12 Top-Rated Day Trips from Seville
With Seville's many attractions, tourists can be forgiven for not wanting to leave. But they would be missing some of the most important tourist destinations in Spain located near this enchanting city.
After visiting the exquisite medieval Moorish palace in Seville, visitors will want to see the amazing Islamic architecture at the Alhambra in Granada and the Great Mosque in Córdoba.
There are also lesser-known but impressive attractions. A fascinating ancient Roman archaeological site is only a few kilometers outside of Seville, and the quaint White Villages of Andalucía are also within easy reach.
The famed Lusitanian horses practice their ballet in Jerez de la Frontera, just an hour drive away, and nearby is the birders' paradise of UNESCO-listed Doñana National Park, known as Europe's Everglades. Even exotic Tangier can be visited from Seville in just one day.
There are so many attractions and things to do around Seville. Plan your day-trip adventures with our list of the best places to visit near Seville.
1. The Alhambra and Granada's Moorish Quarter
Heading the list of the top tourist attractions in Spain is the Alhambra, a magnificent assemblage of palaces crowning a hilltop in Granada. The decorative detail that fills the royal palace of the Nasrid dynasty is the finest example of the artistry of Spain's Islamic period. From the 13th through the 15th centuries Andalucía was the western capital of the Islamic world, and represented the highest achievements of culture in medieval Europe.
The Alhambra was the seat of the dynasty, a complex of palaces, gardens, towers, walls, and a mosque all adorned in delicately carved stone filigree and incredibly intricate tilework. That's just the Nasrid palaces.
Also in the Alhambra is the still unfinished palace built for the Emperor Charles V, Spain's finest example of High Renaissance architecture. Be sure to climb to the adjoining Generalife for the views of the Alhambra palaces from its beautiful terraced gardens.
The best way to visit the Alhambra from Seville is by taking an organized tour. The Granada Day Trip with Skip-the-Line Alhambra Ticket includes a comprehensive guided tour of the Alhambra's various palaces, courtyards, and gardens. There's also the option to add a guided walking tour of Granada's old Moorish quarter, the Albaicín, for a feel of life in medieval Islamic Spain and unforgettable views of the Alhambra complex.
2. Córdoba: The UNESCO-Listed Mosque and the Old Jewish Quarter
Magnificent architectural treasures and quaint old quarters reflect the rich heritage of Córdoba. A multifaceted cultural legacy is unveiled as tourists wander the narrow streets and visit the awe-inspiring monuments.
One of the most important sights in Córdoba is the UNESCO-listed La Mezquita (Great Mosque), an 8th-century mosque that is considered one of the finest Islamic buildings in the Western world.
While the Moorish community of Córdoba flourished, the city offered religious tolerance. For centuries, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in harmony, while contributing to intellectual achievements that made Córdoba the greatest capital city in Europe. The mosque was converted to a cathedral in 1523 under the Catholic Monarchs.
Tourists should be sure to spend time exploring the Judería, the old Jewish quarter, which has a splendid 15th-century Mudéjar-style Synagogue and Museum of Sephardic Jews (Casa de Sefarad). This neighborhood is a charming tangle of narrow, winding lanes and atmospheric squares.
The Jewish quarter's lovely whitewashed houses are humble abodes with interesting architectural details. Most of the residences feature flower-bedecked patios (interior courtyards). During the Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba festival in May, locals compete for the prize of "most beautiful patio."
Tourists can admire more Andalusian courtyards and gardens at the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana (an aristocratic palace) and the Alcázar (Moorish castle) that is landscaped in a distinctive Arabian style.
A stress-free way to visit Córdoba from Seville is on the Córdoba Day Trip with Skip-the-Line Mosque Ticket. The 10-hour trip begins with pickup at your central hotel and includes guided tours of La Mezquita, the Alcázar, and the alluring streets of the Judería.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Córdoba
3. Dramatic Ronda
One of the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages), this breathtaking cliff top town is one of the most dramatic sites in Andalusia. Ronda is perched on a plateau overlooking El Tajo gorge with the famous Puente Nuevo bridge straddling the 130-meter-deep ravine.
Sensational sweeping views of the landscape are found at the Casa del Rey Moro gardens and the Alameda de José Antonio park. Other must-see sights in Ronda include the Baños Árabes (medieval Arab Baths) and La Cuidad, the historic Islamic quarter, which reflect the town's Moorish heritage.
Ronda is also legendary for bullfights and bandits. In early September, the Feria Goyesca de Pedro Romero (a week-long festival with costumed parades, flamenco performances, and traditional bullfighting) takes place throughout the town and at the Plaza de Toros bullring. The bullring and its bullfighting museum are open year-round.
The Museum of Bandits shares stories about the rough-and-tumble outlaws of the 19th century, who lived in the mountains around Ronda.
From Seville (128 kilometers away), it takes about one hour and 45 minutes to drive to Ronda or two hours and 30 minutes by train.
For those interested in exploring this scenic area of the Andalusia countryside but who prefer to leave the driving to someone else, a guided sightseeing tour is a good choice. The Ronda Day and White Villages Day Trip from Seville includes round-trip transportation, stops in the picturesque whitewashed villages of Zahara de la Sierra and Grazalema and two hours of free time to explore Ronda.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ronda
4. Seaside Cadiz
Everything about Cadiz exudes seaside Mediterranean charm, from the balmy weather and sea breezes to sunny plazas and waterfront promenades.
The cosmopolitan city is actually a collection of atmospheric old barrios such as El Pópulo, packed with cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways, and La Viña, the historic fishermen's neighborhood, where tourists should stop for a seafood meal.
Tourists should save time for wandering around the old gypsy quarter (Santa María), listening for melodies of flamenco song.
Within its urban boundaries, Cádiz has excellent sandy beaches, and the city is also surrounded by the dreamy Costa de la Luz, a spectacular stretch of unspoiled sandy coastline.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cádiz
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- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cádiz
5. Carmona: A Fortified City with Moorish Castles
Surrounded by the remains of old Roman walls, this ancient town is nestled in the countryside just 35 kilometers (a 30-minute drive) from Seville. Towering above are the town's two most prominent sights: the Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro, the Moorish fortress, and the 15th-century Church of Santa María la Mayor.
Another noteworthy religious landmark is the Church of San Pedro, which was designed with a tower that resembles La Giralda at the Seville Cathedral. At the center of Carmona, the Plaza San Fernando is a typical Andalusian town square graced by elegant historic buildings.
To get a sense of Carmona's ancient heritage, visit the Seville Gate, which dates back to the Carthaginian era of the 9th century BC.
Day-trippers seeking a gourmet lunch will enjoy the fine-dining restaurant at the Parador de Carmona. This four-star luxury hotel also offers a pampering overnight experience complete with relaxing lounges and outdoor terraces. There's also a large swimming pool and a kids' pool.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Carmona
6. The Whitewashed Village of Arcos de la Frontera
Arcos de la Frontera has a way of seducing visitors with its charming whitewashed houses and spectacular views. Listed as a National Historic-Artistic Monument, Arcos de la Frontera is a one-hour drive from Seville and is considered a gateway to exploring the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) of Andalusia.
Similar to Ronda, the clifftop town has Moorish roots. The 15th- to 16th-century Basilica of Santa María de la Asunción features Mudéjar architectural elements that are common in this region. The Church of San Pedro is also noteworthy for its decorative Baroque facade.
Tourists visiting during Easter Week (Semana Santa) will be delighted by the town's traditional festival.
Arcos de la Frontera is also remarkable for its regional cuisine. The town's historic center has many good tapas restaurants.
7. Exotic Tangier, Morocco
Reached from Seville by ferry from the coastal town of Tarifa, the Moroccan city of Tangier is perhaps best known as the home of the famous Kasbah, where Sultan Moulay Ismail built his palace, the Dar el Makhzen, in the 17th century. Today the palace, resplendent with its marble courtyard and intricately carved ceilings, houses a museum of archaeology.
The Kasbah sits atop the city, with views over the tangled medina (old town) and the sea. The medina is a labyrinth of narrow lanes and alleys that seem to converge on the Petit Socco, a lively square.
To the east of the Petit Socco is the Grand Mosque, and to the west is the Spanish Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1880.
Far less complicated than making bus and ferry connections on your own is the Full-Day Tour: Tangier from Seville, which includes transportation, lunch at a restaurant in Tangier, and a guided walking tour of the medina. The tour guide provides history and cultural background, while ensuring that you don't get lost in the confusing tangle of the medina's winding streets.
8. Andalusian Traditions in Jerez de la Frontera
This old aristocratic town takes pride in its traditions. A top attraction in Jerez is the Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation), where prestigious pedigreed Andalusian horses prance in perfect form.
Equestrian enthusiasts will especially enjoy the Jerez Horse Fair (Feria del Caballo), a 500-year-old custom that continues every year in May. The event features tapas tastings and a children's amusement park.
Jerez de la Frontera also boasts a center devoted to the art of flamenco, the Centro Andaluz de Documentación del Flamenco.
To experience authentic flamenco performances, the best time to visit is at the end of February and in early March for the Festival de Jerez held at the Teatro Villamarta.
Jerez de la Frontera is a one-hour drive or just over one-hour train ride from Seville.
9. Osuna: A 16th-Century Ducal City
Listed Historic-Artistic Monument, Osuna was an important town during the Roman era and in the 16th-century became an established ducal city. Osuna is also known for its traditional religious celebrations during Semana Santa (Easter week).
The town boasts impressive monuments, including the Andalusian Renaissance-style Ducal Pantheon and the Collegiate Church of Santa María de la Asunción (Colegiata de Osuna). The church houses the Museum of Religious Art, which contains masterpieces of 17th-century painting by José de Ribera.
At the Plaza Mayor in the center of town is an old Moorish tower that houses the Archaeological Museum.
Osuna is found in the countryside, 92 kilometers southeast of Seville.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Osuna
10. The Roman Archaeological Site of Itálica
Just 13 kilometers (a 15-minute drive) from Seville are the ancient Roman ruins in Itálica. The site was settled by the Romans in 206 BC and later, under the rule of Emperor Augustus, Itálica was founded as a town and began minting money. Itálica was also the birthplace of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian.
Today, tourists can visit the incredible archaeological site to discover ruins of old streets, buildings, and mosaics, which are found in their original location.
11. Historic Monuments in Ecija
Known as the City of Towers, Ecija boasts 11 historic towers and nine church steeples. Visitors will be awed by the town's religious monuments, including the 15th-century Church of San Gil and the 13th-century Church of Santa Cruz that was converted from a mosque.
During the 16th century, the town had a significant aristocratic presence, seen in the lovely Los Palmos Palace, designed around a courtyard filled with fragrant orange trees.
The town also has a marvelous Palace of Justice building, the Mudejar-style Casa de las Tomasas, as well as elegant town squares featuring fountains.
Ecija is located 86 kilometers from Seville, about a one-hour drive or two-hour bus ride.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ecija
12. Birdlife at the Parque Nacional de Doñana
This UNESCO-listed national park is a protected zone of wetlands for migrating birds. The Parque Nacional de Doñana was formed from the delta of the Guadalquivir River. This river was known by the Moors as the Wada-I-Kebir, which translates to "Big River."
Bordering the delta's sandbar are marshlands that are home to a diverse bird population including extraordinary species such as flamingoes and Spanish imperial eagles. The park also has scrublands and coastal dunes.
To reach the Parque Nacional de Doñana from Seville (36 kilometers away) is about a 45-minute drive.