together for the merchant exchange. The trade very soon outgrew the room, which is why the General Archive of the Indies was built. Other than hosting trades, it became a place for documenting the Spanish colonial empire.
We didn’t have time to go in there but we learnt that it houses more than 10 kilometres of bookshelves with documents from the colonial history of ‘Las Indias, or the New World’ dated from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
- Admission: Free
Neighbourhood of Santa Cruz & the Jewish Quarter
After the fascinating tour of the Alcazar Palace, Rafael took us for a little wander around the Santa Cruz area, which is the former Jewish Quarter of Seville. The labyrinth of narrow streets with quaint white walls is a great place for a lovely stroll. We walked past Plaza de Doña Elvira and Callejón del Agua, where the walls were built to carry water into the Alcazar Palace. After a few turns, we came across the Cruz de la Cerrajería (“Locksmith’s Cross”), a wrought iron cross standing at the centre of Plaza de Santa Cruz. We learnt that Seville used to have the largest Jewish population in Spain but they were later persecuted and driven out of the city during the 14th century.
We eventually circled back to Plaza del Triunfo, i.e the square with La Giralda, Seville Cathedral, and the Alcazar before ending the tour.
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Breakfast at Syra Coffee
My husband wasn’t feeling too well on this day so I grabbed a quick breakfast at Syra Coffee, which is located in the lobby of our hotel, before running to the pharmacy to grab some medication. Anyhow, Syra Coffee makes decent coffees & pastries and is a popular speciality coffee spot that started out in Barcelona. Every time we grabbed a coffee or hot chocolate there, it always comes with lovely latte art. The staff are always very friendly and speaks fluent English. Their coffees are very smooth to taste. I would’ve preferred it to taste a little stronger but it’s still a solidly nice cup of coffee.
Flamenco Dance & Art
Besides the lovely Flamenco performance we caught at Plaza de Espana, we also caught another one on the streets in the Old Town while grabbing a quick slice of pizza. Flamenco is a huge tradition in southern Spain and has been declared by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The art form of Flamenco consists of three elements – guitar, song, and dance. Many believed that Flamenco is a mix of many different influences including dance moves originating from the Indian subcontinent and African influence on the rhythms and choreographies. Once again, this reflected the rich and multicultural history of Andalusia.
If you’re interested in learning more about Flamenco dance, you can check out the Museo del Baile Flamenco, i.e the Flamenco Dance Museum, in Seville. Other than exhibitions showcasing its history & culture, there are also live shows available.
Useful information for Seville Flamenco Dance Museum:
- Museum ticket price: €10 per adult
- Flamenco show ticket price: €25 per adult
- Combined ticket price: €29 per adult
Setas de Seville
Las Setas literally translates as “The Mushrooms”. This huge modern structure was opened in 2011 and quickly became an iconic landmark of Seville. Apart from its unique mushroom-shaped parasol, Setas de Seville is also known as the world’s largest wooden structure. There is a small Christmas market at the time of our visit, which is completely free to check out. To go up to the top of Setas de Seville, you’ll have to purchase a ticket at the underground level next to the Antiquarium. If of interest, the Antiquarium is a small museum that displays Roman & Moorish ruins discovered in the area. From there, an escalator will take you to the top levels of Las Setas for a panoramic view of the city.
Up on the terrace, there is a lovely walkway offering gorgeous viewpoints of the city. Personally, I loved the contrast of such a modern structure against all the historical buildings in Seville. It’s certainly a very unique sight to see. However, as much as I enjoyed the views, I do find the tickets a little overpriced for what it is.
- Entry to viewpoint: €10
- Entry + virtual experience: €15
Dinner at BACAO
We randomly came to BACAO, situated just 2 minutes away from La Giralda, for dinner as we wanted to find somewhere that was open for the “early” dinner hours instead of waiting till past 8.30/9 pm for other restaurants to open. Whilst the restaurant ambience had been great, the food, however, failed to impress. BACO restaurant runs with the concept of innovative Mediterranean cuisine. Essentially, it’s all the traditional Andalusian & Spanish tapas you’d normally see but with a slightly modern twist.
We had the Pickled &Tuna Salad and Patata Bravas to start, and then shared the Seafood Rice platter. The tuna salad was unique to taste at first but it’d become too creamy and a little sickening afterwards. We already know that, despite saying “spicy sauce” on the menu, the sauce on the Patata Bravas wouldn’t actually be hot. Whilst I appreciated the slightly different sauce than typical traditional Patata Bravas, it just still lacked seasoning. As for the seafood rice, the seafood quality was de but the rice and the rest of the dish were very underwhelming.
Churros Breakfast at Dona Carmen
Breakfast on the final day is churros again and, this time, I checked out another popular local spot called Dona Carmen. This canteen-style eatery is tucked within the Old Town of Seville and is known for its churros. I had the Churros Papas, which are much more like the typical piped churros we see. If you want it with sugar or chocolate, you’d have to order it separately. Since I saw many locals at the restaurant just dipping them in coffee, that’s exactly what I did. I ordered a coffee with milk and it was pretty decent.
Spanish Tortilla at Uno de Delicias
After packing up and checking out of our hotel, we headed to Uno de Delicias for their famous Spanish Tortilla for lunch. Whilst it was much better than what we had at Tanto Monta, it was still rather underwhelming due to the lack of seasonings. The centre was moist but nowhere as good as the one I’ve had at London’s Barrafina. It’s inevitable that we felt slightly disappointed since there were a lot of good reviews for this restaurant. We agree that it’s better but it’s not at the level of good.
Torre del Oro
Just next to Uno de Delices is the Torre del Oro, which translates as “the Tower of Gold”. Instead of being built with actual gold, the name “Tower of Gold” came from the golden shine the tower projected on the river. The tower dates all the way back to Almohad Caliphate and was constructed as a military watchtower. Apart from defending the Alcazar Palace, it served as a watchtower to control shipping access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river as well as serving as a prison during the Middle Ages. The tower was badly damaged during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and had been restored with some newly constructed parts we see today. Fun fact, the Torre del Oro was made a brother to the Tower of Belem in Lisbon in 1992 to celebrate the Universal Exposition in Seville. We didn’t go inside but on the top floor, you’ll find the Museo Naval de Sevilla showcasing a small collection of maritime antiques.
- Entry for Torre del Oro & Museo Naval: €3 per adult
Other Things to Do in Seville
- Plaza de Toros
– the largest & most important bullfighting arena in Spain and includes the Bullfight Museum
- Explore the Triana area
– Triana is known as the Gypsy quarter of Seville and is famous for azulejos, Flamenco and bullfighting.
- Casa de Pilatos
– another charming Andalusian palace built in the 16th century
Is Seville Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Yes, absolutely! Walking around Seville felt completely safe and people are very warming & welcoming there. Unlike stories from Barcelona, we didn’t encounter any issues with pickpocketing or dodgy moments. During this Seville city break, I spent some time wandering alone each day and there wasn’t a single moment of discomfort at all. People are also very friendly and are always happy to help you if you need anything. Though as always, exercise common sense as you would anywhere.
Day Trip Ideas from Seville
Other than a city break destination, Seville is also a great base for some day trips and excursions to other areas!
- Cordoba – for the magnificent Moorish mosque, La Mezquita
- Itálica – for its ancient Roman ruins
- Jerez – charming old aristocratic town, known for its Andalusian traditions, Flamenco & equestrian
- Parque Nacional de Doñana – UNESCO-listed national park with protected wetlands for migrating birds
- Ronda – for the famous white villages on a dramatic clifftop and history of bullfights & bandits