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There are two distinct independent companies that conduct tours of Seville, each with a recorded commentary about the sights you're passing, and each with a choice of at least six different languages, including English. We don't consider participation in one of these tours essential, but they will give you an overview of the town -- especially the monuments around its historic medieval core -- that would be hard to cover completely on your own. You'll see sights you might have otherwise overlooked, including the district associated with the 1929 World Exposition, the banks of the Guadalquivir, the inner avenues of the 1992 Expo, and the graceful symmetry of the Plaza de España. Tip: The upper deck of each of the buses offers unobstructed views, but if you plan this during the heat of midday, consider bringing a sun hat and sunglasses.

A local outfit that handles only the briefest of bus tours is Sevilla Tours, Torre del Oro (tel. 95-450-20-99; www.sevillatour.com). Tours of Seville depart every 20 minutes, year-round, beginning at 10am, with the last departure scheduled for 10pm. The commentary is jaded and a bit blasé, and the overview is fairly superficial, but the cost of 16€ ($26) for adults and 6€ ($9.60) for children ages 5 to 15 is reasonable (free for children 4 and under). You do not disembark the bus during this hour-long tour, and reservations aren't necessary. Departures are from Torre del Oro, Plaza de España, Isla Mágica, and la Cartuga.

Sevilla Tours also offers a daily bus excursion and tour of Cádiz, departing from in front of the Torre del Oro at 10:50am, returning to Seville at 7pm. The cost is 12€ ($19) for adults, 5€ ($8) for children ages 5 to 13. The tour includes enough free time to enjoy walking around Cádiz.

More appealing are the 4-hour city tours of Seville conducted twice daily by Visitours, Calle Torricelli 32, Isla de la Cartuja (tel. 95-446-09-85). Morning and afternoon tours, lasting 3 1/2 hours, leave daily at 9 and 9:30am, 3:45, 4, 4:30, 8, and 8:30pm, and cost about 35€ ($56) each. Morning tours include a visit to the cathedral, Alcázar, and the Santa Cruz district, whereas the afternoon tour is a boat trip around the city and a visit to one museum.

Andalusian Excursions

In addition to being loaded with monuments of consuming historical and cultural interest, Seville is a good base for exploring Andalusia. Some of the best guided tours in Andalusia are offered by Visitours, Calle Torricelli 32, Isla de la Cartuja (tel. 95-446-09-85; www.visitours.es). These experienced travel professionals are well versed in the charm and lore of the region, and their buses, which hold between 8 and 48 passengers, always have the option of picking up and dropping off clients at their hotels. Reservations a day in advance are strongly recommended. Two of the company's most popular tours depart daily. A tour of Granada leaves Seville at 7am, explores all that city's major monuments and neighborhoods, and returns to Seville around 7pm. The price is 115€ ($184). A tour of Córdoba departs Seville between 8 and 9am, returns around 7pm, and costs 85€ ($136) per person.

Two other worthy tours depart 3 or 4 days a week, depending on the season. A visit to Jerez de la Frontera and Cádiz includes a visit to the riding school at Jerez, a tour of one of the city's most interesting wine bodegas, lunch in an Andalusian village (Puerto de Santa María), and a boat ride that begins on the Guadalete River and ends in Cádiz's Atlantic harbor. The tour, departing around 9am and returning around 6:30pm, costs 92€ ($147) per person. If at all possible, try to schedule your participation for a Tuesday or Thursday (or June to July for Thurs or Sat), as participants attend a riding exhibition in Jerez that's conducted only on those days.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.