12 Top-Rated Day Trips from Seville
With all the attractions the city of Seville offers, tourists can be forgiven for not wanting to leave. But they would be missing some of the most important attractions in Spain, which lie all around this enchanting city. Having seen the beautiful Alcazar palace in Seville, visitors will want to see the ultimate in Nasrid grandeur at the famed Alhambra in Granada. And the Great Mosque in Cordoba, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Europe's most breathtaking buildings. Roman Italica is only a few kilometers outside the city, and the legendary White Villages of Andalucía are within easy reach. The famed Lusitanian horses practice their ballet in Jerez de la Frontera, and just beyond is the birders' paradise of UNESCO-listed Doñana National Park, known as Europe's Everglades. Even exotic Tangier is as close as a day trip with even more attractions and things to do.
Plan your adventures with this list of the best day trips from 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.
You can visit all these on the Granada Day Trip from Seville Including Skip-the-Line Entrance to Alhambra Palace and Optional Albaicin Walking Tour, a 13-hour guided excursion by air-conditioned coach. The tour bypasses the inevitable long lines at the Alhambra and includes a guided tour of the various palaces and mosque. You can add a guided tour through the atmospheric old lanes of Granada's old Moorish quarter, the Albaicin, for a feel of life in medieval Islamic Spain - and unforgettable views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada.
2 Córdoba: The UNESCO-Listed Mosque and the Old Jewish Quarter
Magnificent architectural treasures and quaint old quarters reflect Córdoba's rich heritage. A multifaceted cultural legacy is unveiled as tourists wander the narrow streets and visit the awe-inspiring monuments. The most important sight is the UNESCO-listed La Mezquita, a breathtaking 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.
Be sure to spend time exploring the Judería, the old Jewish quarter. This neighborhood is a charming tangle of narrow, winding lanes and atmospheric squares. The quarter's lovely whitewashed houses are reminiscent of the Greek Islands. Stop to admire each residence's flower-bedecked patio, and ideally visit during the Concurso de Patio festival in May when locals compete for the prize of "most beautiful patio." The Jewish quarter has a splendid 15th-century Mudéjar-style Synagogue and Museum of Sephardic Jews (Casa de Sefarad). Other tourist highlights are the Andalusian gardens of the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana (an aristocratic palace) and the distinctive Arabian-style landscaping of the Alcázar (Moorish castle). A stress-free way to see the Great Mosque and the alluring streets of the old Judería is on the Cordoba Day Trip from Seville Including Skip-the-Line Ticket to Cordoba Mosque and Optional Tour of Carmona. The 10-hour trip begins with pick-up at your central hotel and includes historical background provided by a local guide as you delve into the fascinating stories of Córdoba in the Middle Ages.
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 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 September, the traditional Goyesca Bullfighting takes place at the Plaza de Toros bullring during the Pedro Romana Fair. 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 here or two hours and 30 minutes by train. An easier way is to combine Ronda with other Pueblos Blancos on a White Villages and Ronda Day Tour from Seville. The 10-hour tour, in addition to spending time exploring Ronda, visits the White Town of Grazalema and stops for olive oil tasting and breathtaking views in Zahara de la Sierra.
- Read More:
- 11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ronda
4 Seaside Cadiz
Cádiz invites visitors to indulge in the leisurely lifestyle of southern Spain. This picturesque seaport has palm-fringed promenades for taking scenic walks, and sunny plazas where tourists can mingle with the locals. Everything about Cadiz exudes seaside Mediterranean charm. Bask in the balmy weather, breathe in the ocean air, and admire the seagulls soaring above church bell towers. 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. Save time for wandering around the 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.
- Read More:
- 14 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 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 should dine at the Parador de Carmona, a luxury hotel converted from the 14th-century Alcázar. To arrive in Carmona, take a 30-minute car ride or a one-hour-and-20-minute train ride.
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 site, Arcos de la Frontera 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 will be delighted by the town's traditional festival. Arcos de la Frontera is also remarkable for its regional cuisine. From Seville, it takes about an hour to drive to Arcos de la Frontera.
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 the Museum of Moroccan Arts and the archaeological Museum of Antiquities. The latter displays finds from Morocco's ancient Roman sites of Lixus and Volubilis. 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 not only a dedicated bus from Seville and the round-trip by ferry, but a traditional lunch in Tangier. The tour guide here not only provides history and cultural background, but is very helpful in navigating through the confusing tangle of the medina's 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 Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (Royal Andalusian Riding School) where prestigious pedigreed Andalusian horses prance in perfect form. Equestrian enthusiasts will especially enjoy the Jerez Horse Fair, 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
This Historic-Artistic Site was an important town during the Roman era. In the 16th-century, Osuna became an established ducal city with impressive monuments, including the Andalusian Renaissance-style Ducal Pantheon and the Collegiate Church of Santa María de la Asunción. The church features artwork created for the Duke of Osuna, who was also the Viceroy of Naples. At the Plaza Mayor in the center of town is an old Moorish tower that houses the Archaeological Museum. Osuna is also famous for its lively celebrations for Holy Week during Easter. Osuna lies in the countryside, 92 kilometers southeast of Seville.
8 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. Ecija 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.
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 travel here from Seville (36 kilometers away) is about a 45-minute drive.