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The south-eastern Spanish city of Seville offers myriad historic draws, and a heritage and ambience that attract countless numbers of visitors every year. The Alcazar palace, diverse museums, the 13th-century La Giralda tower and a stunning cathedral that is the final resting place of legendary explorer Christopher Columbus are among the highlights. With the convenience of car hire, Seville is a great start point for trips to the surrounding areas of Andalusia and the golden beach of Matalascañas in Huelva Province.
Who to Book With
Global firms Avis and Sixt operate service depots in Seville. National is represented by its local affiliate Atesa. Local firms with good reputations include Al Andalus Rent A Car and Sevilla Car. The firms’ depots are dotted around the edges of the city, although there is a small grouping in the locality of the Santa Justa Train Station. With such a wide range of suppliers and vehicles available it pays to book online and make some significant savings.
Best Time to go
Seville is an all-year-round destination. Even in January, abundant sunshine and temperatures averaging 14°C draw visitors from the UK and northern Europe. July and August are hot and many Spaniards take their holidays at this time. Accommodation and vehicle rental rates are consequently higher in this period.
Need to Know Essentials
Rental companies require hirers to produce the following when they pick up their cars:
- A valid driver’s license, the paper section is often required for those with the new UK photocard licenses
- A passport or secondary form of photo ID
- The same credit card utilised when making the original booking
- The rental confirmation voucher or number
The major landmarks and tourism sights in Seville are close together and can be explored on foot. The city also has a great public transport network which renders driving in the central precincts redundant. Traffic in this zone is often heavy and made worse by the habit of local drivers of double parking. Narrow streets ensure parking is always a little problematical. There are a few car parks with fees that work out at €15 a day. Even hotels with their own car parks often charge for parking.
Seville has an orbital route which is signposted from the city centre. This road is convenient for reaching the A4 for Cadiz and Cordoba, the A49 for Matalascañas and Huelva, and north to Cazalla de la Sierra and the Sierra Morena mountains. Roads are generally uncongested in the region, but motorists from overseas should be careful as local drivers do not always obey the Highway Code.
Road signs in Seville and Spain follow a similar format to the UK’s, and are easy to understand. Blue signs are used for motorways (autovia) and green for highways (via rapida). In Spain, drivers are required to have red warning triangles, light bulbs and the tools required to change them, as well as high-visibility jackets in their vehicles.
Seville boasts a comprehensive public transport network which accesses on almost every corner of the city. The system includes buses, trams and a swanky modern metro line. Services start around 05:30 and continue until 23:30, with the occasional night route operating through to 02:00.
Single-trip bus tickets in town are €1.40 and passengers pay when they get on. If planning to use the buses often, it is worthwhile buying a 10-journey ticket which reduces each fare by around half. A one-day tourist pass offering unlimited travel is €5. The tram route is also the same price. Newsagents and tobacconists sell these passes.
Sevilla Santa Justa Train Station is the terminus for AVE high-speed trains from Cordoba. This city, in turn, has the same services from Madrid, Algeciras and Granada. The station is around 2km from the city centre. Buses or taxis are the choices for travelling between the two.
Buses and Trams
TUSSAM is the city bus operator. Buses follow north to south and east to west routes as well as circular ones. There are bus stops close to tourist sites and hotels in the city centre. The city tram line is an ongoing project which at present is 1.5kms long and links Plaza Nueva to one of the city’s two intercity bus stations.
The metro is only one line, too, and an even more recent project. The line currently in operation is 20kms long and links the centre to suburban districts.
Taxis in Seville can be flagged down or taken at taxi stands. A green light indicates whether the vehicle is for hire. Journeys are metered apart from to the airport which is a fixed-rate fare. Some of the companies do accept phone bookings, but language is sometimes an issue and it is better to ask a local to call the taxi.
Although there are enough sights in the centre to keep visitors occupied for weeks, it is nice to take a few day trips with a car rental to gain insights into the local heritage, to relax on a beach or do a bit of sightseeing. Interesting excursions within one hour’s drive of Seville include Cordoba, Matalascañas, Doñana National Park and mountains and national parks to the north.
Cordoba - This offers tourists the perfect day out for anyone interested in history or culture. The Mezquita is a wonderful fusion of Renaissance and Moorish building styles and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Other reasons to visit include Hamam baths and massages and the historic Jewish precinct of the city.
Doñana National Park - This is another UNESCO designated site. The swamplands and lakes here are home to eclectic wildlife which includes Iberian lynxes and purple herons. Bird-watching tours and horse-back riding are among the activities available. The 7km stretch of Matalascañas’ golden sands abuts the park.
Riotinto Mining Park - This provides a glimpse into the history of the area. Visitors can ride a steam-pulled heritage train through 12kms of amazing vistas, wander through a beautifully preserved Victorian house and take a guided tour of the Peña del Hierro Mine.