A Seville Spain Travel Guide for Families
Only have a few days to spend in southern Spain? Make the most of them with this customizable itinerary in Seville: a guide for first time visitors with kids. This itinerary is based on our experience in Seville with our 5 year old daughter. We have given several options of ideas as there is so much to see and do in Seville as you will discover.
Seville is an amazingly beautiful city full of history and wonder, but with enough attractions to keep both kids and parents entertained and happy. It's location on the Río Guadalquivir, which is navigable to the Atlantic Ocean, gave Seville a very strategic location over it's history. It was first occupied by the Romans, then the Moors, and finally the Christians. You see this layer cake architecture everywhere and they say the reason it is taking so long to complete the metro in Seville is because each time they dig for a new line, more ruins are discovered.
In recent history, Seville started it's rise to current fame in the 1980's when it was named the capital of Andaulsia. Then, several modern structures were completed when Seville was as chosen as the location for Expo '92, one of the last world fairs, which brought millions of international visitors to the city. This mix of alluring history with modern amenities and a bustling economy make Seville a fantastic destination for families.
Now we will never claim that you will be able to see everything a beautiful city like Seville has to offer in less than a week, but you will be able to hit the highlights and customize them to your family. That's what you really want on vacation anyway. Seeing the unique sites a new city has to offer that are important to you, while all family members have a good time and bring back awesome memories.
So on to how to see the highlights of Seville in just a few days. We should mention that we do not like to cram our days full of activities when we travel. That seems to set us up for a more stressful trip than we like. By leaving a little wiggle room we can easily deal with tiredness that requires a nap, hunger that needs yet another snack, or an awesome local recommendation we did not know about until we arrived. Because of that, this itinerary may seem a little sparse to you. If that’s the case or you are short on time, you can squeeze the Seville activities into 3 days and skip Isla Magica. If you have additional days you are looking to fill we recommend heading down to Cadiz if you want to see the beach or east to Granada if you want more history and a bigger Alcazar.
Day 1: Get the Lay of the Land: Hop on/ Hop off Bus
Start with the red hop on/hop off bus. Grab a map, a set of headphones, and settle into one of the seats on the top of this double-decker bus.
This was one of the first times we have taken a bus tour like this, but our daughter loved it! We purchased the premier pass which also included entrance to the Acuario de Sevilla (Seville Aquarium) at stop #4, which we would suggest if you have several days to spend in Seville and it's hot outside as the aquarium is air conditioned. The premier pass also comes with a free Betis Tour experience for all of you football (soccer in the US) fans. The great thing about the hop on/hop off tour though is that you get a better sense of the whole city, with a little history, and the ability to stop off at different spots for the day. Sure you can take a cab or walk, but we really enjoyed the view from the bus.
Tickets are easy to purchase around town, but you can also buy them online and use a mobile ticket. Each ticket also includes 4 walking tours which is a great way to see Maria Luisa Park, the Santa Cruz neighborhood, the Triana neighborhood, and the Fine Arts Museum. Depending on which tours you join, this is a full day of activities once you factor in lunch, tapas, and resting out of the hot sun.
Some great tour options:
Day 2: Taste of Seville: Devour Seville Tour & the Seville Cathedral
Continue your education of Seville with a guided tour through Devour Seville. We scheduled the private family tour in the hopes that it would also keep Eleanor entertained and we were pleasantly surprised. Our guide brought a play passport for Eleanor that was filled with activities to entertain her and hold her attention throughout the 3 hour tour. Not only did we learn about some of the history of Seville, but we also stopped for snacks of Churros with Chocolate at a great neighborhood bar in the Alfalfa neighborhood and for Iberico ham at the market below Las Setas. The tour also included entrance to the top of Las Setas (formally known as the Metropol Parasol). With the tour we were able to ask our guide any question we wanted and it was a great way to gain some confidence with the language, ordering tapas, and places we needed to see before we left.
If you are traveling without children, the Tapas Tour offered through Devour Seville is probably a better option as it is more about the food and drinks.
In the afternoon, we recommend heading to the Cathedral and Giralda. However, in order to avoid the long lines, you will first want to visit Iglesia El Salvador. There you can purchase a combined ticket for both cathedrals and then skip the line at the main cathedral. Plus, as the second largest church in Seville, the Iglesia El Salvador is a rather impressive cathedral in it’s own right so the stop will be worth it. However, the main attraction is the Cathedral and Giralda tower. It’s not hard to see why. The Cathedral is considered the largest cathedral in the world as it is still a seat to a bishop. There is also some debate regarding Christopher Columbus’ burial place, but we believe general consensus is that his brother is buried in Seville, while his final resting place is in the Dominican Republic. Be sure to check the opening hours for the Cathedral before you book your tickets too as it is different in the summer and winter.
During our stay we found a couple fantastic shops on Calle García de Vinuesa that we loved. This is the street to the northwest of the Cathedral. Here we discovered an amazing ice cream shop called Fabrica de Helados. We are partial to mint chocolate chip and pistachio in our family, but they also have some wonderful natural fruit flavors without milk. We also highly recommend a stop at La Oleoteca. It is a shop specializing in olive oils and they will let you sample different kinds in the shop. This would make a great gift for your friends and family back home (or yourself!).
Some recommended tours of Seville:
Day 3: Experience Seville as a Royal: Visit the Alcazar
The Alcazar has so much to explore and we easily spent 5 hours here and might have spent more, but Eleanor had an after school program to get to. The Royal Palace is another example of the three distinct periods in Seville. There are several interior rooms to explore, but the real beauty for us were the gardens. Be sure to visit the underground bath. You enter this off of the gardens and not through the house so it's easy to miss.
For all of you Game of Thrones fans, The Alcazar in Seville was also the filming location of the Water Gardens of Dorne. It's easy to see why the producers fell in love with the location, gardens, and Moorish architecture.
We recommend booking your tickets online (think before your trip) or getting in line about 45 minutes before opening as the doors open at 9:30 am in the summer and the tour groups start arriving at 10:00 am. We have heard that the number of visitors in the Alcazar is limited to 750 at any one time. You also have your choice of two tickets - the main ticket which allows you to explore the main floor of the palace and the gardens and the additional ticket which grants you access to the upper residence. We did not book early enough and the additional residence ticket was no longer available.
Day 4: For the Kids: Isla Magica + Agua Magica
Eleanor celebrated a birthday while we were in Seville and we celebrated with a day to their theme park - Isla Magica and Agua Magica. It was almost 100 degrees fahrenheit on the day of our visit and we were glad we were able to cool off in the water park section of the park. The cost was 96 Euros for the day for the three of us and I would recommend doing it again. Just make sure you set your expectations. This is not Disneyland (nor does it have Disneyland prices) so do not expect that. However, you can expect to have a great time and for Eleanor it was a highlight.
Day 5: Wrap up Your Visit to Seville: Horsing Around
If you like traveling slow like us, this would be a great day to hire a horse drawn carriage to tour you around the city. It's a little pricy, but kids love it. You can also make a stop at the Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (bullring) or the Torre del Oro.
This would also be a great time to head to the neighborhood playgrounds if you have kids to entertain. Eleanor’s favorite playground was in Nervion. We took the metro here from Plaza Jerez and it was only a few stops away.
Another option to add tonight would be a flamenco show at La Carboneria. It’s more of a local spot so the dancing is less of a show and put on by local flamenco groups. Everyone we asked about flamenco recommended this place though so we will take their word that this was the best as we did not compare it to other options that felt more geared toward tourists.
Day 6: Explore Outside of Seville
Ronda - Puente Nuevo
Rent a car and drive from Seville to Ronda to see the famous bridge. We hiked about half way down the gorge to get up close to the bridge, but decided to not make the full trip because it was already really hot. The views were still beautiful and we recommend it as the trail was not too steep. Be sure to enjoy the views on both sides of Ronda before you leave.
If you have time, be sure to stop by the Roman Baths in Ronda. We did not get a chance, but had visited the Roman baths in Granada a few years earlier.
Cordoba - The Roman Bridge
After Ronda, head to Cordoba. Be sure to catch the Roman Bridge in Cordoba at sunset as it is beautiful in the golden light. We missed it and explored it earlier in the morning along with an awesome playground across the river. Grab dinner and catch a flamenco show with dinner here if you did not in Seville.
Day 7: Explore Cordoba
The next morning, get to the Mesquita early as there is free entry between 8:30 am - 9:00 am Monday - Saturday. You can explore inside until 9:30 am when they will ask everyone to leave and open it up to ticket purchasers. If you want to continue exploring, you can purchase a ticket for 10 Euros.
Cordoba seemed more reasonable priced for children as entrance fees were more common for ages 10 and older. In Seville, tickets were charged for children starting at 4, although at a reduced price.
The Old Town of Cordoba
After the Mesquita, spend some time getting lost around town. The old town is full of narrow cobblestoned streets and is one of those great places to wander.
Lunch stop: Mercado Victoria
We highly recommend Mercado Victoria for lunch. We have mentioned it before, but we do not consider ourselves foodies. However, this place is great for everyone as there are a multitude of food vendors to choose from. This is always welcomed when traveling with a family.
The Alcazar in Cordoba
The Alcazar is smaller than in Seville, but the gardens are beautiful and worth exploring. The wait was not too long and like we mentioned earlier, entrance for children under 10 was free. We’d definitely recommend a stop here.
Castillo del Almodavar del Rio
Head out of town and stop off on your way back to Seville at this restored castle on the hill. In the summer the castle was open until 8:00 pm and there was plenty of parking by the entrance so try to park close before parking at the bottom of the hill. This castle was another Game of Thrones filming location and was the scene for "Highgarden". We had not heard anything about this castle, but saw it from the road and HAD to stop. So glad we did as castles are Brett’s favorite and this one has been beautifully restored. Some of the set up is a little cheesy and there are a couple wax figures, but overall it was a beautiful castle and we were practically the only ones there.
Side note, unless you are really into medinas, we would recommend skipping the Azahara Medina Ruins south of Cordoba and head to the castle instead. We did both on our drive back and thought the experience was better at the castle although we had not read anything about it on any travel blog.
That’s what we would recommend for your customized Seville itinerary for 3, 5, or 7 days when traveling with kids. There is so much to do in Andalusia and it’s tough to narrow it down, but here you are able to slow down and enjoy the Spanish way of life if you let yourself.
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