This blog post was originally posted on January 18, 2017, and was updated on September 12, 2019.
Visiting Seville in Semana Santa? Many people avoid the city because of the big crowds and enormous processions, but you can still have a great time here!
Semana Santa in Seville attracts over 1 million visitors to the city, so it is an intense time to be here. Many restaurants are closed and even some of the most iconic monuments shut down for the week. But, that’s not to say you can’t enjoy your time here, these insider’s tips will help you make the most of Semana Santa in Seville.
1. Eat the typical dessert
The ultimate food for Semana Santa in Seville is torrijas. These delicious treats are essentially Spain’s answer to French toast, bread soaked in honey, eggs, and white wine and lightly fried. Some of our favorite torrijas also have a dash of cinnamon. For the best torrijas in town, head to Confitería La Campana (Calle Sierpes, 1-3). But make sure and get your treats before processions start, as the official route of every procession passes right by the iconic bakery, making it impossible to access.
2. Watch your pockets
Whilst not normally a problem in Seville, pick-pocketing does tend to be more prevalent in Semana Santa. With so many people around, especially being so bunched together, it’s best to keep an extra close eye on your belongings.
3. Book accommodation early
If you’re thinking of coming to Seville in Easter, get booking your accommodation now! Hotels and AirBnbs sell out months in advance, and many people have to find hotels in nearby towns and villages.
4. Avoid the central monuments
Unfortunately, there is very limited entrance into the Cathedral and the Alcazar Palace during Semana Santa in Seville. With so many people around that central area, it’s an area many people avoid altogether. But, don’t miss out on other, quieter areas. It’s the perfect chance to see the beautiful parks of Seville, especially Parque Maria Luisa, home to the stunning Plaza de España.
5. Plan carefully
When the processions are in full flow, a typical two minute A to B journey can take hours. Check out the official routes and timetables beforehand to make sure you don’t get caught in the huge crowds if you’re trying to go somewhere.
6. Dress for the occasion
Semana Santa is incredibly important to locals, and they take the celebration very seriously. A lot of people dress up during the week, as a sign of respect. In order to live the celebration like a true local, dress up a little bit yourself and you’ll feel much more comfortable.
7. Position yourself well
People will queue long in advance for a good spot near the Cathedral or in La Campana, where every procession passes and people often pay for reserved seating. With that in mind, trying to get a vantage point in those areas is all but impossible.
If you want to see some processions and take in a great view, we suggest heading to the Isabel Bridge, Puente de Isabel II. This bridge, connecting Seville and the Triana neighborhood, was for many years the only means of crossing the river. Brotherhoods have been using it for centuries to reach the Cathedral and seeing it at night during the Madrugá with the lights off, lit entirely by candles, is unforgettable.
8. Head to a Holy Week bar
Many bars in Seville are decorated with vibrant relics and images of Semana Santa. These fascinating Holy Week bars are great to see all year round. The great thing about these bars is that you get the feel of Semana Santa without the crowds. Our favorite has to be La Fresquita (Calle Mateos Gagos, 29), where Pepe, the owner, serves up some amazing montadito sandwiches, great with a cold beer.
9. Stay up late on Thursday
The most significant point of Semana Santa in Seville is the night of Holy Thursday. Known locally as La Madrugá, (from the word madrugada meaning the early morning) processions run all night long until Good Friday. Among them is perhaps the most iconic procession of them all, La Macarena. With over 3,000 participants, seeing this nighttime procession is an unforgettable sight.
Yes, there are lots of people around. Yes, lots of bars and restaurants close for the celebration. But seeing Semana Santa in Seville is seeing what makes this city tick. An unabashedly religious celebration, people of all ages enjoy Holy Week. However, they appreciate it not purely for its religious component alone. Many people participate purely for the tradition of it, an insight into the mindset of the passionate locals in this city. Also, at the end of the day, if you arrive and can’t handle the celebration in the center, you can always head to a nearby village for a little escape.
Want to learn more about the treasured Semana Santa tradition? Check out this video from our expert guide, Sara, as she takes you through some of the basics of Holy Week.