Seville is the perfect base for easy day trips to a diverse range of towns and villages in Andalusia. There is a lot to see...port towns, white villages, historic hill towns, and even the magnificent Mezquita in Cordoba.
Day trips from Seville are made easy by the fast, safe, comfortable, and cheap public transport network of buses and trains from Seville to the rest of Andalusia.
Here are my top ranked day trips from Seville for a first timer in Andalusia. If you have one day, you can decide quickly with this list though I would say Ronda is an easy choice.
My top 5 day trips from Seville
1. Ronda - An easy winner!
Highlights - Ronda is a mountaintop town and the most popular image of the place is the ancient bridge surprisingly named Puente Nuevo (new!), over the deep El Tajo gorge. When I think of Ronda I also think of traditional bullfighting and the bullring is a must visit attraction in the city.
For the local flamenco festival go to Ronda in August and if you want to watch bullfights then September is the best time to visit. If you are driving on your own, you can follow these routes to visit the pueblos blancos or white villages of Sierre de Grazalema during the day.
Getting there - Take a 2 hr bus ride from Prado de San Sebastian Bus Station in Seville, to Ronda. It is a long but comfortable ride, and if you take the early bus at 7am you will have enough time in Ronda and return to Seville around 930pm, in time for dinner. Tickets are less than 25 euros for a round trip.
2. Jerez and Arcos de la Frontera - Sherry and horses
Highlights - Jerez is famous as the home of Sherry (and the Tio Pepe brand!) so my first advice to you is do not be tempted to spend an entire afternoon getting tipsy in a bodega. There is a beautiful old town to see, that is centered around a Moorish Alcazar and a nice Cathedral built on a moorish mosque. The Alcazar has Arab baths, and an octagonal tower worth seeing.
Most visitors to Jerez go to watch the famous horse ballet at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Jerez is also a centre for flamenco. Take an hour from your day and go to the nearby village of Arcos de la Frontera even if only to see the views form the hilltop castle Castillo de los Arcos.
Getting there - Jerez is just a 1 hour trip from Seville by train (board at Santa Justa), or by ALSA bus from Plaza de Armas. The journey costs under 10 euros one way.
3. Cadiz - History and seaside
Highlights - Cadiz is tantalizingly close to Jerez, just 30 minutes away but it deserves an independent day. The 100 watchtowers on the sea tell the story of the days when Cadiz was the home of the Spanish Armada.
The old town and Cathedral are other highlights. Then there are castles, a Roman theater, and a museum of archeology.
Getting there - Cadiz is 90 minutes away from Jerez. The same bus or train stops first at Jerez, before continuing on to Cadiz.
You can visit both cities on a 2 day trip from Seville. One way is to spend the first day and night in Jerez for example, then see Cadiz the next day before returning to Seville.
4. Cordoba - Easy trip to a one hit wonder
Highlights - Quite simply Cordoba is all about a 2 hr visit to the Mezquita Cathedral-Mosque, a short visit to The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos nearby, followed by lunch and a lazy walk around the Jewish Quarter.
You will also have time for a stroll on the old Roman Bridge across the Guadalquivir before a return to Seville.
Getting there - Take the 40 min AVE fast train from Seville to Cordoba. This will cost more and depending on the time of day you will pay 20-30 euros one way. Or you can also take a slower train which takes 75 min but costs 15 euros. Either way, you should opt to take the nice walk from Cordoba station to the Mesquita at the centre of the historic town.
5. Carmona - A real taste of Southern Spain
Highlights - Carmona is a quaint, thriving little town famous for cattle, olive oil, and the grain trade. It has a nice Alcazar, museum, churches, and even a Roman necropolis. But they are not spectacular sights like in some of the famous towns in Andalusia.
If you want to see an unspoiled, authentic Andalusian town (with Roman history!) then you should go to Carmona.
Getting there - Carmona is a stone's throw away from Seville. It takes only a 4 euro ticket and 30 minutes from Prado SS bus station in Seville to the centre of Carmona.
Interesting excursions from Seville
Here is a simple table with important information to help you decide your preferred day trip destination from Seville. My overseas clients find this very useful.
ItalicaItalica has ancient but astonishingly preserved Roman ruins and mosaics. The highlight is the amphitheater.
Take a bus or a local taxi (Travel time : 15 Min)
CadizCadiz is a historic seaside town famous for its ancient coastal watchtowers, old walled city, and a Carnival on par with Rio’s.
Take a direct train or bus. (Travel time : 90 Min)
CarmonaCarmona is an ancient, whitewashed village with a striking tower, stone castle, and Roman necropolis. It has Roman, Visigothic, and Moorish history.
Special Sevilla - Carmona "Casal” bus, at high frequency. (Travel time : 30 min )
DoñanaDonana is a massive, marshy nature reserve. It is a favorite destination for wildlife and bird lovers
Take the bus. Runs twice a day. (Travel time : 90 Min)
JerezJerez is about Sherry and bodegas, Horses, and Flamenco. The spring fair is legendary!
Take the Renfe train departing every 2 hours. Or take the Comes bus. (Travel time : 60 Min)
EcijaEcija is known for its skyline of towers, baroque churches, and Roman mosaic. Ecija is called the frying pan of Spain!
Take the direct bus. It runs 3 times a day.(Travel time : 60 Min)
RondaRonda is a mountain town with a stunning ancient bridge over a deep gorge. Ronda also has the prettiest bullring in Spain and the best preserved Arab baths.
Bus service operated by Los Amarillos (Travel time : 2.5 Hours)
MalagaMalaga has world class museums, cuisine, a rocking nightlife, and it close to the beaches of Costa del Sol.
ALSA bus or hourly Renfe train. (Travel time : 2.5 hours)
MijasMijas is a traditional, lazy Andalusian village on the Costa del Sol. It is a favorite haunt of writers, artists, and a retired foreign population.
AVE to Malaga, then bus to Mijas. (Travel time : 3.5 hours)
BenahavisBenahavis is best known for its food and golf courses! It is close to Ronda and Marbella.
AVE to Malaga, then bus to Benahavis (Travel time : 3 h)
Punta UmbriaPunta Umbria in Huelva province is a favorite resort of the locals. It is famous for its castle walls and tower.
Train to Huelva, then bus to Punta Umbría (Travel time : 3.5 hours)
ConilConil is a low density and unspoilt resort town near Cadiz. It is also known for its cuisine.
Train to San Fernando, then a bus to Conil.(Travel time : 2.5 hours)
Merida-BadajozMerida-Badajoz is on the Portuguese border. It has moorish history and an ancient alcazaba fortress. There are also Roman ruins of a theater, an old bridge, and aqueduct.
Take the bus to Merida-Badajoz.(Travel time : 3 h)
CordobaCordoba is a must visit for it Mezquita Cathedral Mosque. Other attractions include the Jewish quarter and Roman bridge.
Fast AVE train or local train or ALSA bus.(Travel time : 45 - 80 min by train, 2h by bus)
Public transport from Seville works well for all of destinations though I do admit Ronda has lesser transport options than others because of its location in he mountains. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a car, there's nothing like it for excursions around Seville at your own pace.
Some practical advice for excursions:
1. Granada is a bad idea for a day trip from Seville
The 3 to 4 hour travel time (one way) makes Granada very difficult and tiring to visit as a day excursion from Seville. You should plan to spend a full day and one night in Granada; return the next afternoon.
2. Choose one between Jerez and Cadiz
Because they are so close to each other, it can be tempting to visit both Jerez and Cadiz on a single day. My advice is to make a choice. You do need a full day to take in the highlights and vibe in each town.
3. Stagger your excursions
My only advice is that you should not attempt to do day trip excursions on successive days from Seville; you will only tire yourself out. Instead, break up 2 day trips with a day in Seville. Believe me, this will make your Seville experience much more comfortable and memorable.
4. When in doubt, choose bus over train!
I always prefer and recommend taking the bus for an excursion from Seville to anywhere in Andalusia. The ALSA network is a well oiled machine of very comfortable buses that reliably connect the hilly topography of the region where many cities (like Ronda) which are reached only by road.
Trains are also a good option but the connectivity is limited and slow in many cases. Of course the exception is if you chose to go to Cordoba where the AVE fast train from Seville Santa Justa takes only 45 minutes compared to a 2 hour bus ride.
Often-missed day trip options around Seville
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Sanlucar de Barrameda in the Cadiz area is very nice. Sanlúcar has amazing beaches like "bajo de guia". There are also very beautiful monuments, such as the "Orléans-Bourbon Palace" of the nineteenth century; it is a baroque palace with Arab influences. There is also the 15th century fortress Castillo de Santiago.
Italica is very nice to visit and is a unique experience; you can really see an ancient Roman city. From the artistic perspective, its mosaics stand out. The amphitheater and the thermal baths are amazing. Right now there are no activities or exhibitions, but I recommend consulting the website from time to check the schedule.
White Villages (pueblos blancos)
Choose between Jerez, Cadiz, Cordoba and Ronda. These are the best places around Seville.
Jerez de la Frontera
Often referred to simply as Jerez, this city is best known as the centre of production for sherry, though it is also home to dozens of monuments, museums, and palace buildings. It is the most popular popular daytrip from Seville, as it is just an hour away from Seville
Visit a BodegaBodegas Tradicion. The host at Bodegas Tradicion will show you around and expertly lead through a tasting session of sherry.
- To really appreciate Jerez’s association of Sherry, you must visit a vineyard (like Tio Pepe) where the famed palomino grapes are grown.
The Andalusian horses are a very big part of Jerez culture. A Visit to The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation, is recommended for its famous show "How the Andalusian Horses Dance"
There are frequent trains to Jerez from Sevilla Santa Justa station. Trains take just an hour to Jerez from Seville.
Just two hours from Seville is Cadiz, the first European city. It was founded in 1100 B.C. by the Phoenicians and as per legend Hercules was the founder of Cadiz. Cadiz is surrounded almost entirely by water, The Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Cadiz are famous for beaches.
Though most visit Cadiz for its beaches, you must take time to visit the Cadiz Cathedral, famous for its two bell towers and the gold-tiled dome.
The other must visit sight is the Oratory of La Santa Cueva (the Holy Cave). Inside are two chapels, the one on the lower level is austere, created from a cave and intended for silent prayers.
The upper chapel, built by Father Santamaria, contrasts the austere lower chapel with paintings from Goya, Velaquez and Camaron.
The best way to get Cadiz from Seville 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. Jerez is on the way to Cadiz. You can alight at Jerez, and visit one or even two bodegas.
Cordoba’s key attraction is the stunning Mezquita, first constructed in 786 as a mosque, but converted into a church in 1236. Despite the repurposing of the building, much of the original mosque was preserved, and the main attraction today are the scores of colourful Islamic arches which remain.
Cordoba’s ‘old city’ surrounding the Mezquita is also well worth a visit; the narrow, winding Medieval streets are fascinating to explore and have been very well preserved.
There are frequent fast trains to Cordoba from Seville. Cordoba is between Seville and Madrid. If you are arriving at Seville from Madrid, take an early train to Cordoba, stash your bags in a locker and visit Mezquita.
The picture-perfect town of Ronda is built on an imposing sandstone hill which rises 120 metres above sea level in parts. Ernest Hemingway had this to say about Ronda, “That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone.”
The hill, and town, is split into two by the El Tajo gorge, over which an impressive bridge links the two parts. Ronda was one of the last bastions of Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula, and as such is home to a number of Arabic monuments. The Bullring (Plaza de Toros) at Ronda is considered to be the most historically important bullring in Spain. It is here that bullfights started and spread to rest of Spain.
You can reach Ronda in two hours from Seville by bus. If you are going to Ronda on a daytrip, plan to board the bus that departs from Prado de San Sebastian bus station at 7am. On your way back, you can board 7pm bus from Ronda. You can book return tickets at Los Amarillos Bus Company, the operator on Seville – Ronda route.