For many people around the world Spain is a country of flamenco dancing, bullfighting, sherry and tapas. Whilst not a true reflection of the country as a whole such a perception is close to the truth where the Andalucian city of Seville is concerned. Most cruise passengers arrive in Seville on shore excursions from the Port of Cádiz which lies 120km to the south. However, the Guadalquivir River is navigable for 75km from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on the Gulf of Cádiz to Seville for some smaller cruise ships. This allows a growing number of lucky passengers to slowly navigate their way from the Atlantic Ocean into the historic heart of the city.
Port of Seville
Only around 20,000 passengers arrive each year at the Muelle de las Delicias some 2km from Plaza del Triunfo in the historic centre of the city. Hardly a passenger terminal in the traditional sense, the disembarkation point is a creative architectural structure made of recycled shipping containers.
From the quay passengers can walk along the riverside into the centre by following Paseo de las Delicias. Otherwise you can cross this main road and walk through Parque de Maria Luisa via Plaza de España and the Royal Tobacco Factory (which appears in Bizet’s opera Carmen) on the way to the centre.
Getting Around: Other than walking around the main tourist attractions you might consider taking the hop-on, hop-off bus service which operates a 14 stop itinerary around the city’s main sights. The nearest stop to the cruise terminal is outside the aquarium just to the south. A novel way to get a taste for the city is to take a horse drawn carriage tour. Tours depart from outside the cathedral and last about 45 minutes. In addition, Seville has an excellent public bus service together with metro and tram lines but these aren’t necessary for short-term visitors.
If you are meeting a cruise ship at Muelle de las Delicias or your cruise ends here you’ll most likely be travelling through Seville Airport which lies just 10km to the north-east via Avenida de Kansas City. Taxis are easily available in both directions and there’s a special airport bus which connects the airport with Plaza de Armas in the city centre. For convenience sake a private transfer to or from Seville Airport is recommended. Such services are provided by Shuttledirect who offer transport to and from the port as well as serving hotels throughout the city.
Main Tourist Attractions
Built on the site of a 9th century mosque on Plaza del Triunfo in the heart of the historic city stands the magnificent Seville Cathedral which is one of the world’s largest religious buildings. Visitors who are fit enough can walk to the top of its Giralda bell tower to see stunning views across the city in all directions. Next to the cathedral is the General Archive of the Indies which houses all documentation pertaining to Spanish exploration in the Americas.
Also on this same square is the 14th century Alcázar of Seville which originally served as a Moorish Royal Palace. It can be paid no greater compliment than to compare its beauty with the Nasrid Palaces in Granada’s Alhambra. All of these attractions are recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites and deserve much of your time in port.
Having visited these main sights you should wander into Barrio Santa Cruz which lies just east of Plaza del Triunfo and is the old Jewish Quarter. Today it is home to a number of delightful plazas filled with souvenir shops, tapas bars and restaurants. Indeed this is an ideal place to find a seat at a terrace bar in the shade of an orange tree and enjoy lunch in what many would argue is the tapas capital of Spain.
Insider Tip: When ordering lunch be aware that there are different portion sizes in tapas bars and restaurants. A ‘Tapa’ is a small individual portion which isn’t for sharing. If you’re in a small group you should order a ‘Ración’ which is a large portion intended for sharing or a ‘Media Ración’ which is a medium portion. Generally you would order several ‘Raciones’ of different dishes to share amongst the group.
Heading west from the Cathedral square brings you back to the river where you’ll see the Torre de Oro. This former Moorish watchtower has become a symbol of Seville. A little further along the river is the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza which is the city’s historic bullring. No matter what your thoughts are on the ‘sport’ of bullfighting you cannot help but be impressed by this beautiful arena. Still further along the river is the Puente de Triana which leads into the gypsy quarter of Triana which has produced many of Seville’s greatest flamenco artists.
Closer to where your ship is docked is Maria Luisa Park which lies just across Paseo de la Delicias from the cruise terminal. This is Seville’s largest green area which is home to the stunning Plaza de España which is probably the most beautiful of the many squares with the same name around Spain. The city’s impressive Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla also resides in the park and is regarded as one of the finest archeological museums in Spain.
Other museums of note include the Museo de Arte Andaluz Contemporaneo, a modern art museum located on Isla de La Cartuja and more importantly the Museo de Bellas Artes. This fine arts museum on Plaza del Museo is largely dedicated to the Seville School which includes works by Velázquez, Zurbarán and Murillo. Nearby is the Metropol Parasol which is an award-winning, mushroom-shaped structure which has rapidly become one of Seville’s most visited attractions.
One Night in Seville
Thankfully most cruise ships which make their way to Seville spend the night docked at the Muelle de las Delicias which provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to attend a flamenco show at one of the city’s celebrated ‘tablaos’. Begin the evening with a few tapas and a glass of sherry at some of the city’s many tapas bars then head to one of these venues. Alternatively, you can book a table at one of the flamenco shows which include dinner with the performance. Highly recommended venues include Los Gallos (Plaza Santa Cruz, 11) and Tablao El Arenal (Calle Rodo, 7). Otherwise just head for Casa de la Memoria (Calle Cuna, 6,) where you can enjoy performances by local artists without the need to order food or drinks.
About Shuttle Direct
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