No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll always be able to stumble upon many great free things do in Seville. It’s a beautiful place full of history and tradition and as the capital of Andalusia, it’s got virtually everything a city needs. I first visited back in 2015 when I began my Erasmus year abroad and haven’t been able to resist going back multiple times. As a student, I was always on the lookout for free ways to spend my time. So I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 recommendations for free things to do in Seville for you to check out during your stay!
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Sophie Cordery.
1. Plaza de España (Spain Square)
Address: Av. Isabel la Católica, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Star Wars fans might recognise the Plaza de España as it was used as a filming location in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929, it boasts towers, bridges and beautifully-coloured ceramic tiles that are the perfect backdrop for your holiday snaps. A small canal runs around the perimeter and you can hire a rowing boat which is always a guaranteed laugh.
However, there are usually queues for the boats in the summer months. So to avoid the heat, you could sit in the shade and watch the live flamenco and guitar performances. History buffs can also wander into the various museums here such as the Military History Museum (free but donations are welcome). For obvious reasons, it attracts huge numbers of visitors so I’d suggest going at night if you want a bit more peace and quiet. Plus, the fountains are lit up then too!
2. Parque de María Luisa (The Park of María Luisa)
Address: Paseo de las Delicias, s/n, 41013 Sevilla, Spain
Phone number: +34 955 47 32 32
This park is right next to the Plaza de España and is the ideal scenic spot for picnics, yoga and reading. There’s plenty of space and it’s a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the plaza. Nature here is really vibrant and you’re sure to come across some exotic species of birds and plants.
There are several companies that rent out bikes including fun ones that have multiple seats and an overhead cover – perfect for sightseeing! There are also always lots of families around which is a big plus if you’ve got kids with you.
The museums in the park made it to this list of free things to do in Seville as they are free to EU citizens. Sadly for the rest of us, (hooray for Brexit), it’ll be €1.50 to visit the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions and the Archaeology Museum. Still, it’s not exactly breaking the bank and they’re worth visiting if you’re hanging around in the area.
3. La Carbonería
Address: Calle Céspedes, 21, A, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Phone number: +34 954 22 99 45
If the flamenco shows in the Plaza de España left you wanting more, head to the tavern La Carbonería. Seville is said to be the birthplace of flamenco and while there are plenty of ‘professional’ performances to choose from, La Carbonería feels very authentic. It’s usually quite crowded with a good mix of locals and tourists, and food and drink are available so you can make an evening of it. P.s the stage is in the corner so be sure to turn up early to grab yourself a decent seat!
4. Catedral de Sevilla (Seville Cathedral)
Address: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Phone number: +34 902 09 96 92
The largest Gothic building in Europe, Seville Cathedral is impossible to miss. Inside, you’ll find the Royal Chapel, the tomb of Christopher Columbus, and paintings by Goya and other notable artists. Entry is free on Mondays from 16:30 to 18:00 but you must reserve your ticket online and the numbers are limited. Of course, you could always attend a service. But you won’t be able to hang around after or even see the unlit areas.
The bell tower, La Giralda, was originally the minaret for the Great Mosque and you can climb up and get wonderful views of the city at the top. If you do opt for a ticket, I’d recommend buying it online beforehand to avoid the queues. You can also book guided tours longer in advance than standard tickets. This is useful when visiting during peak season (February to June).
5. Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies)
Address: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Phone number: +34 954 50 05 28
Next to the Cathedral is the General Archive of the Indies so you can easily squeeze both in together. This 16th-century building houses millions of original documents and maps about the Indies, Spain’s mighty empire from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Some of its most important documents include letters from Christopher Columbus to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand (parents of none other than Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife). There are regular exhibitions showcasing documents and items normally stored away. Just ask about any ‘exposiciones’ and you should be able to find details!
6. Real Alcázar (Royal Alcázar of Seville)
Address: Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Phone number: +34 954 50 23 24
Game of Thrones producers chose to film here and it’s easy to see why. The Alcázar is a royal palace and a stunning example of Mudéjar architecture. It was home to both Muslim and Christian rulers and will take your breath away. The gardens are as equally worthy of praise and it’s no surprise that this is regularly at the top of ‘Free Things to See in Seville’ lists. Allow yourself plenty of time as there is a LOT to see.
Entry is free on Mondays from 6-7 (April to September) and on Mondays from 4-5 (the rest of the year). Just like the Cathedral, if you want a ticket you should buy it online before you go. There are also companies that offer combined tickets such as the Cathedral and Alcázar which may work out cheaper.
Across the Guadalquivir river lies Seville’s old gypsy quarter, Triana. It has been the cradle of potters, artists, bullfighters, sailors and more. The best way to discover this quaint neighbourhood is to wander around with no particular destination in mind and see where you end up! It’s definitely one of the best free things to do in Seville.
If you get hungry on the way, check out the market which dates back to 1823. Inside, you’ll find plenty of food stalls and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Underneath the market lies the remains of the Castillo de San Jorge, the seat of the Spanish Inquisition which is now a free museum.
While wandering around, you should also take a peek inside some of the ceramic shops. And if you want to learn more about the craft, the Ceramic Centre will teach you all you need to know. You even get free entry if you show your ticket to the Alcázar.
8. Semana Santa (Holy Week in Spain)
The next two suggestions take place around Easter. Semana Santa and the Feria de Abril are Seville’s most famous celebrations and anyone visiting during this time would be crazy to miss them. Two of the best free things to do in Seville, they capture the essence of Seville and Spanish culture. You won’t find anything quite like them anywhere else!
Semana Santa is Holy Week in Spain and it takes place immediately before Easter. Since the Reconquest, Spain’s major religion was Catholicism and today is no exception. Semana Santa is a tribute to the final period of Jesus’ life. The processions carry floats of sculptures depicting various scenes from the gospels. These floats or ‘pasos’ typically weigh over a tonne and are carried on the necks of the participants known as ‘costaleros’. If you arrive in Seville a little earlier, you might catch a glimpse of them practising carrying and walking with the ‘pasos’ in time to the music.
You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious at all to appreciate what happens. The haunting music is deeply moving and you can see on the faces of many locals just how much this means to them. You’ll be able to find a schedule online of all the processions and routes planned. On the day, all you need to do is choose one (or as many as you like), follow the crowds and you’ll be able to watch for free.
Bear in mind that the crowds are huge. So you’re better off finding a balcony if you’d prefer to watch from afar. To an outsider, the robes and hoods worn can seem quite shocking at first as they resemble those of another organisation… However, these religious brotherhoods are steeped in tradition that far outdate other groups and they are completely unrelated.
9. Feria de Abril (Seville Fair)
The Feria de Abril takes place two weeks after Semana Santa. If you’re in Seville during this time, the Feria is an absolute must. The entire city comes alive and there’s an unforgettable buzz in the air that makes you feel part of something really special. The celebration consists of dancing, drinking, more dancing, more drinking. You get the idea!
In the run-up to Feria, they install rows and rows of tents called ‘casetas’ for families and friends to congregate. Many ‘casetas’ are private and you need a personal invitation to gain entry. But the public ones are free to enter and open to everyone. Order a glass of ‘rebujito’ or ‘manzanilla’ and a plate of tapas at the bar to keep you fuelled.
Everywhere you look, you’ll be overwhelmed by all of the colours and dancing. But if you don’t pay attention, you’ll get in the way of the horses and carriages! If you want to blend in, you can buy a cheap imitation of the traditional flamenco dresses or wear a suit and tie. Of course, traditional dress is not a requirement and most tourists will just turn up in smart clothes. There’s also a fairground so save some small change if you fancy a go on one of the rides afterwards.
Okay, this one’s slightly more out there but bear with me. ‘Intercambios’ or language exchanges are a really fun way to meet new, like-minded people. If you’re travelling solo and find yourself in need of some company, there are a number of intercambios held throughout the week. But the biggest ones are in the centre and get busy from around 10 pm.
The concept is pretty simple: the locals want to practice their English and expats get to try out their best sevillano accent. You don’t need to participate in the exchange – you can turn up and just chat away in English. English speakers are always in huge demand and you’ll find no shortage of friendly faces willing to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. After all, people are there because they want to socialise.
Intercambios are free to attend and although they’re held in bars, there’s no obligation to buy a drink. It wouldn’t have felt right to exclude them from this list because not only did they cost me a grand total of €0, but I met someone pretty special there! The website is in Spanish but the Facebook page posts are in English.
Intercambios bring me to the end of this list of free things to do in Seville. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. If any of these free things to do in Seville catch your eye, it’s worth buying a ticket. This means you won’t be restricted to the time you can go or what you get to see.
Having said that, there is ZERO shame in wanting to make your money stretch as far as it can. Seeing Seville on a budget certainly won’t lessen the experience. If you do decide to splash the cash, keep an eye out for any discounts you may be entitled to such as student and senior prices. Happy travelling!