María Luisa Park in Seville, Spain – How to Spend the Afternoon
Parque de María Luisa is Seville’s largest (100 acres) and most visited park in the city. It is named after the princess María Luisa d' Orleans who donated the grounds of the San Telmo Palace to Seville which makes up many aspects of the park today. Tourists have it on their list of places to visit when in Seville, and I understand why. It is a gorgeous park full of fun things to do, but it’s also great for doing absolutely nothing but sitting and relaxing.
Many people come to Parque de María Luisa and don’t have a clue what to do or even what it offers. I have visited many times, with a toddler and without. I’ve made a list of the best things to see, do, and eat in this giant park so that you can make the most out of your visit.
Transportation Around the Park
A fun way to get around the park and see the whole thing easily is to rent something to get around in from the company Cyclotour. There are many different renting options and times to choose from to fit a variety of needs.
You can rent a cycle, which is like a car-sized bicycle that you pedal around yourself, almost like a golf cart. There are three different sizes of cycles – The Ciclosport, The Ciclobus, and The Bigbus. The Ciclosport holds 2 people, the Ciclobus holds 4 people, and the Bigbus holds 6 people.
You can also rent a single rider bicycle or a tandem bicycle. Both types of bicycles can be rented anywhere from 2 hours to 24 hours and range from €8 - €25, depending upon how many hours they are rented.
Horse Drawn Carriage
Another way to get around the park is to rent a horse drawn carriage. The horse carriages are everywhere in Seville in the heavily populated tourist areas. Each ride takes you to see three of the main touristy areas of Seville – Cathedral de Sevilla, Parque de María Luisa, and Plaza de España. If you’re interested in a ride then approach them and express your interest. It isn’t too hard to get one to pick you up. Try to find one that speaks some English so they can explain the sites to you. The ride lasts 60 min and is a set price of €45.
I am not a huge fan of this activity because they don’t treat the horses very well. There needs to be more water breaks and shaded resting areas for these over worked animals, especially in the hot summer months. It definitely could be worse, (go to Cambodia or the Dominican Republic and you’ll understand what I mean) but I still don’t love participating in it myself. It’s up to you to decide how you feel about this type of situation. If you don’t feel like or aren’t able to walk or bike but still want to see the park, it’s an option to consider.
Another downside to taking a carriage ride is that the horses don't walk through all the areas of the park. They take you quickly around the edges and down the main roads, but you will miss a lot of the ins and outs of the park by only seeing it this way.
My favorite way to see Parque de María Luisa is on foot. I think it's the best way to see everything in detail and to see it at your own pace. Plus you get some exercise in for the day which is always a plus in my book.
Plaza de España
Plaza de España isn’t technically apart of Parque de María Luisa but it is right next to it. When you’re going to the park, it makes sense to take a quick stop by the plaza as well. Plaza de España is the most beautiful building in Seville in my opinion. It is so fun to roam around and take pictures. When I am there I feel like I am walking around on a movie set. For more information on riding the rowboats around the plaza moat, check out my post here.
Walking the Grounds
The grounds are so beautiful throughout the park. There are paths lined with orange trees that make you really feel like you’re in Seville. So many flowers everywhere – every color in the rainbow. Lots of waterfalls and ponds with lily pads and fountains. The park as a whole is very eye pleasing and is perfect for casually roaming around. If you want to get out of the busyness of the city, head to Parque de María Luisa for a relaxing stroll through nature and to breathe some fresh air.
There are several playgrounds within the park. The one that Jimmy loves the most is just south of Plaza de España and is built for younger aged children. It has a wooden train that he loves climbing through and pretending with. There are other playgrounds in the park that are better for older children with taller slides and monkey bars. One playground has a circle shaped merry-go-round thing that is fun for the kids to lie on and push each other. I was nervous for Jimmy to play on it at first but he did surprisingly well and hung on tight enough not to fall off! For a list of our favorite playgrounds to go to in Seville, check out my post here.
Island of the Birds
If you enjoy bird watching, this area of the park is fun to explore through. The Island of the Birds is a sanctuary for the many different birds that inhabit the park. You’ll see all kinds of cool birds so bring your camera!
Take a Nap
Traveling with a toddler always brings up the question, where are we going to nap him today? When we are out and about while traveling, I always dread when naptime rolls around because it tends to control the plans for the afternoon. Sometimes we bite the bullet and head back to the hotel for his nap, but other days we just aren’t ready to go back yet. It’s those days that we make due, find a quiet place, recline the stroller, and nap him outside in the shade.
Parque de María Luisa is perfect for napping a toddler in a stroller. There are a lot of quiet hidden corners that are perfect for camping out and taking a snooze. Jimmy has taken some great naps in this park. He thinks it is fun, and we are glad that we can continue to explore more of the city after his nap is finished.
Plaza de America
Plaza de America is one of my favorite areas of Parque de María Luisa. It’s known as the “Pigeon Park,” because there are so many pigeons there. You can buy a bag of pigeon food and feed the pigeons right out of your hand! Jimmy had a ball feeding the pigeons and didn’t want to leave. He was a little braver than I was. Check out my blog post here for more pictures and information about feeding the pigeons at Plaza de America.
A Spanish Lunch of Montaditos
There aren’t that many lunch options inside of the park. The choices are very limited and the food is very expensive and mediocre. I’d say eat somewhere worthwhile before you head to the park. However, if you want to grab a quick bite of lunch, near Plaza de America there is a place called, Terraza Alfonso. I'd recommend ordering something simple and common that is easily done well, like a montadito. Montaditios are small sandwiches with different Spanish fillings, typically pork based. This restaurant doesn’t have the best food in the world, but it’s decent, and it’s convenient to eat there if you are in the park and getting hungry.
The reason why this place is notable is because of its location. It's the perfect area for kids to run around freely without any worry of getting hurt. There are no cars in this area. The adults can sit and eat and watch the kids play. It's perfect! And it's a gorgeous spot too! For more information on my favorite types of montaditios and a great place to get them in Seville, check out my post here.
If you find yourself wanting a treat while in the park, there are some ice cream stands that sell store bought ice cream bars. They are close to the Plaza de España side of the park. They aren’t anything special, but they beat the heat and conquer your sweet tooth when it comes along. Plus, it's fun to roam the park with an ice cream bar in hand.
There are two museums in the park – Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions (Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla) and The Archaelogical Musuem (Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla.) They aren’t must-sees when in Seville, but they would be a good activity to fill some downtime and get out of the heat. They are both located right by Plaza de America.
This isn’t technically inside of the park but it is very close to it and worth mentioning. The Seville Aquarium is small but it is very well done and fun to spend a few hours at. They have a huge jellyfish display with many different types and colors of jellyfish. They also have a big shark and a few sea turtles in a giant water tank that swim right by you! It’s worth a stop if you have kids. Jimmy loves this aquarium and enjoys seeing all the fish and reptiles. However, the last time we were there he fell and bumped his head on a rock and got a large goose egg on the side of his head. Watch out for the rocks when you have a toddler! Traveling with kids is so great in so many ways, but there are definitely some not so fun times.
The public bathrooms within Parque de María Luisa are far and few between. When you do find one, they are unlikely to be stocked with toilet paper or proper hand washing supplies. My tip for you is to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer when you visit this park. You’ll never know when you need it, and it could come in very handy.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Parque de María Luisa. It’s a must see place when visiting Seville so put it on your travel list. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below!