Both Seville and Madrid are fantastic cities, but which is better for your city-break or holiday?
We understand your dilemma. There is a wealth of information about both cities, but little stating which is the better destination and more suited for your trip.
This website will provide our unbiased opinions, and hopefully help you to choose the best city to visit. The article is divided into the following sections, and can be jumped to using the underlined links:
1) Introductions -
2) City scores -
3) Which one should I, friends, or family visit? -
4) When to visit and weather -
5) Who is the city suited for? -
6) The perfect 48hours (with map) -
7) Tourism details (where to stay? airport details?)
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 , 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, to the towering cathedral, mouth-watering tapas restaurants and impromptu flamenco dances.
Strangely, Seville typically lacks the appeal to the younger generation of tourists, but chance a trip and fall in love with the flare of southern Spain.
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.
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 walking at pace and this rushed approach means you miss the allure of the city.
If you visit during the summer, be aware of the extreme weather. You’ll need to take things quite a bit slower, and get going much earlier in the day when it’s a fraction cooler and less busy.
Popular day trips from Seville include the 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 long holiday.
For Madrid, the length of stay greatly depends on how much you want to devote to visit the three famed art galleries (Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía), or immerse into Spanish culture. The city can be seen in two days of sightseeing, and a third day is often given to the galleries.
There are many outstanding day trips from Madrid and a trip can be easily extended to 5 or 6 days. A selection of the best day trips includes the medieval town of Segovia, charming Toledo, and the magnificent El Escorial. Madrid makes for a good base from which to explore the region, and is served by inexpensive public transport
The best time of year to visit Seville is during the two festival 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 of 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.
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 paced 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 hectic work schedule back at home.
The ambience typically appeals to a slightly older visitor, but to assume Seville is a mature destination would be completely wrong. There are exciting tourist attractions, a 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 will have been there.
Below is an interactive map for 48 hours in Seville; day 1 is highlighted in green and day 2 in yellow, with optional sights in grey.
Start the day in the impressive Catedral de Sevilla, and climb to the top of La Giralda bell tower for a wonderful viewpoint. Surrounding the cathedral is the atmospheric Santa Cruz district, with its traditional houses and narrow cobblestone streets, which follow the old medieval layout of the city.
For the afternoon, visit the grand Plaza de España and the adjoining Parque de Maria Luisa. Towards the end of the day join a cruise along the Guadalquivir River. For dinner, head to the Triana district for an authentic Tapas meal. This district is also where flamenco dancing originated, and one of the bars may well have some impromptu dancing happening during the evening.
The gardens of the Real Alcázar palace
For the second day, start by visiting the Real Alcázar palace, the finest example of Mudéjar architecture which fuses Arabic and Christian designs. For the afternoon, head north of the historic centre and explore the popular shopping streets of Calle Sierpes. End the afternoon at the Setas De Sevilla, a massive wooden structure and great viewpoint.
In the evening, watch a flamenco performance at the La Carbonería.
48 hours in Madrid is not just the sights but also the atmosphere of the city. Below is an interactive tour map - day 1 is highlighted in green and day 2 in yellow, with optional sights marked grey.
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.
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.
For your first visit, you would want to be based in the Centro or Retiro districts, and this will limit accommodation options. If you do wish a more remote, budget option always ensure it is close to a metro station. While exploring Madrid, you will do a surprising amount of walking.
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
Madrid score 4.5/5
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