The Roman ruins of Italica, with remarkable mosaics and an impressive amphitheatre, are located 9 kilometres to the north of the city of Seville, just outside the village of Santiponce.
Seville, Spain | Tapas & Culture, a great combination
Chris and I had originally found the El Caminito del Rey walk at El Chorro in Andalusia and started doing some research on what else we could do in the area. Seville is the capital of the Andalusia area and seemed to offer all the thinsgs Chris and I love in an adventure. Food, culture, good local transport links and of course Seville is the setting for Chris’s favourite opera, Carmen. It was perfect and absolutely lived up to its reputation.
How did we get to Seville?
We got to Seville flying Ryanair from Manchester direct to Seville. The flight was 2hr 45mins and pleasant enough for a budget airline. The cost was around £120 but that was more due to the time of year and depending on how far in advance you book you can get a really good deal with Ryanair.
On arrival at Seville airport head for the Seville Airport Bus. The bus stop is located just outside the main terminal and is signposted.
The bus stops at:
Airport – Santa Justa Station (AVE train station) – Luis de Morales – Metro San Bernado / RENFE – Carlos V Avenue (Jardines del Prado) – Paseo Colón (where is the Torre del Oro) – Plaza de Armas (bus station).
To get the bus back to the airport you must get onboard at the Plaza de Armas bus station.
The bus runs frequently throughout the day from approx 05.00am to 01.00 am each way but its best to check the website for updated information before you travel as the schedule may change.
It costs €4 each way or €6 return and you can get your tickets from the driver.
Where did we stay in Seville ?
After checking out a few options we opted for Hostal Hom Museo as it was fairly central to everything including the bus station where the airport bus would drop us off. It cost around €80 per night and it was a comfortable room with free wifi, a roomy bathroom and was basic but value for money.
What is there to do in Seville?
Visit the Alcazar Palace & Seville Cathedral
The Alcazar Palace
The Real Alcázar de Sevilla is the Royal Palace of Seville. The name ‘Alcazar’ means castle in Spanish and is derived from the Arabic word al-qasr which means fortress or palace. The complex of palaces is in the Mudéjar style, which is a architectural style with many influences from Moorish and Christian culture. It is probably the oldest palace still in use in Europe; when King Felipe V visits Seville, this UNESCO-listed palace is still his residence.
We unfortunately didn’t visit this palace as the queue was about a mile long and we had other sights to see. From peeking through the fence it looked amazing. So if Castles are your thing then don’t miss it.
Entrance tickets for the Palace are €12.50 with guided tours starting from €30.
Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage site.
The cathedral’s construction lasted over a century, from 1401 to 1506. It is said that when the plans were drawn up, church elders stated, “Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad.
The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty, of which the only remaining parts are the Patio de Naranjas, the Puerta del Perdon (on Calle Alemanes, on the north side), and the Giralda (formerly the minaret, now the belltower).
Spend the afternoon at the Plaza d’Espana
This is a magnificent area of Seville. The Plaza de España is a semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end (tall enough to be visible around the city, these towers – north and south – are major landmarks). In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal – the Plaza is known as “the Venice of Seville”. A major tourist attraction, it is the finishing point of horse-and-carriage rides.
The Plaza is situated inside Maria Luisa Park, next to Avenida Isabella La Catolica, a pedestriansed avenue with ice-cream sellers and bike rental stands – this is the best way to reach the park, entering near the Teatro Lope de Vega and Fabrica de Tabaco. You also can reach the park from the Prado de San Sebastián (served by metro, bus and tram) on one side, or the river on the other.
To fully experience the park then hire one of the rowing boats and spend the afternoon making your way round the canal. It only costs €6 for 35 mins or you can pay for longer if you want. There are snack stalls and ice cream sellers which makes it lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Climb up the Setas parasols
The structure consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms (“Las setas” in Spanish), whose design is inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in the nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. Metropol Parasol is organized in four levels. The underground level (Level 0) houses the Antiquarium, where Roman and Moorish remains discovered on site are displayed in a museum. Level 1 (street level) is the Central Market. The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza, shaded by the wooden parasols above and designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 are the two stages of the panoramic terraces (including a restaurant), offering one of the best views of the city centre.
Visit the Torre del Oro & the Plaza de Toros
Torre del Oro
The Torre del Oro is the “Tower of Gold” in Seville. The 36-meter-high tower was built by the Almohads in the 12th century and was part of the Moorish city wall, which ran between the Alcazar Palace and the rest of Seville. The purpose of the tower was to control shipping on the Guadalquivir.
A heavy chain ran under water from the massive tower to the other side to prevent enemy ships from sailing on the river.
Today, a maritime museum is located on the top floor of the Torre del Oro. The Museo Naval is a small museum and displays antique shipping instruments, scale models and sea maps. You also have a nice view over the Guadalquivir from this location.
It costs €3 to enter the tower for adults and €1.50 for children.
The Plaza de Toros
The Plaza de Toros de Sevilla is the largest and most important arena for bullfighting in Spain. For example, the largest bullfighting festival in the world is held during the festival week in April. The full name is “La Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla”. The oval arena is located in the El Arenal harbour district, was built in the 18th century and can accommodate 13,000 spectators. The Plaza de Toros has a unique Baroque façade, dating from 1762-1881.
In the Plaza de Toros, there is also the ‘Museum of bullfighting’ with, among other things, a hall with paintings about bullfighting. The museum displays all kinds of objects that show the history and evolution of bullfighting and toreros in Spain.
Entrance to the museum and a guided tour of the arena cost €8 for adults and €5 for children
Bizet’s Carmen and Seville
Carmen, the opera by Bizet is Chris’s favorite and Seville is famous for 2 exports – Seville Oranges and Carmen.
The tobacco factory, one of the featured locations in the opera is still very much prominent in the city. Now used as part of the university of seville is history is that of a cigarette factory is part of the fabric of Seville.
In the summer there are Carmen tours visiting the selected sights in the city attributed to Bizet’s character.
The Food of Seville
What can I say about the food in Seville apart from its Tapas Galore and they are absolutely delicious. I just want to note a few of the places we visited that we absolutely loved.
This restaurant is reputed to be the oldest restaurant in Seville and opened its doors in 1670. Huddle at the bar with the locals who order the delicious tapas from the servers who add up your bill in chalk right on the bar. Wonderful experience.
Bodega Dos de Mayo
We found this tapas bar on our first night in Seville and it was fairly close to our hotel. Meats and cheeses and a good red wine were on the cards and it was absolutely delicious. We managed to get a seat at the bar quite quickly and it was fantastic to see the locals, out on a Friday night and enjoying the food and wine.
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Hike the El Caminito del Rey which is a fantastic Andalusian walk taking through the history of these gorges and the workers who used them
As part of our Andalusian New Year adventure that would take us to Seville, Cadiz, El Chorro we also wanted to visit the city of Cordoba as its historical centre is listed as a world UNESCO heritage site and its got some fantastic buildings.
Our day trip to Cadiz was part of our New Years trip to Seville and as Cadiz was only a train ride away we decided to visit. Our trip to Cadiz was inspired by Rick Stein and his Long Weekends TV series.