Europe,  Spain

Seville – Gateway to the Glory of Andalusia

Travel’s off the agenda for the moment but that shouldn’t stop us exploring our next trip. Isn’t the planning half the fun, after all? And if you’ve not been to Seville then now’s the time to add it to the top of your list of European getaways.

Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It’s also one of Europe’s great cities – rich in history and culture and infused with an exciting culinary tradition.

What’s more, it sits at the centre of a rail network that can deliver the outward-bound tourist to a range of spectacular outlying towns. If you’ve the time and inclination it’s possible to explore some amazing destinations without breaking the bank. That’s got to sound good!

Seville

Seville is beautiful – there’s no denying it. Grand palaces and a stunning cathedral are just the tip of the iceberg. Around every corner there awaits another treat for the eyes. 

For example, the narrow streets in the old town are lined with vibrant cafes and traditional restaurants, which are all used by locals; this area isn’t a tourist trap.

Moreover, it’s full of reasonably priced hotels so finding a place to stay isn’t in amongst the jumble of alleys isn’t difficult, although finding your way home after a couple of drinks can prove challenging.

Importantly, you’ll be able to walk to most of the places you’ll want to visit, which is both handy and cost-effective. 

An absolute favourite destination of mine is The Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa, which was built as part of the city’s Ibero-American Exposition. The 1929 event aimed to improve trade relations between Spain and the Americas and the park still contains many of the overseas pavilions.

However, none come close to the grandeur and beauty of the main plaza, which is simply stunning. A trivia fact for film buffs: it was used as a location in one the Star Wars films.

The city is also famous for the royal Alcázar palace, built by Peter of Castile on the site of a Muslim fortress destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville. It’s a stunning complex, built in Mudéjar style and its upper floors are still occupied by the Spanish royal family. The palace was registered as a UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987. 

The third great building of Seville is the city’s gothic Saint Mary of the See Cathedral, which is the site of the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral became the largest cathedral in the world, a title it held for nearly a thousand years. Along ide is a minaret turned bell tower, the Giralda, which is equally impressive. 

Seville is a flat city, which makes it ideal for bikes. In fact, two wheels is a great way to get around as many of the streets are narrow, car-free thoroughfares.

You’ll be able to get out to the city famed Bull Ring, which is now a museum, and the wonderfully odd Metropol Parasol, popularly known as the Mushrooms of the Incarnation. This 26 metres high wooden structure is located in the central Plaza de la Encarnación and you can go up it in a lift. Once up top you can have a cocktail while enjoying the views.

And there’s more… world class galleries and museums, the river and its bridges and the local food. Seville is worth three days of anyone’s time and even then you’ll have only scratched the surface. For now, though, it’s off to the railway station – a monumental slab of concrete to the north of the town. What it lacks in beauty, however, it more than makes up for with destinations…

Day trips from Seville

Want to learn more about what the region has to offer? We recommend Lonely Planet’s Andalucia Travel Guide.

Cádiz 

The history of Cádiz is inextricably linked to the sea. The town is almost entirely surrounded by water and is still a working port today, a tradition that stretches back until at least the 7th Century BC when the Phoenicians first used the location as a harbour. Cádiz itself was founded around 1100 BC, making it one of the oldest cities still standing in Western Europe.

It’s just two hours away from Seville on the train so you can spend a good few hours enjoying the sites. So what’s to see during your day trip? Well, there’s the remains of one of the largest Roman theatres ever excavated. There’s not much to see, in fairness, but what there is suggests something monumental. 

There’s also the cathedral, which is really imposing – dwarfing the other buildings that surround it. It was started in 1722 but took nearly a century to complete; as a result it’s a mix of architectural styles from Baroque and Neoclassical. This gives it a slightly otherworldly appearance that’s enhanced by its location. 

For people looking to get away from the bustle there’s the city beach – it’s far more impressive than the title might suggest – and Genoves Park, the largest public garden in the city, a green haven of peace and tranquillity. An ideal place to sit and watch the world go by. Also not to be missed is the Museum of Cadiz with its Phoenician and Roman archaeological remains.

Jerez

Jerez de la Frontera, more commonly called simply Jerez, is an hour out of Seville. The Frontera part of its names comes from the days when it stood at the frontier between the Christian north and the Muslim south.  

The city is famous for horses and sherry but it’s got far more to offer for visitors than these two headline grabbers.

For starters, you’ll want to visit The Alcázar of Jerez de la Frontera, a former Moorish palace that later became the residence of the first Christian mayors. Its towers provide magnificent views across the town and there’s plenty to enjoy within its walls.

The camera obscura atop the main building has been out of order for some time but there’s an old apothecary on display, which is odd but fun.

The Museo Arqueológico Municipal is great – a small but perfectly formed museum that is really well laid out. It also contains a number of unique items, such as the Ídolos oculado, whose purpose is largely unknown. It also contains some early burials and the obligatory range of Phoenician and Roman artefacts. 

For those with a thirst for knowledge you can take one of the sherry tours. Or for those that want to explore the region’s equine heritage head over to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. And don’t forget the cathedral

Why not book a tour while you’re in Andalucia?? Check out what’s available over at TripAdvisor.

Córdoba

The final day out is to Córdoba – another hour-long train ride from Seville. The main attraction here is Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba, which simply dazzling.

The exact origins of the site are lost in time but what exists todays is a stunningly beautiful mosque that now serves as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. It’s unmissable and worth the cost of the train journey in itself.

The city also has an old Jewish quarter, the wonderful Roman bridge [which is still in use] and Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, which boasts a varied history including being used by Napoleon Bonaparte’s to garrison his troops in 1810.

Its gardens are especially enjoyable, especially on a sunny day. In fact, Córdoba is filled with flowers and green spaces, making it an ideal place to meandering walks. 

Ready to book your accommodation? We recommend using Hotels.com.

La conclusión

Whether you’re using Seville as a base or stopping by as part of a wider tour through the peninsula you’ll not be disappointed. Southern Spain has so much to offer and there’s barely an inch of Andalusia that isn’t worth your time.

The great thing is that even if you’ve been before the journey is always an great investment – there’s so much to see and do that you couldn’t possibly take it all in on one trip. 

Day trips from Seville – Pin for later!


This is a guest post by Anthony Clark, journalist, copywriter and longtime friend of the Ladies What Travel team. He loves beer, cheese and travel and is a genius when it comes to making the most of his annual leave.

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