What to See in Seville – and how to do it on a budget
We spent 8 weeks in Seville and loved it. Seville makes both an excellent “slow” base as well as a great destination for a tourist on vacation.
This post covers the “must-see” highlights in the city – it also includes tips on how to save money.
Very important: Check the official websites I’ve included because I’ve information in Seville 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. The bureaucrats manning the entrance won’t tell you and many of the websites don’t advertise their free days.
Alcázar of Seville – 10/10
The Alcázar is, in our opinion, the top sight in Seville. 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 13.50 €/person (buy online, post-Covid you cannot buy at the site)
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. If you want to skip the lines and have a guide to the Alcázar, this tour might interest you.
Seville Cathedral – 9/10
Another UNESCO site, the Cathedral is another essential “must see” site in Seville. 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 12.00 €/person.
Save: On Thursdays, they have a free tour including an audio guide, from 2:45 pm that last approx 90 minutes. You can purchase it on this page, it will cost 1 Euro (admin fee)
Comments: The tour is made up of about 70 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.
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.
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.
Accommodation in Seville
A few recommendations: Hotel Fernando III (spiffy hotel with pool, great location, nice views. Good value). Hotel Alminar (superb hotel with fantastic location). Budget options: Hotel Goya (nice little place, great location. Fantastic value for money) and For You Hostel Sevilla (one of the nicest laid out hostels you’ll find anywhere. Really superb).
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 parakeets – look up, you’ll see them flying among the trees.
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.
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.
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 5 € 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.
Basílica de la Macarena – 8/10
This is Lissette’s favorite church in the city. Seville 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 Seville famous.
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.
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 10.00 €/person.
Save: Free admittance on Mondays after 4pm.
Comments: We would see a few different Palacios built in Spain’s “Golden Age” when Seville 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.
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.
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.
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 Seville.
The official website
Regular ticket price is 10.00 €/person for the ground floor.
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.
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 4.00 €/person.
Comments: We were greeted by incredibly friendly nuns who seemed happy to guide us around. Not many other visitors, felt very private.
Hospital de los Venerables – 7/10
The full name of this building is The Hospital of the Venerable Priests of Seville. 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 10 €/person.
Sundays Tuesdays between 2 pm – 6 pm.
Comments: Worth a visit, the church is exquisite. Located near the Alcazar and Cathedral.
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 12.00 €/person for just the ground floor, 8.00€/person if including a guided tour of the upstairs.
Save: Free tour Fridat at 10am.
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.
Capilla de San José – 7/10
A small but stunning church right off Sierpes Street (the main shopping street in Seville). Magnificent baroque art.
Comments: We stumbled across this church when walking around. It looks old and needs restoration – but it only adds to the charm. Overwhelming.
Iglesia del Salvador – 6/10
The 2nd largest church in Seville after the Cathedral. Built in 1647 over what was previously a mosque. Has 3 naves, all heavily decorated in Baroque Style.
Price: 5.00 €/person BUT many buy a combination ticket here which includes this church as well the the Cathedral and Giralda (for 10.00 €)
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.
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.
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).
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.
Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza – N/A
Seville’s bullring, still used today for bullfighting festivals.
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).
Also worth a visit
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 Seville….
For those who prefer the organization of a guided tour, the tours below are all excellent.
One last compilation with a bunch of photos that sums up our 8 week stay here.
Have you been to Seville? What impressed you the most?
Related: Why you have to Visit Córdoba
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