Seville is the capital of Spain's southern Andalusia region and the top tourist destination in the south. It has a population of 1.6 million in the metropolitan area and is Spain's fourth largest city.
The city sits on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, connecting the agricultural interior of the Guadalquivir valley with the sea. This position has led the city to act as an important trading port since Roman times, and increased Seville's importance through Moorish rule, especially after new trading routes opened up to the Americas.
Seville's rich history has contributed to its architecture and culture, which made the city an important stop for wealthy 19th-century travelers on their Grand Tour of Europe. Today it has some of the most impressive sights in Spain and an exciting culture of fiestas and fun.
If measured by volume, the Cathedral of Seville is possibly the largest church in the world. It dates from the 15th century and incorporates some features of the earlier 12th-century mosque that was built on the site. The central nave rises more than 120ft and the cathedral contains the remains of Christopher Columbus. An adult ticket costs EUR8.
La Giralda was originally built as the minaret for the Moorish city's mosque but was converted into the bell tower for the cathedral. It is now the symbol of Seville and an unmissable part of any visit. You can climb up the 34 ramps to gain a fantastic view of the city. Admission is EUR9, which also includes admission to the cathedral.
The Real Alcázar is a beautiful Moorish palace, built in the 14th century by Pedro the Cruel. It has countless rooms, intricate architecture, and lush gardens. You can also visit the room where Columbus planned his voyage to the Americas. Admission is EUR9.50 and the palace offers a cool retreat from the searing heat in the summer.
Seville has more bars per capita than any other city in Europe. It has a huge choice of nightclubs, some of which are open air, giving you the opportunity to dance the night away beneath the stars. Seville's nightlife will carry on right through the night until 7 am, so be prepared to party hard.
Bullfighting is not for everyone but it is an important part of Seville's culture. To gain an understanding of this ancient sport without attending an actual bullfight, you can visit the arena and the museum of bullfighting. The arena is regarded as the most beautiful in Spain and admission is EUR7.
Seville can get very hot in summer and temperatures can top 113 degrees Fahrenheit. It is perfectly possible to visit the city during these months but do take precautions in the powerful sun and keep well hydrated. March through to May is perhaps the best time to visit the city, with the major festivals of Semana Santa and Feria de Abril taking place back to back. Fall is quieter, with warm temperatures and winter is mild and even quieter.
Seville International Airport (SVQ) is a 25-minute drive from the center of the city. It has good connections to major European cities but fewer international routes. A bus leaves every 30 minutes from just outside the arrivals hall and should get you into the center in around 30 minutes. It costs EUR4. Taxis can be found just beside the bus stop and offer a fixed fare of EUR22 into the city center.
Seville's main train station is the Sevilla Santa Justa Station, on the eastern side of the city. This is the terminal for the high-speed Spanish rail network. These trains will take you to Cordoba in under an hour, and it is less than three hours to Madrid. The San Bernardo station operates more regional routes.
Spain has a good network of modern roads. The E-5 runs south from Seville to Gibraltar and east to Cordoba. The main route north is the E-803, which connects with the E-90 to take you to Madrid. The A-49 goes west to Portugal.
The Spanish bus service is excellent and Seville has good connections to other Spanish cities. There are regular services to Cordoba, Malaga, and Alicante. The two main bus stations are in the center: Prado de San Sebastian and Plaza de Armas.
B&B Naranjo is a good budget option right in the center of the city. Hotel Abanico is a mid-range hotel in a traditional 18th-century Sevillian house, moments away from the city's main attractions. San Gil Hotel is housed in a converted palace, which is thought to be one of the 100 best buildings in Seville. It is one of the city's finest hotels.
Santa Cruz - this is the city's former Jewish Quarter. It is home to the Cathedral and the Alcázar, and is Seville's premier tourist area. It has lots of cobbled streets, secret squares, and handsome buildings with flowers filling the balconies.
La Alameda - this is the city's bohemian quarter. It has lots of hip bars, vegetarian restaurants, galleries, and craft shops, as well as some great nightlife and is wonderful for people watching.
El Arenal - El Arenal is the city's old port area. Today it is an upscale neighborhood with delis and good bars and restaurants. It's also home to the bullring.
Seville has an excellent public transport system. There are frequent buses running to all parts of the city and a single journey costs just EUR0.70. You can buy a refillable bus card at news kiosks for EUR1.50 and top it up as required.
Taxis in Seville are plentiful and relatively affordable but do take care to pay only the metered fare. It will cost EUR1.20 to flag down the taxi and around EUR1.20 per mile thereafter. There is a minimum charge of EUR3.24.
Traffic in Seville can be heavy and parking in the city center difficult to find. Much of the city center is closed to cars, so you may have to park elsewhere and walk or use public transport. Car hire will cost around EUR50 per day, and Europcar and Sixt are both present in Seville.
Seville's main shopping streets are Calle Sierpes and Calle Tetuán, with stores selling everything from fashion to ceramics. Avenida de la Constitución is a pedestrian street with good shops and cafes, close to the Cathedral.
A pound of apples will cost around EUR0.80, while a dozen eggs typically costs EUR2.27. Major supermarkets include SuperSol and Hiper Oriente.
Tapas are the local specialty, consisting of small plates of varied food. Good tapas bars include Pedalquivir on the banks of the river, and El Patio San Eloy. Habanita is a good vegetarian restaurant in the city center, with a nice open air terrace. A couple of tapas and a drink will cost around EUR10. Dinner in a top restaurant like La Azotea will cost around EUR50 per person without wine.