This is the first in a new series on the blog, ‘City Breaks With Kids’, which aims to provide guides to the best cities to visit with your children, with suggestions of things to see and do in each.
Seville is the perfect size for a city break: it’s small enough to walk around yet big enough for there to be plenty to do. Seville is everything you ever imagined about Spain: flamenco dancing, bullfighting and roads lined with orange trees and jacarandas. It’s beautiful and elegant, with stunning architecture and a fascinating history.
What’s more, it’s a great place to visit now. It’s not as crowded and the temperature is very pleasant in winter and spring – Seville can get very hot in July and August.
Climb up the Giralda Tower and visit the Cathedral
The Giralda, the bell tower of Seville’s cathedral, was built as a minaret in medieval times when the city was occupied by the Moors. It was used as an observatory and to call Muslims to prayer. Climb up the tower for some of the best views of Seville. It’s much easier to climb than most towers because there are 35 gently inclining ramps wide enough for two horsemen to ride up to the top.
The 15th-century cathedral is well worth a visit as well. It’s the largest Gothic church in the world and inside, you’ll find Christopher Columbus’s coffin.
Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower is open from 11am until 3.30pm on Mondays; until 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday; 2.30pm until 6pm on Sundays. Tickets, adults, €9; children under 14, free; students under 25 and over 65s, €4.
Walk around the Plaza de Espana
The Plaza de Espana is one of the most impressive public spaces in the whole of Spain. Star Wars fans will recognise it as the city of Theed on the planet Naboo from ‘The Attack of the Clones’. Designed in 1929 as the centrepiece for the Fair of the Americas (which never happened due to the Wall Street crash), it is absolutely stunning, full of exquisite tiles, fountains, bridges and grand stairways. Send your children on a hunt around the crescent to find scenes and maps from all the provinces in Spain. You can even hire out little boats on the tiny canal.
Watch a Flamenco show
The gypsy art of Flamenco has been danced in Andalusia for nearly 500 years and Seville is a great place to watch a show. El Museo del Baile Flamenco, the flamenco dance museum, has hour-long flamenco shows every evening with incredible dancing, singing and guitar playing. It’s a particularly good place to take children as it’s small and intimate and the dancers and singers explain what they are doing in English (and other languages).
El Museo del Baile Flamenco has daily performances from 7pm. Tickets, adults, €20; children, €12.
Visit the Alcázar Palace
The Alcázar Palace is stunning. It’s a real mix of architectural styles from Moorish and Renaissance to Gothic. Seville’s rulers have occupied this site since Roman times and your children will love some of the more gruesome stories. It was originally built as a Moorish fort and it had to be enlarged under the Moorish ruler al-Mu’tadid to house his harem of 800 women. He decorated the terraces of the palace with flowers planted in the skulls of his decapitated enemies.
The Alcázar was the favourite residence of the Spanish kings for four centuries and the upper floors are still used by the current king and queen when they visit Seville. Visitors can explore the many courtyards and reception rooms and wander around the beautiful gardens. Don’t miss the amazing red, green and gold dome in the Salon de Embajadores.
The Alcazar is open every day from 9.30am until 5pm (until 7pm from April to September). Tickets, €9.50 for adults; children free.
Take a horse and carriage ride
You’ll find the traditional horses and carriages all over the city and it’s a great way of seeing all the sights on your first day – and so much fun for children. Your driver should be able to explain what you’re seeing as you go past. The carriage rides take in all the main sights as well as the lovely Maria Luisa Park with its gorgeous palm trees, pines, flowers and orange trees.
Buy a picnic from the Mercado de Triana
If you cross the Triana bridge you’ll get to the Triana district which is much less touristy than the centre and the area where all the flamenco artists, bullfighters and sailors used to live. Here you’ll find the wonderful Triana market, an indoor food market where you can buy the most delicious hams, olives, cheeses, fruit, fish and bread. It’s a great place to try out a little Spanish. You could give your children a few euros and see if they can choose and buy some food for a picnic. Then take your goodies to the banks of the Guadalquivir River or one of Seville’s lovely parks for a foodie feast.
The Mercado de Triana is open from Mondays to Saturdays, from 8am until 2pm.
Visit the Bullring and Museum
The matador with his cape and sword is an iconic Spanish image and bullfighting is an important part of Spanish culture, particularly in the south. Seville is the second most important centre for bullfighting in Spain (after Madrid).
The Plaza de Toros Real Maestranza was built in the 18th century and is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. You can learn all about bullfighting and its history by taking a 20-minute tour of the bullring (in English). It’s a fascinating tour. You’ll visit the chapel where the matadors pray before a fight and the museum where you can see the elaborate costumes and swords.
The Real Maestranza is open daily from 9.30am until 7pm (until 9pm from April until October). Tickets, adults, €7; under 7s, free; children aged from 7 until 11, €3.