What a gorgeous city Seville is. We fell for it straight away.
In May the temperature was hot, the skies were clear, jacaranda trees were in full bloom, and we were able to walk to everything we wanted to see. We thought Seville made a perfect destination to visit with our kids.
Just exploring the maze-like streets of the old town with its tall buildings was fun, although it did take us a while to get our bearings. Luckily, most of the things you’re likely to want to see are close to each other.
Read on to see what we thought were the best things to do in Seville with kids…
The best things to do in Seville with kids
After our bad luck with Rome and chicken pox, we got some good luck to even things out.
One Friday in May the husband was given two weeks’ leave out of the blue (he didn’t screw up!). This was extra welcome as this year he is on secondment and we only see him at weekends. You can imagine we were really keen to make the most of some more family time.
We had three days to spend in Seville with kids. As we were with our little ones, we knew we wouldn’t be able to see as much in three days as people without kids. In addition to the things we saw, there are numerous museums, churches and historical sites. I wish we’d managed to see the Flamenco museum and some of the palaces dotted about but I suppose there’s more to see for next time.
We went slowly and took lots of stops for ice cream and drinks, much to the children’s delight. Temperatures were about 35°C so you need to be prepared with plenty of suncream, sun hats and water.
Parque de María Luisa
We began our first day by trying to navigate the twisting streets of Seville’s old town. After a few false turns we found ourselves in the ancient centre, by way of some pretty gardens.
Just beyond the Alcázar is Seville’s main park, María Luisa. This is a beautiful and tranquil place to cool down. Walk past orange tree groves and jacaranda, and enjoy an ice cream under the bougainvillea. There are lots of fountains to splash in – this pastime quickly became a favourite with our kids.
The park is a perfect place for children to run about as the only traffic is the horse drawn carriages. We spent a couple of hours wandering around slowly. If you’re feeling energetic you can hire a double bike with a shaded canopy for the kids to sit under.
There are some museums at the far end of the park but we didn’t go inside. Instead we took a ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages as the Cub was desperate to from the moment she first saw them. The ride cost about €40 and took us at a fairly sedate pace through the park to the Plaza de España. It’s not a guided tour by any means; our driver mumbled a few words about the park but that was about it!
Plaza de España
At the edge of the park sits the Plaza de España. A large plaza and a huge, semicircular building with a tower at each end, it’s certainly an impressive sight. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition so it’s not very old. In the middle of the plaza is a large fountain and a semicircular lake with blue-tiled arched bridges crossing it.
Eagle-eyed Star Wars fans will spot that the Plaza was used as Naboo in Attack of the Clones (and was also featured in Lawrence of Arabia, but I bet your kids haven’t seen that!).
Children will love taking a boat ride on the lake. You can walk up to the balconies on the first floor, but as the pavilions are still used as a government buildings, you won’t be able to explore the whole thing.
All along the plaza you’ll find tiled alcoves with a painted background representing each Spanish province. The alcoves are a pretty place to stop for a rest, and you definitely get a feel of the region’s Moorish influence here. The kids had fun scrambling over the alcoves playing hide and seek, and running across the plaza to splash in the fountain.
The Metropol Parasol: Las Setas
For something totally different to the centuries-old wonders of Seville, you shouldn’t miss the huge wooden structure of Las Setas (the mushrooms) at Plaza de la Encarnación.
We visited in the evening when Seville really comes to life. The Plaza was busy with people of all ages; in Spain everyone comes out to enjoy the light cool evenings. At first we couldn’t find the entrance but it’s to the left at the foot of the main steps (which were barricaded off when we went). You have to go down a set of stairs, underground, where there’s also a museum of preserved Roman ruins, found when Las Setas were being built.
The views from the top of Las Setas are pretty good, especially looking across the modern, undulating waves towards Seville’s preserved buildings. It was a novelty for the Cub, and she spent quite a while happily running along the walkways.
Entry costs €3 per adult and kids under 12 go free. The ticket price also includes a free drink when you’re at the top of the building. Happy days!
Real Alcázar de Sevilla
Without a doubt this was the highlight of our Seville trip.
The Alcázar is a centuries-old palace originally built by Moorish rulers from the 9th century onwards. It was added to by Christian kings who used Moorish architects to keep the style consistent. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but the inside is full of beautiful courtyards surrounded by exquisitely carved arches. Bring your elbows; it gets busy.
The gardens are also beautiful and we spent hours at the Alcázar; even so we didn’t see everything here.
You should book Alcázar tickets in advance if you possibly can; when we went they were all sold out online. Tickets for adults cost €9.50 and children under 16 go free.
TIP: The Alcázar opens at 9.30am so if you don’t have pre-booked tickets, get in the queue at 9am while it’s not too big. At most other points in the day the queue was huge.
There’s one word to describe this cathedral: cavernous.
The inside is simply gigantic; this is the largest gothic church in the world. The huge golden backdrop to the altar is spectacular, as are the intricately carved organs.
There are quite a few side rooms that you should explore, some full of sculptures, others full of glittering treasures. The extra-crowded tomb that you will see is where Christopher Columbus is buried – a must-see for history buffs.
As our kids are so small we didn’t manage to climb the tower to see over the rooftops. There’s a rooftop tour that you can take at an extra cost, but the kids were too young for this. I’d love to do this on a return trip.
It’s all very impressive and you absolutely must see it.
Tickets are €8 per adult, kids go free. TIP: If the cathedral queue is too long you can buy a combo ticket from the nearby church of El Salvador. Usually the queue at El Salvador is shorter, saving you time.
Guadalquivir boat tour and Torre del Oro
Watching Seville go by from the river is a leisurely way to spend an hour, and a welcome rest for your legs if you’re tired from herding your little ones through the streets.
It’s a bit of a novelty for the kids too, and ours enjoyed it, although if truth be told there’s not a whole lot to see from the river and I wouldn’t say it was really worth the cost. I think it was the most expensive thing we did (other than the carriage ride), and the least memorable.
Catch the boat from the dock just next to the Torre del Oro. They go every half hour and tickets cost €16, children under 6 go free.
The lovely Torre del Oro is one of Seville’s most iconic buildings. It’s a remnant of the old city walls and houses a naval museum, but most people climb it for the views from the top. It’s €3 for adults, kids under 6 go free.
Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
Controversial, this one.
I have to say I didn’t feel particularly comfortable about visiting the bullring as there’s no way that I’d ever watch a fight. But we were in Spain and bullfighting is part of the culture (although fewer people agree with it now) and so we thought we’d take a look at the bullring.
Inside the Plaza de Toros is a museum dedicated to bullfighting and despite our reservations it was actually quite interesting. Every 20 minutes a guided tour takes you through the museum and into the stands to see the ring itself.
You will learn a lot about the origin of bullfighting and the culture behind it. But it didn’t change my opinion on bullfighting and we felt quite mixed about the visit.
As bullfighting is gruesome, sensitive kids probably won’t enjoy the tour; there are stuffed heads and weapons on display. This will of course appeal to others! Ours were too small to understand what it was about.
Tickets are €8 per adult and kids go free.
Just 10km outside of Seville lies the ancient Roman ruins of Italica. We didn’t manage to visit this incredible site but Wyld Family Travel have a great post on it – check it out here. We’d love to visit it if we return to Andalucia.
Meldrums on the Move also have posts on other destinations in Spain with kids, as well as worldwide.
Know before you go
Where to stay in Seville with kids
Booking last-minute accommodation in Seville was not as straightforward as I’d hoped. My first port of call was to look at hotels with a family room to fit 4 people, but availability was limited and the prices were way out of our range.
We took the plunge and rented an Air B&B apartment which turned out to be a great choice. For less than £70 per night we stayed in the centre of Seville in a quiet street. Quiet, except for one evening when a religious procession complete with brass band went right past the apartment. We dangled out of the windows to watch.
Where to eat in Seville
As we stayed in an Air B&B, we half-heartedly attempted to self-cater. But cooking on holiday is frankly rubbish, so we did eat out most of the time.
We are a fussy bunch really; I’m a vegetarian and so are the kids. The Cub won’t eat anything other than fruit, chips and twisty pasta (other pasta types are unacceptable). The husband invariably wants a good steak. I was a bit worried about eating out but we managed to find good restaurants in Seville without a problem. I asked for patatas bravas sin salsa which kept the kids happy and everywhere seemed to have veggie options.
The husband and I shared a good paella at EME hotel restaurant. We sat outside opposite the cathedral as the inside was far too painfully cool for our little family. I asked for a sangria and it came in an enormous goblet. I had enough to feel the effect of the alcohol and it looked barely touched so there must have been a whole bottle of wine in there. It was good though!
Uno de Delicias near the Torre del Oro was also lovely. I had a creamy pasta dish and the husband had Iberian pork with chips. This one is recommended!
Getting there and away
Planes and trains or automobiles?
I initially looked at flying into Seville and out of Granada but this was far too expensive and there weren’t many flight options. So instead we flew in and out of Malaga, which has good transport links to both Seville and Granada. There were tons of flights from all UK airports to Malaga so prices were much cheaper. Skyscanner has a great tool which allows you to search for flights across a whole month to find the cheapest prices if your dates are flexible.
We also managed to cut costs by taking only carry-on luggage with us.
The obvious way to get about was by car but neither of us like to drive that much. We also knew we wouldn’t be using a car every day. Initially car rental seemed inexpensive but when we added in the cost of hiring two car seats, trains worked out cheaper.
Buying Spanish train tickets
You have to buy train tickets in advance for travel in Spain.
The Man in Seat 61 is an invaluable resource for train travel in any country. On his advice I booked our tickets at Loco2 instead of Renfe (the Spanish train network). Loco2’s website was much easier to navigate, we could pay in sterling and we printed our tickets at home.
Although children under 4 travel for free (on laps) we had to have tickets for them.
Since our travel dates were fixed and we were travelling at the last minute we didn’t buy an Interrail pass. We didn’t need the flexibility and I wasn’t sure if the passes would get to us before we left. The price difference was negligible anyway.
Train travel in Spain was comfortable and convenient. There was good security at the stations – our bags were scanned before each journey so make sure you get to the station in plenty of time. The trains were all on time and even the rail replacement bus service to Granada was fine.
We were glad we chose train over cars as it would have been quite hard to navigate through the twisty, narrow streets of the cities.