5 Things To Do with Kids in Seville Spain Off The Beaten Path
One of the reasons we love slow travel is because we get to dive deeper into a location and culture. We are able to see the best places that are off the beaten tourist path. The places you will run into more locals and less tour groups. That was definitely the case for us in Seville. By spending in a month in this beautiful Spanish city, we were able to see all the "must-see" monuments as well as see the more local hangouts and activities most bloggers do not get a chance to experience.
Of course, if you are only able to be in Seville for a few days, you will want to see the main highlights and our 5-day itinerary in Seville with kids is a great place to start (coming soon). However, if you have more time to explore the city or are here for a second or third time, these 5 off the beaten path places in Seville are great for kids. And no surprise, our 5 year old loves this stuff more than the traditional sight-seeing things so be sure to include some of these even if you are only in Seville for a short time.
1. Alameda de Hercules
The Roman influence on Seville is noticed not only in their architecture, but also in their folklore. On the Andalusian flag you will find Hercules, the god adopted by the Romans from the Greeks. The story is that when Hercules was completing his 10th labor, he needed to cross over a large mountain range. He had become tired and instead of climbing the mountain, he decided to smash through it, thus creating the Straight of Gibraltar. Alameda de Hercules, is a large boulevard bookended with 2 pillars on each end. At the south end, the pillars are topped with statues of Hercules (who is said to be the founder of Seville) and Julius Caesar, and at the north end you will find lions sitting atop the pillars.
But, our favorite part of Alameda de Hercules were the playgrounds and water play-fountains. The playground to the north is set up for older children, probably 5+ (by US standards) if the children are playing by themselves. The southern playground is best for younger children. What makes this area so unique are the restaurants and cafes lining the boulevard, located within a few feet of the play areas.
We enjoyed a lovely evening here sipping wine and beer while Eleanor happily played on the playgrounds. It was a nice relaxing evening where we all got to enjoy ourselves.
Our recommendation: Order a Tinto de Verano at Arte Y Sabor and watch your little one go down the slide at the southern playground.
2. Isla Magica + Agua Magica
Eleanor celebrated a birthday while we were in Spain and since we want her to enjoy this family excursion, we splurged a bit and purchased tickets to Isla Magica and Agua Magica - the local theme and water park. The reviews on TripAdvisor are mixed and as someone who grew up with an annual pass to Disneyland (*spoiled California girl, I know), I was not sure what to expect.
The day at the Seville theme parks was awesome for our family! Knowing we wanted to visit the water park we waited for a warm day and got lucky that the first nearly 100 degree day was on a Friday in mid-June the week before school let out for summer break. This kept the crowds down and at times, we were the only people on a ride and often first in line. Compare that to the 45 minute waits at Disneyland for the Peter Pan ride and the advantage here goes to Isla Magica.
Now, of course Isla Magica is not Disneyland - we did not expect that - but the park is well-run from our experience and a great way to spend the day. We paid 96 euros for entry into both parks for the 3 of us (2 adults and 1 child). Isla Magica was open from 11:00 am (ah, Spain) to 11:00 pm and Agua Magica was open from 11:30 am - 8:00 pm. There were plenty of rides for our younger family and I am sure enough to keep teenagers occupied (if you also include the water park).
We braved a log ride for the first time (the drops might have been just a bit too much for Eleanor), had a water gun fight with a nice Australian family (the dad felt bad for spraying us, but that's part of the fun and what you sign up for when you step foot on the ride!), rode mechanical llamas, a double-decker carousel, and spun around until we were dizzy in fake rum barrels turned into a tea-cup ride. We watched Spain battle Portugal in the World Cup and sipped wine with dinner. We ran out of time to see the shows and missed the bigger rides like the rollercoaster, rapids, and tidal wave.
At the water park, we cooled off in the lazy river, watched Eleanor gleefully slide down the children's water slides, and played in the wave pool. The only word of caution we will give is that they have the strangest rules at Agua Magica. We are accustomed to laid-back Spain, but here the rules were enforced without leniency. The lines must be obeyed! For instance, the tube for the lazy river was picked up from someone exiting the water and instead of hopping right in, you had to walk the opposite direction around a metal railing and get in one at a time with the lifeguard, even with no one else in sight (I think we might have been the only people in the entire lazy river!). We were constantly under supervision by the lifeguards and any wrong move resulted in a loud shrill from the whistle dangling from their mouth. It became comical by the end of the day, but we only put up with it because Eleanor was having so much fun. Also, note that NO jewelry (including earrings and wedding rings), sunglasses, or anything else not attached to your body in the form of a swimsuit will be allowed on any ride or in any pool at Agua Magica. We were not able to wear sunglasses while playing in the splash pad with only 6 inches of water. The reason behind this is still unknown to us. The efficiency was lacking here and I found myself reminiscing about how waterparks function in the US.
Recommendation: Go to both parks if you are visiting in the summer and need to cool off. If you're not excited about the lifeguards, skip Agua Magica as there are plenty of rides you can get wet on to cool off at Isla Magica.
Known as the Acuario de Sevilla, we stopped here during our first weekend in town. Eleanor loves the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago so we though a familiar subject would be welcomed. The admission to the aquarium was part of the premium ticket for the Hop on/Hop off City Sightseeing bus. We had never taken one of these tour busses, but decided getting a lay of the land was a good idea and once we factored in the price for the aquarium, it made more sense. Eleanor loved riding on the top of bus with the wind in her hair and even insisted on listening to the tour guide soundtrack in Spanish. She was all in!
The aquarium is small, but well done. It is not nearly as large as the Shedd Aquarium, nor does it have live shows with large mammals, but it does have a beautiful large tank you get to see from several angles. You even get to walk under the fish like you're in the ocean with them. There was a beautiful jelly fish exhibit when we were there too. With younger kids, the visit to the aquarium will take you about 2-3 hours. With older kids, it may not make sense to stop here as there are many other things you can do with them in Seville.
Another tip: Children aged 4 and younger are free on the bus tour, so we had to purchase a ticket for the aquarium for Eleanor when we arrived.
Recommendation: Best for children aged 8 and younger. A premium ticket with the Hop on/Hop off bus will drop you at the entrance and is a good value as it includes the entrance fee to the aquarium.
4. Local Playgrounds
If we could spend all day every day at a playground, Eleanor would be in heaven. She just has so much energy and loves to climb, swing, slide, and has recently discovered she can climb up and slide down "fireman poles". I like calling them that instead of the other kind of pole they remind me of.
Aside from Alameda de Hercules, which feels more like a neighborhood destination, our two favorite playgrounds were in Plaza de Alfalfa and Plaza Nervion. The first is smaller and surrounded by restaurants and cafes. The restaurants in this plaza have the reputation of the highest quality snails in Seville. If eating snails is your thing, you can order caracoles (small snails that still have their antennae) or cabrillas (large snails closer to French escargot). In the middle of these eateries is a quaint playground surrounded with the brightly colored fence found around the play areas throughout the city. It's a perfect location to sit on the side, enjoying a few tapas, while your little ones burn off steam.
Our second favorite playground was discovered on a trip to the movies. We got the opportunity to see Ferdinand in the theater in Spanish! Since this movie helped Eleanor get excited about coming to Spain, we were thrilled at the chance to see it in a different language. Good thing we all knew the movie so well as we could not keep up with the new language. After the movie, we walked around the shopping area and discovered a large playground and courtyard situated in the center on the ground floor (the movie theater was on the third floor). There were all sorts of new experiences awaiting us.
First, there were the electric kid-sized cars. For 4 euros Eleanor was able to drive a cute white convertible around the plaza for a whopping 10 minutes. The maximum age was 6, but there were children under a year in these things. Turns out there was a remote control available so the parents were maneuvering the cars, but it still caught me off guard. Once the drive was over, we looked at the playground and noticed a large slide protruding from the second floor of the mall down to the play area below. Eleanor was all over this and we spent the next hour cycling between the escalator ride up, waiting in line, and shooting down the slide. I can just imagine children between the ages of 4-10 running up and down the mall by themselves in Chicago, only to ride the escalator impatiently to the top and race to the slide. Never gonna happen in the US, but no big deal in Spain.
Recommendation: Nab a seat at the top of the slide if your child is old enough to use an escalator on their own. You will get a bird's eye view of the plaza and play area. If you are hungry for a snack there are a few chucherias (candy stands) nearby.
5. Kid-Focused Food and History Tour
One of our biggest surprises was the Kid-Friendly Food Tour with Devour Seville. A little behind the scenes with us...I would never call us a foodie family. There I've said it. I feel like we are the only travelers not into food. Give my husband and daughter cheeseburgers and me a plate of tacos (chicken, please) and we are set. We could probably eat these things for every meal and be okay. That's not to say we won't try new food. We do, but our trips do not revolve around big dinners out.
So when I came upon the Private Seville for Kids Walking Tour with Activities & Snacks, I was a little apprehensive. I mean the company behind the tour is clearly into food - it's even in their name. However, we had been intimidated by ordering tapas for a few days, was not sure where good eateries were, wanted something unique to do with Eleanor, and had a bunch of questions we figured we could ask the private guide.
It was not a cheap option, but we would do it again in a heartbeat. Our guide, Sophie was so sweet. She had an activity book for Eleanor and gave us great tidbits about the history of Seville. We continued to use some of the activities throughout our stay - like looking for the "NO8DO" signs and continuing our scavenger hunts. We found a great place for churros and chocolate and toured The Setas. It was a full morning and since it was private, we were able to ask Sophie anything we wanted.
Recommendation: Take a tour that focuses on something you like or something that intimidates you. There is always something to be learned and the more you know, the less frightening something is. We loved our tour with Devour Seville and recommend it. If the private tour is not in your budget, they have other group tour options.
There you have it. Our top 5 recommended off the beaten path ideas for Seville with kids. We are looking forward to continuing our trip to see what we can discover next. Don't forget to check out our YouTube channel as well. We will have a recap of our time in Seville, a look at the Triana Market, and a day at Isla and Agua Magica.
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