15 Must-Visit Cities in Spain

The country of Spain is so vast and different across the land that just visiting one city is barely enough to say that you’ve seen Spain.

15 Must Visit Cities

The country of Spain is so vast and different across the land that just visiting one city is barely enough to say that you’ve seen Spain. Each region has its own traditions, its own landscape and even its own dialect. From cities bustling with Spanish culture and traditions to cities with dazzling architecture and famous monuments, Spain has so many cities offering something for everybody.

Barcelona

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Home of the wonderous Sagrada Familia and many of Gaudi’s work, Barcelona is a must-visit city in Spain. Barcelona has so much to offer from mouthwatering tapas to cultural park walks. Spend a weekend in Barcelona and you’ll be taken in by its impressive architecture and spell-bounding gothic quarter.

Madrid

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A trip to the capital offers a 360 experience of modern and old architecture sprung together and given a new lease of life. The cosmopolitan city of Madrid is filled with gorgeous architecture, trendy rooftop bars and more shops along Gran Vía than you can carry bags for.

Donastia San-Sebastían

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One of my absolute most favourite cities in Spain is Donastia San Sebastían located near the French border. Combining  French culture and architecture with Spanish customs and design makes San Sebastian it a trendy and beautiful city. La Concha beach certainly is a stunning beach.

Valencia

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A popular city with a decent blend of cultural walks, long stretches of white beaches and fabulous gastronomy. Be sure to visit the Mercat in the centre and check out the Arts and Science museum. Don’t forget to try the famous Paella Valenciana, which originated here.

Seville

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Draped in Andalucian charm, Seville is one of Alex’s favourite cities in the world. Boasting the largest historical centre in Spain and the third largest cathedral in the world, Seville is just truly beautiful. Filled with charm, beautiful architecture and a relaxed atmosphere, you’ll fall in love with Seville and its romantic feel.

Granada

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Home to one of the most beautiful wonders, the Alhambra Palace. Situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada offers a cultural break slightly cooler than other areas in Spain. Stay in the Albaícin area and you’ll drift off to sleep to the sounds of guitars playing in the distance and the church bells ringing. Book a room that overlooks the Alhambra and you’ll spend hours admiring it. Don’t forget to wander around the city centre and visit the other impressive buildings, like Zafra’s House.

Pamplona

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So much more than just the bull run, Pamplona is a welcoming and quiet city filled with stunning architecture and a laid-back feeling. Lazy around in the plaza having a coffee overlooking the town hall with a cookie and watch the hours and the people pass by.

Toledo

toledo and why you should visit

A preserved old city set in the hills of Castille La Mancha, the city is known for being the ancient capital. You’ll adore the plaza at the top of the hill and the beautiful cathedral.

Bilbao

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Trendy and quirky, Bilbao is a cool city up in the North. Known for being the art hub of Spain, wandering around you’ll soon see why.

Segovia

Although we haven’t got there yet, we will do soon. Segovia’s signature monument, the Roman Aqueduct is a UNESCO World Heritage Location and one of the 7 wonders of Spain. The city is supposed to be vibrant and bustling with beautiful hills in the background.

Cadiz

Another one that we haven’t reached yet is the Southern city of Cadiz. It is supposed to be a picturesque city on the south of Spain and one that we’ll definitely have to visit soon.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia. You might know it from El Camino de Santiago, where the Plaza del Onradoiro is the final destination on the pilgrimage trail. The city itself is supposed to be packed with history, culture and a buzzing atmosphere. It’s on my list!

Alicante

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Becoming known more and more as a cosmopolitan city, Alicante is really finding itself and its identity within Spain. Filled with shopping locations and beautiful beaches along the Costa Blanca, it’s well worth visiting if you’re staying at a nearby location. Wander along the narrow streets of the old town, visit the castle that overlooks the marina and then shop until you drop on Gran Vía.

Córdoba

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Known widely for its flower street, Córdoba is a mixture of Jewish, Spanish and Roman architecture and buildings. It has beautiful cobbled streets, plenty of shopping experiences and the stunning Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir river.

Zaragoza

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One of the most beautiful buildings in Spain is found in Zaragoza. You won’t ever forget seeing the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar for the first time. I think you could see it over and over and still be mesmerised by its beautiful domes and colourful towers. It really does like something out of a fairytale or a Disney movie.


How many have you visited? Don’t forget to add your email to the subscription box so you don’t miss any blogs related to Spain!

Hasta luego,

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Xàbia / Jávea Travel Guide

Javea is one of those idyllic places that, although I couldn’t see myself living there, or at least for now, it’s a fishing town that I’ll always want to go back to. It has that holiday home feel.

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If pretty places, chic bars and a relaxed atmosphere is what you’re looking for on your next holiday to the costa blanca then Javea, or in Valenciano, Xàbia, is where you should be heading. Instagrammers: if you’re looking for somewhere to make your Instagram “pop” on the costa blanca, Javea is that place.

Xàbia can be found 40 minutes north of Benidorm, heading towards Valencia. Nestled between Moraira and Denia, I’d recommend visiting all of them, if time permits. It is easy to visit Xàbia by taking the ALSA bus in the direction of Valencia, but, be aware that some buses take much longer than others. Some buses can get you to Xàbia is 90 minutes or so, some can be shorter or longer. Always check the timetable, or ask the bus driver if you’re not sure.

Quick Guide:

Time Zone: GMT + 1

Plug Socket: European

Currency: Euro

Language: Spanish and Valencian. English very widely spoken. Large English expat community.

Climate: A comfortable and welcoming year round temperature. Very hot in July, August and September. Low rainfall. October is the wettest month. The bay is relatively open and the buildings are all low rise making it susceptible to wind.

How long a stay: If you’re planning to head on holiday to Benidorm or Alicante, it’s very easy to see Xàbia in a half day or full day trip, depending on what you want to do there and the mode of transport you have available. If you’re wanting to go on holiday to Xàbia, 7 nights allows you to see different places in the area as well as relax at the beach and the pool.

What to pack: With a pleasing climate all year round, it’s easy to pack lightly for Xàbia. I managed to pack everything from my Spring LookBook into my American Tourister Spinner luggage. If you’re travelling in the summer months, you’ll definitely need a stock up of swimwear, shorts and light clothing. If you’re heading out in the winter months, be sure to pack a few jumpers and have a jacket, just in case. In the sun, you can bask in 20 degree temperatures during the winter months, but once the sun drops and the temperature dips you can feel lows of 5 at night.

Xabia is a tiny, historic town, free of the burden of high rise buildings and daunting shadows. Instead of looking up at a concrete jungle, open space is aplenty and the views spread for miles. Whether you’re looking towards the mountains, or looking out at sea, where on a good day you can catch glimpses of Ibiza, it’s completely unspoilt.

The first thing that made me fall in love with Xàbia was the crystal clear blue Mediterranean Sea that lapped against the sandy white shoreline. Imagine a cove on an island, and that’s Xàbia. A taste of the island lifestyle on mainland Spain.

Let’s talk about the bars. Finished, beautiful and friendly bars that combine modern aesthetic with old time values. The bars, especially chabada, are adorned with beautiful furnishings, chandeliers and topping it off with tasty drinks and mouthwatering tapas. I had my first try of “albóndigas” which is a meatball in tomato tapas dish at chabada, and they’re definitely worthy for a mid afternoon lunch.

We’ve also tried the “mejillones” there and the patatas bravas. The mejillones (mussels) were Rio’s absolute favourite and the patatas bravas changed my opinion on patatas bravas. They also do a happy hour, where you can get cocktails at a reduced price and they offer a fabulous selection of cava’s, my favourite is the cava with raspberries! The food and drinks are always good and the staff are smiley and helpful. If you’re in Javea, go to chabada!

Another beautiful bar is that of The Beach House, Jávea. Looking like it had been put together by the interior designers over at Elle Home, it’s a stunning bar with a laid back relaxed atmosphere. Its tagline “taste the slow life” is reflected in every aspect, don’t expect to rush around, it’s a chilled atmosphere with slow, acoustic music to let the day pass you by.

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The interesting aspect of Xàbia is its range of landscape. One of my favourite things about Spain is the ability to swap and change between Sandy coastlines and rugged mountains by the turn of a head. Xàbia offers all that and more. The caves at the edge of the main Arenal bay are both cool to look at and offer an escape from the sun in the summer. Xàbia seems to nail that combination of clutching its old ancient charm of the fishing village and modern facilities.

Not just limited to the main Arenal bay, Javea also spreads to the Cala Granadella and the Cala Portixol. If you do have access to a car and don’t mind a windy mountain road, then heading down to them is a must. In the summer, they both come to life with loud music and a party atmosphere. The Cala Portixol also has restaurants and bars which come to life opening the once closed blue doors that I regularly stand in front of imagining I’m in Santorini and that I’m a real blogger. Ha.

cala de portixol javea

Xàbia is renowned for its gorgeous beaches and laid back atmosphere. It’s a place that once we visit, it feels like we’re on holiday. The sun seems to linger for longer due to the low rise buildings and the atmosphere just seems a million miles away. It’s like a holiday without branching out too far. Javea is one of those idyllic places that, although I couldn’t see myself living there, or at least for now, it’s a fishing town that I’ll always want to go back to. It has that holiday home feel.

 

Have you been?

Hasta luego,

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Alcoy – The Christmas Town in Alicante

Alcoy is a wonderful place to spend time during Christmas.

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You’re probably thinking that a White Christmas in Alicante is absolutely impossible. If we’re talking about the beach, you’re more than likely correct. You might find a scattering of snow on the beach or catch a glimpse of it far off in the mountains if you’re lucky, but none of that crunchy, building snowmen snow. Unless you know where to find it.

It goes by the name Alcoy, or Alcoi.  What if I told you that just an hour drive from Benidorm, there is a beautiful inland town where the snow blankets and the Spanish tradition was born. Are you ready to discover Christmas Town?

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Copyright of Alcoy Turismo

Alcoy is an inland town in the province of Alicante. Filled with more than 20 bridges, it is also known as “The Town of the Bridges”. Due to its wonderful Christmas celebrations and blankets of crispy snow in the winter, it has also adopted the name: “The Christmas Town”.

It is one of the most important towns in the Comunidad Valenciana and it is where the Moors and Christians festivities were first celebrated too. It also is home to a well-loved university.

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Copyright of Alcoy Turismo 

Alcoy boomed in the Industrial Revolution, specialising in the textile, metal and paper industry. It grew and developed into a wealthy area which is evident from its modern, architectural buildings.

What makes Alcoy so unique and special for Christmas is that it was the first place in the world to celebrate Cavalcade of Magi, a traditional parade of king coaches for King’s Day. Nowadays, practically every city in Spain and most in Mexico hold their own Cavalcade of Magi. The Cavalcade of Magi is a parade where the three kings, Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar ride through the streets throwing sweets to the children. You may have celebrated this before in Benidorm, but what about celebrating it in the place it was first ever born?

Alcoy has a huge pull for international tourism for Spain, due to being the oldest Cavalcade of Magi in the world. 

Throughout December and early January, Alcoy has a large Christmas market and in Plaza de España, there is a large nativity scene that is erected in front of Santa Maria Church. There you’ll find a statue of one of the three kings, in giant form, sitting on his throne with the sounds of children laughing as they jump on his knee for a photo.

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Copyright of Alcoy Turismo

Alcoy is a wonderful place to spend time during Christmas. It is around 90km away from Benidorm taking the AP-7 roads, or 60km along the CV-70. Although the CV-70 is a shorter route, it does take longer, though the drive is much easier than the country roads that may come with some steep drops that might make your stomach flip!

In Alcoy, there is also “The Casal de Nadal”, meaning the House of Christmas, which is dedicated to the Christmas celebrations of Alcoy. If you’re unable to attend the actual festivities, it’s great to look around to get an idea about what’s to offer!

I know where I will be heading this winter. What about you?

Feliz Navidad,

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Your Guide to the points of interest in Seville, Spain

This guide should put you in the right direction of some of the most ‘must-see’ places in Seville, including monuments and points of interest.

Have I mentioned that I love Seville before? I suppose I have. Seville is a beautiful city adorned with breathtaking sights, picturesque walks and busting with flowers. Find out a little bit about the points of interest in my Seville tourist guide.

Seville is always a city I’ll want to return to. There aren’t many cities that I could revisit over and over and love it just as much as the first time. It’s a city that, even though we’ve been before, there was still so much we hadn’t seen before, and still so many more places to visit.

This guide should put you in the right direction of some of the most ‘must-see’ places in Seville, including monuments and points of interest.

We arrived to Seville at 11:30 A.M to the Plaza de Armas bus station. This station is located very close to the city centre and you are welcomed with views of the river as you arrive.

The first thing we did was head straight for something to eat. We weren’t really sure what we fancied, so making use of the Starbucks on every corner we decided to head there. The Starbucks overlooks the cathedral, so we did sit outside, so that it at least felt Spanish. Seville feels very American. It’s almost like America and Spain collided to bring us the sheer beauty that is Seville. My two favourite places coming together? No wonder I love it here so much.

After a brief breakfast, we headed straight out exploring. We didn’t get a chance to head up the Giralda, so I haven’t included that, but, if you do go to Seville, it’s worth booking ahead and getting your tickets. It’s a very steep climb, but I’m told it’s ramps and not stairs! Don’t take my word for that though! 

We did manage to spend a lot of time at Maria Luisa Park, which definitely remains my favourite spot in Seville and plenty of other monuments and points of interest. Are you ready to explore Seville with me?

The Cathedral

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The resting place of Christopher Colombus, Seville’s cathedral, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Does this surprise you as much as it surprised me? It is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Taking over a century to construct, starting in 1401 and not finishing until 1506, it is obvious that time was taken to reach perfection. It is magnificent.

We entered the cathedral really early, unable to take part in the full tour, we were able to nip in and catch a glimpse of the free part of the entrance.

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Another favourite spot of mine in Seville is the Royal Alcázar, or the Real Alcázar. The Real Alcázar is the royal palace which was specifically built for the King of Castile.

The Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the most important monuments in the city and the country. Historial growth is evident hidden behind the high walls and lush gardens. Influences can be found from the Arabic period, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Baroque and the XIX period.

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Game of Thrones fans will recognise the Alcazar as it was used for scenes in Season Five, in episodes 2, 6, 7 and 9. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, why not head to the Alcazar and step onto the film set?

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I absolutely adore the Alcazar, which is why you should add it to your ‘must see’ in Seville list. It’s a beautiful place for relaxing and wandering around. You can go at your own pace and it just feels perfect to sit on the benches and take it all in.

The gardens are stunning and an oasis to keep cool in the sweltering heat. Andalusian houses typically feature a large, lush garden for this reason! So, if you’re feeling the heat, head to an Andalusian style casa and relax in the gardens. There is no time limit at the Alcazar so spend as long as you like relaxing.

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Entrance for adults is 9€, for students and pensioners entrance is a meer 2€ and for under 16’s it’s only 1€. Trust me, it’ll be the best few euros you’ll spend. Queues are astonishing, so book your tickets online. We booked our tickets sat in Starbucks for the same day, showing our scannable e-ticket.

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Torre del Oro

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We didn’t head into the Torre del Oro, Tower of Gold, this time. We felt it was more of a once you’ve done it, you’ve done it place. Though, the views of the river are fantastic from above.

The Torre del Oro is a purpose built military watchtower in Seville overlooking the Guadalquivir river. It was built back in the 13th century and served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Climbing the seemingly never ending steps, you’ll find out more and more about the history of Seville and its watchtower.

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The Parasol

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The Parasol. Love it or hate it. What do you think? When we came to Seville last time, I point blank refused to go up. I hated it. I hated the look. It just doesn’t fit. I must say, this wooden thing still doesn’t do it for me. But, it does give you great, panoramic views of Seville.

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The six parasols form a giant mushroom, known as ‘las setas’. Located in the old quarter of Seville, it was only completed in 2011. The Parasol causes a lot of controversy amongst the locals, and I can see why. It has supposedly been inspired by the Cathedral of Seville, but I don’t see it myself!

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The Parasol was really hard to find, or maybe we were being daft, but if you’re struggling like we were, here’s how to get there! Take the stairs or the escalator down to underground level (Level 0) heading toward the Antiquarium, which is where the Roman ruines are displayed. There, you’ll find a ticket desk! You then take the elevator up to level 3.

On level 3, there is also a restaurant where you can enjoy the views. The Parasol circles around the city so you really do get a 360 view. The appearance might not be great, but the views are.

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Plaza de España

We’ve all heard of Plaza de España, right? Probably, the most iconic spot in Seville. If you’re wondering if it’s as beautiful as it is in photos, then let me clear that up for you. It is.

Although we’d visited before, it still had that wow factor like the very first time. Plaza de Espana is like that second home. The place you never really consider home, but it feels like home. Maybe it’s because it holds a piece of every corner of Spain.

Girl standing in plaza de España Seville

Found inside Maria Luisa Park, the square of Spain was constructed in 1929. The complex is a massive semi-circle with bridges, twin buildings and plenty of government buildings. There is also a gorgeous fountain and quiant moat, where you can hire paddle boats for 6€ for 35 minutes with a 4€ deposit.

At plaza de España in Seville

Is the deposit a scam? Some people were concerned that the paddle boats are setting out to scam you. They aren’t. Although your ticket is printed with a time on, this doesn’t count into your 35 minutes. Once you arrive in the boat, the worker will write your return time. This is 35 minutes after you get in, not 35 minutes after you join the queue. We arrived 2 or 3 minutes late back, but still recieved our deposit.

On the boats at plaza de España Seville

In Plaza de España there are also tiled alcoves which each represent a different province of Spain. They’re sorted alphabetically. Be sure to seek out your favourite province!

Walking around plaza de España Spain

You may recognise Plaza de España from the Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones film. It was also featured in The Dictator. If you’re a Simply Red fan, it’s also the location for “Something Got Me Started”.

You can expect to see street stalls, paddle boats, flamenco shows and mini performances. Be very aware as pickpockets are rife around this area. There are also scams of men pretending to need bread and women asking for help. Be very vigilant.

Flamenco clapping at Seville plaza de España

The Bullring

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The Maestranza is the famous bullring located in Seville. During Feria de Abril, it is the home to one of the most well-known bullfighting festivals. I didn’t want to visit the bullring for this reason. I wouldn’t think watching a bullfight would be entertaining and neither did I want to fund it.

Although, we could appreciate the building from the outside.

If you do wish to visit the famous bullring and one of the city’s most recognisable buildings, prices are 8€ for adults, 5€ for students, 3€ for children 7-11 years and free for children aged between 0-6 as long as accompanied by a paying adult.

At the bullring door Seville Spain

Palacio de las Dueñas

Palacio de las dueñas Seville Spain

This hidden gem was somewhere that we weren’t sure whether to go to or not! But, I’m so glad we did.

This beautiful palace was built in the 15th century and is another wonderful example of the collision of the Renaissance, the Gothic and the Moorish. Around the gardens, you’ll find tales of the life of poet Antonio Machado, who was lucky enough to be born there.

It’s a fantastic spot and a welcomed quiet paradise away from the bustling city. Considering we went in the height of the day, we had the entire palace and the gardens to ourselves.

Walking around palacio de las dueñas Seville

The palace consists of courtyards, museum rooms and stunning buildings.

This is one of the most expensive sites in Seville, but it’s worth it. A general ticket is 10€ or a reduced fee (children, disables, students and over 65’s) is 8€.

I loved sitting out in the courtyards just enjoying the breeze and taking in the Andalusian sun. Like the Alcazar, there isn’t a time restraint, so spend as long as you like wandering around the gardens enjoying a breath of fresh air.

Sitting at palacio de las dueñas Seville Spain travel guide

I absolutely loved Palacio de las Dueñas. It was a little on the expensive side if you’re not a student, which we aren’t anymore! However, it is worth a visit. It was the height of summer and nobody was around. It was truly blissful to escape the madness of the city centre and just take some time to breathe and relax in its lush gardens. There is no time limit so take it easy to really appreciate it.

Which tourist attraction would you like to visit in Seville?

Hasta luego,

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The 5-minute​ Travel Information Guide to Seville, Spain

Even though it rocketed in visitors after being Lonely Planet City of the Year, 2017, it still maintains its jaw-dropping beauty.

Girl walking with head down in Alcazar de Sevilla

Give a round of applause to Seville, because even though it rocketed in visitors after being Lonely Planet City of the Year, 2017, it still maintains its jaw-dropping beauty. If there’s anywhere in Andalusia that you need to add to your bucket list, it’s here.

When Granada came to end, it was time to head west to Seville.

We were so excited to visit Seville again, it was absolutely beautiful the first time we went and we didn’t want to leave, so it was amazing that my blog brought us back here, exactly three years later.

About Seville

Seville, or Sevilla, is the capital of the region of Andalusia. It’s located in the South of Spain and is one of Spain’s largest cities, with over 700,000 residents.

Seville is the home to the Guadalquivir river or El Rio Guadalquivir. Funnily enough, we actually named our dog, Rio, after this river. The Guadalquivir is the second longest river in Spain, and it is navigable from Cádiz to Seville. Back in Roman times, it was possible to navigate up to Córdoba, too.

coloured houses lining the river in seville spain

Famous for its culture, architecture, traditions and heritage, Seville is a fantastic choice for a city break, offering everything you could ever want or need and more. The birthplace of Flamenco and the city where Fiesta de Abril comes alive just after Easter, it’s a perfect location with lots to do and see.

With a much-loved Mediterranean climate, it is one of the warmest cities in Europe. If that isn’t a reason to go and grab a tan when the weather starts cooling down, what is? Blue skies in winter aren’t uncommon. In summer, temperatures can rocket up to 40ºC but in January, it can drop down to around 10ºC.

You’ll never be bored with things to do in Seville. Seville’s point of interests can be found on every corner, the Cathedral, the Giralda Tower, the Parasol, Real Alcázar (Royal Alcázar), Maria Luisa Park, Plaza de España and the Maestranza Bullfighting ring to name a few. There is something to interest everybody.

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The Royal Alcázar was one of our favourite places on our previous visit, so this time we made sure to head back again. Filled with beautiful flowers and stunning architecture, it is a true representation of the historical evolution of Seville. Hidden behind the tall walls, it is an oasis in the centre of the city.

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Plaza de España inside Maria Luisa Park is an unmissable spot on your visit to Seville. Just a short walk inside the park is the beautiful plaza. This is the spot where Star Wars filmed some epic scenes from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). If you’re not familiar with it, give it a quick watch on YouTube!

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There is usually a miniature flamenco show, guitar performance and bubble blowing happening in the square. Hence the photo of me clapping along! You can also rent a paddle boat for €6, plus a €4 deposit here, for 35 minutes. It’s a great place to relax, kids will love it, too!

girl sitting on ledge at maria luisa park clapping to flamenco

girl smiling with bubbles and fountain behind at maria luisa park plaza de espana

Hasta luego,

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ALL PHOTOS BELONG TO PHOTOGRAPHER A. JOY
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