Life is better when you're in Seville. Bask in the sunlight, smell the orange trees, and feel the cobblestones beneath your feet. Discover the intricate layers of history not only through its dazzling royal palace and immense cathedral, but also with hidden museums, traditional tapas and restful parks. Christopher Columbus understood the pleasures of Seville all too well, so it is only fitting that it serve as his final resting place.
Compass & Key brings you five itineraries for wandering Seville and its many diverse districts. As with all of our guides, you are encouraged to use these itineraries as a starting point to make your own memories.
Dates to the 8th Century BC
Hosted Two World Expositions
100 Miles of Cycle Lanes
Origin of Tapas
Springtime in Seville (March-May) offers pleasant weather and the opportunity to attend festivals like Semana Santa and Feria de Abril. Summers are hot (sometimes unbearably) and often busy with tourists. Starting in September, the crowds have dissipated and the temperatures are more reasonable. Compass & Key visited Seville in late November and enjoyed mild weather, short lines and few crowds at the majority of popular sites.
Compass & Key recommends two hotels in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter, both within short walking distance of the major sites. For the entire curated list of hotels in Seville, visit the Compass & Key Hotel List.
Hotel Alfonso XIII ($$$, hotel-alfonsoxiii-seville.com) is the grande dame of Sevillan hotels, with a veritable who's who list of royal and celebrity guests over it's 88 years. After a $25M renovation is 2012, the hand-painted tiles and wall murals, wood-carved furnishings, and marble floors have been restored to recall its imperial past. We thoroughly enjoyed the enviable location, where you are immediately immersed in the sights and sounds of Seville. Enjoy a cocktail in the Art Deco-style Bar Americano or from the rooftop terrace, open seasonally. The hotel is part of the SPG luxury collection for all you Starwood fans.
Palacio de Villapanés ($$, palaciovillapanes.com) elegantly balances it's origins as an 18th century palace with modern amenities and design. Nestled along a small street in Santa Cruz, the hotel is located within walking distance of the city highlights while providing a peaceful retreat. We felt very much at home during our two-night stay. It is part of the Small Luxury Hotel (SLH) collection as well as Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Palacio de Villapanés was the lucky recipient of a masterful renovation, easing this stunning stone palace out of the 18th century and into the 21st. All the grandeur remains, but the marble columns, iron gates, vast wooden doors and vaulted ceilings have had a dose of technology added: Loewe TVs, WiFi and even Macs in Suites.
Seville cuisine goes well beyond tapas. Here are three of our favorites. Create a DIY tapas tour through stops on our itineraries The Heart of Seville or Local Life in La Macarena, or go for a guided tour through Compass & Key favorite, Not Just a Tourist. Make sure to try Tinto con Limón, a simple refreshing treat of red wine served over ice with sparkling lemonade. For a complete list of recommended restaurants, check out our interactive map.
Featured in our "Royalty for a Day" itinerary, Abantal is one of two in Seville with a Michelin star and highly recommended.
Popular restaurant La Azotea has several locations throughout Seville. Enjoy traditional Spanish dishes like Salmorejo, a tomato soup with Iberian ham.
HOW TO GET THERE
While there are flights to Seville airport (SVQ), prices can be high. Compass & Key recommends flying to Madrid (MAD), which offers more direct flights from major cities and can be less costly. From Madrid airport, take the T4 express bus 30-minutes to Madrid Atocha station. Then take the scenic 2h30 high-speed train to Seville, dropping you off just a few miles from the city center (20-minutes driving or 30-minutes walking). This also allows you to spend some time in Madrid, another world-class city. Our flight arrived into Madrid mid-morning, and we spent several hours wandering the city before hopping a late afternoon train to Seville. The afternoon activity also helped us fight jet lag.
Exploring Seville is easy on foot. The Sevici bike share system offers 250 docking stations all over Seville, providing simple access to sites beyond the primary tourist attractions. Buses C1 to C6 operate around the city center and taxis are cheap. If you plan on taking public transport, purchase one-day (€5) or three-day (€10) transport cards (called 'Tarjeta Multiviaje') for unlimited travel. During our five days in Seville, we got around on foot and bike.
WHERE TO GO
Compass & Key has curated five itineraries for wandering Seville. Scroll below the map overview and click on the name of each itinerary for a dynamic map and guide.
A collection of our must-have guide books to this glorious city. Click on the images to purchase online through Amazon, or note the titles and go to your favorite local bookstore.
If you're planning on exploring beyond Seville, this Eyewitness Guide is ideal. Includes detailed illustrations of both the Cathedral and Real Alcázar.
These three tiny booklets - one for each country - are the size of a credit card and help navigate Spanish menus with a simple A to Z glossary.
An ode to the beauty of Spain as discovered by famed author James Michener, in one of his most successful works of nonfiction.
The Official Seville Visitors Bureau to browse for events during your trip and the latest news about the city. For information about the region in and around Seville, visit the Andalucia Visitors Bureau.
Not Just a Tourist, a Seville-based tour company founded and run by two locals and offering a range of distinctive tours in and around Seville. Compass & Key enjoyed our first tour so much that we signed up for a second!
Eat With - Seville, where you can book meals and cooking classes hosted by locals. Recommended for the first or second day of your trip so you can ask your host about unique things to do and see.
Peruse our curated selections of restaurants, hotels and more unique sights through our interactive map of Seville. Click on the circular tag icon in the upper right corner to filter the map by category. For a fullscreen view, click here, although the filter function is not available.
CURATED STORIES FROM AROUND THE WEB
Metropol Parasol, a contemporary structure with Roman ruins underneath, spurred revitalization, including hip boutiques.
Spectacular architecture, vibrant festivals and flamenco flamboyance; Seville has plenty of peacock oomph. There is the cathedral designed so that "those who see it built will say we're mad"; its Plaza de España, created for the world expo in 1929; the Real Alcázar (royal palace), as seen in Game of Thrones; plus the winding alleys of the Jewish quarter (Santa Cruz).
When you are in Seville, imagine how it once was: the gateway to the New World, to the Americas and to Asia. Galleons laden with bullion, dyes such as cochineal and indigo, chocolate, Aztec sculptures that amazed Durer, arriving on the Guadalquivir River.