There is something in the air in Seville that seduces you upon arrival. Every sense of your body is enthralled as you step out onto the streets of the Andalusian capital for the first time – your eyes marveling at the magnificent Gothic cathedral and Mudejar palaces, your ears picking up tiny differences in the Spanish accent spoken in this part of Spain and your nostrils detecting the aromas of fresh tapas served in packed little bars.
To immerse yourself in the Sevillian atmosphere to the highest degree possible, we recommend booking one of the best tours in Seville with Macarena Tours. They turn a standard trip into an extraordinary one. Victor and Clara, the two operators of Macarena Tours, dreamed of settling down after years of globetrotting to work on their shared passion: showcasing the history, beauty and ambiance of Seville to other like-minded travelers.
Victor hails from Galicia, a beautiful area of Northwest Spain. He worked as a guide in Berlin for several years and backpacked around the world, before deciding to make Seville his new home – a place he fell in love with. Clara, on the other hand, is a Sevillian girl through and through. She was also galavanting around the globe for a while, working in Germany and the UK and exploring Asia. Clara feels most at home in Seville, her beloved city.
Not only are their tours fascinating but they have a few unique extras which make them stand head and shoulders above the rest. For starters, you can gift someone a handmade postcard or hand-painted fan made by Victor and Clara themselves. These are neat mementos that your loved ones or friends can take home with them to keep Seville in their hearts long after the trip. The postcard or fan can be gifted during the tour or after.
Another feature of Macarena Tours is the chance to invite someone to Seville with a hand-drawn letter that gets delivered to the recipient in a wax-sealed envelope. You can contact Victor and Clara to choose your designs and let them know the address. How cool would it be if your partner received this letter in the mail and you surprised them with a trip to Seville with everything booked such as flights, accommodation and tours?!
As you can probably tell by now, the tours offered by Victor and Clara aren’t stock standard experiences or tacky tourism traps. They go above and beyond with extra little details that you will notice and appreciate. So with that in mind, we present you with the five best tours that you can book in Seville. Everything from flamenco and tapas to art and architecture is on display – giving every traveler the opportunity to see the true soul of Seville.
5 Best Tours in Seville
1. Alcazar, Cathedral and Giralda Tour
No trip to Seville is complete without visiting the Cathedral, Alcazar and Archivo de Indias – three buildings that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mix of cultures, religions and architectural styles gave this place its UNESCO listing. On this three hour tour with Macarena, guests are guided around several impressive buildings and structures in the heart of the city – each one more architecturally and historically interesting than the last.
“Alcazar” means “fortress” in Arabic. Going back to the 8th century, the Alcazar once hosted some of the most powerful families in Spanish history – from the Caliphate of Cordoba to the Christian era in the late Middle Ages. The Palace of King Peter I is one of the highlights here. This king was quite a controversial figure but he did have a tolerance and interest in the Muslim world, as he commissioned the palace to be made in a Mudejar style.
2. Jewish Quarter and Plaza de Espana Tour
The Jewish Quarter is one of the most pleasant areas of the city. Although the Jews in Seville lived together with Muslims for several centuries, it wouldn’t be until 1248 – when Christian King Ferdinand III grabbed the power of the city during the Reconquest of Spain – that they were somehow forced to live inside the walls of their own neighborhood. He ushered in an era where the Jews lived separately to other communities.
Theories abound as to why this happened. Some say it was to keep the Jews safe while others claim that discrimination was enforced. Either way, the legends of this quarter make it an intriguing place to explore as Jewish residents thrived up until the late 15th century. For 90 minutes, be led around this quarter by Victor and Clara and hear tales along the way. To cap it off, visit the Plaza de Espana – the most emblematic sight of the city.
3. Flamenco and Tapas in Triana Tour
Get on your dancing shoes for this flamboyant tour in the funky Triana neighborhood. Life in this quarter is simple yet authentic. For that reason it’s one of the best hidden gems of Spain. Colorful buildings perched on the Guadalquivir River, ceramic stores selling their wares, patios and bars brimming with social gatherings, and of course an array of amazing flamenco artists and theaters – the attractions of Triana are endless.
On this experience with Macarena Tours, travelers cross the Guadalquivir to wander the streets of Triana and meet the artisans that make this corner of Seville tick. First stop is a food market to taste delicious tapas at a variety of local bars. Then a flamenco show takes place in the Flamenco Triana Theater with a maximum capacity of 100 – giving the shows a private and exclusive feel. You can even add on a flamenco lesson for more good times!
4. Bike Tour in Seville
A three hour bike adventure with Macarena Tours that takes you to the best attractions and secret spots of Seville that not many tourists get to experience. Cruise along marked out and flat bicycle lanes that make cycling through the city a breeze. People of all ages can enjoy this tour, from grandparents to grandchildren! You will travel beside the Guadalquivir River and marvel at a myriad of historical buildings that line the riverside.
Highlights include: Maria Luisa Gardens, Plaza de Espana, Plaza de America, Museum of Arts and Popular Customs, Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas, Parliament of Andalusia and more. The tour follows a circuit route that runs for about 11 kilometers. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while seeing hidden aspects of Seville that may have never crossed your mind. Groups of up to 15 can be catered for on this bike tour.
5. Seville Tour in One Day or Two Days
These tours are suited for folks who want a comprehensive view of the city. Perhaps you only have a few days in Seville or you would like to get introduced to the city in a detailed fashion before venturing on your own. Whatever the need, these tours can deliver an unforgettable experience for you and your travel companions. The one day tour runs for six hours while the two day tour comprises two days of four and half hours each.
By booking the one day tour you will have time to see the major monuments of the historic center and discover the old town and newer neighborhoods of Seville. As an alternative, the two day tour incorporates all the sights of the one day tour with many bonuses. The main advantage of spreading your tour across two days is that everything will unfold in a slower and more relaxed way, enabling you to savor each moment deeply.
Final Tips for Visiting Seville
Seville is a magical destination to visit all year round but it gets crowded during certain months. For example, April – May and September – October can be even busier than the summer months of June – August. If you visit in the peak of summer, expect temperatures to soar above 100°F (37° C). Many Sevillanos escape the city during summer to the nearest beach, so you might find that there are more tourists than locals at this time.
Another key thing to remember is that tickets are required to access many of the buildings in Seville, for example the Alcazar. These are extra costs you should factor in when exploring the city or booking a tour, as often tickets aren’t included in the tour pricing. You probably don’t need to buy tickets in advance in the low season but in the middle of summer it is worth booking ahead to avoid the inevitably long queues at the ticket offices.
Give some thought to where you stay due to the fact that each barrio offers a different vibe. Staying in the city center isn’t necessarily a smart move as you will spend plenty of time here anyway and you might find the crowds off-putting. That being said, there are many other awesome places that you could potentially stay in – and these areas will give you a unique local experience. For example, Santa Cruz or Triana, or further afield in Feria.
Calle Feria and its surrounding streets are a hive of activity every day of the week but visit on Thursday’s to shop and eat up a storm at the weekly flea market. All sorts of treasures can be purchased at the mercado, from vintage clothes to artisan foods like olive oil and chorizo. Altering your travel plans just slightly to ensure you are in Seville on a Thursday is worth the effort as the Calle Feria Market is one of the highlights of Andalusian Spain.
Seeing a flamenco show will undoubtedly be on your bucket list, however not every performance is equal. A handful of taverns advertise “free flamenco shows” but they pale in comparison to the ticketed experiences in theaters. Triana, as already mentioned, is the top spot for a flamenco show or lesson. This artistic dance is such a central part of Sevillian culture that you will only want to witness the most talented and authentic dancers.
We suggest spending at least two full days in Seville to absorb all the little details and cultural curiosities that make Seville, Seville. A week would be ideal but we know that might not be possible for everyone. As soon as you arrive, try to sync in with the local life. Plan for siestas and late dinners, read history books to understand the complexity of Andalusia, and book a tour with Macarena for an enriching experience that you will cherish forever.