Seville - capital of Spain's beautiful Andalusia region. Famous for its flamenco dancing and a lot of beautiful history from the Moorish Almohad Dystany and orange trees, so many orange trees. Here's my personal guide for exploring the city.
I had no idea I'd visit Seville this year or anytime soon, but as the weather in January was so bad during my vacation time, I decided to look out for some flights. There were a few options, but we were tempted to look further south. Seville was specifically of interest, as two of my cousins already visited there, and I remembered their stories and I knew they really liked the city. It didn't take too long before the flight was booked and I was excited to explore a new place.
Seville in winter
Packing for a destination in winter is always tricky, but I didn't really know what to pack for Seville. Was it going to be very cold? Or rather quite warm in the afternoon? Just the week before we left, I started to check temperatures and was surprised to see that the temperature was already around 20 °C during the day. Well, that changed when we came to Seville. What I found from my research was that February was the coldest month of the year. Leaving from Memmingen in Germany, we obviously needed our winter jackets for the departure. I decided to pack one warmer jacket and 2 blouses, (one in denim and one in cotton), a tanktop, a few shirts, as well as a headband and a scarf.
Arriving at the airport, we decided to take the bus into the city and from there, our hotel was just a short ride away by cab. Well actually, we got a bit lost and decided to do it the easy way and take a cab.
Where to stay: Hotel Posada del Lucero
Our hotel was located in the heart of Seville's historical center. It was the perfect choice for us. My partner and I had a very warm welcome and check-in by Ana. The staff surprised us with an upgrade to the Junior Suite (yay!), provided us with information about Seville, and gave us a city map. They took their time to explain to us where to go and what to see in the city. I really appreciated their efforts. As soon as we left the entrance area and walked towards the patio inside, it felt like we were entering a little palace that is filled with many events, stories and pictures. It's one of the oldest of its kind in Seville, and most of its original structure and function has been restored. It took the hotel over three years to restore everything and the result is overwhelming. Wherever I walked in the hotel, I had the impression that the staff were taking good care of the equipment and were very mindful not to make too much noise while fixing things.
The hotel is perfectly situated, from here, you can walk to all the main attractions.
A huge selection of cafés, restaurants, and bars are also reachable within
a short walk.
The hotel has been welcoming guests for over 400 years. Back then, when it first opened, Seville was a city full of life. It used to be a melting pot of many different cultures. The famous Posada and its rough-hewn columns was a place for travelers to find rest and shelter. According to their website, it is "constructed of Roman marble, adorned by fine Arabic lusterware, Renaissance courtyards, baroque palaces, gothic cathedrals and Moorish chapels, the brick the color of a blushing maiden's skin."
More info about the room:
- view: from the junior suite there are amazing views to the interior patios - my favorite view!
- bed size: two meters wide (6.5 feet) - this bed is a dream!
- perfectly fast working WIFI
- kettle with tea and coffee
- bathrobe and slippers
- bathroom amenities
- desk to get some work done
You can book your room here. (* by booking through this link I will receive a small commission, thank you!)
Downstairs is "La Cafetería El Guadarnés" (the Tack Room Café). It's a café during the day and a bar setting in the evening.
Hotel Posada del Lucero offers a wide variety for breakfast in a very tranquil setting. I enjoy calm and slow starts in hotels, without much noise and still no awkward silence. I like to have a lot going on during the day, and so I guess that's why I prefer to take it easy in the mornings.
The buffet allows you to set the breakfast as you like. Scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, some different kinds of cheese, a bread selection, fresh fruits and different kinds of spreads (unfortunately all with meat), followed by a big sweet selection like churros or other delicious treats. I enjoyed a big plate of delicious sweet stuff at the end of my breakfast along with a second cappucino. The hotel staff didn't disappoint again; they were very helpful. We found Rosa extremely outgoing and very nice. She gave us a few restaurant recommendations and we had a great conversation with her too. I'd say it was the perfect balance of having a conversation and the feeling of knowing this person already, although we didn't stay that long, and then she left again to take care of the buffet. The minute we had thought about a second cappucino, she was there and ready to take our order.
By the way, if you have to leave very early in the morning, the staff will wrap up an early bird breakfast for you so you don't have to starve at the airport. We've had that in Lisbon before and I love the option!
The patio is a great place to hang out. Just a few steps away from the patio is a little table with a water jug and a few glasses. Here you can help yourself if you're thirsty.
Rooftop views and pool
Upstairs we found a lovely terrace, which you wouldn't expect at all when you enter the hotel. While we were there, it was obviously a tiny bit too cold for swimming, but this would be a gem when traveling to Seville in the warmer months of the year. The pool isn't big at all, but it's enough to dip inside and to refresh yourself after a long day in the hot city. Even if you don't want to swim, don't miss the chance to go upstairs and to enjoy the view. When it's warmer, there's also a bar up there and you can stay until midnight, enjoying the view over the city while sipping your cocktail of choice.
What to see in Seville
As I already said, I loved the location of our hotel. It was so convenient. We were only a few meters away from the hotel and we already came across one of Seville's famous attractions - the Metropol Parasol.
Metropol Parasol - mushroom
This giant mushroom is over 26 meters (85 feet) high and 150 meters (493 feet) long. It forms six parasols. Just like Lucy from Luce on the go, I couldn't decide whether it reminded me of a mushroom or more of a giant waffle.
The construction started in 2005 and finished in 2017. It features four levels.
Level 0: Antiquarium: Roman and Moorish remains are displayed in a museum
Level 1 (street level): Central Market
Level 2 & 3: Panoramic terrace with a restaurant
If you want to get a good overview of the city, and you want to see something different, I'd recommend you to check it out. Also the admission isn't that expensive, so it's worth seeing it.
Admission: 3 €
With our admission, we received a voucher for a free drink. We had just finished breakfast and felt full so we didn't feel like having another drink yet, but we couldn't say no. (Who'd say no to a free drink, come on?) But then we saw the sign at the café. Written on a piece of paper it said you get a 1 € discount on any drink you order. Ahm, no thanks. We were ready to explore more of Seville instead.
Seville's cathedral - Catedral
In Seville, you'll find the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world. I think there's no need to mention it is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage. The construction lasted over a century. The mix between the Moorish dynasty and the Catholic influences is very interesting to see. Already walking through the city, you'll probably see it immediately - it's big! The highest point is 42 meters (nearly 138 feet). Depending on the time you want to go there, you might have to wait for a while in line. It wasn't too bad, though, and I must say it was impressive and worth the wait.
Inside the church, we saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus, Seville's most famous citizen. Apparently, his son was also buried in the cathedral, but I must admit I hadn't seen any sign about that.
The most fascinating for me was the mix between a mosque and a church. The mosque was designed by architect Ahmad ben Basso. Shortly after Seville's conquest by Ferdinand III, the mosque was converted into a cathedral. After that, many changes were made.
The church's builders left some elements from the ancient mosque such as the mosque's sahn (the courtyard to conduct a ritual cleansing before entering the prayer hall). Nowadays it's called the Patio de los Naranjos (oranges). It has a fountain and ...surprise (!) orange trees! The highlight I'd say is the minaret. It was converted into a bell tower, nowadays known as La Giralda.
The bell tower is 105 meters (344 feet) high and it's one of the city's most important symbols. Walking up the Giralda is so much fun. Around every corner is a new view over the city and it's a great place to take pictures. Just take your time walking up there and enjoy the walk. I found most people were running up as if they were haunted by something. I love to take my time exploring such places. After walking up 35 different segments on a ramp, you'll be rewarded at the top with a fantastic wide view over the city.
One of the major highlights for me was the orange tree courtyard. I was stunned by its beauty and also never before had I seen so many orange trees in one spot. Seville is full of them, but nevertheless I loved it! And I had no idea I'd be so obsessed with orange trees, but Seville taught me that apparently I have a thing for orange trees. While everyone in Austria has apple trees, I think it's the most natural thing in Andalusia for everyone to have orange trees.
Take your time in the orange tree courtyard for some pictures and if you're not into taking pictures, watch other people take selfies - that was quite entertaining too.
Walking along the river & Torre del Oro
After a lot of history, I enjoyed walking around and getting some fresh air. We walked around until we ended up close to Torre del Oro and decided to cross the bridge over the Canal de Alfronso XIII. We were told to explore the city part of Triana. It was nice to walk through a district where no tourists were walking at all. But, to be honest, there was nothing really special to see (maybe we just missed the most important streets?) We also walked along a shopping street but had the impression there was nothing exciting going on. That's when we decided to walk back on the Puente de Isabel II.
Now, let's talk about the most famous attraction in Seville - Real Alcázar. This palatial complex will leave you speechless. In case you didn't know yet - I am a big fan of anything that includes a lot of history such as palaces, forts, and castles. Therefore, I couldn't wait to see Alcázar. While the upper levels are still used by the royal family when they are in town, the lower floor and the gardens are open to the public. Nice fact to know: It's the oldest royal palace that is still being used in Europe.
The different styles and influences from the eleventh century through today are impressive. They include Islamic, Mudéjar, Gothic, and Renaissance.
Although I do enjoy history a lot, sometimes I am too lazy to get an audio guide and I have the feeling I am getting lost in my own world. When you travel alone, I think an audioguide is handy, as you get a private tour and you can fully enjoy the experience. Traveling with my partner, though, I have the impression that we spend 3 hours on our own, rather than together. When we do explore together, we wander around alone, and enjoy to walk together at the same time. We talk random stuff and we do share our thoughts about the place. And sometimes we walk in silence to soak it all in and to enjoy the moment.
To me, that's the perfect combination. We take our time to look out for details, I imagine what life back then looked like, and I take a flyer with me to read about the most important things. I always tell myself I can read most of the important facts on the internet. Well, I do love history, but I am quite bad in numbers so to no surprise, I can't even memorize all the important dates. I hope you get my point.
The palace is beautiful, but don't miss the gardens! Oh my, the gardens. As soon as you find yourself holding a city map in your hands, you already see that the Jardines del Alcazár (Gardens of Alcázar) are huge, but as soon as you start walking around you get the true sense of how big it is. All of the gardens have different names. They were planted a thousand years ago.
After exiting the palace and going into the gardens, we came across a pond named after the god Mercury. In the back, there is the "Gallery of the Grotesque". The water that comes from the top is a water pump from the seventeenth century.
We booked an online-ticket (to skip the lines) for 10:30 AM. Next time, I'd go a bit earlier to avoid the crowds. If you buy it online, it's a bit more expensive (25 € for both of us) and you need to print your tickets at the hotel. Although it was more expensive, it was more than worth it as we could simply skip the line and didn't waste any time. It took us almost three hours to explore it fully and I think we even missed a few things, so take your time to explore the entire palace.
On Monday, you can enter for free with an online ticket here.
Plaza de España
This plaza is one of the most famous squares in Seville and it's a fun and easy walk within the Maria Luisa Park. I think Seville is full of mixed elements, and so it is here the case, mixing elements of the Renaissance together with Moorish and Spanish architecture. The square first only consisted of a semicircular building. The half circle has a diameter of 200 meters and symbolizes a hug from Spain to all the South American colonies. The half circle opens towards the river, which is the path one has to follow to reach America.
Today, it consists mainly of Government buildings. I should probably mention that it's just a really cool place to take pictures. It has also been used as a filming location in several movies like The Dictator, Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
And generally speaking, the plaza is a great place to hang out and enjoy the sun a bit. If you don't enjoy taking pictures, why don't rent a boat? I enjoyed watching a couple paddling along.
The benches around the plaza are perfect for enjoying the sun. Each bench represents one region of Spain and we decided it was time to enjoy the sun and made plans for the rest of the day.
Casa de Pilatos
After seeing Alcázar, we decided to give Casa de Pilatos a try. It's a great example of a civil palace. We decided to visit only the ground floor area because the upper floor costs 2 € more (that wasn't the reason) but is only acccessible with a guided tour. We didn't want to wait and therefore decided against it. Also, the staff didn't let us know when the next tour would start.
A bonus was that this place wasn't busy at all. Sometimes you'd find yourself completely alone walking around. I enjoyed this place, but to be honest, I found the admission fee a bit high and unfortunately the audio guide didn't have a very entertaining way of telling its history and it made me super tired.
Therefore, my suggestion: if you can visit Real Alcázar, go there!
Winter (November to March) 9 AM - 6 PM
Summer (April to October) 9 AM - 7 PM
Admission: 8 €
Very unconventional, nothing touristy, I know. Well, what can I say? I am not a big soccer fan at all. In school, I enjoyed playing soccer a lot and generally speaking, I only enjoy watching games at public places or in a big group of friends. But I never watch soccer on my own.
As we had watched a soccer game in Lisbon, I thought it would be fun to watch one in Seville. I had no idea that the Copa del Rey (for beginners like me: an annual
soccer cup competition for Spanish teams) was going on and it was the semi-finale. I tried my best to get tickets and when it worked out, I surprised my partner once we were already in the
And I have to say, the atmosphere was amazing! Seville won 2-0 against Leganes, so you can imagine how crazy the crowd went. Everyone, including us, was standing up, cheering, screaming, singing, and clapping. I was speechless. Nothing against Austria, but I don't believe I'd find such an atmosphere at a soccer game around here. Everything was peaceful; there were no excesses or any kind of hooligans from what we could see. I believe that's how sports should work.
So if you or your partner enjoy soccer, you might want to see if there is a game going on while you're in town. I have to say we missed the flamenco dancing, but hey. We saw another part of their culture that I did enjoy a lot too. It was very authentic and nothing staged. If I'd go again, I'd look for a flamenco bar instead of a show because hopefully it would be more authentic.
Where to eat
Welcome to Spanish tapas heaven! I read about this in a few blog posts before leaving for Seville and I rather had the same dilemma - many tapas bars only open at 8 PM. During our stay, we found it extremely difficult after walking around in the city for an entire day to wait until 8 for dinner. Especially for me it's even harder because I need to eat quite a few times a day. But, there are a few places that open earlier.
Alcazar Andalusi Tapas
This place is in a pretty cool district, quite close to our hotel and we loved it. The decoration inside are cute with some green plants and somehow I had an airy feeling sitting in a pavilion. On two sides of the room, you can look outside, which gives it a very open feeling. On the other hand, unfortunately, it was a bit cold inside too. That's why we ordered a glass of red wine and some warm tapas to start with. Black rice was such a delicious dish!
Cristina and Co
After visiting the Plaza de Espana, we were feeling thirsty and ready for a little snack. We ordered a dish with potatoes and eggs. And it's a cool café for sitting outside.
This place was recommended by our breakfast lady, Rosa, and we also discovered it high on the Tripadvisor list. There are many tourists, but you also find locals coming to the restaurant (later, of course). Funnily enough, two guys came inside with a Lonely Planet book in their hand. Obviously, this place was recommended in there as well. The food was good but they didn't have too many options for vegetarians. And if I could choose, I'd go to Alcazar Andalusi Tapas again.
Found this place in the middle of the shopping area and we were immediately drawn inside. We had a coffee and a cake. When we ordered the cake, we had to go back to the entrance where you can get your cake to take away. I asked the lady which cakes were a typical everyday cake and ordered one that looked a bit similar to what we have in Austria. It's a layered cake with vanilla pudding inside and on top, it had a raspberry cream. Some people around us had lunch and I must say all of their meals looked delicious. So definitely a place you might want to check out if you're feeling hungry at lunch time (whatever time that is, because...don't forget you're in Seville, Spain where clocks work differently when it comes to lunch or dinner times).
Pan y Più
On our last day in Seville, we came across this gem after walking back from Casa Pilatos. Here we had lunch (I had a delicious vegetarian lasagne) followed by a dream of a little cake and a cappucino. The café had a cool vibe and a nice atmosphere. Some people were working on their laptops at the back of the café.
If you can, make sure to sit at the window. I love to eat and watch people passing by in a city. It was fun to see how the guy across the street from a little shop was standing outside most of the time lighting one cigarette after the other. And there was this Spanish man who had his dog on a leash. The dog was patiently standing outside of the small grocery shop, but it curiously looked inside while his owner took his time to buy a bottle of wine.
I must say we had a great time in Seville. There's so much culture to experience and yet at the same time lots of good food and wine. February is the coldest month
in Seville but still it's nice and warm during the day and therefore a great location if you're in need for a winter break.
Are you planning to visit Seville? Did you go and see something amazing you want to share with our readers? Please comment below!
* We paid for the hotel on our own, yet we got the breakfast provided for the blog and loved the upgrade of our room. Thank you dear team of the Hotel Posada del Lucero for all your effort. My opinion is as always my own and I can highly recommend this place!