Seville or Madrid; a city comparison and tourism travel guide

Seville as a destination reflects that of the city’s famous dance, the Flamenco; it is hot, passionate and instantly captivating. Seville boasts exceptional tourist attractions, swelters under the intense sun and it’s rich cultural heritage will leave you longing for more.

Modern Seville is the interplay of its turbulent past, blending together Moorish roots and Christian influence, in a city which wants to enjoy and embrace the present. Seville’s heritage is proudly displayed throughout the city, from the magnificent Alcázar palace, the towering cathedral, a delicious tapas meal or impromptu Flamenco dance.
Strangle, Seville lacks the appeal to the modern generation of tourists, but chance a trip and fall in love with the flare of southern Spain.

About this guide: We understand that selecting a destination is challenging and sometimes overwhelming, especially when every web guide or travel book makes each city seems so incredible and memorable.

Choosing a destination is not just about the famed sights of the city, it is also the ambience of the city, the suitability of the weather and if it aligns with your passions and interests.

High-level summary

Which city would I go to? Madrid
Which one would I recommend to my parents? Seville
Which location for my 19-year-old cousin? Madrid
Which for my food obsessed friend? Madrid
Note: The above comparison does not consider the weather, and assumes travel at the best time of year (which is detailed later in this article)

The following sections compare the two cities and considers; how long to spend in them, when to visit, and provides suggested 48hours in each city (along with an interactive map). The final section is tourism practicalities and includes which airport to fly into, what district to be based in and how best to explore the city. We hope that you find all of this information useful, in planning your next exciting trip.

Destination details

How long to spend in the city?

Seville is a city not to rush, but to embrace the relaxed pace of life and tapas culture. For sightseeing, two days are sufficient to explore the entire city.
It is possible to see Seville in a single day, but this involves a lot of sightseeing, walking and this rushed approach misses the allure of the city.
If you visit during the summer, be aware of the extreme weather, sightseeing will be at a much slower pace, and should start early in the day.

Popular day trips from Seville include historic Cordoba and the coastal city of Cadiz. The Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) are dramatic, but a rental car (or guided tour) are needed as public transport is limited. Granada is a wonderful tourist destination, but we feel it is too far for a day trip from Seville. Combining Seville, Granada and Málaga is a great itinerary for a week holiday.

For Madrid, the length of stay greatly depends on how much you would like to visit the three big museums (Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía), and immerse into Spanish culture. The city itself can be seen in two days of sightseeing, and a third day is often devoted to the museums. There are many outstanding day trips from Madrid, which include medieval Segovia, charming Toledo, and magnificent El Escorial.

When to visit?

The best time of year to visit Seville is during the two festivals periods of Semana Santa (held in the week before Easter) and the Feria de Abril (starting two weeks after Easter).
For a regular trip, late autumn and early spring are the best seasons, as during the long summer (June-September) the city is oppressively hot. Winter provides good value and fewer tourists but there is always the potential for rain.

The major consideration for Madrid, is to avoid August, when the entire city shuts down (most restaurants, cafes and independent shops) and everyone heads to the coastal towns. Late spring and early autumn (Jun/July and September) are the best seasons. Madrid can be surprisingly chilly in the winter, but is comparatively dry to the rest of Europe. As Madrid is in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula it tends to get more extreme weather than the coastal cities.

Is it for me?

Madrid is one of the finest cities in Europe. The city may not have the iconic monuments and attention-grabbing tourist attractions, but in reality, there is a lot to see during a city break.

Much of Madrid’s tourist literature focuses on the museums and galleries (which are world-class), but this should not deter you; this is a fun-loving city, which has the best nightlife in Europe. No matter your style of trip, there will be something to love about the Spanish capital.

Madrid excels as a long-stay destination, and if you are able to work here, the city offers perfect work/life balance.

Seville is a pleasure to visit, so long as you can either handle (or avoid) the extreme heat. This is a city for a slower pace trip, to enjoy time in the open-air cafes and to embrace the culture of Andalusia. This makes the city ideal for a break from a stressful lifestyle or work.

This ambience typically appeals to a slightly older visitor, but assuming Seville is a mature destination is completely wrong. There are exciting tourist attractions, colourful nightlife and a social atmosphere. One of the appeals of Seville, is that it is not a common city break and few of your friends would have been here.

The perfect 48hours

Seville 48 hours Begin the day in the atmospheric Santa Cruz district, with it’s colourful houses and narrow cobblestone streets, which follow the old medieval layout of the city. Afterwards visit the impressive Catedral de Sevilla, and climb to the top of the La Giralda bell tower for a wonderful viewpoint.
For the afternoon visit the grand Plaza de España and Parque de Maria Luisa. For dinner cross the Guadalquivir River to the Triana district for an authentic meal of Tapas. This district is also the where Flamenco dancing originated, and one of the bars may have an impromptu flamenco dance.

Real Alcázar palace seville

The gardens of the Real Alcázar palace

For the second day start by visiting the Real Alcázar palace, the finest example Mudéjar architecture, a fusion of Arabic designs and Christian ideals. For the middle of the day wander the popular shopping streets around Calle Sierpes, and see the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla and Plaza Nueva before visiting the Setas De Sevilla, a vast wooden structure and viewpoint.
At the end of the day either join a cruise along the Guadalquivir River or head into the Triana district to explore it by day.

48 hours in Madrid is not just the sights but also the atmosphere of the city.

Begin in the Puerta del Sol, then wander through charming streets of the El Madrid de los Austrias, which is the oldest section of the city. This leads to the Palacio Real, surrounded by its formal gardens and the Catedral de la Almudena to the south. For the last part of the day explore the La Latina district and have a delicious tapas meal at one of the restaurants along the Cava Alta or Cava Baja. La Latina boasts numerous bars and is always a great place to start a night in Madrid.

Gran Vía madrid

The Gran Vía is the bustling main avenue of Madrid

The morning of the second focuses on the three art-museums, the Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía. Close to the museums is the pretty the El Retiro Park. For the afternoon head down the Gran Vía, the main shopping street of Madrid, and visit the Malasaña district, with its artisan vibe, independent shops and trendy nightlife. For sunset watch it at the Templo de Debod, and then head back to Malasaña for a memorable meal and evening.

Tourism Practicalities

Madrid nightlife is legendary, it may start late but it will continue for as long as you are still standing. Madrid nightlife always has the perfect balance of Madrileños and foreigners, and the locals are generally social and fun. There are the artisan and fashionable bars of the Malasaña district or the mega clubs of Kapital or Barco. Popular nightlife districts include Lavapiés and La Latina. For something slightly different there a flamenco clubs and performances. Madrid’s nightlife is diverse, social and as wild as you want it, and certainly will not disappoint.

Madrid score 5/5 - Seville score 3/5

Museums and galleries?
Foodie trip, regional cuisines and eating out

Madrid score 4.5/5

Solo travel

Madrid is a social and vibrant city, which generally safe and suitable for solo travellers. There are cases of pick-pockets and opportunistic thefts, but no more than in any large city. Madrid is an important business and cultural centre, which attracts numerous solo travellers, many who may not even class themselves as solo travellers, as they are travelling for work or business. The city is not unfamiliar to solo travellers, and there are always many about.

Madrid score 4/5 - Seville score 3/5

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