Travel & Destination Info
Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region – a place where history and tradition blend perfectly with the buzz of modern-day life. Famous for Moorish design, museums, galleries and flamenco, Seville also has a vibrant nightlife with traditional tapas bars and iconic local wines aplenty!
Seville – getting there
Seville Airport is served by many international airlines offering great connections from around the globe. Airlines currently operating to Seville are: Air Europa, British Airways, Brussels Airlines (seasonal), easyJet, Edelweiss Air, Iberia Express, Iberia Regional, Lufthansa, Ryanair, TAP Air Portugal, Transavia, Transavia France and Vueling.
Transport from the airport is readily available and it will take approximately 30-35 minutes to reach the city centre.
The EA bus is the cheapest option at €4.00 for a one-way ticket or €6.00 return. The bus stop is located directly outside the main terminal and takes approximately 35 minutes to the stop in Seville which is located at Plaza de Armas – the Melia Sevilla is a 30-minute walk from the bus stop or a €6 – €9 taxi ride.
Taxi’s from the airport will take approximately 30 minutes and the average fare for a single trip is around €20 – €31 depending on traffic. There is also a €0.49 surcharge for each bag over 10kg.
Entry & Exit Formalities
Immigration and customs checks usually involve a minimum of fuss, although there are exceptions. Spanish customs look for contraband duty-free products designed for illegal resale in Spain, in particular from people arriving from Morocco. Expect long delays at this border, especially in summer.
Customs Regulations -Duty-free allowances for travellers entering Spain from outside the EU include 2L of wine (or 1L of wine and 1L of spirits), and 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. There are no restrictions on the import of duty-paid items into Spain from other EU countries for personal use. You can buy VAT-free articles at airport shops when travelling between EU countries.
Visas – Generally not required for stays of up to 90 days, and not required for members of EU or Schengen countries; some nationalities need a Schengen-zone visa.
More Information – Spain is one of 26 member countries of the Schengen Agreement, under which 22 EU countries (all but Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK) plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have abolished checks at common borders. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are all legally obliged to become a part of the Schengen Area in the near future.
The visa situation for entering Spain is as follows:
- For citizens or residents of EU and Schengen countries, no visa is required.
- For citizens or residents of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and the USA, no visa is required for tourist visits of up to 90 days.
- For other countries, check with a Spanish embassy or consulate.
- To work or study in Spain a special visa may be required; contact a Spanish embassy or consulate before travel.
- Remember that Gibraltar is not part of Schengen and if you do not have permission to enter the UK, you may not enter Gibraltar.
The average temperature in Seville in September is 25°C – although temperatures generally range between 18°C and 32°C, so it is still very warm!
In Spain, the power plus and sockets are type F and the standard voltage is 230V.
Seville has an extensive bus network, covering all barrios around the city. Most buses leave either from Puerta de Jerez (south of the centre) or from Plaza Ponce de Leon (east). The circular buses, C3 and C4, follow the ring road around the old city centre. One small bus takes a circular route inside the centre, the C5.They run from about 6am to 11.30pm, with night buses leaving from the Prado from 12 midnight to 2am. For more information, see the Tussam website.
Tickets cost 1.40 euros per trip, bought onboard.
The tram (tranvia) goes south from Plaza Nueva, the centre of the city, and has four stops, covering a total distance of 1.4km. After leaving from Plaza Nueva, it goes down Avenida de la Constitucion past the Cathedral, stopping at the Archivo de Indias (next to Alcazar Palace), San Fernando (where Puerta Jerez Metro station is), the Prado de San Sebastian (Metro station), and terminates at San Bernardo train station (Metro station), where you can catch a Cercanias train. Confusingly, the tram is called Metro-Centro, even though it’s nothing to do with the metro. It runs from 6am to 1.30am.
You can buy a ticket (1.20 euros) at any station, from the machine on the platform, which you stamp on the tram itself.
SEVici, Seville´s public bike rental service which started in 2007, has 2500 bicycles available from 250 stations around the city, approximately 300 metres apart. There are 120 kilometres of cycle lanes in the city, making it one of the best-served cities in Spain for this extremely clean, green and healthy means of transport. To date, SEVici´s bikes have been used 10 million times, with an average 25,000 daily uses.
Visit http://en.sevici.es/ for more information.
Shopping – Seville’s main shopping district is centred on Calles Sierpes, Velázquez/Tetuán and Cuna, north of Plaza Nueva. For a more alternative choice of shops, head for ‘Soho Benita’, the area around Calle Pérez Galdós and Calle Regina; also Calles Amor de Dios near the Alameda de Hércules.
Over the river, Triana is the place to shop for ceramic ware.
Nightlife – Cafes and bars are a fundamental part of Sevillan life and you’ll have no trouble finding somewhere to drink. Popular areas abound, including Calle Betis in Triana, Plaza de Salvador, Barrio de Santa Cruz, and the Alameda de Hércules, host to a lively scene and the city’s gay nightlife. In summer, dozens of terrazas de verano (open-air bars) pop up on the river’s banks.
Opening Hours – Bars’ evening hours vary but are typically from around 5pm to midnight or 2am on weekdays, or later on weekends. Drinking and partying generally get going late, around midnight on Friday and Saturday nights (daily when it’s hot), upping the tempo as the night goes on.
Greeting – Spaniards almost always greet friends and strangers alike with a kiss on each cheek, although two males only do this if they’re close friends. It is customary to say ‘Hola, buenos días’ or ‘Hola, buenas tardes’ (in the afternoon or evening) when meeting someone or when entering a shop or bar, and ‘Hasta luego’ when leaving.
Eating and drinking – Spanish waiters won’t expect you to thank them every time they bring you something, but they may expect you to keep your cutlery between courses in more casual bars and restaurants.
Visiting churches – It is considered disrespectful to visit churches for the purposes of tourism during Mass and other worship services.
Escalators – Always stand on the right to let people pass.
LGBT Travellers – Spain has become perhaps the most gay-friendly country in southern Europe. Homosexuality is legal and the age of consent is 16, as it is for heterosexuals. Same-sex marriages were legalised in 2005.
Travellers with Disabilities -Wheelchair accessibility is a bit hit and miss in Seville. The city is flat and much of the centre is pedestrianised but uneven street surfaces and small pavements in the Barrio de Santa Cruz make getting around tricky.
Legally, bars and public places must be wheelchair accessible but while some are – many museums are, for example – many bars and restaurants are not. Similarly, some upscale hotels offer wheelchair access but many accommodation options do not.
If you call for a taxi, ask for a ‘eurotaxi’, which should be adapted for wheelchair users. You can download a Guide to Accessible Tourism in Seville from the official tourist website: www.visitasevilla.es
According to legend Seville was founded by the Greek demigod Hercules. More plausibly, it probably started life as an Iberian town before growing to become an important Roman port (Hispalis). But it was under a succession of Islamic rulers that the city really came into its own. It enjoyed a heyday in the late 11th century as a major cultural centre under the Abbadid dynasty, and then again in the 12th century when the Almohads took control and built, among other things, a great mosque where the cathedral now stands. Almohad power dwindled after the disastrous defeat of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, and in 1248, the city fell to Castilla’s King Fernando III (El Santo; the Saint). Some 240-odd years later, the discovery of the Americas paved the way for another golden era. In 1503 the city was awarded an official monopoly on Spanish trade with the new-found continent. The riches poured in and Seville blossomed into one of the world’s largest, richest and most cosmopolitan cities.
But it was not to last. A plague in 1649 killed half the city’s population, and as the 17th century wore on, the Río Guadalquivir became more silted and difficult to navigate. Then, in 1717 the Casa de la Contratación (Contracting House), the government office controlling commerce with the Americas, was transferred to Cádiz. The city went into decline.
The beginnings of industry in the mid-19th century saw a spate of major building projects. Notably, the first bridge across the Guadalquivir, the Puente de Triana (or Puente de Isabel II), was built in 1852, and in 1869 the old Almohad walls were knocked down to let the city expand. The city’s hosting of the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana led to further building projects.
The Spanish Civil War saw the city fall to the Nationalists in 1936 shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, despite strong resistance in working-class areas (which brought savage reprisals).
More recently, the city has undergone something of a roller-coaster ride. It was made capital of the autonomous Andalucía region in 1982, and in 1992 it hosted Expo’s world fair. By the early 2000s, its economy was on the up thanks to a mix of tourism, commerce, technology and industry. But then the 2008 financial crisis struck and despite the continuation of projects such as the Metropol Parasol, the economy tanked, reaching rock bottom in 2012. Recent years have seen growth returning to the Spanish economy but unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, remains a worrying issue.
Cathedral of Seville & the Giralda Bell Tower – Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. Nestled in the heart of the city, It commands the sky with its massive altarpiece and occupies approximately 11,520 square meters of land. Every inch of this striking site contributes to its haunting beauty.
Seville’s main mosque was constructed between the years 1184-1198, although its conversion to a Cathedral in 1248 would later lead to major reconstruction. These changes gave the Cathedral a dramatic, Gothic appearance that was largely characterized by its massive size.
Despite mass reconstruction, two parts of the original mosque were preserved: the Moorish entrance and the Giralda Bell Tower. The Moorish entrance is defined by its ornate fountain, where worshippers would wash their hands and feet before their daily prayers. Preserved pieces of various religions contribute to the overall magnificence of this sight.
The Cathedral and the Giralda Bell Tower are admirable both inside and out. To appreciate the face of the mighty Cathedral, view from Avenida de la Constitución.
If time allows, stroll around the Patio de los Naranjos once you leave the interior of the dimly-lit Cathedral. This area will be easy to find once you are within the walls of the palace. For an alternate view of the beautiful building, look at the Cathedral from the Plaza de los Reyes and up Mateos Gago Street into the Santa Cruz quarter.
From the entrance of the Cathedral, access to the Giralda Bell Tower can be found in the far right corner. Climb thirty-four sloping ramps to reach the top where you will be rewarded with stunning views across Seville. Sensible shoes are a must!
To avoid queueing for tickets at the cathedral, you have two choices: you can either book through the cathedral’s Spanish-language website or you can buy tickets at the Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador. There are rarely queues at this church, which sells combined tickets covering admission to the church, the cathedral and the Giralda.
Barrio de Santa Cruz – Seville’s medieval judería (Jewish quarter), east of the cathedral and Real Alcázar, is today a tangle of atmospheric, winding streets and lovely plant-decked plazas perfumed with orange blossom. Among its most characteristic plazas is Plaza de Santa Cruz, which gives the barrio(district) its name, and the wonderfully romantic Plaza de Doña Elvira.
El Arenal – Hugging the Río Guadalquivir to the west of Santa Cruz, the compact El Arenal district boasts plenty of lively bars and the city’s historic bullring. In times past, this was where colonising caballeros made rich on New World gold stalked the streets, watched over by Spanish galleons offloading their American booty.
El Centro – As the name suggests, this is Seville’s central district, and the densely packed zone of narrow streets and squares north and east of Plaza Nueva, centred on Calles Sierpes and Tetuán/Velázquez, is the heart of Seville’s shopping world, as well as home to some excellent bars and restaurants. On the north-eastern edge is the Metropol Parasol, aka Las Setas, a modern complex of vast wooden parasols with a rooftop walkway.
Triana -The legendary barrio of Triana sits on the west bank of the Río Guadalquivir. This atmospheric quarter, famous for its ceramic tiles, was once home to many of Seville’s most quintessential bullfighting and flamenco characters and it still hosts some of its most poignant sights.
South of the Centre – South of Santa Cruz and El Centro, the city opens out into expansive parks and broad boulevards that in recent years have been reclaimed by trams, bikes and strollers. The chief attraction here is the Parque de María Luisa, the city’s main park, and the extravagant Plaza de España.
Isla de la Cartuja – This former island on the Río Guadalquivir takes its name from the on-site monastery, the Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa María de Las Cuevas. It was connected to Seville’s west bank in 1992 to incorporate the city’s Expo ’92 site. Monastery apart, most of the buildings here are modern, including the impossible-to-miss Cajasol tower completed in 2015.
Alameda de Hércules & Around – To the north of El Centro, the Alameda de Hércules area is one of the city’s coolest and most vibrant districts. Until fairly recently, it was largely a no-go neighbourhood, the preserve of shady characters. But it has undergone a ‘Soho makeover’ and these days it’s crammed with trendy bars, chic shops and popular eateries.