Taxi Travel Highlight: Spain

I never did any research. This was a big mistake. It would have been nice to know Seville is Spain’s hottest city, as I showed up wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans. Maybe I could have mastered a few phrase words, so taxis couldn’t feign ignorance when asking for twice as much a normal fare. I could have at least had the address of my host family in my pocket upon arrival, just in case. Nope.

The first time I ever left the county, I was completely unprepared. Not only did I have no clue about the geography, climate or culture of Spain, but I had no idea how to navigate a foreign city. People moved, and they moved fast. I chose a taxi at the airport after my hosts missed my pickup time and was immediately thrown into a sea of chaos. I didn’t even have the address of where I needed to go, so I asked about the ‘la universidad’ hoping that would point me in the right direction.

Luckily, the driver was so kind. He coached me through a butchered Spanish phrases I was suing and took time to point out a few landmarks so I could start to get my bearings. After gifting me a small sweet and a smile, I got out of the taxi and was thrilled my first local interaction was so positive in the sunny city of Seville.

How Seville Gets Around

In a place boasting glorious weather year-round, it’s simple to stroll from café to café without a second thought. Much of life is spent outside sipping coffee or beer, often in large, multi-generational groups. Walking is preferred, but such a large city also needs an extensive transportation system, full of trolleys, buses, taxis and personal vehicles running at all hours of the day. Driving cars is done with a passion like most things in Spain – with lots of loud shouting and arm waving. I watched a duo after a fender-bender take 30 minutes to sort it out with glorious Spanish swearing and lots of cursing the sky. It was like a dance, and both parted ways with a final clap and exasperated yell.

Similar to Asia, the moped culture in Southern Spain takes up much of the road too. Not to mention, many of these roadways are ancient, covered in cobblestones and narrow – making for very risky travel. That doesn’t stop helmeted daredevils to swing their legs over one side of the bike, narrowly missing a wayward pole or open car door by inches.

As an outsider, I stuck to the trusty bus system and cabs for a safer route.

Other Ways to Move About

Seville has now added a short tram through the city center, but it’s well worth hailing a taxi to find the hidden gems along windy streets. Even if they can’t get you to the front door of a hidden flamenco club, they’ll certainly point you in the right direction. One time my driver parked in front of a stone road, got out of his car and physically walked me to my destination.

Taxis are much more affordable in Seville compared to Barcelona or Madrid. A few Euros should easily get you or your group around town.

Tips for Spanish Taxis

As in any city, sticking with marked cabs is best. This helps curb any suspicions about missing meters and can ensure safety as well. I had a few of the top cab companies programmed into my phone in case I needed an emergency ride, or left something behind in a car.

There is often a fixed rate from the airport, so do your research ahead of time to avoid a scam. Taxis run all night, but having one on call after an evening of clubbing into the wee hours of dawn is helpful. I stayed loyal to some drivers for weeks because of their reliability. Some would even recommend where to go, which was a great, local way to get an insider scoop.

Seville is a busy city, but still has that cozy feel that is lacking in the giant urban sprawls up north. There was nothing like rolling down the window of a fast moving taxi and watching the colorful Spanish architecture and Quadalquivir River fly by.