the best things to do in cordoba spain

The Best Things to do in Cordoba, Spain

The Andalusian region has no shortage of stunning cities to visit and today it’s the turn of Cordoba, which most people visit on a day trip from neighboring Granada or Seville.  They do this to see the top thing to see in Cordoba – the Mosque-Cathedral.  And that is the first thing that you should head for when you visit Cordoba, but the city also has a host of fabulous places to visit, things to do, and some incredible food and drink to explore too.  From the Jewish Quarter to the 856 arches of the Mezquita (Mosque) to the Roman Bridge, Cordoba has charm, great food, and incredible history, so here are the best things to do in Cordoba.

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You’ll want to plan your time in Cordoba carefully for two reasons.  In Cordoba, there are free entry times available to some of Cordoba’s attractions, and as the city is a magnet for day trippers, it means that the main sites of Cordoba are particularly busy while those trips are in town.  So if you can, try and plan to visit outside of day trip times.

Where to Stay in Cordoba

There are some fabulous places to stay in Cordoba, and with the old town about a 15-minute walk or a short taxi journey from the bus and train station, it’s best to stay as close to the attractions as you can, to make sure that you’re maximizing your time in Cordoba.  Here are my picks of the best places to stay in Cordoba.

The Patios de Orfebre is a charming small hotel built around a traditional Cordoban patio.  Rooms are small but perfectly formed here, and it’s in a super location for exploring Cordoba.  There are comfortable beds and the ancient building has been treated sympathetically.  Perfect for a budget stay in Cordoba.  Check rates and availability here.

Located just 250 meters from Cordoba’s Mezquita, the Casas de la Juderia is in a great location for exploring the old town.  The hotel comprises 17th and 18th-century houses and also includes an outdoor pool.  It’s a perfect peaceful oasis in the center of the city.  You can check availability and see other reviews here.

The Hospes Palacio del Bailio is a 16th-century palace in the heart of Cordoba.  And this is the epitome of luxury in Cordoba.  There’s an outdoor pool, flower gardens, and a sun terrace complete with orange trees.  If you want to truly experience this city, this is a glorious place to be based.  Rooms here are elegant, extremely well-appointed, and luxurious.  Check rates and availability here.

The Best Things to do in Cordoba

There’s a logical sequence to visiting Cordoba’s main attractions.  Start with either a visit to the Mosque-Cathedral or a free walking tour (depending on the start times), which means that you’ll cover the top thing to do in Cordoba and the best way of getting your bearings.  Then head through the old town, the Jewish Quarter, and out to the Palacio de Viana.  You can then cross the River Guadalquivir on the Puente de Miraflores bridge, walk along the river bank, explore the Tower of Calahorra and walk about the 1st century Roman Bridge and re-enter the city the same way that conquering armies did centuries ago.  Then head to the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs.  Don’t forget to stop for food, and I’ll cover some great Cordoba specialties and where (and when) to get them, but for now, let’s get started with the top thing to see in Cordoba.

Visit the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba

The photos that you’ll see online of Cordoba’s Mezquita don’t prepare you for how stunning this building is.  It is absolutely magnificent.  The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is also known as the Mezquita and is the number one attraction in Cordoba.

The Mezquita dates from 785 AD when Cordoba became the capital of Al-Andalus.  At this time this was the golden age of Cordoba, when the city was the leading in Europe for science and culture under the leader Emir Abd-ar-Rahman. However, some of the double arches that you’ll see here are made from materials that came from a Roman basilica that previously stood here – it’s been extended some four times during its history though.  When the Catholic Monarchs retook the city and the region in 1236 they built first a church in the center, then a series of chapels (you’ll see them around the outside of the prayer hall, and then finally a Renaissance-style cathedral in the center of the mosque in 1523.

things to do in cordoba spain mezquita cathedral

It’s hard to put into words how truly glorious this place is.  So let’s start with practicalities.  You can visit the Mosque Cathedral in Cordoba for free – there are details below.

If you can’t get to the cathedral at this time, then you MUST book ahead of time. The lines are super long.

Skip the line tickets for Cordoba Mosque Cathedral are here.

Visit the Cordoba Mezquita for Free

You can enter the Mezquita free from 8:30 am, Monday to Saturday inclusive.  Get there on time, as this entry time is for one hour only and at around 9:20 am the guards will be hustling you to get out.  You won’t be able to enter the Cathedral in the center during this timeframe as it’s being prepared for Mass. 

things to do in cordoba spain mosque cathedral

If you can’t visit this time (and it does tend to be a little busy), then you can pre-book tickets for Cordoba’s Mezquita here.  If you are flexible on time, then your best time option is later in the afternoon – you’ll want to allow at least 90 minutes, but the bonus of paying for a ticket is that you can spend as long as you want inside – so go ahead and reserve your spot here. – after the day trips from Granada and Seville have departed.

If you get the option to visit the Mezquita at night just do it.– see if the dates fit your travel times here.

Entrance to the Cordoba Mezquita

You enter the Mezquita through two wonders in their own right, the Puerta del Perdon (the gateway) and then the Patio de Los Naranjos – the Courtyard of Orange Trees.  This, when the Mezquita was a Mosque was where the Muslims undertook their ablutions before prayers and the layout is pretty much the same as it was then.  There are fountains and 98 orange trees, the blooming of which makes Cordoba a particularly lovely place to visit in spring.  There are palm trees and cypresses here too.  As you walk through the courtyard there are arcaded galleries with some small displays and ceilings worthy of mention (but we’ll come back to them as you want to get directly to the main attraction). 

things to do in cordoba spain the bell tower of the cathedral

Free Audio Guide to the Cordoba Mezquita

There are guided tours available to the Mezquita (there’s a lot to see here, so I do advise pre-planning your trip with some kind of information) – if you’re looking for a Mezquita guided tour, then this is a great option.  Otherwise, this guidebook is super informative.  Or there’s also a free audio tour – you can use this link to download it – or you can access it via QR code and your mobile as you enter (there are various signposts around the building with this QR code).  The audio guide points you to certain points in the building and explains a few details, although, to be fair, it’s often hard to figure out exactly what point they’re talking about!

What to see in the Cordoba Mezquita

You’ll enter the first part of the building, the prayer hall through the Mudéjar-style Puerta de las Palmas and this is where you’ll see what seems like an endless forest of red and white horseshoe arches.  If like us, you’ve entered during the free access you’ll immediately panic and worry that an hour isn’t long enough to visit.  (don’t worry, it almost is, but DO get there immediately on opening time – and DO download the audio guide – there is a QR code at several locations inside the cathedral.

things to do in cordoba spain mezquita cathedral (2)

There’s also a visitor guide, that’s worth downloading – you can get that here.

It’s best to explore in an anti-clockwise direction (this is the route that the audio guide takes you), and as you walk towards the red and white arches, you’ll find a series of chapels lining the edges of the prayer hall.  Here’s what else to look out for in the Mezquita of Cordoba.

  • 856 columns of marble, jasper, granite, and onyx in the prayer hall forming double arches
  • The gilded Mihrab with glorious calligraphy – this is a stunning work of Islamic décor.  It’s made from a single block of marble and is covered with verses from the Koran and patterns.  It marks the direction of Mecca.
  • The Mezquita bell tower with views over the city.  If it’s not open, then there’s a great view of it from the Patio de Los Naranjos
  • The Gothic choir of the sanctuary of the cathedral
things to do in cordoba spain mosque cathedral (2)

I really do recommend that you download the brochure first, and listen to the audio guide as you go around.  If you’re not able to visit during the free entrance time, then you’re best reserving a ticket ahead of time – skip-the-line tickets really are worth it here.

  • Address of the Mezquita Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba: C. Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
  • Opening Hours of the Mezquita Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba: Times differ but usually From 08:30 to 11:30 and from 15:00 to 18:00 – check times for the specific areas here
  • Entry Fees for the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba: Free (08:30 am to 09:30 am Monday to Saturday ) or 11 € for adults.  Night visits cost 19 €.  Tickets for the bell tower are an additional 2 €

Take a free walking tour of Cordoba

One of the best ways to explore a new city is to take a walking tour – and they’re even better if they’re free (simply tip your guide the appropriate amount of money).  Cordoba is no exception, and this free Cordoba walking tour will take you through the city’s winding streets and alleyways for two hours of exploration.  You’ll get to see the highlights of the city which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.  Starting at the Plaza de la Tendillas and seeing the major sites such as the Roman Bridge, the Alcazar of the Christian Kings, the Synagogue, the Souk, and the famous Mosque-Cathedral, you’ll learn about this Spanish city of courtyards and get tips on where to eat (and what) and find out some of the myths and legends of Cordoba.  This tour of Cordoba is free, but you do need to pre-book a place.  Book your spot here.

Take a Free 3 Cultures of Cordoba Tour

The history of Cordoba is indelibly linked to three different cultures and religions – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish and exploring the city through them is a unique and educational experience.  In this free walking tour, you’ll get to see the major landmarks associated with each and explore the cultural differences too.  You’ll get to explore a church that was built on the ancient Roman circus of Cordoba and learn more about Roman Cordoba, before understanding how the city flourished during the time of al-Andalus.  Then the tour explores the Christian heritage of the city and you’ll learn more about Cordoba’s famous Mosque-Cathedral before learning about the Jewish community and the Hebrew legacy in Cordoba.  This is a free tour of Cordoba (your guide receives remuneration through your tips), but you do have to reserve a place and you can do that here.

Explore la Juderia in Cordoba aka the Jewish Quarter

Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter (Juderia in Spanish) is the home of one of Spain’s oldest remaining functioning synagogues and the Synagogue of Cordoba dates from 1315.   You’ll find it in Calle de Los Judios.  Close by, on the Plaza de Tiberiades, you can find the shiny-footed statue of Maimonides – it’s considered lucky to rub the feet of this sculpture of the 12th-century astronomer and philosopher.

On our recent trip to Cordoba, we stayed in an apartment mid-way from the train station to the old center, and so were lucky enough, each day to walk through the ancient Almodovar Gate (La Puerta de Almodovar) each time we entered the old city and Jewish Quarter.  The Almodovar Gate is the best preserved in the city, dates to the 14th century, and is a main entrance to La Juderia.  The statue featured on it is the Cordoban-born statesman and philosopher Seneca who became Roman Emperor Nero’s advisor.

This fabulous small group tour of the Cordoba Jewish Quarter also takes you into the Royal Alcazar and its great value for money – just look at some of the other reviews!

The Jewish quarter of Cordoba is a maze of tiny winding alleyways that will trick your GPS into thinking you’re somewhere else and that’s half the fun of coming here, to get lost in this area.  It’s very picturesque, with a profusion of brightly painted doors, tiles, and flowering plant pots.  Look out for the Calleja de las Flores, a particularly pretty narrow street named for its flowers, and also Calleja Pañuelo (the little street of the handkerchief).  It’s the narrowest in Cordoba, named for being the width of a lady’s handkerchief at its thinnest point.

Stop by the Cordoba Roman Temple

Not discovered until the 1950s when the City Hall was being expanded, Cordoba’s Roman Temple is found in a site just off Calle Capitulares.  The Roman Temple of Cordoba was begun in the first century AD, during the reign of Emperor Claudius.  It’s not possible to visit the Roman Temple, but you can see the Corinthian-style columns from the street, the mosaics that were discovered here are on display at the Cordoba Alcazar.  There are other items from the Roman temple held in the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Córdoba.

things to do in cordoba spain the roman temple

During the 1st Century B.C. Cordoba had become the capital of the Roman Colony of Baetica and the construction of this temple celebrated this.  It took around 40 years to build.  You can learn more about Cordoba during the Roman Times in this free walking tour of Cordoba which explores the three cultures of Cordoba.  The tour is free (tip your guide appropriately) but you’ll need to reserve a spot.

  • Address of the Roman Temple of Cordoba: Calle Capitulares, 1, 14002 Córdoba

Visit the Palacio de los Marqueses de Viana

The 14th-century Palacio de Los Marquese de Viana, more commonly Palacio de Viana is a glorious palace with 12 stunning patio gardens.  The palace is set up as a museum in which you can see what the lives of 14th-century Spanish nobility were like, but it’s the patios here that you really want to see.  They’re open throughout the year and it’s here that you can see the oldest communal courtyard in Cordoba, the Patio de Los Gatos (it was shared between neighboring houses during Medieval times), and where during Spring and certain other festivals in Cordoba you can see specific displays (check the Palacio de Viana website for details of these).

You can pick up tickets for the Palacio de Viana here.

  • Address of the Palacio de Viana, Cordoba: Don Gomé Square, 2, Cordoba
  • Opening Hours of the Palacio de Viana, Cordoba:  Closed Mondays.  Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 7 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 3 pm.
  • Entry Fees for the Palacio de Viana, Cordoba: Free (some afternoons in summer ) or €7  courtyards only  / 11 € to see the palace too
– see if the dates fit your travel times here.

If you’re on foot, then it makes sense (to me) to head towards the river at this point.  You can walk from the Palacio de Viana easily to the river and cross on the new bridge, the Puente de Miraflores, and then the short distance along the riverbank (to your right) towards the Calahorra Tower.

Plaza de la Corredera

This classic Castillian-style plaza was built in the 1600s – this vast open plaza is surrounded by four storied buildings, with pavement cafes and arcades to escape the sun.  It was designed by the architect Antonio Ramós Valdés and measures an enormous 55 meters by 113 meters.  Years ago it was here that the Cordoba bullfights were held here.  You’ll find one of Cordoba’s food markets here today – you can visit the market on this small group tour, which focuses on the incredible breakfasts and olive oils that you can get here in Cordoba.  Traditional breakfast here in Cordoba is called “Desayuno Molinero” and combines homemade bread, olives, olive oil, tea or coffee, and a glass of Pedro Ximénez wine.  If that tickles your tastebuds, then you can sign up for it here.

things to do in cordoba spain plaza de la corredera

Get a view of Cordoba from the Torre de la Calahorra (Calahorra Tower)

This tower almost directly at the end of the Roman Bridge of Cordoba dates from the 12th or early 13th century and was built by the Moorish Almohad Caliphate to protect the southern end of the bridge.  It did a good job, and created problems for Fernando III, the Catholic King, trying to enter the city during the Christian Reconquest of Cordoba.  The design of the tower today dates from the addition of a third tower and reinforcements made during the reign of Henry II of Castile in the 14th century, these reinforcements helped keep Peter the Cruel (Henry’s brother) out of the city in 1369.  Since then the tower has undergone several changes of use. Today the Calahorra Tower is a National Monument.  It’s been a prison, a girl’s school, and now houses the Museum of Life in Andalusia – Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus, which explores all the elements that create the Andalusian identity.  You’ll find exhibits about how multiple religious communities, Jews, Christians, and Muslims co-existed within Cordoba.

There are models of the city – which is an excellent way to see how it all fits together and there are superb views of the river, the Mezquita, and the city of Cordoba.  The models of both the Mezquita and the Alhambra in Granada (which I wrote about here) are excellent.

  • Address of the Calahorra Tower, Cordoba: Puente Romano, 14009 Córdoba
  • Opening Hours of the Calahorra Tower, Cordoba: Everyday 10 am until 6 pm (October to end April), 10 am – 2 pm, and 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm from May 1st, confirm times here.
  • Entry Fees for the Calahorra Tower, Cordoba: €4.50

Walk over the Roman Bridge of Cordoba

Cordoba’s Roman Bridge originally dated from the 1st century BC, having been built after the victory of Caesar over Pompey the Great, and likely was part of one of the longest roads the Romans built in Spain – the ancient Via Augusta, which connected Rome to Cadiz.  The bridge was reconstructed in the 8th century by the Moors and today it still crosses the Guadalquivir River The Roman Bridge of Cordoba is also known as the San Rafael Roman Bridge – San Rafael (Saint Rafael) is the patron saint of Cordoba and there’s a statue of St. Raphael in the middle of the bridge, a common place for prayers to be said.  You may have seen this popular arched bridge, it stars as the Long Bridge of Volantis in the fifth season of Game of Thrones.

things to do in cordoba spain roman bridge

For many centuries this was the main access to Cordoba and the only bridge over the Guadalquivir into the city.  Downriver you’ll see the new bridge, the Puente de Miraflores, built in 2003.  Upriver, of the Roman Bridge there is a nature conservation area, the Sotoa de la Albolafia where you can often spot grey herons, cormorants, and, if you’re quick, kingfishers.  Also hidden in the undergrowth on the city side of the bridge are the Albolafia Water Mill waterwheels, which date from the times of Abd al-Rahman II

things to do in cordoba spain the waterwheels

The light at sunset at the Roman Bridge is perfect for photos (but you’ll be competing with the crowds).

  • Address of the Roman Bridge of Cordoba: Avenieda del Alcázar, 14003 Córdoba, Spain

Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge)

Facing you after the Roman Bridge is a 16th-century renaissance style gate – known as the gate of the bridge – Puerta del Puente.  The gate was originally part of the Cordoba city walls and it has been rebuilt over the years.

Visit the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba

The building of the Alcazar of the Christian Kings of Cordoba, aka the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, was commissioned by King Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328 and it covers more than 55,000m².  This fortified palace is most well known as the main home of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon.  Today the Cordoba Alcazar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you’ve already visited the Alcazar of Seville (more here) then you should be aware ahead of time that there’s primarily just the main structure remaining and a few artifacts and mosaics inside.  The courtyard and gardens (under renovation when we visited) retain some of the magnificence of what they must have been like.  The gardens are on 3 levels and are well worth a wander, there are beds of roses, and herbs flanked by orange trees, cypress trees, and statues.  One particular statue stands out, that of Christopher Columbus meeting Isabella and Ferdinand, here to commemorate a meeting in 1486, as Columbus was here seeking funding, 6 years before he set out on his famous voyage to discover the New World.  Columbus left from Puerta Santa Maria- near Cadiz (it’s included in our guide to Cadiz here), but had also met the Monarchs previously in Segovia.

There’s more information on the website of the Alcazar (it’s here), and if you hit the “listen” button you’ll be able to hear an audio recording of the information too.  However, the signage inside the Alcazar is poor, even if the Roman motifs, frescoes, and mosaics are impressive.  If the tower is open (it wasn’t when we visited), then you can get good views of the city of Cordoba and the palace gardens.

Want to know more? And guarantee your visit (tickets do sell out) – this guided tour will take your around the Alcazar and the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba.

You can buy tickets for the Cordoba Alcazar at the door – but this is a timed visit and tickets do sell out.  There are ticket offices at the main gate and also in the small park (noted on our map).  As well as the ticket office there are two automated machines too.  You can save time and buy ahead of time here.

things to do in cordoba spain the alcazar

There’s a semi-one-way route in operation (so you don’t exit the same place that you enter the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos) and to save you from the same mistake we made, when getting to the entrance of the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos set Google Maps to go to the Torre del Homenaje, it’s one of the Palace Towers, otherwise, you’ll end up at the exit!

  • Address of the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba: Torre del Homenaje (for entrance via Google Maps)
  • Opening Hours of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba: Closed Monday. Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am to 2:45 pm.
  • Entry Fees for the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba: €4.90

Decide if you want to visit the Baños del Alcázar Califal

While most of the traditional Moorish hammams were destroyed following the return of the Catholic Monarchs, some, like El Bañuelo in Granada were saved and have been restored, and they are worth a visit.  The Baños Arabes here in Cordoba doesn’t have the same mystique.  It’ll cost you 3 euros to visit and there’s not much to see here.  You can check out more reviews of them here, but I do advise you to save your money (see the ones in Granada if you’re visiting), and if you want to experience what a Moorish hammam is like, then keep reading.

  • Address of the Baños del Alcázar Califal, Cordoba: Pl. Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain
  • Opening Hours of the Baños del Alcázar Califal, Cordoba:8:15 am – 8 pm – closes at 2:45 pm on Sundays
  • Entry Fees for the Baños del Alcázar Califal, Cordoba: 3 euros

Experience a Hamman al Andalus in Cordoba

If the original Baños Arabes in Cordoba are now a big disappointment, then you can make up for it by having your own (much better) hammam experience.  Following the return of the Christian Monarchs to Spain many of the original Moorish bathing houses, the hammams, were demolished on their orders.  (El Banuelo in Granada is an exception and I wrote about that here), but you can experience a complete Andalusian Hammam experience in Cordoba at the Hammam al Andalus, which was built here in 2001 in a traditional style, complete with tiles and horseshoe arches.

There’s Arab Andalusian music, scented rooms, and the full hammam experience and you’ll get to understand how Moorish bathing houses used to operate.  The Cordoba Hammam al Andalus experience lets you move between the 3 different arab baths – from the cold at 18ºC (65ºF) to the lukewarm at 36ºC (96ºF), and the hot at 40ºC (104ºF).  When you’re done dipping you can head to the steam bath and relax in the aromatic airs.  At the end, you’ll relax in the restroom, and sip mint tea amongst the comfortable cushions.  Your Cordoba Hammam experience can include

  • Hammam and relaxing 15 or 30-minute essential oils massage
  • Hammam and a 15-minute skin cleansing, treatment with a cotton fiber glove (Kessa), and a natural red grape soap that becomes creamy when it is applied on the skin and with traditional Hammam hot stones.  Once you are thoroughly clean (and I’ve never felt so clean ever!) You have a relaxing 15-minute or 30-minute massage.

This is a fabulous way to experience the traditions of a hammam and must be reserved in advance – you can check the latest prices and availability here.

Explore the Courtyards of Cordoba

The city of Cordoba is famous for its courtyards – stunning whitewashed patios stuffed with colorful flowering plant pots.  The best time to see the Patios of Cordoba is in spring, particularly during the Fiesta de Los Patios de Cordoba, which takes place in the first week of May each year. 

These large interior patios have provided shade in Cordoba’s hot sun for centuries.  While normally a small selection of these privately owned patios open their doors to visitors (and the owners will give you a guided tour), it’s during the Patio Festival that more than 50 patios open, all competing to be the best in the city.  There’s more on Cordoba’s Patios and the Fiesta de Los Patios here.

patios of cordoba
Patios of Cordoba

Hop on Hop off Bus tour of Cordoba

Cordoba is an easily walkable city, but you can combine making it easier with a couple of tours thrown in.  The Cordoba Hop on Hop off bus has two different routes with 27 stops at the main attractions of the city, including the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, the Mosque-Cathedral, the Viana Palace, and the Roman Bridge.  The tickets, valid for 24 consecutive hours, also include an audio tour on the bus and as an added bonus, they include a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter – perfect for exploring!  The walking tour of the Jewish Quarter takes place at 6 pm – you can book your tickets for the hop on hop off bus in Cordoba here.

Experience an Andalusian Horse Equestrian Show in Cordoba

It is here in Cordoba that the Andalusian horse was first bred from Arab horses, at the behest of Felipe II, to create the Pure Spanish Thoroughbred, and since 1570 there have been Royal Stables here in Cordoba.  The building, close to the Royal Alcazar, is the stunning setting for the Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse Equestrian Show.  You can visit the stables and attend the Cordoba Andalusian Equestrian Show every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is in Jerez de la Frontera (there’s more about it, in our guide here), but if you’re not getting that far, then this is a great opportunity to see these beautiful animals.  Tickets start at around 15 euros and you can check availability and the latest prices here.

Find the Calleja del Salmorejo

Wandering the old town of Cordoba really is one of the best things to do here, finding a quiet corner, a small alleyway, and yet more patios.  And there are some glorious hidden corners here.  Even the ones that the municipality wants you to find, but some forgot to tell you about!

One of those is the Calleja del Salmorejo.  Salmorejo is one of the things to eat here in Cordoba.  All through Andalusia you’ll see Cordoban Salmorejo on tapas menus, so, for us, it made sense to come to the home of Salmorejo to try it.  And it’s here hidden in the old town that you’ll find the official recipe for this glorious cold soup.  Printed on a tile in a small alleyway.  Courtesy of the municipality of Cordoba.

We’ve marked on our map of things to do in Cordoba where you can find it – it’s in the Calleja del Salmorejo, near the Taberna Restaurante La Fragua

And that brings us nicely to what you should eat and drink in Cordoba because, like the other towns and cities of Andalusia, there are some key culinary reasons to travel here.  Here are the food and drink specialties of Cordoba.

What to Eat in Cordoba

The food of Andalusia is fabulous.  If I could only eat food from one region for the rest of my life it would be here.  And even within the different towns and cities of Andalusia there are regional specialties, Cordoda is no different and has some fabulous things to eat and drink.  Here’s what to eat in Cordoba and some favorite places to try it

Eat Salmorejo in Cordoba

Let’s cut right to the chase.  If you come to Cordoba and don’t try Cordoban Salmorejo, then you’re seriously missing out.  This gloriously thick and cream-chilled tomato soup is the richer auntie of gazpacho.  Skinned tomatoes are combined with bread, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt.  It’s served chilled with crumbled hard-boiled egg and small pieces of Iberico ham.  Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil to serve.  It is fabulous.

For a slight twist on this try tortilla de patatas con salmorejo (Spanish omelet with a drizzle of Salmorejo)

Map of Things to do in Cordoba

You can also see the Cordoba things to do map here.

map of things to do in cordoba

How Many Days to Spend in Cordoba

Many visitors to Cordoba come on a day trip from Granada or Seville, and you can squeeze a lot into a single day in the city, but it really is truly lovely to wander around the streets of the old Jewish Quarter after the day trippers have left.  We spent three days here in Cordoba and explored leisurely.

Day Trips from Cordoba

If you’re planning a stay in Cordoba, then there are a couple of places that make sense to visit on day trips from here that I’ve detailed below.  For our guides on the other Andalusian cities (which definitely deserve more than a day trip), then you can find them here

Parque Natural de las Sierras Subbéticas

It will only take you an hour to get from Cordoba to the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park ad these jagged limestone mountains are well worth the trip.  There’s a combination of woodlands, with oak, poplar, and elm as well as rugged mountains which host a huge number of bird species in the area.   You’ll find vultures, peregrine falcons, storks, and eagles living here.  As well as the natural park there are small whitewashed hilltop towns here – the pueblos blancos are a lovely place to head to for lunch.  There’s more information on the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park here.

If you need to rent a car in Spain, we recommend Discover Cars for car hire.  You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, it’s the perfect choice! Get a price for a rental car in Spain here.

Visit Medina Azahara on a day trip from Cordoba

Located just five miles (8 kilometers) from Cordoba is the UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Medina Azahara (Madinat al-Zahra).  The city, to the west of Cordoba, was built by Abd-ar-Rahman III, the caliph of the Umayyad dynasty back in the 10th century, and named after his favorite wife, Azahara.  It was, at the time, something of a vanity project.  Azahara was designed to be the capital of the Caliphate, and, after taking 25 years to be constructed only remained for 65 years.  The palace was destroyed in 1010 by the Almoravids and then largely ignored until 1911 when it was rediscovered.  The easiest way to visit Medina Azahara is here.

The site has been really well restored – and while it’s nowhere near what it once was (the original palace was designed for 30,000 people!) you can now see carvings and the typical horseshoe-shaped arches, a mosque, gardens, hammams, and the hall where the Caliph received his servants and visiting politicos.  The museum here displays the elements that have been discovered and explains the history that you can find here.

To get to Medina Azahara from Cordoba you can easily drive, but you’ll need to park in the Museum car park and then take the shuttle bus from there to the archaeological site, it runs every 20 minutes and will cost you 3 euros.  You’ll need to purchase your ticket for the ruins entrance in the museum before departing.

You can also pick up a bus and shuttle from Cordoba, organized by the Cordoba Tourism Office.  Advance purchase tickets are required and there’s no guide provided.  Tickets cost 10 euros.  Deparutres are Saturday and Sunday at 10 am and 11 am.  Tuesday to Saturday at 11 am and 4:30 pm during the summer. Return buses depart Medina Azahara Museum 2.5 hours later.  Book your bus to Medina Azahara with Cordoba Tourism here.  These buses leave from Avenida Alcazar (the entrance to the Alzacar).  You MUST make a reservation the previous day to get this bus.

Alternatively, take a small group tour with an English-speaking guide to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site.  These tours include roundtrip transport from Cordoba, access to the ruins and the museum as well as the shuttle bus and an English-speaking guide too.  You can book a Medina Azahara tour from Cordoba here.

How to Get to Cordoba

Cordoba is well connected by high-speed trains and there’s also a great bus connection too.  If you’re flying in, then your closest international airport to Cordoba is Malaga, Granada, or Seville. We arrived in Cordoba on the train from Granada and headed out on the bus to Seville (as we wanted to arrive right in the center of Seville). Here are the options for how to get to Cordoba.

Getting to Cordoba by Air

Although the chances are you’ll be visiting Cordoba by way of one of the other cities in Spain, here’s how to get to Cordoba by plane.

Seville Airport to Cordoba

Fly to Seville (SVQ), which is 133 kilometers (83 miles) from Cordoba.  You can get from Seville Airport to Cordoba by taking a bus from the airport to Santa Justa station at Seville, then taking either the train or the bus.  You can check and book your transport to Cordoba from Seville here.

Granada Airport to Cordoba

Fly to Granada – Federico Garcia Lorca Airport (GRX), which is 117 kilometers (72 miles) from Cordoba.  From GRX to Cordoba you can either take a direct bus (it’s around 4 hours), or you can take a direct train to Cordoba from Granada Airport, which takes 2.75 hours.  You can check the times, and prices of transport from Granada Airport to Cordoba here.

Malaga Airport to Cordoba

Fly to Malaga (AGP), which is 136 kilometers (85 miles) from Cordoba.  From AGP to Cordoba you can take a direct train to Cordoba, which takes 2 and a quarter hours, or the bus is about 3.5 hours.  Check the timetables and prices to get from Malaga Airport to Cordoba here.

How to get to Cordoba by bus

The bus station in Cordoba is right next to the Cordoba train station, so if you’re using public transport, it’s a great option.  There are some excellent bus connections to Cordoba, which offer an alternative to the train times.  The train from Seville to Cordoba for instance takes 2 hours compared to a 45-minute train journey reserve and pay for tickets here.

Save time and use Omio to check bus timetables and ticket prices here.  As with the trains you’ll want to book well ahead of time during holiday periods.

How to get to Cordoba by train

Cordoba is on the Spanish rail network’s high-speed links, it’s just 45 minutes on the train from Seville for instance, then you can easily walk (it’s flat) the 15 minutes or so to the old town.

It’s easy to check timetables and train ticket costs using Omio.  Book ahead, especially during holiday times.  Booking ahead of time really does save money on trains in Spain – check ticket prices as soon as you know your travel dates and get discounts of up to 40%.

Estimated train connection times to Cordoba

How to get to Cordoba by car

Driving to Cordoba is easy, the main highways are simple to follow.  Be sure to book accommodation with parking, or alternatively, if you need parking close to the historic center, then try the Victory Place parking – parking here costs just over 13 euros per day, and it’s just a short walk into the historic center from there.

If you need to rent a car in Spain, we recommend Discover Cars for car hire.  You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, it’s the perfect choice! Get a price for a rental car in Spain here.

How to get around Cordoba

If you’re staying in the historic center Cordoba is easy to get around on foot.  It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk from the (combined) bus and train station in Cordoba to the historic center.  Taxis are plentiful, and if you’re looking for an easier way to get around the sites, then the hop on hop off Cordoba bus is also an option (more details here)

When to Travel to Cordoba

The most colorful time of year to visit Cordoba is in Spring, the month of May to be exact.  This is when the Festival de Los Patios takes place.  The Cordoba Patio Festival is also the busiest time of the year to visit Cordoba. (More information on the Cordoba Patio Festival is here).  You’ll experience temperatures of 20-25°C, which makes for pleasant walking.  Summers are hot in Cordoba.  You’ll regularly see temperatures of 40 + during the day with temperatures not dipping a huge amount overnight.  Autumn is also a great time to visit – there’s no Patio festival, but we found the city to still be gloriously colorful with great daytime temperatures.

Safety in Cordoba

Cordoba is a very safe city to visit and is firmly on the tourist trail.  Follow all the usual precautions that you would when traveling in a busy city

  • Keep valuables out of sight
  • Always lock your valuables away when they’re not with you (read how we use a portable travel safe here)
  • Use a VPN when utilizing public WiFi networks in hotels, hostels, and guesthouses (read about VPNs here)
  • Tap water is potable in Cordoba, but consider taking a refillable water bottle to reduce the use of single-use plastic.  We always travel with a filter water bottle, which I wrote about here.

Travel Insurance for Cordoba

Cordoba is a pretty safe city to travel to, but accidents can happen.  If you’re considering travel insurance.  If you’re considering travel insurance for our trip to Cordoba, then you can get a quote from World Nomads for your travel insurance for Cordoba

Travel Essentials for Spain

Final Words on the Best Things to do in Cordoba

While many visitors to Cordoba will simply hop on a day trip from Seville or another neighboring Andalusian city this is a lovely place to spend a little more time in.  The Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral is stunning – especially before the day tripper crowds and the light at the beginning and end of the day is stunning on the ancient Moorish architecture that you’ll see here and the tapas, yeah that’s worth hanging around for too!

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

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