Lying on the banks of the Guadalquivir, Seville is Spain’s fourth-largest city and the capital of Andalusia. Its whitewashed houses bright with bougainvillea, its ocher-color palaces, and its Baroque facades have long enchanted both sevillanos (Sevillians) and travelers.
The city’s many urban attractions include an opera house, a new riverfront esplanade, an exceptional Museum of Fine Arts, and several dozen other monuments. Seville also benefits from modernized transport, including new train and bus stations, an enlarged and updated airport, new highways in and around the city, seven new bridges, and high-speed rail and four-lane highway links with Madrid. Ryanair is one of the most convenient companies that fly to Seville. It offers among the best inexpensive flights in Europe.
Of course, this bustling city of almost 800,000 also has a downside: traffic-choked streets, high unemployment, a notorious petty-crime rate, and at times the kind of impersonal treatment you won’t find in smaller cities like Granada and Córdoba. But Seville’s artistic heritage and its citizens’ zest for life more than compensate for its disadvantages.
Be warned, however, that hours for the city’s monuments and other institutions have a habit of changing almost monthly.Whenever you’re ready to bid farewell to the urban bustle of Seville, nature awaits in the province of Huelva. Doñana National Park, one of the largest and richest wildlife refuges in Europe, and pristine beaches on the Costa de la Luz are all about an hour’s drive from Seville. This is also a land rich in history; Columbus’s voyage to the New World was sparked here, at the monastery of La Rábida and in Palos de la Frontera. From Seville, turn off the Seville–Huelva highway, drive through Almonte and El Rocío—scene of the famous Whitsuntide pilgrimage to the Virgin of the Dew—and you’ll come to La Rocina’s visitor center.