Hot sun, late nights, and adventurous food make for great vacations, but adding kids into the mix with these doesn’t always work out great. However, Seville, Spain’s third largest city and capital of the Adulucia region, makes all of these work out just about perfectly even with kids. There’s no shortage of fun things to see and do with adventurous children, and parents will find lots of great food and drink spots as well.
While most tourists visit in the summer, Seville can be a bit too hot for little kids then. In the spring and fall, the days are still long, get plenty of sun, and there are even fewer tourists around. Sure, the summer can work with nice long days full of sun to cram a lot in, just be prepared to take midday siesta breaks because the sun really is quite brutal in the early afternoon. For us, a late summer trip was perfect with time for a nap during the hottest part of the day, and plenty of time to explore at night before it got dark.
Seville is quite easy to get to. Seville International Airport has direct flights from the US, though flights can be more expensive than Madrid and Barcelona. Spain has an excellent high speed rail network, so we ended up flying into Madrid and taking the AVE train to Seville which was much more affordable. The train took less than three hours and our boys loved making choo choo sounds the whole time. There’s even wifi for streaming movies on a tablet as needed.
Where to stay
Upon arriving, we checked into our accommodations, probably the nicest of our entire trip, at Real de la Carreteria. This apartment was perfect for our family during our stay as we had a stocked kitchen where we could make snacks and meals, grab coffee in the morning, and even had bread, milk, juice, and water stocked for us by the hosts. We also had separate bedrooms which is a necessity for our kids because they only sleep when they have their own separate space. The location was great too, just a short walk from most of the attractions in the city including the cathedral and alcazar palace.
Things to see
Like any city in Spain, the best place to start exploring is the old town. It’s impossible to miss with the huge cathedral sticking out over the city. The cathedral is worth a visit, even to those uninterested in churches due to the long history – Christopher Columbus is said to be buried here (though other places also make the same claim) – and the immense size of both the cathedral itself and the huge altar make it worth the admission. We went on Monday night when tickets were actually free, so don’t forget to check online. The bell tower is also worth the experience. Instead of steps, it was built with a steep ramp that horses could traverse, so kids can actually make it up, though they’ll likely run out of steam before the top. At the top are magnificent views of the city, and if you stay long enough, you might even hear the bells ring right over your head.
Near the cathedral is the Alcazar Palace, the historic home of the city’s rulers from the time of the Moors to the catholic rulers, and the unique and fascinating architecture reflects this. The palace contains many examples of beautiful carved wooden décor, numerous fountains, and patterned tiles, as well as a huge garden of lush and verdant flowers and trees. We found that a stroll around the grounds was a great way to take an afternoon break in the sun and the boys even managed to get a nap in their stroller while we strolled the gardens.
Perhaps the least shady place in Seville is a bit ironic considering the name. The Parasol, or Setas de Sevilla, is a huge wooden structure that towers above much of the city, offering great views but little shade on top. No matter, it’s a great way to get bearing in the city and take a unique perspective. The building was built our of wood, both offering a unique landmark and having less effect on the environment. Taking the elevator up, the platform wraps around and gives great views of much of the city as well as acting as a fun area for kids to run around. Though it’s a bit of a walk from the rest of the old town, it’s worth it to get a different kind of view and see a truly remarkable massive structure unlike anything else in the city or really even in the world.
Along the river, the waterfront may offer less shade, but at least there is a breeze. A long and wide path follows the river right near downtown, making for a nice way to get in some more miles, or to just sit and watch the tour boats go by. The one sight that shouldn’t be missed is the gleaming Torre del Oro, the golden tower. Built from the money coming back from Spain’s trade with the new world, it’s a massive and not very subtle representation of the power of Spain’s empire.
Also along the river, just up from the waterfront is the Bullfighting Ring. One of the largest in Spain, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. While we skipped any fights, it was at least interesting to see how much a part of the Spanish culture the fights are and how near religious the following is. The architecture of the ring is also cool to see both from the water and up close.
We continued our walk along the water down to the Triana bridge, and over to the Triana Market. Though little was open in the middle of the day during siesta time, we discovered tons of meat stalls, fresh fish, cheese, and even a bakery that was still open with some awesome looking treats. It would definitely be a great stop in the morning with kids for some baked goods and to get a sense of the market culture.
From the waterfront, it was a bit of a walk, but with some interesting sights along the way including tree lined parks, huge monumental government buildings, and hordes of horse drawn carriages all making their way to Plaza Espana. A huge building built for a huge exhibition, it’s now mostly a tourist destination with some offices inside. The huge plaza has a lengthy canal with boats to rent, usually some live music, and maybe even some street performers. Our boys loved watching the boats drift by and the horses continuously cycle through the plaza. It’s one of the most famous sights in the city, and has been used in several movies like Lawrence of Arabia and one of the horrible Star Wars prequels, but that doesn’t make it any less pretty. We sat and watched the action until the boys started to get hungry.
Where to eat
Churros are the national breakfast food of Spain, and especially Andalusia. Dona Carmen serves them up in two traditional varieties, the familiar if slightly skinnier fried flour ones, as well as a puffier sweet potato variant. In Seville, locals eat them dipped in a hot chocolate sauce that’s almost like pudding, right from a coffee cup alongside their morning coffee. With incredibly low prices, it’s easy to sample both varieties here and enjoy the hustling busy atmosphere while getting ready for a day exploring the city. Our boys loved both kinds, but loved dipping everything from churros to spoons to their whole hands in the chocolate while we got a true taste of the local cuisine.
For a fantastic lunch with some options of local specialties like iberico ham, pork meatballs, and local cheese, all served tapas style, Bodeguita Reyes Antonio Romero has a perfect menu. There are several Antonio Romero locations throughout the city, but this one is pretty conveniently located and has a nice large space in front where food can be enjoyed with people watching near, but not right in the most touristy areas. Taken one at a time, the tapas can be a great way to enjoy a slow paced meal while relaxing if kids are napping or at least behaving, or ordered all together, a good way to find something picky eaters will at least try while still giving an option to try out a variety of the cuisine. There’s also a fantastically large selection of local wine and libations to truly get a sense of the terroir of the area.
For a historic and authentic meal, Casa Morales is the spot that has to be at the top of everyone’s list. Serving up traditional food for years, it harkens back to the time of Spanish taverns and slow meals sourced from whatever food was available at the market that morning. There are two sides, one acts more as the bar with a early 1900s pharmacy kind of vibe thanks to the tile and wooden walls, while the other is just as traditional, though feels more like a tavern along a carriage road with dark walls. Huge wine vats form one wall and actually house the specials of the day written in chalk. The menu is all tapas with a huge variety. While the boys most enjoyed multiple orders of the meatballs, we sampled iberico ham, local soft cheeses, peppers, crudités of cod, and little montaditos, or sandwiches with local ingredients. We also tried several of the house varietals and while the red wine was bold and flavorful, the ice cold Cruzcampo beer hit the spot the most and was incredibly refreshing after a long day exploring the city in the sun.
Seville probably won’t surpass Florida for vacations with children anytime soon, but there really is a ton to see and do there. While technically Florida does has it’s own culture, it’s probably not one parents want their kids learning, so a trip to Spain and Seville is actually much more enlightening and educational. Thanks to long days of sun and a culture that embraces the night, often times restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 7 or 8, there is a ton of time to explore Seville and take in all the historic sights and landmarks. From historic ruins, cathedrals, and palaces to modern architecture and buildings to explore, there is so much to see and do, even for little ones. It’s time to bump Seville up on the list to visit with children.