Seville (Cadiz) (Photo:LucVi/Shutterstock)
2017 Top-Rated Western Mediterranean Destinations
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Seville

Seville, capital of Andalucia, lies on the mighty Guadalquivir -- one of Spain's longest rivers -- and is an enchanting city of leafy parks, mosaic-paved riverside promenades, winding medieval streets and grand squares lined with spectacular buildings and studded with fragrant orange trees.

It also has a history that dates back 2,000 years and is displayed in a dazzling array of buildings from Roman ruins and Moorish minarets to magnificent Baroque palaces, Gothic and Renaissance churches and more recently constructed futuristic extravaganzas.

For although it is proud of and eager to preserve its past, modern-day Seville -- which gained eight new river bridges, super-fast rail links and a vast international fan base after hosting the 1992 World Expo -- looks forward as well as back.

Since 2007, the city has gained a bike-sharing scheme and new tram and underground metro links, as well as more high-speed train services and even a trial electric car program. A major upside has been fewer traffic fumes, more pedestrianised streets and cleaner buildings.

But that's not all that recommends this fabulous city. For us, what makes Seville really memorable is its quintessential Spanishness.

Heartland of the flamboyant Flamenco and -- more controversially -- the bloody sport of bullfighting, Seville is also notable for the spookily spectacular religious processions which take place during Semana Santa (Holy Week), when living tableaux re-enact the Easter story, elaborate statues are carried from churches and sinister-looking white-hooded "penitents" process through crowded streets.

A rather more joyful festival takes place after Easter, when the Guadalquivir's west bank plays host to the Feria de Abril (April Fair, which oddly enough is sometimes held in May). This weeklong funfest involves around-the-clock feasting and dancing. Then in June the locals deck the streets with flowers and whoop it up again to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.

And if you love tapas, those tasty tidbits that go down so well with a glass or two of ruby Rioja, Sevilla (as the Spanish know it) will be your idea of seventh heaven.

Most cruise passengers get to Seville on a day trip from the nearby big-ship port of Cadiz, but in my book that's very much the second-best way to arrive in this wonderful city.

If you can, find a ship small enough to navigate its way up the Guadalquivir -- a fascinating journey past basking fishing boats, lush vineyards, cotton fields and olive and citrus groves.

I watched the life of the Guadalquivir unfold aboard Saga Cruises' nippy little Quest for Adventure (now Saga Pearl II). P&O Cruises's Adonia can also get up the river, as can upmarket small ships like SeaDream II and Seabourn Legend, Azamara Cruises' two ships and -- at the other end of the price scale -- Fred Olsen Cruise Lines' Braemar and Voyages to Antiquity's Aegean Odyssey.

Another tip; join a cruise which stays here overnight if you can, as Seville is just delightful in the evening when the tapas bars which line its narrow streets fill with relaxed and stylish locals.

Grab a glass of wine, chilled sherry or ice cold beer; whistle up a few plates of tasty local delicacies like Jamon Iberico, olives, salty anchovies and puntillitas (fried squid) and then lap up the atmosphere of this lovely city.

About Seville


Pro

Roman ruins and Moorish architecture, such as the Alcazar, are a feast for the eyes

Con

The city is not the most walkable, meaning public transportation is often inevitable

Bottom Line

Seville offers a taste of quintessential Spain, with everything from flamenco to tapas


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Where You're Docked

If you're lucky enough to sail up the river to Seville you'll be parked at the quayside, a short and very pleasant walk away from the centre of town. Seville is an easy city to explore on foot provided you're reasonably mobile; just follow your nose along the river, or wander into its winding streets and you'll find a series of pretty neighbourhoods, each built around its own square.

If you're on a big ship calling at Cadiz, you're about 60 miles from Seville and can take a motor coach tour or catch a train there if you don't want to stay put and explore Cadiz (which is also delightful and very accessible from the port).

Good to Know

The heat, if you're visiting at the height of summer (in July or August), when temperatures can soar above 100F. You'll find some tree shade as Seville is a very green city, and the cavernous interiors of Seville's fine churches will also keep you cool. But if you're off walking do take water, a sunhat and plenty of sunscreen with you.

Pickpockets are a concern in any major city and Seville is no exception, particularly as Spain has been in the throes of a financial crisis.

Odd closing hours; many attractions are closed on Mondays and some bars close at 5 p.m. and reopen around 8 p.m. (remember, the Spanish like to siesta and then eat and party late!).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The official currency is the euro (for the latest exchange rate, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com). There are plenty of ATM machines and exchange bureau in town and you can definitely find them at the railway and bus stations.

All major credit cards are widely accepted and foreign currency or travelers' checks can be changed at banks and exchange offices (cambios). If you have a Visa card, you'll find a global ATM locator at www.Visa.com.

Language

Seville is very much a Spanish-speaking city, and though many shopkeepers and purveyors of tourist services have at least a smattering of English it is not widely spoken. Take along a phrasebook or language app if you really want to click with the locals.

A few phrases to start you off are...

Good morning/evening: Buenos dias/tarde
My name is... Mi nombre es
How much is this? Cuanto cuesta este?
Do you speak English? Hablas Ingles?
How can I get to...? C?mo puedo llegar a...?
Can I have the bill, please? Puedo tener la cuenta, por favor?
Thanks (very much): (Muchas) gracias
Goodbye/See you later: Despedida/Hasta luego
Pleased to meet you: Encantado/da
Pier: Embarcadero
Ship: Barco

In an emergency dial 112 from any phone to summon police, ambulance or fire services.

Shopping

Any little senoritas in your family will love the multi-frilled, flamenco dress-style children's craft aprons you'll see hanging in the shops (alongside full flamenco outfits if you really want to go over the top). Seville also has a thriving arts and crafts scene, so look out for finely-worked silver and leatherware and stylish hand-painted ceramics. You can also pick up one of the spooky 'penitente' figurines in any religious shop.


Seville Awards

Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards

2017 Top-Rated Western Mediterranean Destinations