Highlights of Sevilla (Spain) – and how to see them on a budget

highlights-of-sevilla-spain-and-how-to-see-them-on-a-budget

We’re leaving Sevilla this weekend for Japan. We’ve been here 8 weeks and have loved it, Sevilla makes both an excellent “slow” base (as I’ve previously covered) as well as a great destination for a tourist on vacation. We’ve made a few day trips outside the city but honestly, Sevilla itself has kept us busy. There’s tons to see here. This post covers the “must-see” highlights in the city – it also includes tips on how to save money.

I’ve included our very subjective rating system to help you prioritize your sightseeing.

Note: Check the official websites I’ve included because I’ve noticed information in Sevilla seems to change a lot. Also: when you get to one of these highlights, ask when they have free times. A local told us a story of a French family with 4 kids that paid full price to get into the Casa de Pilatos. It was 10 minutes to 3 on a Wednesday and if they had waited 10 minutes it would have been totally free for them. The bureaucrats manning the entrance won’t tell you and many of the websites don’t advertise their free days.

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Alcázar of Seville –  10/10

The Alcázar is, in our opinion, the top sight in Sevilla. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in Spain. Built in the 1300’s, it was the royal palace of the Moorish kings and the upper floors are still used today as the official Sevilla residence of the Royal family. Fantastic Islamic architecture, lavish and extensive gardens with ponds and fountains. Exquisite.

The official website
Regular ticket price is 9.50 €/person.
Save: in the summer, there is free admittance on Mondays between 6pm -7pm. In the winter Mondays between 4pm-5pm are free.
Comments: In our case, it was one of the few places where we didn’t take advantage of the free visit. Honestly, you can’t properly see the Alcázar in one hour – the palace covers a lot of ground and there’s a lot of detail. Even at regular price we felt we really got our money’s worth here.

alcazar-sevilla-compilation

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Seville Cathedral –  9/10

Another UNESCO site, the Cathedral is another essential “must see” site in Sevilla. It is the 3rd largest church in the world and the largest Gothic Cathedral anywhere. The tomb of Christopher Columbus resides here, held in dramatic fashion by 4 figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain (at the time). The bell tower (the Giralda) dates back to the Moors and was the bell tower of the Mosque that stood on the site. The tower is easy to ascend, with a series of ramps (not stairs) leading to the top. It was designed this way so that officials could get to the top on donkeys or horses.

The official website
Regular ticket price is 9.00 €/person.
Save: On Mondays, they have a free tour including an audio guide, from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. But you have to pre-register by writing them here: reservas@catedraldesevilla.es. Do it a couple of weeks in advance. Included in the tour is the bell tower.
Comments: The tour is made up of about 50 people and it’s pretty cool seeing the Cathedral without the hundreds of tourists that are usually in there. We felt that the tour was a bit rushed but you get to see all the highlights – definitely worth it for the savings.

sevilla-cathedral-compilation

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Plaza de España –  8/10

Plaza de España was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 (Expo 29). It includes a large, semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end. Along the front façade of the building are 48 beautifully tiled alcoves with benches representing each of Spain’s 48 provinces.In front of the building, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges. You can rent small boats to row in the canal.

FREE

Comments: The tilework on the building and bridges is exquisite. You can probably spend an hour walking around and looking at the gorgeous tiles on the alcoves. When planning to come here you should also plan to see Maria Louisa park and the Archaeological Museum which border on Plaza de España. Between the 3 sites you can easily spend a half day.

plaza-de-espana-sevilla

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Maria Luisa Park –  8/10

Really beautiful park right in front of the Plaza de España. Fountains, ponds, huge trees, a viewpoint, even a few sitting places where books are laid out to read (in Spanish). But what amazed us were the parrots – look up, you’ll see wild parrots flying among the trees.

FREE

Comments: A gorgeous, peaceful park. You can walk from Plaza de España on one side of the park across to the Archaeological Museum on the other.

maria-louisa-park-sevilla

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Archaeological Museum – 7/10

A worthwhile – and not expensive – museum which dates the history in the region. The highlights include Roman artifacts (statues, columns and mosaics) from the ancient town of Itálica. The building itself is impressive, built as part of the 1929 Exhibition (along with Plaza de España)

The Official Website
The regular price is 1.50 € per person BUT if you have proof of EU residency it is FREE

Comments: Some of the signage is in English but most is in Spanish only. Archaeological Museums are not for everyone but if you have an interest in history you might find this museum interesting. It was a really nice walk here through Maria Louisa Park so we didn’t find that getting here took us out of our way – we in fact quite enjoyed this museum.

archaeological-museum

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Metropol Parasol – 8/10

This structure, finished in 2011, opened up in 2011 and claims to be the world’s largest wooden structure. Impressive enough from ground level, you can buy a ticket and walk along the top, enjoying some of the best views in the city.

The official website
Price is 3 € per person – which includes a drink (including beer or wine) at the top.
Comments: We think the Parasol is really worth a visit and with the free drink at the top it’s good value.

metropol-parasol-sevilla

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Basílica de la Macarena – 8/10

This is Lissette’s favorite church in the city. Sevilla has some incredible churches but this church is famous for the Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena (Macarena Virgin of Hope) which is a statue adorned with a golden crown and lavish robes. She is the most celebrated Virgin in Spain and kicks off Semana Santa, the Holy week celebrations that have made Sevilla famous.

FREE

Comments: Ask Lissette, she’ll tell you that she’s never felt as moved by a church as much as the Basilica de la Macarena. A local said that we were probably feeling “the people’s love for the Virgen”. They love this church. I like this church because the Macarena song pops into my head every time we go there 🙂  No, seriously, it’s a beautiful church.

basilica-de-la-macarena-sevilla

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Palacio de las Dueñas – 8/10

Built in the late 15th century in the Renaissance style with Gothic and Moorish influences. The palace is one of the major historic homes in the city of great architectural and artistic heritage. Courtyards, gardens, and some beautifully furnished rooms.

The official website
Regular ticket price is 8.00 €/person.
Save: Free admittance on Mondays after 4pm.
Comments: We would see a few different Palacios built in Spain’s “Golden Age” when Sevilla was the richest city in the Kingdom. Of those Palacio de las Dueñas is the most romantic, a palace that symbolizes everything “Sevilla” with its gardens, paintings and warm colors.

palacio-de-las-duenas

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Iglesia Santa María La Blanca – 8/10

If Basílica de la Macarena was Lissette’s favorite church, then Iglesia Santa Maria la Blanca was mine. It’s a small, Baroque-style church with the most incredibly amazing ceilings I’ve ever seen.

FREE

Comments: Lissette says this church looks like a wedding cake. There’s something light and airy about it though, a real nice vibe, along with the incredible ceiling and Moorish arches. Love this church.

santa-maria-de-la-blanca-sevilla

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Casa de Pilatos – 8/10

Another private Palacio, one of Seville’s most popular. Large, with beautiful rooms and gardens – but what really stands out here is the incredible tilework. The most incredible tiles (azulejos) in Sevilla.

The official website
Regular ticket price is 8.00 €/person for just the ground floor, 10.00€/person if including a guided tour of the upstairs.
Save: Free Wednesdays from 3pm – 7pm but only for those with an EU passport (which we haven’t seen anywhere else).
Comments: This Palacio gets a lot of negative comments. People complain about unfriendly staff, a long-winded audio guide (true!), and the required tours (and extra cost) to see the upstairs. But it is a “must see”, especially for it’s tiles. The most beautiful tiles in the city.

casa-de-pilatos-sevilla

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Monasterio de Santa Paula – 7/10

For 5 centuries this monastery has been run by nuns. Even today, a nun will happily show around the Monastery museum which has an impressive collection of religious art. Also within the monastery is a beautiful little church. You can buy cookies and jams made by the nuns themselves.

The official website
Regular ticket price is 3.00 €/person.

Comments: We were greeted by incredibly friendly nuns who seemed happy to guide us around. Not many other visitors, felt very private.

convent-de-santa-paula-sevilla

 

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Hospital de los Venerables – 7/10

The full name of this building is The Hospital of the Venerable Priests of Sevilla. Built in the 1600’s, it served as a residence for priests, most of them old, poor or disabled. The highlights are a gorgeous church within the residence as well as a magnificent ceiling above the stairwell.

The Official website
Regular ticket price is 5.50 €/person.
Save: Free Sundays between 2 pm – 6 pm.
Comments: Worth a visit, the church is exquisite. Located near the Alcazar and Cathedral.

hopital-de-los-venerables

 

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Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija – 7/10

Build in the 15th century, this Palacio was bought in 1901 by Regla Manjón Mergelina (the Countess of Lebrija) who restored and reconstructed it to house her valuable collection of antiquities. She had a passion for archaeology and decided to adorn the palace with artifacts found during her excavations, as well as those bought from other archaeologists. The palace is particularly noteworthy for it’s collection of floor and wall mosaics.

The official website
Regular ticket price is 5.00 €/person for just the ground floor, 8.00€/person if including a guided tour of the upstairs.
Save: 2 free tours on Sundays at 6pm and 6:30 pm.
Comments: A gorgeously tiled staircase is a highlight along with all the mosaics. The sun room is also gorgeous. Needs some restoration as the floors are coming undone and the paint peeling…in the worst shape of any of the palacios mentioned here. Sad, it is still a beautiful building but must have been magnificent at it’s height.

palacio-de-la-condesa-de-lebrija

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Capilla de San José – 7/10

A small but stunning church right off Sierpes Street (the main shopping street in Sevilla). Magnificent baroque art.

FREE

Comments: We stumbled across this church when walking around. It looks old and needs restoration – but it only adds to the charm. Overwhelming.

capilla-de-san-jose-seville

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Iglesia del Salvador – 6/10

The 2nd largest church in Sevilla after the Cathedral. Built in 1647 over what was previously a mosque. Has 3 naves, all heavily decorated in Baroque Style.

Official Website
Price: 4.00 €/person BUT many buy a combination ticket here which includes this church as well the the Cathedral and Giralda (for 9.00 €)
Save: Buy the combination ticket mentioned above.
Comments: Very large, impressive church. But to us didn’t have the impact of some of the smaller churches mentioned above.

salvador-church

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Torre del Oro – 3/10

Torre del Oro (Golden Tower). Built in 1220, it protected the river with a thick chain that extended to another tower on the other side of the river. It now houses a small maritime museum and you can also climb to the top for views of the city and river.

Price: 3.50 €/person
Save: Free on Mondays
Comments: The museum is very small but has some impressive replica models of old ships. The views from the top are not very impressive. Honestly, don’t go unless on the free Monday. The whole thing will take you about 15 minutes.

golden-tower-sevilla

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Palacio Marqueses de la Algaba – 3/10

A palace that today houses a small museum dedicated to Moorish artifacts (pottery, vases, the remains of statues and columns).

FREE

Comments: I wouldn’t put it high on your list. But it is free and the building and courtyard are pretty. If you like historical artifacts you’ll enjoy the small museum.

palacio-marqueses-de-la-algaba.

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Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza – N/A

Sevilla’s bullring, still used today for bullfighting festivals.

Official Website
Price: 8.00 €/person for a tour (you cannot visit on your own)
Save: Free Mondays 3pm – 7 pm (but see my note below)
Comments: Note about the “Free” Mondays: done by tours and numbers are limited. If you show up you may be told that the “next available tour is at 7pm” (which you have to pay for). We never ended up seeing it and felt we were handed a load of bullcrap. Their tip: show up around 12:30 on Monday if you want to get that free tour (which I’m told by locals is not worth it – they herd you through there pretty quickly and barely see the actual bullring).

plaza-de-toros-de-la-real-maestranza-sevilla

 

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Also worth a visit (we ran out of time…)

General Archive of the Indies. Archives the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and Philipines. Always Free.
Museo de Bellas Artes. Fine art, including that of the best Spanish painters.  1.50 € per person but free if you have proof of EU residency.

And that’s not even including all the other beautiful churches or incredible buildings we saw during our time in Sevilla….

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One last compilation with a bunch of photos that sums up our 8 week stay here.

photo-compilation-sevilla

 

Have you been to Sevilla? What the best thing you did or saw?

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Comments

  1. Travel with Kevin and Ruth says:

    We will be in Spain during the months of January and February, not sure that we will be in Sevilla but if we are your tips will be helpful. Thanks!

    Ruth

  2. Sevilla and Spain in general still loiter on my bucket list… thanks for the added inspiration. such an incredible place, you certainly both spent enough time there to really get the most from it. Japan next huh, close to Australia, you should pop down under too!
    Jane recently posted…Dargo – Remote, wild, spectacularMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Lots to see in Southern Spain Jane – there’s also Granada, Ronda, Cadiz, Arcos de la Frontera…I really recommend the area and we’ve already decided we’d be back.
      I’m sure we’ll get to Australia one day! 🙂

  3. Nice one. Sums up things to do here, some of which we haven’t even done. We need to explore more of our own backyard. Amazing that 8 weeks have come by and gone. It seems like you just got here! Glad to see and hear you were kept busy 🙂 .
    Kemkem recently posted…Rare Epic Travel Fail To See Sintra PortugalMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Time flew here and we got really busy just living life and also preparing for Japan. Yeah, doesn’t seem long ago that we arrived in Sevilla and we’re actually sad to leave. For sure we’ll be back. Was nice seeing the two of you at the Food Festival!

  4. Thanks for making the ratings highly visible. I was thinking, “Wow, what does it take to get a 10/10 with you guys?” I guess I’m gonna have to go to the Alcazar. By the way, have an amazing time in Japan!
    Hung Thai recently posted…I’m too sexy for fall foliage in LeavenworthMy Profile

  5. Oh what incredible photos. We spent a few months in Seville and loved it… your photographs transported me back into the streets of magnificence everywhere around every corner. Terrific. Thanks,
    Peta

  6. I did not realise how much there is to see in Seville? Sounds like you made the most of your time there? Your pictures are beautiful and it showcases well this amazing Spanish beauty.
    I don’t know if my comment will be accepted this time, recently I have had no luck….fingers crossed
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…A Weekend in East Devon and Our First Airbnb ExperienceMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hey Gilda!
      Thanks for the comment and sorry if you’ve had issues…no idea why.
      Sevilla is great, I hope you make it there one day. Lovely city and we will be back one day for sure.

  7. What a Wonderful detailed post Frank ..! Looks like so much more to add to Seville itinerary …
    As usual i am always torn between destinations and this makes my task tougher ! ..:-)
    Soumi Halder recently posted…Salzkammergut – Part IIIMy Profile

  8. We were only there for a couple of days enroute to Marrakech via Ryan Air. It was in Spring 2012 and there was a huge heatwave happening which spoiled our time there. Being Spring we didn’t think A/c was necessary and our Airbnb room was extremely hot. I remember walking around in a heat induced daze lol. The gardens were wilting and dry also. We could however see that it was a lovely city. We would love to return one day and with your comprehensive post to refer to it will be a breeze.
    budget jan recently posted…An Aussie Sunday Drive Mullumbimby to UkiMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, I think we were taken aback as well by how hot Sevilla gets – like it has a touch of the tropics.
      Thanks for the comment Jan!

  9. Wow! You have me totally revved to return to Sevilla with your suggestions in hand! (Just sorry we couldn’t make it there during your visit. 🙁 ) The Alcazar still remain our favorite place in Sevilla and was an unexpected highlight during our first visit to the city. Next time, we’ll take the audio tour and plan to spend the whole day if necessary to see it all. Luckily there’s a cafe on the grounds if we become faint! We also loved the Cathedral – once was probably enough although, if our grandson visits, we’ll have to take him to see where Columbus is enshrined/entombed. During our visit, a service was in progress and hearing the music reverberate throughout the Cathedral was truly awesome!
    Hope you’re having fun in Japan and we’ll look forward to your next visit to Europe. We’ll definitely have our traveling shoes on by then and will make a meet-up a priority!
    Anita recently posted…Don’t Know Much About Art But We Know What We Like: The Grounds For SculptureMy Profile

  10. Never been to Spain but now we’re considering to go because of your photos and tips 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Joanna recently posted…India Golden Triangle Tour Itinerary (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur)My Profile

  11. it certainly is very similar to places in sth america, yet even more grand and OTT. love the big waffle/wood structure. did you dance the macarena in the basilica? It had to be asked!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…Safety and Experiences in South AmericaMy Profile

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