Andalucía’s enchanting capital embodies the best of Spain: scorching sun, passionate flamenco, citrus trees and romantically colorful buildings.
Spain’s third most-visited city behind Madrid and Barcelona, Seville is easy to fall in love with. The city’s picture-perfect maze of tiny cobbled streets and large elegant plazas are home to a fascinating array of attractions, from remnants of its Moorish past to magnificent palaces, grand monuments and an impressive bullring. Generally a very safe city, it’s best explored on foot. Before you head to Seville, here are a few things to know that will help you make the most of your trip.
Planning your trip to Seville
Book tickets to the Real Alcázar in advance
While Seville is not as packed with tourists as Barcelona or Madrid, some of the more popular attractions can book up fast. This is particularly true of the Real Alcázar, the city’s magnificent Moorish palace. Since the complex only allows a limited number of people at a time, and you can only visit during a specific time slot, you should book tickets online a few weeks in advance, and guided tours even farther ahead. This is one sight in Seville you definitely shouldn’t miss.
If you want to see a flamenco show at one of the more popular venues, you may also want to book tickets in advance, as these can sell out quickly during high season.
Etiquette in Seville
Don’t go out to eat too early
Spaniards eat at rather precise times – and usually late in the day, particularly in Seville, where temperatures can stay elevated throughout the night. Restaurants will usually open for lunch from around 1pm, although most locals won’t be eating until at least 2pm. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat at midday, you’ll find most kitchens won’t be serving yet.
In the evening, restaurants will open around 8–8:30pm; again, you’ll find that most locals won’t arrive until around 9pm or even later. Like most Spaniards, Sevillians typically eat their main meal of the day at lunchtime, followed by generally lighter, tapas-style dishes for dinner.
Seville has a wealth of nightlife options, from buzzing bars and pumping clubs to lively flamenco shows. Remember that like restaurants, Seville’s nightlife doesn’t get going until late at night (or very early in the morning). Don’t even think about arriving at a club before 1am.
Dress to impress
Sevillians love to dress up and are very fashion-conscious. Even on an evening stroll, you’ll see that whole families will be dressed in their best. While tourists are not expected to pack formal attire, if you’re eating out at a nice restaurant, you may want to dress smartly to fit in.
Remember that if you want to visit the Seville Cathedral, you’ll have to abide by the strict dress codes. This means no bare shoulders, knee-length-or-longer shorts and skirts, and no flip-flops. You will also have to remove any hats or baseball caps. You may want to bring a light wrap with you in summer in order to cover any bare shoulders.
Tipping is optional, but always appreciated
Tipping in Spain isn’t expected as in the US and some other countries, and it’s not common among locals unless they’re dining out at a particularly nice restaurant. You don’t need to tip for drinks at cafes or other snacks – but if the service impresses you, consider rounding up and leaving your change as a tip. You may want to leave a little more at high-end restaurants; around 10 percent is perfectly fine.
To kiss or not to kiss?
When being introduced to someone for the first time, it is customary to give them one kiss on each cheek. As a foreigner being introduced to a local, you will be expected to do this as well. While COVID-19 put a temporary stop to this custom, it is likely to return once the pandemic has subsided.
Health and safety in Seville
Keep cool and stay hydrated
Seville is one of Europe’s hottest cities, with temperatures regularly reaching into the 90s°F (30s°C) or even low 100s°F (40s°C) in July or August. Remember to always carry a bottle of water with you when walking around, and don’t forget sunscreen. You may even want to invest in a portable fan, as the locals routinely do. It’s also important to avoid being out in the sun during the hottest part of the day – so keep cool in shady parks, cafes or museums.
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Seville, avoid the hottest times of the year in July and August when sightseeing can be quite uncomfortable and many locals leave the city for the coast. Instead, visit the city in spring or autumn when temperatures are warm but mostly comfortable. Visits in winter bring temperatures around 60°F (16°C), with skies are typically blue and sunny.
Is Seville safe for tourists?
Seville is generally a very safe city, even late at night when it’s typically still buzzing with plenty of people out and about. Solo women travelers shouldn’t need to worry and can safely travel around on their own. With low crime rates, you’re unlikely to encounter problems; as in any busy urban area, though, you should still keep your wits about you.
While the narrow web of streets around the famous Barrio Santa Cruz neighborhood are generally very safe at night, they can get quite noisy. Families traveling with children may prefer to stay around the areas of El Centro, El Arenal or Sur instead – still close to everything but more peaceful.
Seville has far fewer pickpockets than Barcelona or Madrid, but as with any major city, petty crime is not unheard of. You should particularly be aware in crowded areas or around popular tourist attractions such as Plaza de España and outside the Cathedral. Be aware of the ladies who try and offer you sprigs of rosemary and palm readings, as they’ll often demand money afterward or try and distract you while an accomplice attempts to snatch your belongings.
Use common sense and don’t leave your bag unattended when dining at a restaurant, and avoid leaving your phone or camera on the table or in your back pocket.
Remember that you should always report any incident of theft at the nearest local police station as soon as possible. It’s likely you will need a police report in order to try and claim any items back on your travel insurance.
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