Living in Spain I have a wealth of beautiful areas to explore at my fingertips, but spend all my time yearning for longer distance travels. However when time is short the options are limited, so at the start of July my daughter and I decided to take a trip to Seville.
We were on a budget so booked a hostel. Normally I avoid hostels but my last experience of one in Stockholm made me more open minded to trying another. I don’t do the shared dorm thing, but don’t mind sharing bathroom facilities if I at least get a private room and the reviews are good. So that was the deal, we found a budget hostel with good reviews in the middle of Seville and booked. Just an hour away from Alicante by plane. We took the airport bus to Seville bus station and walked to the hostel from here – about 15 minutes walk.
Four nights in Hostel Central Sevilla cost us €116 which I thought was good considering it was July. The check in process was simple. On arrival we picked up the key from a hostel around the corner and were then shown the way to our hostel. We had arrived quite early but the room was ready for us which was great.
The initial impression of the hostel was that it was clean and there were plenty of bathrooms – five I think, all full bathrooms and they were regularly cleaned. It had a cute kitchen area with a small eating area and cubby holes for each room for food storage. As far as my limited experience of hostels go it was a good start.
The room was basic but more than adequate and the wardrobe had plenty of hangers which isn’t always the case. So we dumped our bags and headed out. We had a rough itinerary to follow but also played it by ear. This is some of what we did with our four days in Seville.
First off, I have a bit of a patatas bravas fetish so had to try some here. They didn’t disappoint!
Parque de Maria & the Plaza de España
The south end of Seville has been given over to green park areas culminating in the large and very pretty Parque de María Luisa which was lovely to walk around and feel at one with nature. It also provides plenty of shaded spots if you are looking to escape the heat of the sun. You almost feel as though you are in another place as you wander through the tall palms and trees which surround fountains and pavilions.
It was all very picturesque and peaceful. You can wander around what feels like a tropical jungle in places, buy an ice cream and sit and take in the beauty and calm. As lovely as this was though, nothing prepared us for the beauty and WOW factor of the Plaza de España a little bit further on.
If you want to read about the history of the plaza you can do so here as I will not be able to do it justice. You will find the plaza at the north end of the Parque de María and it is stunning. If you are in Seville you cannot miss this place! It is a semi-circle shape of grandiose buildings that are connected to the middle of the plaza by beautiful bridges.
There is a fountain in the middle and a moat running under the bridges where you can hire little boats.
There haven’t been too many places that have taken my breath away but this did. The grandeur of it, the colours, everywhere you looked there was something beautiful. The intricate tile work and the ceramic columns. The little bookshelves around the walls.
The whole place really blew my mind. The detailing of it is so intricate and the colours are beautiful. While we were standing admiring the view a couple next to us had their phone stolen so do be careful – obviously this applies anywhere – we were lucky it wasn’t us.
If you come to Seville and you have time then come back at night to see it lit up, it’s just as beautiful but in a different way.
We headed to see Las Setas (the mushrooms) in the evening, so called because they look like mushrooms.
It was closed at our first visit, so do check the times of opening, although it was meant to be open. As of December 2019 the opening hours are: Friday and Saturday 10am – 11pm and then Sunday to Thursday 10am – 10.30pm. Check here.
Las Setas is a series of walkways from which you can take in the view of Seville. There is elevator access to the top.
Tickets cost €3 but if you were born in Seville or are a resident admission is free
It doesn’t take long to walk around but it is worth the entry cost for the lovely views. You would be pushed to spend more than 45 minutes here although there is a café if you want to sit and rest a while.
The Alcazar of Seville
No trip to Seville would be complete without visiting The Alcazar, the royal palace.
This place was also beautiful and the gardens (with wild roaming peacocks) are so expansive you wouldn’t know there is a city outside their walls.
We bought our tickets online. They were €9.50 each for the basic ticket (again, residents or those born in Sevilla can get in free). You can buy an audio guide or join a tour but I always like to go at my own pace. Buy the tickets online to avoid waiting as there were long queues every time we walked past. The official website to get tickets (and check opening times) is https://www.alcazarsevilla.org
Although there were long queues outside it didn’t feel too busy once inside due to them staggering entry and the size of it. You really wouldn’t imagine there to be such an expansive area inside the city. There is a maze in the gardens and undergound baths where it is said that María de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel, used to bathe here.
Along with the Plaza de España this has to be on your list of things to do in Seville.
Near the Alcazar you cannot miss the tall bell tower of the cathedral of Seville – the world’s largest cathedral actually!
This looked like it would be worth a visit but we didn’t do it as we were a little cultured out by then and just enjoyed admiring it from the outside. For those that would like to find out more about tickets and opening times you can look at the official website https://www.catedraldesevilla.es/
Hire a bike in Seville!
We hired two bikes (€10 each for the day) and rode northwards along the river Guadalquivir. We cycled to Parque del Alamillo, over a bridge at the end, a lovely park area with lots of routes to explore, pathways and lakes.
On the way back from here we came across, quite by mistake, the egg shaped monument to Christopher Columbus which is actually just to the north east of the park.
There are lots of areas to stop along this cycle route so pack some food and enjoy a picnic by the river, like we did. We had not one, but TWO punctures, the same bike each time, but with a call to the company they sent someone out quickly to fix it so it wasn’t too much of a problem.
Try some vino de naranja!
Seville is known for amongst other things, its famous orange wine – or vino de naranja. You don’t get a large glass of orange flavoured wine to guzzle down. You get a smaller, dainty drink that is designed to be sipped and savoured. It’s quite strong so that is probably why!
Sweet and orangey, it reminded me of a sherry type drink. Worth a try while you are there. We found a really cute café down a side street and they also sold bottles you could take home (alas we were hand baggage only).
Indulge your sweet tooth!
Not too far from our hostel was a bubble waffle and crepe place and my sweet tooth just had to have a bubble waffle. If you are in Seville and have a sweet tooth like I do, pay Crepita a visit. The woman running it is from Italy and is making a go of her cute and tasty business in the heart of Seville. Waffles, pancakes, ice creams and smoothies too.
Seville is a beautiful city with plenty to do and lush park areas to go and relax in. Explore the streets of the old town and stop and rest in one of the many little cafés and bars. There are all the usual high street shops as well as independent offerings if you want to do some shopping.
The only thing about Seville I didn’t like (and I know it happens in lots of places) was the use of horses and carts to carry tourists around. It was so hot and I hated seeing the horses having to pull people around. I really felt like telling them to get out and walk! We need to stop using animals in the tourist trade. Take a hint from Central Park in New York and use carts powered by human power!!
Apart from this I recommend Seville wholeheartedly and would say three full days is probably the perfect amount of time to do almost everything, if you want to relax a bit more then four days in Seville would be ideal. Keep your camera or phone charged for all the photos you will want to take!
The hostel we stayed in was in a perfect location for all our exploring (and shopping) and I would stay here again if I was on a budget. The only downside was the air conditioning built into the walls and on a timer that we couldn’t control. It went off around 11pm every night which made it hard to get to sleep as it was hot! This wouldn’t be an issue in the cooler months and maybe they would have put it on for just another hour or two but we didn’t ask. Don’t ask, don’t get!
Recommended time to visit: May – June and September – October, before it gets too hot or too busy.
Recommended length of visit: 3-4 days to do most if not all of the main sights.
HINT: The bus from the airport to the city is €4 one way or €6 return. You can pay with cash or card at the airport stand but on the way back the bus only takes cash! Why we didn’t buy a return in the first place I don’t know, but we didn’t have €8 cash between us on the way back, so a kind stranger offered to pay for us, and I paid him back by card transfer!
I hope this has helped you if you are thinking of visiting Seville. If you have any questions just let me know below.