Last updated on May 16, 2023 by Wandering our World
If you’re looking for fun in the sun, Spain is one of the best destinations to choose. It gets some of the best weather in the whole of Europe, as well as boasting fantastic food and thrilling cultural experience for every visitor.
Valencia and Seville easily rank as two of the top Spanish cities to see. They’re both situated in the southern part of the country, enjoying almost never-ending sunshine and high temperatures, and they both have some super touristic landmarks to check out.
At first glance, these cities may seem to have quite a lot in common. They’re both lively, bustling, beautiful places with decent nightlife scenes and delicious food. But when you start to look a little closer, some big differences begin to emerge.
In Valencia, for example, there’s the truly special City of Arts and Sciences, filled with awe-inspiring, otherworldly structures and fun activities. This city also has beaches – unlike Seville – and is generally better for families.
Meanwhile Seville is a historical haven, with Roman ruins and striking Moorish architecture. Expect a livelier nightlife scene here too, as well as a more romantic vibe due to the gorgeous buildings.
We’ll be highlighting all of those key differences throughout this guide as we put Valencia and Seville side-by-side in several key categories, including activities, nightlife, shopping, food, and much more.
By the end, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what these cities can offer and which one is best for you. Let’s get started!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Best For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Festivals & Live Events?
- Which Is Better For Day Trips?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Best For Shopping?
- Which Has The Best Food?
- Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
- Which Is Better For Couples?
- Which Is Better For Backpackers?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Has Better Weather?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
A Quick Overview: Valencia vs Seville
Valencia: A Quick Overview
Valencia is Spain’s third-biggest city, trailing only Madrid and Barcelona in terms of its total population; nearly 800,000 people live here, with approximately 2.5 million in the metropolitan area.
The city itself is located in the southeast part of the country, right on the coast, with several miles of sandy beaches.
The history of Valencia goes back over 2,000 years. It was founded by the Romans in 138 BC, and grew slowly over the centuries, enduring many difficult moments.
However, in the 15th century, Valencia experienced its ‘Golden Age’, enjoying huge growth that saw the construction of many iconic landmarks, such as the Serranos Gate and Lonja de la Seda.
Nowadays, Valencia is famed for having a very busy container port and being a key trade hub for the Mediterranean region.
It’s also a cultural and tourist center, renowned for its great mixture of old landmarks and bold new developments, as well as being a popular place for live events and festivals.
Like many large Spanish cities, Valencia has a lively and welcoming vibe, and a lot of the locals here spend much of their time outdoors, soaking up the sun and giving the city a really vibrant, dynamic feel.
It’s also known for being one of Spain’s very best beach cities, with some truly world-class coastal conditions for visitors to enjoy.
Seville: A Quick Overview
Seville (or Sevilla, in Spanish) is the fourth biggest city in Spain, with a total population just a little smaller than that of Valencia; around 700,000 people live here, with 1.5 million in the metropolitan area.
It’s situated in the southeast part of the country in the Andalusia region, of which it is the capital city.
Like Valencia, Seville’s origins date back to the time of the Roman Empire. It was founded under the name Hispalis, around 2,200 years ago.
In the 8th century, it fell under Islamic rule, and a group called the Almoravids later took over, building grand structures – many of which are still standing – and helping the city become a very beautiful and powerful location at the time.
Seville’s development and evolution continued further in the centuries that followed, with the city emerging as a key location of trade, culture, and economic prosperity.
It’s also known as the epicenter of Andalusian culture and expression – visitors here can enjoy lively traditional festivals, romantic Flamenco dancing, and unique Andalusian recipes.
Tourism is a big part of this city’s economy, and it’s often referred to as one of the most visually impressive cities in Spain.
Seville’s namesake oranges can be spotted growing on trees throughout the city, while a myriad of Moorish buildings, Roman remnants, and intriguing museums provide travelers with plenty of ways to pass the time.
Which Is Best For Activities?
Arguably the most important factor for most people when deciding between two cities is: what do they have to offer? What can you actually do in both of these locations, and what are the very best experiences to have and most impressive landmarks to see?
Well, both Valencia and Seville have plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy for a few days or even a full week.
But there are some notable differences in this area; Seville, for example, has a wealth of grand historic buildings, including everything from Ancient Roman ruins to Moorish palaces, as well as many churches and one of the world’s biggest cathedrals.
In comparison, even though Valencia has quite a sizable historic center, it doesn’t have quite as many breathtaking historic buildings. Instead, the true star of the show in this city is the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences complex, made up of various structures with mind-blowing designs.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main activities and attractions you can enjoy on your visit to either Valencia or Seville.
Valencia: The Activities
As stated above, the biggest highlight of Valencia has to be the City of Arts and Sciences.
Classed among the 12 Treasures of Spain, this extraordinary park has cost close to €1 billion to create and is made up of a selection of fantastical and futuristic buildings, each housing something different.
There’s L’Hemisfèric, for example, which has its own planetarium and enormous IMAX movie theater, as well as L’Umbracle, with its slender arches perched above a garden, filled with local flora and decorated with artistic sculptures.
You’ll also find a massive opera house here, along with the biggest oceanographic aquarium in Europe and a stunning science museum.
The City of Arts and Sciences really steals the spotlight, but it’s not Valencia’s only treasure.
This city also has some beautiful buildings that date back several centuries, like its fabulous cathedral and the famous Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange). The Mercat Central is also worth a visit, and Valencia has many museums focusing on art, history, and more.
Prefer to spend time outside? Valencia has got you covered. It’s one of Spain’s leading beach cities, with the Playa de Las Arenas just a short walk from the city center and several other brilliant beaches right nearby.
This is a big plus point for Valencia, as Seville is situated inland, over an hour from the coast.
Seville: The Activities
Seville’s long history and wide range of impressive buildings provide plenty of scope for sightseeing, and visitors will want to start off in the Barrio de Santa Cruz area.
This winding web of narrow streets takes you right to the historic heart of the city, with several pretty churches and charming plazas to discover along the way.
Visitors to this city won’t want to miss out on a visit to the extraordinary Alcazar Palace – this is one of the best examples of the city’s distinctive Mudejar architectural style, which blends Islamic, Renaissance, and Gothic elements.
The palace also has extensive, picturesque gardens, and it’s been used as a filming location for shows like Game of Thrones.
Other must-see landmarks include the General Archive of the Indies, which is by far one of the most striking buildings in Seville, as well as Seville Cathedral, where Christopher Columbus lies in rest.
There’s also the Giralda bell tower, which was once a minaret, the Torre del Oro watchtower, the Royal Tobacco Factory, and the Palacio de las Duenas.
Seville also has an array of museums, like the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, and you can learn more about Andalusia at the Flamenco Art Museum, Bullfighting Museum, or Andalusian Art Center. Plus.
And while Seville may not have any beaches, it has some fabulous parks and gardens, like Maria Luisa Park and Parque del Alamillo y San Jerónimo.
Overall, it’s clear to see that Valencia has the edge in terms of diversity, providing a nice mix of history, modernity, and all of those lovely beaches to soak up the sun.
However, if history and culture are what you’re looking for, Seville is the place to be, with so many churches, museums, and historic structures to admire.
Which Is Better For Festivals & Live Events?
Both Valencia and Seville are famous for their festivals. These cities really come alive at certain times of the year, with parades, fireworks, music, dancing, and more.
And, if you time your visit just right, you can participate in all of those fun things! But which city is the top spot for fiestas and celebrations?
Well, Valencia’s most famous celebration is the Fallas. This is held every March, involving pyrotechnic displays and the creation of artistic monuments – called Fallas – which decorate the streets, before being burned as the event comes to a close on its final day. This UNESCO-listed event is one of Spain’s best cultural experiences.
This city also has terrific Holy Week – or Semana Santa – celebrations, along with a grand July Fair that lasts the whole month, incorporating fireworks and even a fun ‘Battle of the Flowers’, where people parade through the streets on flower-covered floats before plucking and throwing the flowers into the crowd.
Not to be outdone, Seville also has several famous festivals. The city’s Holy Week is known far and wide as the biggest in all of Spain, with multiple parades and processions passing through the city’s streets, along with traditional music and artistic displays.
For religious people, or simply those with an interest in Spanish culture, it’s a very moving and powerful event.
Given that Seville is the capital of Andalusia, it also hosts major Flamenco dance events, like the Bienal de Flamenco, which is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.
There’s also the April Fair, also known as Seville Fair, which involves colorful outfits, dancing, amusements for children, and parties throughout the day.
In terms of other live events, Valencia has opera, concerts, and sport, with a successful football team. Seville, meanwhile, has the aforementioned Flamenco dances, many live theatrical performances, and not one, but two successful football teams for sports fans to check out.
Overall, both cities are exceptional for live entertainment and festivities.
The Valencia Fallas is undoubtedly one of the best celebrations in the whole of Spain, but many travelers will also fall in love with Seville’s lively Flamenco dances and religious processions.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
Clearly, there’s lots to do during the daytime in both Valencia and Seville, but how about the night?
Well, Valencia has a spectacular nightlife scene, often classed among the best cities in Spain for clubs and bars.
You can take your pick from any of the many nightlife hotspots throughout the Barrio del Carmen, or head down to the sands for wild summer beach parties.
Seville also ranks among Spain’s best nightlife cities, with its own admirable collection of nightclubs and bars. In fact, this city’s nightlife scene is pretty rowdy, with many locals and tourists staying out until 6am in areas like Alfalfa and La Alameda.
There are some intense dance clubs here, and even serious party-lovers might be surprised at how lively Seville can be.
Overall, if you’re looking for a good night out, you won’t be disappointed with either one of these cities.
Seville is a little more hardcore, but Valencia has a fun mix of crazy clubs and more laid-back cocktail lounges.
Which Is Better For Day Trips?
Feel like leaving Seville or Valencia behind for a day and seeing some other parts of Spain during your visit? If so, you have quite a few options to choose from, as both of these cities have good transport links with the surrounding area.
From Valencia, it’s common for travelers to take day trips to the historic hub of Sagunto, where you can tour an enormous, expansive castle.
Castellón de la Plana is another charming city to visit for a day, and the Albufera Natural Park is a dream location for outdoor adventurers – only 10km from the city, this place is home to Spain’s biggest lagoon for boat trips and more.
From Seville, there are so many options! You could try Jerez to taste amazing sherry and visit a Moorish fortress, for example, or tour the breathtaking city of Ronda, set atop a dramatically deep gorge.
Or, if you want to visit a big city and see the beach at the same time, hop on the train to whitewashed Huelva or the sun-drenched summer-loving city of Malaga.
Overall, both cities have super day trip destinations within easy reach, but Seville might just have the edge, thanks to its wider range of big cities, small villages, and natural areas.
Which Is Best For Shopping?
Valencia and Seville are both great shopping cities, with long, pedestrianized thoroughfares, filled with big-brand stores, luxury boutiques, fashion halls, and more.
In Valencia, shopaholics will want to head to the Calle Colon, the city’s primary shopping street – here, you’ll find all the big Spanish and Euro high-street brands.
The city’s Mercat Central is one of the biggest covered markets in all of Europe, while Calle Don Juan is great for high-end fashion and Plaza Redonda is fun for buying gifts and souvenirs
Over in Seville, the Calle Sierpes is the main shopping street, and it’s a top spot for snagging some quirky souvenirs or Spanish fashion.
The Calle Tetuan and Calle Asuncion are also pleasant places to browse major brand stores, while the Calle Feria is best for quirky gifts and unusual finds.
Overall, it’s a close call, but Valencia just about takes the win here, with slightly more exciting markets and a deeper shopping scene overall.
Which Has The Best Food?
No matter whether you pick Valencia or Seville, you’re guaranteed to have some delicious meals, as both of these cities serve up some of the finest Spanish cuisine.
However, there are some interesting regional specialties to try in each location, and you may have a slight preference for one over the other.
Valencia is the home of paella, and it’s one of the best places on the planet to eat this classic rice dish.
It also has a super menu of additional local delicacies, like fideua – similar to paella, but with noodles – and orxata – a sweet milky drink, adored by the locals. You can get some great sweet treats here too, and there are restaurants, cafes, and bakeries for all budgets.
Seville might not have invented anything quite as iconic as paella, but it’s still got a super food scene. It’s got some of the best tapas bars in all of Spain, with local favorites including fried squid and grilled meat.
This city is also terrific for sampling Andalusian specialties, like gazpacho soup and exceptional seafood, along with some of Spain’s finest wines.
Overall, there’s no clear winner here, and it all comes down to personal taste.
If you want to taste the world’s finest paella, head to Valencia. But if you love the Spanish habit of snacking on tapas, choose Seville instead.
Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
If you’re heading to Spain with children, Valencia is one of the best destinations to choose.
Kids will marvel at the astonishing structures of the City of Arts and Sciences, and there are numerous fun things for families to do together, like meeting the animals at the city’s wonderful Bioparc zoo or admiring marine life in the gigantic Oceanografic aquarium.
Valencia’s Science Museum is also super for kids of various ages to learn about the world around them, while little ones will love the fairy-tale style Gulliver Park and active families can spend hours exploring the Turia Gardens or playing games and swimming in the sea at Valencia’s beaches.
Over in Seville, there are lots of fun play areas dotted across the city, and kids can have fun exploring the sci-fi style Setas de Sevilla structures.
Children can also appreciate the historic palaces and towers of Seville, as well as its science museum and aquarium, among a few other attractions.
Overall, even though Seville isn’t a bad choice for a family trip, Valencia is even better.
It has lots of great things to do for kids of any age, including very young ones, and it also has the key advantage of being right by the sea.
Which Is Better For Couples?
For couples, the choice between Valencia and Seville really comes down to personal preference, as both of these cities can work equally well for romantic getaways and city breaks with someone special.
In terms of romance and beauty, Seville is the clear winner. It’s a sublime city, with so many amazing structures and grand buildings that simply make you stop and stare, and it’s the ideal place for long walks, hand-in-hand with your loved one.
It’s also a dream destination for history lovers, with so many museums to explore and landmarks to check off your list.
Then, there’s Valencia. It may not be as flawlessly attractive as Seville, but this city has lots of things to do.
For active and energetic couples, Valencia is a great place to be, and you can fill up your travel itinerary with trips to the City of Arts and Sciences, tours of the Old Town, and visits to the beach.
Again, it’s tricky to decide on a clear victor here. For traditional romance and unique cultural experiences, choose Seville. For a more diverse selection of activities, including beaches, opt for Valencia.
Which Is Better For Backpackers?
Spain is a great place to backpack, and many of its large cities – including Valencia and Seville – are very safe and welcoming places for travelers from all over the world, with plenty of hostels and warm, friendly locals waiting to greet you.
Valencia has a super selection of hostels around its center, and the local public transport is pretty reliable, so you can easily make your way around and see all the sights with minimal fuss.
It’s also got a solid nightlife scene for backpackers who like to party, and quite a lot of free ways to spend your time, like a day at the beach or a walk in Turia Gardens.
In Seville, you’ll also find no shortage of safe, budget-friendly hostels, and this city is a little more compact, with many of the main landmarks, museums, and sightseeing spots all clustered together, so you may not need to use public transport at all.
The tapas scene is also terrific for backpackers, and it’s a great way to meet some locals or mingle with fellow travelers.
Overall, both cities are great for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers, but Seville’s simple layout and plentiful tapas bars give it the edge.
Which Is Cheaper?
Finally, let’s discuss costs, as you might be eager to know which one of these two cities is the cheapest to visit.
Well, the fact of the matter is that average prices for Seville and Valencia are more or less identical.
When we look at typical hotel rates, menu prices in restaurants, public transit costs, and even the prices for tours and activities, the two cities are almost exactly aligned with one another, so you won’t need to worry about spending significantly more if you choose Valencia over Seville, or vice versa.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: The 3-star Soho Valencia is a classy hotel in a fantastic central location. Considering the price, location and modern set-up, this hotel easily has one of the best price-quality ratios in the city. See photos and rates!
Luxury: For a taste of luxury in a quirky hotel full of character, then the five-star MYR Palacio Vallier is a must. The location of this boutique hotel is excellent, the service is superb, and the food is excellent. See photos and rates!
Budget: Set in a 16th century building, Hotel Posada del Lucero is located directly in the city’s old town and despite its very reasonable prices, it comes with gorgeous decor, fantastic service and even an outdoor pool. See photos and rates!
Luxury: With world-class service and a gorgeous outdoor pool, Hotel Alfonso XIII is a luxury stay in one of Spain’s most prestigious hotels. The rooms are photogenic and classy, while the location is perfect. See photos and rates!
Which Has The Best Weather?
As well as all of the gorgeous architecture and tasty food, the wonderful weather of Spain is one of the key reasons why it’s one of Europe’s most-visited countries. But which city gets the best weather, between Valencia and Spain?
Well, since both of these cities are situated in the southern half of the country, it should come as no surprise that they both see a whole lot of sunshine. However, since Seville is significantly further south, it gets the hottest temperatures, by far.
During the peak summer months, temperatures can approach 100°F (38°C) in Seville. In contrast, average summer highs for Valencia are around 86°F (30°C). So, as we can see, there’s a pretty big difference!
Seville has even been nicknamed the ‘Frying Pan of Europe’, due to its almost overwhelming heat, and some travelers may simply want to avoid the summer months entirely! Valencia, meanwhile, is more bearable.
Winter temperatures are quite similar for both of these cities, but Seville gets more heat in spring and fall.
So, if you want to avoid the summer crowds but still enjoy warm temperatures, Seville is the place to be.
Valencia vs Seville: Which Is The Better Choice?
Before we announce our grand winner of this comparison, it’s important to state that both of these cities are 100% worth visiting.
They’re wonderful places where you can see, taste, and experience some of the very best things that Spain has to offer.
With that said, Valencia is probably the better choice for most travelers for two main reasons. Firstly, it has a wider range of activities to please people with different tastes.
Secondly, it’s on the coast, so you can simply walk to the beach and stretch out on the sand whenever you feel like it, which is such a big advantage, especially with Spain’s sunny, warm weather.
Nevertheless, Seville is still a fantastic city. It’s more scenic than Valencia, with a distinctly romantic vibe in the air, making it an idyllic destination for couples.
Seville also has countless historic landmarks to check out, along with all of those awesome Andalusian customs and traditions.