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House of Pilatos, Seville
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 12 best things to do in Seville

From jaw-dropping palaces to hidden tapas gems, here are the best things to do in Seville on every budget

Written by
Mary-Ann Gallagher

Sometimes all you need is a scorching hot city break, right? We’ve got just the place. The best thing about one of Spain's hottest cities is that just three days is enough to get the most out of this beautiful city, without getting FOMO about all the things you haven’t ticked off your list.

Seville is a city full of beautiful architecture, old palaces and seriously good tapas, and you could certainly spend your days exploring without a plan. But there are certain things you absolutely cannot miss when you’re in this Spanish haven, and that’s where we come in. From brilliant bars to the Royal Alcázar itself, here are the best things to do in Seville right now, selected by us. Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out Seville's best Airbnbs.

📍 Our guide to essential Seville
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🎨 The best things to do in Malaga
🧳 The best places to visit in Spain
🇪🇸 The best things to do in Spain

Planning your next trip? Check out our latest travel guides, written by local experts. 

Seville things to do

Royal Alcázar of Seville
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Dmitry Dzhus

1. Royal Alcázar of Seville

What is it? If you do nothing else in Seville, visit the Royal Alcázar of Seville. This is the oldest royal palace in Europe, full of incredible Moorish and Christian architecture and design, and its fascinating history stretches back over a thousand years.  

Why go? History buff or not, you’ll love it here. Every nook and cranny to discover and every minute detail in the mosaics make it worth the trip, and you’ll want to get lost for hours in its high ceilings, peaceful waters and serene green gardens. 

Cathedral and La Giralda
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Anita Gould

2. Cathedral and La Giralda

What is it? The largest church in the whole world, this cathedral will have you swooning whether you’re a seasoned church-goer or not. The Sevillanos purposely built it so that it would be absolutely massive, with a plan that everyone would ‘think they were mad’. They succeeded. 

Why go? Columbus’ tomb (no, we cannot confirm nor deny whether his actual skeleton is in there), is really something to behold, and is surrounded by picturesque orange trees. You should also climb the Giralda bell tower which gives you incredible views of the city. 

El Rinconcillo
Photograph: Courtesy El Rinconcillo

3. El Rinconcillo

What is it? The oldest bar in Seville, dating back to 1670, this minuscule spot is atmospherically lined with dusty bottles and hung with hams. Undoubtedly a tourist haunt, it’s still worth a visit to watch the aproned waiters deftly dishing up tapas and ice-cold fino.

Why go? This bar, for all its popularity, has fiercely resisted all attempts to modernise, and it’s one of the last places in town where your bill comes chalked on the countertop. Perfect for a glass of sherry and a plate of wafer-thin ham, it’s also fun to see if you can get the famously gruff waiters to crack a smile.

Metropol Parasol (Las Setas)
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Hernán Piñera

4. Metropol Parasol (Las Setas)

What is it? Officially called the Metropol Parasol but universally known as Las Setas (‘the mushrooms’), this is the world’s largest wooden structure. Designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer, it was completed in 2011, and the building inspires equal amounts of love and hate.

Why go? Look under the birch parasols, and you’ll find a great produce market (with a couple of cafés), and a museum of Roman and medieval finds (discovered during the construction), but the biggest draw is the fabulous view from the rooftop walkways.

Photograph: Courtesy Espacio Eslava

5. Eslava

What is it? The Eslava was one of the first of the new breed of Sevillano tapas bars to serve contemporary cuisine. Still a big local favourite, it’s always a squeeze to get into the simple, blue-painted bar, but well worth it for the creative tapas. 

Why go? It’s hard to pick a favourite here, but the signature dish – a slow-cooked egg on a wild mushroom ‘cake’ with caramelised wine reduction – is hard to beat. The menu also has plenty of deftly handled classics.

Museo de Bellas Artes
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Son of Groucho

6. Museo de Bellas Artes

What is it? Seville’s inexplicably little-visited Museum of Fine Arts is housed in the sixteenth-century Convento de la Merced, and its high-ceilinged galleries are arranged around elegant courtyards. It’s full of remarkable Spanish paintings and sculptures from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. 

Why go? This is one of Spain’s biggest fine art museums, and its extensive collection includes works by El Greco, Velázquez and Murillo. Take a breather in the charming courtyard with a little boxwood maze.

Barrio de la Cruz
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/J.A.Alcaide

7. Barrio de la Cruz

What is it? Seville’s old Jewish Quarter is the Spain that everyone dreams of; whitewashed lanes, balconies spilling over with scarlet geraniums, fountains tinkling in secret tiled courtyards.

Why go? It’s a place to abandon the map and wander at will, exploring the whitewashed maze of narrow alleys and pretty squares. Stop for the killer tortillita de camarones (shrimp omelette) at the Bodega Santa Cruz (better known as ‘Las Columnas’). Well, when it reopens, at least. 

Parque María Luisa
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Edmund Gall

8. Parque María Luisa

What is it? This elegant, intrinsically Andalusian park was created as the focal point for the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana. Shady walkways, covered in colourful tiles and dotted with fountains, expand around the central Plaza de España, where two handsome pavilions now function as museums.

Why go? A delicious oasis in the heart of the city, this is a place to linger. You can also rent a bike or, if you’re feeling cultural, visit the museums of archaeology and folklore.

Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Alameda

What is it? Alameda is now possibly Seville’s hippest, alternative neighbourhood, packed with funky shops and bars. The centrepiece is the Alameda de Hercules, a tree-lined square crowned by a pair of Roman columns. 

Why go? Come for a stroll along the Alameda de Hercules, a peek at the art in the Convento Santa Clara, coffee at an offbeat café such as Gigante (also great for cocktails), and then a spot of vintage shopping (Buhoneras is a treasure trove of funky finds).

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Fernando Arconada

10. Triana

What is it? Triana is a traditionally humble neighbourhood across the Guadalquivir that retains lots of authentic charm despite recent gentrification. Long famous for its ceramics (check out the Centro Cerámica museum) and flamenco taverns, its riverfront bars are perfect for cooling off on hot summer nights.

Why go? Potter around the fantastic food market, pick up some ceramics (Cerámica Triana has a fantastic choice), then eat lunch somewhere like century-old Mariatrifulca.

Casa de Pilatos
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Casa de Pilatos

What is it? This spectacular fifteenth-century Andalusian palace, arranged around a magnificent marble courtyard, is the residence of the Dukes of Medinaceli. Everywhere you turn are dazzling ceilings, woodwork, azulejo tiles and stucco to admire, but it’s the secret garden that truly bewitches.

Why go? For all its opulence, this beautiful palace feels like a secret oasis. Its courtyard gardens are ablaze with colourful flowers. The Medinaceli collection – paintings, sculptures and objects – are displayed in the sumptuous salons.

Bar Lola de los Reyes
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jean-David & Anne-Laure

12. Bar Lola de los Reyes

What is it? This spacious tavern, run by the eponymous Lola, is one of the best places to see authentic flamenco. Located in Triana, flamenco’s heartland in Seville, it has no microphones and no frills, but Lola has a voice that will give you goosebumps.

Why go? Seville has many places to see flamenco, including many tourist-oriented tablaos (the Tablao El Arenal is good). But if you want something accessible yet intimate, head to Lola’s in Triana, where a mix of locals and visitors soak up the Duende.

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