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Andalusia’s charming capital embodies the best of Spain: scorching sun, passionate flamenco, citrus trees and romantically colored buildings.
Seville is the third most visited city in Spain, behind Madrid and Barcelona, and it is easy to fall in love with it. The city’s labyrinth of small cobbled streets and large, elegant squares is home to a fascinating array of attractions, from remnants of its Moorish past to magnificent palaces, grand monuments and an impressive bullring. In general, it is a very safe city, which is best explored on foot. Before you travel to Seville, here are some things you should know to make the most of your trip.
Although Seville is not as crowded with tourists as Barcelona or Madrid, some of the more popular attractions can fill up quickly. This is the case of the Real Alcázar, the magnificent Arab palace of the city. As the complex only admits a limited number of people at a time, and can only be visited during a certain time slot, it is advisable to book tickets online a few weeks in advance, and guided tours even longer. This is one of the attractions in Seville that you should definitely not miss.
If you want to see a flamenco show in one of the most popular venues, you should also book tickets in advance, as they can sell out quickly during high season. People walk past tables on an outside terrace of a restaurant on a narrow side street in Seville, Spain.
You won’t find many diners in Seville restaurants before 9pm at the earliest. Spaniards eat at fairly precise times, and usually late in the day, especially in Seville, where temperatures can be high throughout the night.
Restaurants typically open for lunch from 1pm, although most locals won’t eat until at least 2pm. If you look for a place to eat at noon, you will see that most of the kitchens are not serving yet. At night, the restaurants open between 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; again, most of the locals won’t arrive until 9pm or even later.
Like most Spaniards, Sevillians tend to have the main meal of the day at lunchtime, followed by lighter tapas-type dishes for dinner. Nightlife in Seville is very varied, from bars and clubs to flamenco shows. Remember that, like restaurants, Seville’s nightlife doesn’t start until late at night. Do not even think about arriving at a disco before 1 in the morning.
Sevillians love to dress well and are very aware of fashion. Even on an evening stroll, you’ll see entire families dressed in their best clothes. Although tourists are not expected to wear formal clothes, if you are eating out at a nice restaurant, you may want to dress up to fit in.
Remember that if you want to visit the Cathedral of Seville, you will have to respect the strict dress code. This means no bare shoulders, no knee-length shorts or skirts, and no flip-flops.
You will also need to remove hats and baseball caps. In summer, you can wear a light scarf to cover bare shoulders.
In Spain, tipping is not expected like in the US and other countries, and it is not customary among locals unless they are dining in a particularly good restaurant. It is not necessary to tip for drinks at cafes or other snacks, but if the service impresses you, consider rounding up and leaving the change as a tip. In high-end restaurants you can leave a little more; about 10% is perfectly fine.
When you first introduce yourself to someone, it is customary to give them a kiss on each cheek. As a foreigner introducing yourself to a local, you are expected to do so as well. Although COVID-19 temporarily put an end to this custom, it is likely to return once the pandemic has subsided.
Two women in red hats kiss at a street party in Seville, Spain
Sevillians almost always greet each other – and foreign visitors – with a single kiss on each cheek.