Exploring Seville with the City Sightseeing bus tour
If you've been on a city break in a major city destination you'll have probably spotted the bright red open top buses run by City Sightseeing. They're the world's leading open top bus tour operator and run routes in nearly 100 cities across 6 continents!
City Sightseeing were created in 1999 in Seville, and so we were really excited to experience the original flagship route. Seville is such a beautiful city, and we love using open top buses to get a scenic tour of a destination, get inspiration for what to see and as a convenient way to visit all the top attractions!
City Sightseeing's Seville bus tour includes 14 stops close to some of the city's most iconic locations including:
Plaza de Espagna
The Real Alcazar
Las Setas de Seville
The onboard audio guide is available in 16 languages, and you can hop on and off as many times as you like in a day - buses run from 10am - 10pm so plenty of time to explore!
If you're wondering which stops should you use on the Seville bus tour, here's how we spent a day exploring Seville with City Sightseeing:
Start early - we always try to jump on the first bus of the day to make the most of our time, and it's often a little quieter than the later buses. Stop 1 of the Seville route starts next to the Torre del Oro, or tower of gold, a 13th century watch tower built by the Muslim Almohad dynasty, next to the river on Paseo de Cristobal Colon. The tower is twelve sided and is very elegant.
We jumped off almost immediately at Stop 2, Plaza de Espagna, one of Seville's most famous spots. Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition the following year, this square is absolutely stunning and measures a whopping 50,000 square metres!
The curved plaza is partly encircled by a palace like building with a tower at each end and a shady portico - its semi circular design was intended to represent a welcoming hug from Spain to the Exposition's Latin American visitors. A canal runs around the perimeter of the square, which is crossed by 4 elegant bridges covered in colourful Andalusian tiles. The bridges represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain: Aragon, Castille, Leon and Navarre.
Walking along the base of the building you can admire 48 alcoves representing each of the Spanish provinces. The colourful tiles were made in Seville's Triana district over the river and taking a photo with your 'home alcove' is popular amongst Spanish tourists. Keep an eye out for flamenco dancers who often busk under the arched walkway!
If you're in the plaza at 12pm, the City Sightseeing bus ticket includes a short walking tour of the area. While the buildings now house Andalusian government offices and a military museum, you can still walk up the sweeping staircases for views over the square from an upper level.
Jumping back on the bus, we stayed on for a few stops to listen to the audio guide and check out the Triana district on the other side of the river. Famous for its ceramic tiles (like the ones used in Plaza de Espagna), this neighbourhood was also the birthplace of the Flamenco dance style. From the charming streets of Triana to the modern architecture of Seville's abandoned 1992 expo site, the bus route is a really great way to explore the further afield areas of Seville. The metallic Sevilla Tower (formerly called the Pelli Tower) was designed by Cesar Pelli, creator of Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, and the impact of its modern appearance on Seville's historic skyline was so controversial that at one point UNESCO threatened to reclassify the city's World Heritage Sites!
Hop off at Stop 10 to visit another famous Sevillian district, Macarena. As it turns out, the name has nothing to do with the 90s party dance. Most likely, the woman in the song is Sevillian, named, as many local women are, after neighbourhood's famous religious statue, the Virgin of Hope of Macarena. This precious 17th century wooden statue is housed in the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Macarena. Richly dressed and with glass tear drops on her cheeks, the Virgin wears 5 emerald brooches donated by the famed bullfighter Joselito, and during Holy Week in the run up to Easter the statue is paraded through the streets on a silver float.
Once one of the poorest slums in Seville, the Macarena district is now a vibrant part of the city. You can walk in the footsteps of Spanish kings through the Macarena Gate, a bold yellow triumphal arch that is a Classical remodelling of one of the original 12th century city gates, and check out the elegant Hospital de Cinco Llagas, now the seat of Andalusian Parliament. If you're here on a Thursday, Calle Feria is home to the oldest and busiest flea market in Seville!
Back on board the City Sightseeing bus, we enjoyed another little tour through streets of colourful buildings and squares surrounded by cafes and shops and lined with palm trees. After passing leafy Alameda de Hercules, we jumped off at Stop 13 for the short walk to Las Setas de Sevilla to check out the viewing platform.
Opened in 2011, Las Setas (the mushrooms) make up the largest wooden structure in the world and the wiggly Ikea flatpack looking walkway on the top provides a great 360 degree view over the city! For every tree cut down to build the structure, 3 more were planted.
While you're there, be sure to visit the Antiquarium Museum (seperate ticket) underneath the Setas to see the remains of Roman houses, wells, factories and floor mosaics discovered during the construction of the viewing platform.
5 minutes walk from here is the Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador. Usually 5 Euros to go in, it's free with your City Sightseeing bus ticket, and is well worth a visit. Built on the site of a 9th century mosque, the current church was consecrated in 1712. The terracotta coloured exterior is deceptively plain - inside the 2nd largest church in Seville (after the Cathedral) is an explosion of sumptuous gilded woodcraft, frescoes and an impressive gold retablo behind the altar (If you are planning on visiting the Cathedral on a different day, your entry ticket will also include this church).
After visiting the church you can either walk 5minutes to Seville Cathedral, or retrace your steps to stop 13 and ride the bus back round past stop 14 (Plaza de Armas) back to Stop 1 at Torre del Oro where your tour began. This way you can complete the loop and listen to the last section of audio guide, and it's about a 12 minute walk to the Cathedral from here past the Real Alcazar. We visited the Alcazar on a different day, but if you want to include it on your bus tour, stop 1 will be the closest for the entrance.
Seville's Cathedral is absolutely magnificent! Built on the site of the city's 12th century grand mosque, it's the largest Gothic church in the world and in 1987 was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can clearly see glimpses of the cathedral's Islamic past: the celebrated bell tower, La Giralda, now the most recognisable landmark of the city, was the mosque's minaret, and the courtyard used for ritual ablutions before entering the prayer hall is now the Patio de Los Naranjos, or patio of the orange trees. The walls still have carved phrases from the Quran, and the grand arched entrance leading back to the streets is clearly from the original mosque.
Inside the dimly lit interior, the enormous 98ft high golden retablo took Pierre Dancart 44 years to create in the 15th century, and close by an elaborate monument claims to hold the remains of Christopher Columbus (however Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic also claims to have him, although Spain has carried out a DNA test on their bones, while the Dominican Republic refuses to do the same...) - his son Diego is also buried in the cathedral.
Your ticket includes the Giralda bell tower - it's a looong climb up, but the 360 degree views from the top are exceptional.
Columbus' tomb, the Gothic cathedral and the Giralda bell tower
You can book your tickets to the Seville City Sightseeing Bus Tour here! Tickets are valid for 12 months and can be cancelled for free for 3 months after purchase.
We used the 24 hour "iconic" ticket, which also includes a few other perks like a free coke at the Hard Rock Cafe and 20% discount at Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza Museum, but you can also buy a 48 hour "supreme" ticket, which includes 2 more walking tours, free entry to extra attractions like the Macarena museum and half hour of bike rental, OR the 48 hour "ultimate" ticket, which adds goodies like free entry to the Flamenco Museum, the Aquarium and the Sevilla FC stadium!
Disclosure: we were gifted two 24 hour tickets for the Seville City Sightseeing Bus Tour in return for a blog and Instagram content, but we were not paid to post and as always, all opinions are our own!