Why Seville is great with kids
When you’re travelling to Spain as a family, it’s good you know that your children will be welcomed with warm smiles – the Spanish dote on little ones. As a small city, easy to get around and with family-friendly cultural, historical and scientific attractions within a manageable area, Seville is perfect to visit with kids. Look out for a bilingual map marking points of interest for families, called Sevilla con los Peques (Sevilla with Kids).
1. Acuario de Sevilla
Appropriately located by Seville’s main waterway, the river Guadalquivir, the Acuario de Sevilla has more than 400 aquatic and tropical species in 40-odd tanks. The marine creatures are arranged according to the route taken by Ferdinand Magellan on his round-the-world voyage in 1519-1522 – departing from the city, down the river to the Atlantic, and onto the tropics. Kids can inspect rock pools for starfish and sea urchins; watch baby pipefish (like seahorses) in the “nursery”; spot camouflaged lizards and tiny tree frogs in the rainforest; be entranced by strikingly beautiful jellyfish illuminated with ultra-violet light; and of course eyeball sharks – the tank is one of Europe’s largest. On Saturday at midday, there’s a special workshop for budding marine biologists, where you can look at shark skin and coral skeleton through a microscope. After your visit, cross the road to Parque de Maria Luisa for the kids to have a runaround or a playground session, and everyone to admire the fabulous tiles and magnificent architecture of Plaza de España.
2. Metropol Parasol and Museo Antiquarium
It’s always interesting to see a city from a good vantage point - at Metropol Parasol (take the lift from the basement up to the Mirador), kids will get a kick out of following the swooping walkway that winds around atop the “mushrooms”, as they are known locally. Six fungi-shaped shades make up this contemporary architectural icon, the largest wooden structure in the world, tucked into the historic heart of the city. The walkway offers fabulous, 360-degree views from 80 feet up; panels at the highest point indicate important buildings – see if they can spot the cathedral (easy) or the bridges (trickier).
Afterwards, the lift deposits you next to Museo Antiquarium, a small display with fabulous Roman mosaics discovered during construction works.
3. Isla Mágica
What family can resist the lure of a theme park on a warm, sunny day? Your kids will get the adrenalin rushes they crave at Isla Mágica, a Spanish colonial-themed park located outside the city center which, although smaller than Disney’s offerings, provides a good morning or afternoon’s entertainment. Smaller ones can battle it out with water-jet cannons from a boat, while bigger kids (above 4 feet 3 inches) will want to jump on the 50 miles-per-hour rollercoaster, and brave the Desafio, a 220-feet free-fall – thankfully, you can choose from six different intensity modes (a plus is the amazing vistas). At Agua Magica, inside the park, you can swim in a wave-pool, lie on a beach and ride a water slide – a relief on a hot day if you’re in accommodation without a pool. If you want to avoid the queues for rides, you can schedule slots during your visit by getting a Fast Track Pass.
4. Caixa Forum
Switching to cerebral and creative stimulation, this excellent subterranean art centre next to Torre Sevilla has two exhibition spaces which show everything from Tintin to Disney, Greek sculpture to Spanish impressionist painter Sorolla. Each exhibit in Caixa Forum has an area for kids with specially designed activities – handicrafts, matching or sorting images, drawing, writing short messages – which complement the display. The center also holds special concerts, workshops and other events, themed around science and art, for families. Don’t miss the shop – a heaven of colorful books, toys and games.
5. Pabellon de Navegación
Next door to Caixa Forum is this former Expo 1992 (World’s Fair) pavilion, now housing the riverfront Pabellon de Navegación, a museum about maritime navigation. After Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 from nearby Palos de la Frontera, Seville became Spain’s main port - Magellan set off on his historic circumnavigation of the world from here, as well as countless fleets carrying missionaries and merchants. Find out what life was like on board these ships for the adventurers, what they ate, how they navigated and what treatments were used when they got sick. Many kids’ favorite will be playing interactive video games – shoot the pirates and steer the ship. You can also go up the 165-feet-high Torre Mirador on the river – another opportunity for spectacular panoramic views over the city.
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Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter, is full of tiny narrow alleyways and plazas which are fun to explore with kids, although beware of them turning a corner and getting lost. In the Alameda de Hercules, a broad tree-lined plaza with a boho vibe which is largely pedestrianized, you’ll find several children’s playgrounds conveniently located next to bars.
Across the river in Triana, kids will enjoy checking out the traditional food market, and then walking alongside the river on Calle Betis and (car-free) Paseo de la O; across on the opposite bank, Paseo Alcalde Marques de Contadero is a pleasant place for a stroll without traffic worries, and you can see a replica of Magellan’s ship Nao Victoria. The riverside is also perfect for a relaxed family bike ride – you can go all the way to the Alamillo Park to the north, and south to the Acuario de Sevilla.
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How to get around
You can get to most places in Seville on foot; when little legs get tired, taxi apps like Cabify or Freenow will carry you and your family around for a reasonable fare, or you can take a white official cab. The bus network (Tussam) is excellent – kids love riding on buses - and if you’re staying outside the center, the Metro is handy.