The birthplace of flamenco, Spain’s vibrant southern capital is a seductive and soul-stirring city. Along with dancing, Seville is also famous for its extraordinary Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, sensational food, wonderful tapas bars and charming old neighbourhoods. With a wealth of cultural and historic attractions from which to choose, cruise passengers will be quite spoilt for choice on their stopover in the Andalusian capital.
Why cruise Seville
Rich in history, architecture, tapas bars and orange trees, the Andalusian city of Seville offers something for every type of cruise traveller. Major must-see cultural landmarks include the ornate Moorish-Renaissance Alcázar Palace, the 18th century Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza bullring and the colossal Gothic Seville Cathedral and its Giralda bell tower. Alternatively, visitors who simply want to soak up Seville’s sizzling atmosphere can head to the historic old town or the Triana neighbourhood, the home of flamenco dancing. Cruise lines including Fred Olsen, Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises, to name a few, sail to Seville as part of their Western Mediterranean cruise itineraries.
What to see and do in Seville
Alcázar of Seville
One of Seville’s must-see architectural attractions, the royal palace was built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. Construction of the palace was drawn out over a period 500 years, beginning in the 10th century, and as a result, the building that stands today showcases a unique blend of architectural styles and design elements, including Mudéjar, Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque. The palace is particularly known for its exquisite majolica and arista tile decoration. The royal family still reside in the upper storeys of the Alcázar when they’re in Seville, making it the oldest continuously used royal palace in Europe.
Plaza de España
Located in the Maria Luisa Park, this incredible landmark was constructed in 1928 in preparation for the for the 1929 Ibero-American Fair. The half-moon-shaped complex is accessible by four bridges over the moat – which represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain – and in the centre lies the Vicente Traver fountain. After you’ve had a look at the plaza, enjoy a stroll around the Maria Luisa Park or rent an electric scooter from Surf the City, a bike rental company that also offers unique guided tours of the city.
Those more interested in contemporary architecture must pay a visit to the Metropol Parasol, a modern architectural icon of the city. Situated in La Encarnación square, in the old quarter of Seville, the giant wooden structure – known as La Setas (the mushrooms) by locals – comprises six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms and houses an archaeological museum in the basement featuring Roman and Moorish remains; the central food market on the ground floor; and an open area for concerts and public events on the roof.
Another of the city’s Unesco World Heritage sites, the cathedral has several claims to fame, being the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the burial place of Christopher Columbus’s tomb. Climb up the Giralda bell tower, formerly the minaret of Seville’s great mosque, which offers spectacular views of the Jewish Quarter and the Alcázar.
Seville’s former Gypsy quarter has been the home of some of the most influential bullfighters of the last couple of centuries, including Juan Belmonte, considered one of the greatest matadors in the history of bullfighting. Taka a stroll through the boho barrio, where streets are lined with old-style tapas bars and walls are plastered with posters of flamenco dancers. Along with its bullfighting history, the area is also known for azulejos (ceramic tiles), which decorate the interiors of Seville’s churches, houses, bars and restaurants. Shops selling ceramics cluster around the Centro de la Cerámica Triana, a museum that details the history of the craft.
There are several flamenco hotspots in Seville. One of the most famous and prestigious flamenco tablaos is Los Gallos, located just two minutes from Murillo Gardens. The city's Museo del baile flamenco (Flamenco Dance Museum), situated next to the cathedral on the street that bears its name, also presents live shows. Finally, there’s performance hall Puerta de Triana on Castilla street in the Triana neighbourhood, which is Seville’s famous hub for flamenco.
Need to know when travelling to Seville
Getting around in Seville
All larger cruise ships to Seville dock at Cadiz port, located approximately 130 km to the south. From here, passengers are transported to the city via chartered tour buses. However, smaller-sized cruise vessels and yachts can navigate up Guadalquivir river to dock at Seville harbour. The best way to see Seville is on foot, allowing you to see both the main sights and little-known attractions. You could also rent a bike or an electric scooter. Alternatively, the Hop-on Hop-off bus offers an extensive story of the city’s highlights. There’s also a bus service and taxis available.
When to go to Seville
Seville can get unbearably hot during the peak summer months, so the best times to visit for milder climes and fewer crowds are spring and autumn. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but cash is generally cheaper as many stores have a 1-3 per cent surcharge when you use a credit card.
Seville uses the euro. You will find ATMs almost everywhere in the centre of the city, courtesy of the '92 Expo.
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter Spain unless you're planning a stay of longer than three months.
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