Tag Archives: day trip

Cordoba | Day Trip from Seville

After Seville and Granada, Cordoba is probably the most famous of the romantic Andalucian cities of southern Spain. More than a thousand years ago it was the capital of the caliphate of Spain and one of the most important cultural centres in Europe, with a complex heritage of art and learning derived from the Moors, Jews and Christians, who lived here with a degree of religious tolerance remarkable for its time. You can still see this heritage in Cordoba today.

At this time of year especially, many of the city’s patios and alleys are filled with a myriad of flowers in brightly coloured pots. No visit to Cordoba would be complete without a visit to the symbol of the city, the Mezquita (the Grand Mosque, which is now a cathedral), with its vistas of horseshoe arches that entrance the eye, and an atmosphere of tranquillity despite the number of visitors. Also nearby are the Alcázar of the Christian kings and the Roman bridge across the river, which is still in use.

Between the cathedral and the remaining stretch of the western wall is the old Jewish quarter, a neighbourhood of narrow winding streets and courtyards full of mementoes of the Jewish presence here. You can visit the old synagogue, the Sephardi house and the zoco, or market, where you can find some of the traditional artesan shops selling the silver jewellery and leather goods for which Cordoba is famous.

Take time out to enjoy some of the traditional food, too. Cordoba is the home of salmorejo, the thick tomato soup often served with a garnish of jamon, of the flamenquin (rolled pork and cheese fried in a coating of breadcrumbs), and of fried eggplant with a sweet cane syrup sauce.

You can take a day trip from Seville to Cordoba by bus, with an Andalsur tour guide to take you to the Mezquita, and through the historic centre of Córdoba. Included: transfer by bus, entrance tickets and tour guide. Day trips from Seville are available every day and you can book a Cordoba city tour together with your Seville veoapartment.

Seville | A Day Trip to Cádiz

Cadiz Cathedral

Cadiz Cathedral

One of my favourite places for a day trip is the city of Cadiz, which is less than two hours away from Seville by train on Spain’s southwest coast. Founded by the Phoenicians some three thousand years ago, it is probably the oldest city in Europe, and has always been one of the country’s most important seaports. Located at the end of a long, partly artificial promontory, and surrounded by the sea on three sides, it’s also one of the prettiest. And just the right size to walk around in an afternoon.

When you arrive make your way into the old centre through Plaza San Juan de Dios, newly renovated with little fountains, and with the impressive town hall at the far end, and head for Plaza Catedral. Grab an empanada for elevenses at the little shop opposite the baroque façade of the 18th century cathedral, which will set you up for the rest of the morning. From there, go through the Arco-de-la-Rosa into the Barrio del Populi, which is the oldest part of Cadiz, and has quite a different feel to the rest of the city. Although it’s small it’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the maze of narrow streets. Nearby on the seafront is the impressive Roman theatre, only rediscovered under some old warehouses in 1980. From there it’s another short walk to the recently reopened central market, with its impressive displays of fruit and veg, fresh meat, and especially, an enormous variety of fresh fish and seafood. It’s one of my favourite stops in Cadiz.

Urta - a local fish

Urta – a local fish

Time for lunch. Have some starters at Casa Manteca (The House of Lard), making sure to sample that local speciality, “chicharrones especial”, before going to Restaurante El Faro for some topnotch fish and seafood. Try the “arroz negro” (rice with squid-ink) for a special treat.

Back on the sea front turn right and follow the coastal fortifications; Castillo San Sebastian, brooding out in the bay at the end of its causeway, from one angle looking like a great ship, and Santa Catalina on the corner of the headland, looking out over the Atlantic in three directions. Stop for a drink on the seafront terrace of the Parador hotel before visiting Parque Genovése next door, a botanical garden with a wonderful collection of strange trees and an artificial waterfall, and definitely not to be missed.

La Caleta

La Caleta

Time now to be heading home, taking the direct route across the middle of the old city. The pattern of the streets here is quite regular, and it’s not hard to find your way to the two big public squares, Plaza San Antonio and Plaza Mina, monuments to 19th century civic pride.  I love both these places to stop and stare for a while, but they are quite different in character, San Antonio wide and light and airy, surrounded by mansions and San Antonio church, while Plaza Mina is like a garden, filled with trees and exotic plants. It’s also the home of the Archaeological Museum. Other things to see include the Torre Tavira, the last of the old watchtowers from which the merchants would look out to see for the safe return of their ships, and the Oratorio de la Cueva, a 17th century chapel underground chapel.

View of Cadiz from La Caleta

View of Cadiz from La Caleta

How to get there: The best way to get there is by train. You can book online, at the Renfe booking office in Calle Zaragoza, or at Santa Justa station. Trains run approximately every one and a half hours, and the journey time is a little under two hours. A return ticket (ida y vuelta) costs around 25 euros.

Seville | Day Trip to Carmona

Carmona is a pretty little town that takes about half an hour to reach by bus from Seville, making it an ideal destination for a day trip.

The old town is surprisingly ancient. The Phoenicians were certainly here by the 8th century BC, taking advantage of a defensible position on a ridge overlooking the rich agricultural plain along the River Guadalquivir. It was then occupied in turn by the Carthaginians, Romans and Moors, before being captured by Ferdinand III in 1247, the year before Seville, and all of them have left their mark on the town.

It’s best to arrive early, as a number of places close around 3pm (and in summer you don’t want to be out walking later than this because of the heat), so you can do your sightseeing before finishing the day with a leisurely lunch at one of Carmona’s many bars and restaurants.

The bus stops in the Paseo del Estatuto, a few minutes walk down the main road from the gateway to the old town, but a short diversion down Joaquin Costa will bring you to the Fuente de los Leones (Fountain of the Lions), with a view down the Alameda de Alfonso XIII. Turn left to get back to the main road and the church of San Pedro, which has a tower with a weathervane on top, in a style very like the more famous Giralda in Seville.

From here you can already see your next stop, and one of Carmona’s most important historic buildings, the Seville Gate and Alcázar (palace/fortress). It’s worth walking around this (follow the road to the left, and come back through the arched double gate. Entrance is through the tourist information office (remember to pick up a map of the town), and costs just 2 euros. It seems bigger on the inside than it does from the outside, and there is an exhibition in the Upper Prisoners’ Hall that gives you a good idea of the various stages of construction. From the top of the Torre del Oro you get a wonderful view over the town to the skyline at the top of the ridge, where the church of Santa Maria and the ruins of the fortress of Don Pedro (part of this is now a Parador Hotel) stand out.

From the Seville Gate head into the old town for a visit to the municipal market. Sadly, many of the stalls are no longer open, but there are a number of bars under the colonnades around the central square, and this is probably a good time to stop for a coffee or a beer. Once suitably refreshed carry on to the Plazas Cristo Rey (look for the storks), San Fernando, Las Descalzas, and Marqués de Torres, a rather winding route, but one that will take you along some of the most picturesque streets and past many of the most interesting buildings. Look especially for the church of El Salvador, the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), the Convent of las Descalzas, and the church of Santa Maria.

By now you’ll probably be ready for that lunch we mentioned earlier. Try La Yedra for some gourmet tapas or a full-course meal. Alternatively, make your way back to the Seville Gate and try the excellent traditional tapas at La Muralla. Opened three years ago by ex-Parador waiter Manolo, who clearly enjoys showing off his professional expertise. The food’s good, too.

From here you are just a short walk back to the bus stop and will be back in Seville in time for a siesta.

How to get there:

The M-124 bus from Prado San Sebastian leaves about once an hour. Check this timetable from the Carmona Town Hall for up-to-date times: Carmona-Seville bus schedule

By car take Avenida Kansas City and follow the signs.

Seville | Day Trip to Ronda

The little city of Ronda is one of Andalucia’s most underrated destinations, and although it’s not quite as easy to get to from Seville as Córdoba and Cádiz, taking about two hours each way on the bus, it’s well worth the extra effort, especially as the road winds through some beautiful mountain scenery.

For a small town (the population is only about 40,000), Ronda is full of surprises, and when you arrive you should head straight for the first of these – the spectacular Tajo Canyon that cuts the town in half, and the Puente Nuevo or New Bridge (it’s not so new now, as it was built in the second half of the 18th century). From the top of the bridge there is a breathtaking view across the Serranía de Ronda on one side, and an equally breathtaking view of the gorge on the other. The buildings that seem to perch on the very edge of the precipice make it look even deeper. It’s one of Spain’s most impressive and iconic sights, and it’s hard to describe the effect of seeing it for the first time.

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