In early November, I took a trip to the Spanish city of Seville with my boyfriend for our third year anniversary. Prior to booking this trip, I had heard very little about Seville and what the city had to offer so I was going into this trip quite blind and I liked it that way. I had seen very few social posts about the city and I think it has gone relatively under the radar for mainstream tourists. Of course, it has now been listed as a top destination for 2018 by Lonely Planet so I’m sure this will change very soon. But I wanted to share a little bit about the things I got up to on my visit and the wonderful things that we got to see.
Where we stayed
We landed on a Sunday afternoon and despite being in November, the sky was completely blue and the weather was very pleasant. We stayed a little away from the main city centre at the Silken Al-Andalus Palace hotel just a few steps from the Benito Villamarín Stadium, home of the Real Betis football team. From first impressions, the hotel seemed nothing less than grand and fabulous. It really wasn’t what we had expected, especially since we’d had such a bargain deal through Booking.com. Yet, our room was a good size, the breakfast buffet had such a variety of options that would cater to everyone and they even had a pool if we wanted a relaxing day in the sun. I couldn’t have asked for more from them.
Maria Luisa Park (Parque de María Luisa)
As soon as we had landed and checked in, we dumped our bags into the hotel room and headed out into the city centre. I already knew that I wanted my first stop to be the Maria Luisa Park. I’d seen pictures on Lonely Planet so I was keen to get there as soon as possible. Originally the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo, the park was donated to the city of Seville in 1893 to be used as a public park. Today, the park has so many incredibly beautiful features including the Museum of Arts and Traditions of Seville and the Pavilion of King Alfonso XII of Spain. It’s such a wide open green space, a botanical garden with so many lovely water monuments – I could have stayed here all day. It’s a great place to sit and people watch and it’s completely free.
Plaza de España
Within the Maria Luisa Park is the Plaza de España. This is probably one of the most well-known images associated with the city and I was so excited to visit this square but I couldn’t have been prepared for how truly beautiful it really it. It’s a very grand building, spanning an incredible space. It was great to see the building lit up by the by the natural sunlight. We stopped and took a flurry of photos because I couldn’t get enough of the square – it’s a space that I hope to return to one day soon. Of course, walking around the square is completely free but you can pay to go on little rowing boats on the river through the square which looked absolutely adorable.
Based in the heart of the city centre, The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is a Roman Catholic Church. It’s been named as the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its incredible history. We decided to book a guided tour of the Cathedral which included a tour of its tower. This set us back €15 each and the tours were not instant – once we had paid on the ticket desk we had to return at a later time. However, it did give us chance to learn more about the history of the Cathedral, see how it has been developed over time and we had some incredible city views as the golden hour was setting in which meant that we had the chance to view the sun setting over the city. This was one of the most memorable parts of our visit and I would highly recommend doing this tour, especially if you can book it for late in the afternoon as we did.
Devour Seville Tours
One activity that we did on our trip was the Devour Seville tapas and flamenco tour. We both really wanted to see a flamenco show and were keen to find the best tapas in the city so this seemed like a great solution to these targets. It was such a good experience and you can read more about it in a previous blog here.
On our second day, we visited the famous Real Alcázar having bought our tickets whilst waiting in a very busy queue – there’s a top tip for you right there. This is a Spanish Palace in the centre of the city which was originally developed by Moorish Muslim Kings. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987 as it represented the survival of cultures and civilisation as a whole and is noted as one of the most beautiful buildings in Spain but having visited, it’s not hard to see why. The building is incredibly unique and represents the wonderful character of modern-day Spain as a whole. What you may not have realised is that this site is home to the filming of Game of Thrones’ region of Dorne. We could have spent our whole day at this venue as it’s so large and picturesque – you could get lost in the gardens themselves. Tickets are €9.50 and I think this is an unmissable stop for anyone heading to Seville at any season of the year.
Despite not hearing of this before arriving in the city, we first headed to the Metropol Parasol on our third day. This is a wooden structure built in the old quarter of Seville. It’s a relatively new attraction for the city, having only been completed in 2011, earning the title of the largest wooden structure in the world. For just €3 each, we were able to go to the top of the structure to witness some picturesque cityscape views. Included in this price is also a free drink on the bottom floor of the structure or it will get you €1 off a chosen drink at the top – it’s your choice how you use it! We chose to use ours at the top to have some wine with a view.
Seville is a truly remarkable city with a tremendous history. It’s a city which is friendly, quite religious and offers a warm and welcoming culture. As you can gather from the contents of this blog, there is so much to see in the city and so much to learn about its history. I would have loved to have spent more time there – three days really didn’t seem like enough. But I highly recommend visiting and looking up all of these stops when you do.