While I was on the Algarve, I kept hearing the same things over and over again: Seville is AMAZING. To be honest, I have never really “got” Spain from my previous trips to Barcelona and the border towns by Gibraltar, but everyone was telling me that Seville was beautiful and absolutely worth visiting.
On my last week in Portugal, I was working lots of overnight shifts at the hostel so my days off were blended into one, and as I was prioritising exploring the country I was actually in, squeezing in a trip to Seville was looking unlikely. On my only reasonable day off where I wouldn’t be recovering from a night shift or preparing for my next one, I made it over to Lagos. But then I was given the day off on the day before I left Portugal, though this still posed a problem because I wanted to spend a night in Seville rather than rushing between the limited bus times.
That’s when I discovered BlaBlaCar. I’d heard of the website but had never used it or even visited it before. But amazingly, a girl with good references was offering a trip from Faro to Seville early in the morning on Friday, and then returning in the evening. It was perfect, and I whizzed her a request with a couple of messages and had it all arranged within a couple of hours.
So it was an early start on my final full day in southern Europe; after a couple of changes in plans because of other passengers, I was meeting my driver at 7am instead of 8. Altogether, the journey took around two and a half hours, but the strange thing here is there’s an hour’s difference between Portugal and Spain! So we skipped an hour and arrived in Seville close to 11am, which seemed crazy after the early start.
The driver was going to the airport, so she kindly dropped me off with another passenger by the main bus station in the city before leaving me for the day. My first experience with BlaBlaCar was a great one, and after my disastrous attempt at hitch hiking, it’s something I’ll actually utilise more now I’ve done it.
Around the bus station, Seville felt like any other city. I wandered down along the riverside and found a spot where I could eat a quick early lunch overlooking the river before a day of exploration. It was pretty, but I still wasn’t entirely feeling it yet.
I kept following the river expecting to see the cathedral looming in the distance (it is, after all, the fourth largest church in the world) but instead stumbled across this.
I had to admit my ignorance here when I realised I had no idea what this even was. My research had been limited mostly to the cathedral and Plaza de Espana. This is Torre del Oro, and it looked like it had some interesting military history, but I didn’t pay to go inside. It was picturesque enough on the outside. Picturesque? I had no idea.
First on the agenda: the massive, sprawling Sevilla Catedral. Did you know the cathedral here is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world? As well as being the fourth largest church altogether?! It’s so massive, in fact, that it’s pretty impossible to get a photo of all of it.
So it was time to go inside and get lost in its labyrinth. At €9, it’s a little steep (when you consider how many cathedrals are free!) and I was surprised I actually went in because I’m great at visiting places but not actually visiting places. (Did I tell you about the fact I’ve been to London almost 100 times and have never been into the Tower Of London, St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey or Buckingham Palace?) But I felt like I couldn’t visit Seville and not visit this place, especially when many of my favourite buildings in the world are gothic cathedrals and this is the biggest of them all.
I got chatting to a Scottish couple in the queue, and promptly lost them once we got into the main hall. They’re not lying; it is huuuuuuge. But, surprisingly, very much not the prettiest church I’ve ever been into. Not by a long shot.
One of the most awesome things in there is actually something I did not expect at all: Christopher Columbus’s tomb!
Naturally, because the cathedral is so big, there are lots of rooms to explore and it does take a while to get around the whole thing. It’s also a massive, sloped walk up the 33 floors of the giralda, but the views you get from the top when you do eventually get there is totally worth it.
And you still can’t see the whole thing! So is Seville Cathedral worth visiting? I think so. I wouldn’t go in again like I do in other churches because it didn’t blow me away, but it’s one of those places you’ve got to see for yourself!
I decided to slowly head down towards Plaza de Espana, by way of alleyways and whatever route I would end up floating down. I could never pinpoint my route in a hundred years, but I had SO MUCH fun just wandering and taking it all in. If there’s one thing Seville does well, it’s cute alleyways bursting with colour and character.
Eventually, I came out of the labyrinth not far from where I had entered it. I walked through the real centre of Seville, past the university and down towards the park encircling the plaza. I don’t know what I was expecting, because I’d seen photos and everyone said Plaza de Espana is the best place in Seville.
But my jaw literally dropped when I turned the corner to face it.
The plaza drew me in for hours. I sat and people-watched. I longed to be in one of the boats floating round the plaza. I sighed in the heat and read the murals and watched the fountain and listened to the clip-clop of horses shoes on the warm tiles. And then I fell asleep. I genuinely had a nap because I felt so contented here (and also tired).
Eventually, I had to peel myself away from the bench with this view (probably literally because it was hotter here than it had been anywhere in Portugal, and you can thank me for giving you that image) and find somewhere for dinner. I had passed a zillion great looking tapas places on my walk that had all been packed for the lunch rush, so I eagerly sought out the alley ways from before.
Of course, I couldn’t find them again, and spent another age wandering yet more alley ways but not finding anywhere that caught my fancy. Eventually, I was lost and had to resort to maps to find my way back towards the cathedral just so I knew where I was; turned out I had wandered quite a way out!
I’m pretty sure where I ate was just around the corner from here; but then anywhere can be “just around the corner” in places like this, which of course is what makes them so much fun to explore.
I ended up eating at Las Teresas, a little place with an awesome interior and a menu with no English. I was feeling adventurous as I took a seat outside but had no idea what I was looking at.
“Would you like a drink?” I looked up from my indecipherable menu at the friendly waiter, suddenly feeling self-conscious in full view of everyone who passed.
“Do you speak English?” I asked.
He laughed. “I just asked if you’d like a drink… in English.”
Then I went totally mad and asked for a recommendation on wine. ME! Drinking wine. ORDERING wine at a restaurant!
I was eventually ushered inside when he realised I was ordering tapas rather than a full meal, which I thought was strange because the tables indoors were much bigger than the ones outside. But never mind; a chill was starting to set in outside, and the inside had loads to look at – I love places like this!
The food was really good; I had Iberian jamon (because I had to), steak and potato in some sort of sauce, and I asked for a recommendation for the third; spinach and chickpeas (I’ve forgotten what the sauce was again). I followed it up with a sangria to complete my typical Spanish dining experience, plus it was only about €3!
As I finished the food, a girl started looking for somewhere to plug her phone in, and I invited her over. She was from Brazil and was spending a weekend in Seville while she lived on the coast. She was going to a flamenco show in an hour and had some time to kill, so she joined me for a drink. I thought about how I’d wanted to spend a night in Seville, and how awesome it would have been to be able to say “hey! I’ll come to the flamenco show with you!” Instead it was “aw man, I wish I could come to the flamenco show with you” and “yeah, that would have been great!”
Instead, I spent my last hour or so taking a look at the cathedral at night (it’s pretty) and perusing a lot of gift shops. I TOTALLY wanted this puffin, and obviously took a photo because when are you ever going to see a puffin next to a triceratops again?
I got a message from my driver to say that she would be ready to leave soon if I was, so I slowly meandered back down to Plaza de Espana to meet her. Luckily she arrived a little later because it meant I had some more time at the plaza… because it turns out it doesn’t disappoint at night either. The fountain even changes colour!
Seville is 1000000000% worth visiting in day (especially if you don’t take a nap half way through), but it would be even better to visit for longer. I wish I’d had a night to enjoy flamenco and perhaps visit the Real Alcazar and find that bar everyone raves about because it’s the oldest bar possibly in Spain (El Rinconcillo, in case you’re wondering) and just take in more alleyways and eat more tapas.
But Spain has finally gone and done it. It’s taken three visits, but I’ve found a place I love. I have almost 30 photos in this post to prove it. Thirty photos FROM A DAY TRIP! (I won’t even tell you how many I ACTUALLY took, because it’s absurd)
So, go go go go. Everyone is right. It IS beautiful!
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