Sensational Seville – discovering one of the jewels of Spain

Christmas lights in Seville

When many people think of Southern Spain, they may think of its idyllic coastline, popular beaches and the well known tourist meccas of the Costa del Sol. But the region of Andalucia is so much more than that and undoubtedly one of its jewels is the city of Seville. 

With a population of 1.5 million, Seville is Andalucia’s capital and Spain’s fourth largest city. Originally founded as a Roman city, Seville is now home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s also a city bursting with antique charm, historic architecture and countless bars and restaurants.  And, if you opt to stay in the Casco Antiguo area (the old part of town), like I did, you can not only immerse yourself in what it has to offer but you can easily walk to many of the main attractions.

On your list of things to see should be a visit to the Catedral de Sevilla and Giralda. It’s the world’s third-largest church and a stunning example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. It is immense, to say the least, and you should allow at least a few hours to take it all in.  The Giralda (bell tower) is nearly 100 metres high and originally had more than 700 steps. Most steps have now been replaced by 34 stories of sloping ramps but it’s still a hike to get to the top to take in the views. For me – the view was nice but miles of roof tops isn’t really my thing and the viewing area is such a small space that you had to jostle with others for viewing spots. So, unless you need the exercise and you’re super keen, I’d give the climb a miss.

Inside Catedral de Sevilla

But, before you leave the cathedral, check out the toilet facilities to the side of the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard) near the exit as these are far from being any ordinary loos. 

If the cathedral visit has left you hungry or thirsty, grab an outdoor table at Bar Antiguedades just behind the cathedral. It’s a great spot for people-watching but more importantly you can check out the venue’s spirit bottle collection that seriously has to be seen to be believed.

The Plaza de España is another jaw-dropping attraction. The architectural adornment here is off the richter scale with countless layers of colourful details that will make your head spin. If you’re lucky you’ll see local musicians playing in covered courtyards and stairwells as the building’s facade provides fantastic acoustics.  As this is a public space, entry is free so you can visit multiple times and stay as long as you like.

Plaza de España

The Metropol Parasol (also known as La Setas or The Mushrooms) is another architectural achievement not to be missed. Built on the site of Seville’s old central market this amazing piece of sculpture is the world’s largest wooden structure. 

You can walk under and around it for free but to really appreciate it you should buy a ticket to walk on top of it at night.  Not only does a night visit let you enjoy the structure’s coloured light show but the panoramic views of Seville are very impressive. Make sure you also make time to view the film in the downstairs theatre. 

To further immerse yourself in Spanish culture, book to see a show at the Museo de Baile Flamenco. It’s very popular as it’s considered the best in Seville – so make sure you book well in advance. Allow time before the show to wander through their interactive museum which will give you a greater appreciation for the artform.  There’s a gift shop too and a bar which allows you to grab a glass of local wine to enjoy while watching the show. Also know that’s it strictly NO photography during the performance.

Museo de Baile Flamenco

When to go and what to pack.

I’d definitely avoid visiting in peak seasons (Spring and Summer) due to the heat and huge crowds. I visited in late November/early December and there was never a long wait to enter key attractions or get a table at a popular restaurant. Make sure you check dates for public holidays as you’ll find most businesses and many attractions will be closed.

In late November the weather was mild, but not cold and there was only one day of rain. Evenings can definitely be cooler so pack clothes that you can layer and a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes as uneven cobbled streets can play havoc with your hips and lower limbs. Remember too that Spaniards – men and women – like to dress well (very well) and you’ll stand out like a sore thumb if you don’t dress accordingly.  Think nice-casual-going-out clothes, not comfy-home-casual.


If you’re lucky enough to be in Seville over the festive season, head out at night to enjoy the Christmas lights. From December 1 to January 6 nearly 300 streets are decked with beautiful bling overhead. People flock from all over the region to see the giant chandeliers and baubles, fairy light curtains and illuminated trees that turn streetscapes into wonderlands of light.

Extra Tips

While most places accept electronic payments, make sure you have at least some cash and coins for the countless quality buskers and occasional small shop owners who only take cash. Some public toilets also require a small cash payment. And most importantly – don’t rely on ATMs as I never found one that was actually working when I visited.