Visiting The Royal Alcázar and Five Other Things to Do in Seville, Spain
Plaza de Sevilla - Sevilla, Spain.jpg

S E V I L L E

SPAIN

Spain. It’s one of those countries that’s been on my non-existent bucket list forever, but never one I was planning on checking off any time soon. In my head, Spain was a place of color and life and music and food. In reality, Spain was like stepping into a romantic history novel of passion and dancing and flavors and vibrance, where every experience felt more dramatic than the next and each day turned the page to a rich story of who a city once was and who she has become. 

HOW LONG TO STAY IN SEVILLE

The first thing you’ll want to know when planning your time in Spain (or any city for that matter) is how long you should stay there. I will tell you up front, we ONLY visited Seville, so I can’t speak to how long you should spend in the entire country of Spain. What I will share in this post, and all other posts moving forward, is the minimum time needed to hit the highlights. 

Now, I know - travel isn’t just to hit the tourists attractions and shouldn’t be rushed and you can’t know a city in a day. Trust me, I get that. But at the end of the day, you only have so much vacation and your budget is tight and you have other places you’d like to see so here we are.  

Minimum Time Needed in Seville: 1.5 Days

As Seville was not even a part of our initial travel agenda, I only allotted a day and a half to explore this city. Based on my research, it felt relatively small and one and a half days was a manageable amount of time for the things we wanted to do. Turns out the city IS relatively small, meaning it was walk-able, and there was little time wasted in transit.

The rest of this post outlines how we spent that day and a half, which we moved through at a leisurely pace. However, if I had the chance to re-plan this trip, I would have set aside two full days here (and sacrificed one of our days in Lisbon) if just to eat more tapas, drink more sangria and check out more flamenco.

Everything highlighted below was done in our one full day, with the half day before consisting a stroll through the Triana district (head here to find a plethora of Spanish tile shops), tapas and sangria and a nightly stroll to Plaza de Espana. So I guess if you REALLY only had one day, you could do it, you just might feel a little more rushed than we did. Again, everyone travels differently, so do what works best for you! 

A DAY’S WORTH OF SEVILLE

The Royal Alcázar of Seville

If you only do ONE thing in Seville, it must be to visit The Royal Alcázar of Seville. Hands down this is one of my favorite historic places we’ve ever seen. So much of American history began within its walls and the exploration of Christopher Columbus is still celebrated there today. 

Should you purchase early access/guided tour tickets? - Yes

I would highly recommend buying tickets in advance. Any main landmark in Europe is going to get pretty busy pretty fast, and buying a guided tour with early access is always a game changer. We all know you can do Disney without fast passes and we all know how that goes. 

The later in the day, the more crowded it becomes, the less likely you are to get shots of the space without 1,000 people in it and the more likely you are to become stressed. Reduce your anxiety. Get pretty shots. Buy the early access guided tour. We used this one and our tour guide was incredible. 

How long does it take? 1-3 hours

The tour itself took around an hour and a half, but we spent an additional hour and a half exploring the grounds on our own. The grounds are pretty expansive, so I’d give yourself ~3 hours total to fully see, enjoy and grab a snack if ya need it. Don’t rush this one! 

Once you’ve checked the Alcázar off your list, the remainder of your day can unfold however you please. Below is how we spent ours and a good starting point for planning, regardless of how long you’re staying in the city!

1: EAT TAPAS & DRINK SANGRIA

Post Alcázar , we were hot and starving and ready for an early lunch. We made reservations the day before at  El Pinton, which ended up being a short walk away.

I found this place during the planning phase of our trip (thanks, Travel and Leisure), and I assumed the vibes would be great and the food just meh. But every. single. thing. we consumed was divine. The fish was savory, the sangria sweet and the espresso strong. Here’s what we ordered:

  • (1) Red Sangria* 

  • (1) White Sangria*

  • (1) Fish Fried from Cadiz

  • (1)  Iberian sirloin stuffed with mushrooms and mushroom sauce

  • (1) Brownie with Ice Cream and Lime  

  • (1) Espresso

*The Sangria here was not your typical Spanish sangria and was MUCH bigger and more potent than any other we had. Be warned! 

You can find the full menu here and be sure to make a reservation!

2. PLAZA DE ESPANA

Tipsy from our strong, yet delicious, sangria, we traipsed towards Plaza de Espana. Erected in 1929 for the Ibero-American expo, this curving piece of architecture now welcomes millions of visitors from across the world. FYI - there’s not actually anything to do here, other than soak in the Spanish tiles, gaze up towards the two imposing towers or row along the canal if your heart so fancies. 

Do I need tickets? - No, there are no tickets needed to visit. 

Tay’s Travel Tip: Try visiting the Plaza more than once during your time in Seville. We actually visited twice, once in the evening and once in the afternoon, and I highly recommend doing both as the space is equally beautiful in both settings. 

Getting there: The Plaza is an easy walk from both The Royal Alcázar and from the Triana district, so you can tack it on as the next destination from either route.

3. TAKE A SIESTA

At this point in the day, you will be extremely exhausted from the heat, sights, and sangria, so it’s time to “when in Rome” and take a siesta. Around four in the afternoon, we headed back to the hotel for a lie down, but if I’m being honest, I’ve never been much of a napper, so I spent my time resting and looking through my photos from the day. However, if you have a husband or kids or family, they’ll thank you. 

Our hotel, Suites Machado, was the perfect place to spend a few relaxing hours. Once a 17th century palace, it now lives on as a hotel fit with luxury suites and a rooftop with views. The stunning views from the roof were irresistible and we found ourselves there more than once. I even spent the night of my 26th birthday there, opening presents, reading cards and listening to the Cathedral bells (which we could see)!

4. SETAS DE SEVILLA

Post siesta, your rejuvenated body and mind are ready to soak in even more of Sevilla, and evening is the perfect time to check out Setas des Seville (or Metropol Parasol). As a short lived architecture major, I can distinctly remember seeing this structure a handful of times in my studies and getting to experience in real life was even better than I’d imagined. It’s an architect’s, photographer’s and tourist’s dream, with rolling wooden structures leading to incredible city views.

Should I buy tickets in advance? - No. You do need to pay to get in, but tickets are 3 euros per person and you can purchase at the site. 

How long does it take? <1 HR

You can spend as much time here as you’d like. We had a flamenco show to get to immediately after, so we only spent 10-15 minutes, but you could spend a solid hour walking around the structure above, or strolling through the Romans ruins below. 

RYAN’S BIT:

“Some might say it’s out of place with the architectural themes of the old city, but I say that it’s a testament to how vibrant and alive Sevilla still is. Out of all the places we’ve visited, I could really see a life in this Spanish city.”

5. GO TO AN AUTHENTIC FLAMENCO SHOW

Ah, flamenco. My most uneducated cultural misconception to date. My preconceived notion of flamenco was one of a dramatic, romantic Spanish dance filled with passion and beautiful dresses. Thank goodness I was wrong. 

In Seville, your flamenco choices are as plentiful as Spanish tile, but it’s important to find one that’s small and private. Our hotel recommended one right next door, Sala Fabiola,  and we headed that way after the Setas. When we arrived,  I assumed we would walk into a large auditorium with a room packed full of people. Instead, I sat down in one of only twenty chairs in the extremely intimate room. There was a small black stage, a wall to wall black curtain and two chairs. Nothing else. 

Do I need to pre-book tickets? - Yes, you can do so here.

The experience was so intimate that I feel if I shared too much information I’m breaking a promise to keep a secret kept for thousands of years. Nevertheless, what I will share is that I was more moved by this experience than any other from this trip. It was mysterious, powerful, emotional, and passionate. I found myself crying more than once, and felt pulled into a different time and space as if reading a book. 

How long does it take? <1 HR

WRAPPING UP THE DAY

After the show, we ate more tapas, shared a bottle of convenience store Spanish wine and soaked in the city from our rooftop with a view. At the end of the day, there were a few things we didn’t get to see like the Plaza de toros and the Seville Cathedral, but we loved it here so much I have a feeling we will be back. Sevilla la Bella! 

Where to next?

Need inspiration on where to go from Seville? You can easily head to Madrid, Barcelona or, like us, hop on a bus to the Algarve region of Portugal. Read more here.

OR

Catch a short flight from Spain -> Italy and check out the Amalfi Coast or Venice