What to visit in Cordoba in 1 day or a weekend?

Located in the south of Spain, Cordoba is a beautiful Andalusian city that leaves no one indifferent. Its Roman remains, mosque-cathedral and Alcazar, all located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, are a sight to behold. You can easily visit it in a day from Seville or Malaga, but it’s also worth spending a weekend there to fully enjoy it.

If you’re wondering what to visit in Cordoba during a 1-day trip or a weekend, this article provides a selection of places of interest and activities to do, as well as good accommodation and dining options.

Cordoba, one of Andalusia’s gems

With its sunny weather, rich heritage, gourmet cuisine and unique culture, Andalusia is a true paradise for those who want to spend a pleasant weekend or vacation. Cordoba, located in this region of southern Spain, is the third largest city in Andalusia after Seville and Malaga.

Despite having a relatively large population (over 320,000!), Cordoba’s wealth is mainly concentrated in the central district and on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, so you don’t feel like you’re in a big city.

It’s easy to get there in an hour or less from major cities in southern Spain, such as Seville or Malaga, which is a great advantage when visiting.

Here’s where Cordoba is located on a map:

The weather is very pleasant, not surprisingly. It can get very hot in the middle of summer (between June and September, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C/86°F and sometimes reaching or even exceeding 40°C/104°F in July and August). In my opinion, the best times to visit are the off-seasons (April-May and the back-season like October), when the weather is still very mild but not too hot to explore.

Cordoba is also a city worth visiting during the winter. In the afternoon, temperatures can reach up to 15°C/60°F, with few rainy days, making it an ideal destination for a weekend of sightseeing.

You can check the weather forecast for Cordoba for the next 10 days here.

What to see in Cordoba?

The Mosque-Cathedral (Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba)

If you’re wondering what to visit in Cordoba in one day, don’t miss the Mezquita-Cathedral. It’s undoubtedly the most iconic place to visit in the city. The name itself may seem a little surprising, as it combines both “mosque” and “cathedral” in one monument. However, it’s a fascinating building where different religions have coexisted over the centuries, creating a unique architectural masterpiece.

The Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral
The Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral

Originally a Roman temple, then a Christian basilica, the “Mezquita-Catedral” was then converted into a mosque for five centuries, before finally becoming a cathedral. Rather than rebuilding the entire structure, everything was preserved, resulting in a building that seamlessly blends the attributes of both a church and a mosque. The basilica’s mosaics coexist with the mosque’s mihrab, and a majestic chapel emerges among the colonnades of the large prayer room.

It’s both architecturally fascinating and historically captivating, offering a promise of wonder that continues under the pleasant shade of the courtyard’s orange trees.

As the monument is very popular, it’s best to book a ticket in advance if you want to go without a guide.

I highly recommend visiting the Mosque-Cathedral with a guide, even if it means spending some free time afterwards on your own. A guide can provide plenty of anecdotes about the history of the place, especially since the audio guide is not the best available. Cordoba A Pie agency offers high-quality guided tours of the mosque-cathedral.

You can also opt for this more complete tour which covers 3 key points of Cordoba: the mosque-cathedral, the Alcazar, and the Jewish quarter.

The Mosque of Cordoba is located just a few steps from the Roman Bridge, near the Guadalquivir River. You can find the updated opening hours on the official website. The average visit time is 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.

The Alcazar of Cordoba

Visiting the Alcazar of Cordoba is also a highlight not to be missed. Not for the Alcazar itself, which is rather bare and disappointing compared to similar buildings in other cities, but for its splendid gardens. The visit is quite quick, about 1 hour (unless you get lost in contemplation of the gardens, which can then be much longer!).

The Konexion Tours agency offers a guided tour of the Alcazar and the gardens, which lasts about an hour. You can then stay longer if you wish.

You can also visit the place with Cordoba A Pie agency as part of the more complete tour mentioned before.

View of the Alcazar of Cordoba from the gardens
View of the Alcazar of Cordoba from the gardens

The Jewish Quarter (Judería) and the Old Synagogue

In the Middle Ages, Cordoba was a huge city with a fortified part, the medina, surrounded by different non-fortified neighborhoods. Within the medina, there was the Great Mosque (today’s mosque-cathedral), but also five different small towns, each one fortified. There was also a Jewish quarter, the “Judería”. Today, it, like the entire historic center of Cordoba, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is particularly pleasant to explore: a maze of small cobbled streets lined with white facades with a few hints of color. You can also visit it with a guide as part of the walking tours offered by Cordoba A Pie.

You can visit the Old Synagogue. It is one of only three synagogues in Spain that date back to before 1492 and have been preserved to this day. Indeed, at that time, the Jews were expelled from the cities by the Christian kings, and most of the religious buildings were destroyed. Only the synagogue in Cordoba and two synagogues in Toledo remained. It was later converted into a hospital for rabies patients, then into a hermitage and a school. Between September and June, it is generally open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (closed on Mondays). In July and August, it is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

In the Jewish quarter of Cordoba, you will encounter a statue of Maimonides, a Sephardic rabbi and a great thinker born in Cordoba, who authored the Mishneh Torah that has a profound impact on Judaism even today.

To learn more about the history of Sephardic peoples, you can also visit the Casa de Sefarad, a small house-museum that allows you to immerse yourself in the life that Jews led before their expulsion and to learn more about the period of the Inquisition. It is generally open Monday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The medieval synagogue of Cordoba
The medieval synagogue of Cordoba

The Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir and its tower

The Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir River is an excellent place to take beautiful pictures. It was built in the 1st century BC and remained the only bridge in Cordoba until the 1950s. With its 16 arches, it was once an integral part of the Via Augusta (Via Herculea), a vast Roman road that spanned 1500 km, starting from the Pyrenees and reaching the city of Gades (present-day Cadiz).

The bridge is entirely pedestrian, and I recommend that you cross it to enjoy the view of Cordoba from the other side. You can also visit the tower located there – Tower of the Calahorra. It served as a fortified gateway before entering the city and now houses a museum about the entire period when the region was ruled by Arab peoples.

The Tower of the Calahorra is open:

  • Between November and February, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm;
  • In March, April, May, and October, from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm;
  • In June, July, August, and September, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
The Roman bridge of Cordoba
The Roman bridge of Cordoba

Museums in Cordoba

Although Cordoba does not have many museums, there are a few that are worth visiting:

  • The Museum of Fine Arts (1, Plaza del Potro), which showcases many paintings by Cordovan and Spanish artists;
  • The Archaeological and Ethnological Museum (7, Plaza de Jerónimo Páez), which focuses on the period from prehistory to the Middle Ages;
  • The Julio Romero de Torres Museum, dedicated to the works of this Cordovan painter (it is located in the same building as the Fine Arts Museum).

In addition to these, there is the Viana Palace, which I will discuss next, and the Fosforito Flamenco Center, which regularly organizes events to discover this art form.

The Palace of Viana and the patios of Cordoba

The visit to the Palace of Viana is often combined with one of the major attractions of Cordoba: the patios. Visiting Cordoba means discovering the many interior courtyards, often decorated with flowers. There is even a festival of the patios, which takes place during the first week of May when many private courtyards are open to tourists, with a competition to reward the most beautiful of them.

The Palace of Viana alone has twelve patios and is therefore often a good starting point to discover this local curiosity. Located in the north of Cordoba, in the Santa Marina neighborhood, it was built in the 14th century for local marquises. Visitors can explore the interior as well as the gardens.

There are also guided tours dedicated to the patios, including this one by Konexion Tours, this one offered by ArtenCordoba or this one by Oway Tours.

The patios of Cordoba
The patios of Cordoba

Exploring the city and its historical sites

Take your time to walk around Cordoba, explore its squares (Plaza de la Corredera, Plaza de Las Tendillas, etc.) and admire the beautiful facades like that of the Palacio de la Merced, which was once a convent and is now a government building.

As you wander, you’ll come across a variety of historical landmarks, including:

  • The Albolafia Mill, a water mill installed on the Guadalquivir River since medieval times, which was used to irrigate the gardens of local palaces and for flour production. The wooden wheel is a recent reconstruction, but it remains an important piece of history.
  • The remains of a Roman temple, in the middle of the city (1, Calle Capitulares): it was built during a time when the Romans wanted to establish their local presence with a monument worthy of the name. Although the remains found are modest, it was likely a very large monument that was supplied with water. The city rediscovered its existence by chance when it wanted to expand the town hall in the mid-20th century.
  • The Roman theater of Cordoba, whose remains can be seen in the city’s archaeological museum.
Plaza de Las Tendillas, Cordoba
Plaza de Las Tendillas, Cordoba
Remains of a Roman temple
Remains of a Roman temple

If you have time, you can also explore other neighborhoods such as Santa Marina (where the palace of Viana is located) or San Lorenzo, which are among the oldest neighborhoods in the city.

I enjoyed taking a leisurely walk in Cordoba with its ponds and fountains!

The fortifications of Cordoba, Calle Cairuan
The fortifications of Cordoba, Calle Cairuan

Relaxing in the Al Andalus Hammam

A local tradition and a beautiful place to relax, the Al Andalus Arab Baths in Cordoba offer a chance to unwind in a luxurious setting, possibly with a massage. With a great reputation, they offer a wellness break to all visitors to Cordoba.

You can book your entry to the Al Andalus Arab baths in Cordoba online in advance, along with a massage and optional scrub.

Other activities in Cordoba

Apart from the places already mentioned, there are plenty of other things to do in Cordoba, such as visiting the bullring, watching horse shows offered by the Royal Stables of Cordoba (more information here), and enjoying the local way of life by indulging in tapas and good restaurants.

What to do around Cordoba?

Visit Madinat al-Zahra

Madinat al-Zahra (sometimes spelled “Azahara medina”) is located just 5 miles from the center of Cordoba. You can get there by public transport in about half an hour (bus line 1 from the “Republica Argentina” station, a stone’s throw from the “Roman Mausoleum” of Cordoba).

It is an archaeological site classified by UNESCO, which comprises the remains of a city created by the Umayyads – a Muslim people – in the 10th century when they began to occupy the region. It was a palatial city, with a palace that dominated the region, a vast mosque, and gardens.

Today, there is a museum on site (it’s recommended to visit it first to provide context for your visit), and the archaeological site itself where excavations are still ongoing since only a small part of the city has been uncovered.

Madinat al-Zahra can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays):

  • Between mid-September and the end of March, from 9 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 9 am to 3 pm on Sunday.
  • Between April and mid-June, from 9 am to 7 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 9 am to 3 pm on Sunday.
  • Between mid-June and mid-September, from 9 am to 3 pm from Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours in the evenings. In June, they are organized only on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 pm to 10 pm. During the rest of the summer, they are held from Tuesday to Saturday from 8 pm to midnight.

Entry to the site itself is free for citizens of the European Union and costs only a few euros for others. However, there is a small shuttle service (a few euros) to take you to the excavated site. This visit is definitely worth it, just a stone’s throw from Cordoba!

Explore Almodovar del Rio castle

Situated approximately 19 miles from Cordoba, the Almodovar del Rio castle is built on the ruins of an ancient Roman fortified city. In the 8th century, during the Umayyad invasions in the region, a real fortress was constructed called “Al Mudawwar,” which later gave its name to the castle. At the beginning of the 20th century, one of its owners completely restored the castle, and it is now open for visitors. The castle was also used as a filming location for the Game of Thrones series, where it represented Highgarden, the seat of House Tyrell.

The visit is fascinating, and the view from the castle is magnificent. The visit takes about an hour, and it is recommended to visit during the week to avoid the crowds.

You can book tickets online in advance for a very reasonable price.

The castle can also be reached by public transportation. You can take the M-250 bus from the bus station in Cordoba to Rivero de Posadas and get off at the Castillo de Almodovar stop.

How to get to Cordoba?

If you are traveling by plane, the nearest international airports are located in Seville (81 miles), Granada (106 miles), and Malaga (100 miles). You can compare flight prices on Omio to find a good deal.

After arriving at the airport, you can rent a car or take public transportation to reach Cordoba:

  • From Malaga, a train runs from Malaga Maria Zambrano station to Madrid and stops in Cordoba. The journey takes 1 hour and 04 minutes.
  • From Seville, it’s even easier as there is a direct train from Seville Santa Justa station to Madrid, and Cordoba is the first stop on the route, with a journey time of only 42 minutes.
  • From Granada, the train to Seville Santa Justa is available, and after 1 hour and 42 minutes, you can get off in Cordoba.

Whichever route you choose, you can buy your tickets in advance on the Renfe website.

Once in Cordoba, you can easily explore the city’s main attractions on foot, such as the Alcázar on the banks of the river, or the Mosque-Cathedral, which is a 20-minute walk from the train station.

Cordoba also has a bus network managed by Aucorsa. You can purchase a single ticket (current rates available here). The Aucorsa website also offers an online trip planner. Since the historic center mostly consists of narrow streets where buses cannot pass, taking the bus often does not save time.

Calleja de Las Flores, Cordoba
Calleja de Las Flores, Cordoba
In the streets of Cordoba
In the streets of Cordoba

What are the best hotels and restaurants in Cordoba?

There are numerous options for accommodation in Cordoba! In the old city, I highly recommend Las Casas de la Judería de Córdoba, a 4-star hotel with a pool in the heart of the old town. Another great option near the mosque-cathedral is The Madinat hotel, a 4-star hotel with a hammam and terraces offering breathtaking views of the city. The Balcón de Córdoba hotel is another gem, located just a few meters from the mosque-cathedral, with a charming reception, warm decoration, and a rooftop.

If you’re on a budget, consider staying at the Hotel Mezquita, which is also conveniently located, or The Hotel Posada de Vallina, right next to the mosque-cathedral, or La Llave de la Judería, which is just steps from the medieval synagogue.

When it comes to restaurants, in my opinion, the best in the old town is El Rincón de Carmen, not only for its food, but also for its hospitality and location. Other excellent options include El Horno de Mel, Regadera, Damasco, La Tranquera, and La Albahaca. Although touristy, Pepe de la Judería is also a great option.

Don’t forget to try the local specialty, Salmorejo, made with tomatoes, bread, and olive oil. There’s even a “Salmorejo de Córdoba lane” in town (Calleja del Salmorejo Cordobes), with the recipe posted on the wall.

For tapas, head to El Barón or La Bicicleta!

The city of Cordoba in Andalusia

How much time do you need to visit Cordoba?

It is possible to visit Cordoba in one day, but keep in mind that you will only be able to see the main attractions such as the mosque-cathedral, the Alcázar, the Jewish quarter, and some of the most important squares and landmarks.

If you want to enjoy the patios, visit museums, or explore sites outside the city such as Medina Azahara, it’s better to stay for at least 3 days. A long weekend in Cordoba would be ideal to have enough time to visit and enjoy everything.

Streets of the old town of Cordoba
Streets of the old town of Cordoba

What are the best souvenirs to bring back from Cordoba?

In Cordoba, you can find typical local souvenirs, in addition to the usual tourist souvenirs such as postcards, mugs, and t-shirts.

One example is the decorated pottery and plates, which can be used as tableware or as wall decorations, both indoors and outdoors.

The city is famous for its “Cordoba leathers”, made of goat or cow skin tanned with sumac resin. You can go to Meryan (2, calleja de las Flores), which specializes in leatherwork. They sell handmade leather goods for men and women, such as bags, wallets, purses, leather-covered notebooks, frames, boxes, and more.

Cordoba is also an important center for the jewelry industry, with more than 60% of Spanish jewelry made in this province, and more than a thousand craftsmen. You can find a lot of beautiful silver jewelry at affordable prices. Stores like “Plateria Califal” have a good reputation, and it is a nice souvenir to bring back for someone you love or for yourself (it is not forbidden to treat yourself!).

Of course, you will also find in Cordoba souvenirs that are specific to Andalusian culture, whether it be related to flamenco, good food, or good wine. There are good wine shops, such as EnCrudo (8, calle Sevilla), that will advise you if you want to bring back some good bottles of Andalusian wine or alcohol.

It is a city that I really liked for its warm atmosphere and rich history. You can eat well, see a lot of flowers and decorated patios… It’s a nice interlude in a stay in Spain!

Hello! I am on maternity leave until summer 2023. I take this time to focus on my family so the comments are temporarily closed on the site :)

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