A guide for the best activities in Cordoba, Spain – The perfect 3 Day Cordoba Itinerary
Once a major Roman city and an important Islamic centre in Moorish Spain, the Andalucian city of Cordoba has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit.
Best known for La Mezquita, a multi-arched Mosque that is considered as being one of the Islamic world’s greatest architectural treasures, today it is a reminder of how Cordoba was the most advanced city in Europe during the Middle Ages.
While not taking anything away from the mesmerizing Mezquita, Cordoba is much more than just one building as you will discover when you set off to explore the winding stone-paved streets.
As well as plenty of things to see and do, Cordoba has plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation and an array of bars and restaurants to keep foodies happy for days on end.
Depending on how much time you have, a visit to Cordoba can be crammed into 24 hours or spread over 2, 3 or even 4 days depending on your travel rhythm.
Below we have put together an itinerary for Cordoba that can easily be adapted for either two, three or four days.
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Top Things To Do In Cordoba, Andalucia – Our Cordoba Itinerary For 3 days
- La Mezquita, the great mosque of Cordoba
- Palacio de Viana: A Renaissance palace packed full of art and antiques.
- Medina Azahara: A city-palace built by the Moors.
- Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos: The home of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.
- Jewish Quarter: An area of the city where its Jewish population lived between the 10th and 15th centuries.
- Roman Bridge: Originally built in the early 1st century BC the bridge spans the Guadalquivir River.
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How to get to Cordoba
Despite not having its own international airport getting to Cordoba is relatively easy thanks to Spain’s modern high-speed rail network and excellent motorway system.
How to get to Cordoba from Madrid
Train: The best way to travel to Cordoba from Madrid is to catch the high-speed AVE train from Madrid-Atocha station. There are 16 trains a day between the Spanish capital and Cordoba with an average journey time of around 1 hour and 49 minutes. – Book train tickets here
Bus: To get to Cordoba from Madrid by bus you need to make your way to Mendez Alvaro bus station. Tickets are cheaper than the train but the journey time is much longer between four and five hours. Buy here tickets for the bus Madrid Cordoba
Car: To get to Cordoba from Madrid by car you need to head south along the A-4 motorway for 245 miles, a journey which should take just over four hours. – Check rental cars here
How to get to Cordoba from Barcelona
Plane: Seeing as Cordoba is such a long way from Barcelona, you may want to take a low-cost flight from El Prat (BCN) to Seville Airport (SVQ). The flight time between the two cities is one hour and forty-five minutes. – Check flights here
Train: There are four trains per day to Cordoba from Barcelona Sants station with a journey time of 4 hours and 25 minutes. – Buy train tickets here
Bus: There are two buses a day between Barcelona Nord station and Cordoba that have a journey time of 12 hours and 20 minutes. – Get tickets here
Car: To drive to Cordoba from Barcelona head south along the AP-7 motorway in the direction of Valencia before joining the A-4. The journey should take between eight and nine hours depending on how you drive.
How to get to Cordoba from Malaga
Train: Again thanks to Spain’s high-speed rail network getting from Malaga to Cordoba by train is very quick and easy. A regular service operates every day of the week with a journey time of just under an hour. – Get tickets here
Bus: Malaga bus station is conveniently located next to the train station. Buses to Cordoba from Malaga are very frequent, but the journey can range from 2 hours and 15 minutes up to four and a half hours depending on the number of stops. – Get tickets here
How to get to Cordoba from Granada
Train: Spanish rail operator Renfe offers several trains a day between Granada and Cordoba. The journey time between the two Andalusian cities is 1 hour and 25 minutes. – Buy train tickets here
Bus: ALSA offers eight daily departures to Cordoba from the Granada bus station, located on Calle Minerva. The quickest of the buses reach Cordoba in 2 hours and 30 minutes. – Buy here tickets for Granada to Cordoba bus.
Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is one of the most amazing buildings you will ever see.
Regarded as being one of the greatest feats of Islamic architecture the Mezquita with all its radiant decorations hinted at an age of refinement when Muslims, Jews, and Christians all lived in harmony.
Originally a Visigothic church, a part of the building was purchased by Abd ar-Rahman I so that Muslims in Cordoba had a place to go for Friday’s prayers.
Later in AD 784, the Moorish ruler bought the other half of the church to erect a new mosque. Three years later extensions quintupled the size of the mosque into what you see today.
The reason the Mezquita is often referred to as the Mosque-Cathedral is that in 1236 following the capture of the city by King Ferdinand III of Castile a Roman Catholic church was built in the center of the Mosque.
Address: Calle Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba.
Opening hours: The Mosque is open every day from 10:00 to 19:00 with tours of the bell tower every half hour.
Admission: Adult 10.00€, Children 5.00€, Children under 10 Free. – Get skip-the-line tickets here
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
Located just 100 metres from the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is a Moorish castle or palace that served as the primary residence of the Catholic Monarchs following the Reconquista.
What makes the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos so special are its magnificent gardens full of fountains, fishponds and orange trees.
The Alcázar also happens to be the place where Queen Isabella I of Castile first met Christopher Columbus in 1486.
Address: Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, 14004.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 08:45 to 15:15 Last admission 30 minutes before closing time.
Admission: Adults 5€ students up to 26-years-old 2.50€ children under the age of 13 free.
Patio de los Naranjos
Located within the complex of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba the Patio de los Naranjos is regarded as being one of the oldest gardens in Europe.
Currently, the enclosed courtyard has 98 orange trees that were planted in rows towards the end of the 18th century. Free to visit, the Patio de los Naranjos is certainly worth seeing before you enter the Mosque.
Forming a part of Cordoba’s labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares northwest of the Mezquita, the city’s old Jewish Quarter and its proximity to the Mosque show how influential the Jews were in Moorish Spain.
Following years of persecution under the Visigoths, the Jews allied themselves with the Arab invaders going on to hold important well-respected posts in the city.
Today the area is filled with shops for tourists, but if you escape to some of the side streets you will be back in the 10th century.
It’s one of the most important tourist attractions of Cordoba.
Lunch in Cordoba: Bodegas Mezquita Cespedes
The mid-range restaurant specializes in local delights that include salmorejo (chilled cream of tomato soup), oxtail stew, flamenquín shoulder of pork and their famous Caliphal aubergine‘s.
Foodies shouldn’t forget to check out this Cordoba food tour.
Address: Calle Cespedes 12, 14003 Cordoba, Spain
Opening hours: Closed Saturday and Sunday open every other day from 08:00 to 18:00
Spanning the Río Guadalquivir under the gaze of the Mezquita, the 16-arch Puente Romano was once a part of the ancient Via Augusta, an important Roman road that ran from Rome to Cadiz.
Having been rebuilt several times over the centuries, what you see today was most probably constructed by the Moors. Now free of traffic the bridge is an excellent place to go for an afternoon walk.
Fans of the hit HBO television show, “Game of Thrones” will recognize the Roman Bridge as being the Long Bridge of Volantis. It’s definitely a must-see in Cordoba.
Located at the far end of the Puente Romano on the south side of the bridge is the Calahorra Tower, a fortification built by the Moors to help defend Cordoba from attackers.
Reconstructed in 1369 the tower today houses a museum dedicated to the cultural achievements made during 700 years of Moorish rule.
To get a better understanding of what you are looking at be sure to take advantage of the free audioguide.
Address: C/ Puente Romano 14009 Cordoba.
Opening hours: 10:00 to 14:00 16:30 to 19:30.
Admission: Adults 4.50€ Students 3.00€ Children under 8 free
Attend a Flamenco Show in Cordoba
Although the exact details of how Flamenco music originated are lost to history, it is certain that this style of dance and music originated in Andalucia and was adopted by the provinces gypsies.
In Cordoba, there are several venues where you can take in a show.
To see truly authentic flamenco you can’t go wrong with Tablao El Cardenal where you will be treated to a show full of passion and color.
Address: Calle Buen Pastor 2, Córdoba.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 20:15 Friday and Saturday 21:00
Plaza de la Corredera
Similar to the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, the Plaza de la Corredera in Córdoba is a grand 17th-century square surrounded by balconied apartments.
By size, the Plaza de la Corredera is the largest public square in Andalucia and is used for concerts and events. If you are wondering what to do in Cordoba, this is definitely a must! – Book here a complete Cordoba walking tour
Patios of Córdoba
Starting in early May when the flowers are blooming and the patios are their prettiest, more than 50 of Cordoba’s private courtyards are open to the public until 10 pm.
Some of the most beautiful patios are located in and around Calle San Basilio which is 400 meters southwest of the Mezquita.
During the competition to see who has the best looking courtyard, maps are available free from the tourist office in the Plaza del Triunfo.
Calleja de las Flores
Located just a few metres from the Mezquita, the Calleja de las Flores is the most Instagram featured street in all of Cordoba.
Now adorned with shops catering to tourists, the street of flowers is a very narrow street that ends in a small square with a fountain from which you can take a photograph of the bell tower of the Mezquita. – Check rates for guided tours to the best patios
By the way, check out our Instagram here for gorgeous photos from Southern Spain.
Palacio de Viana
Known as the Museum of the Courtyards, the Palacio de Viana is a historic house and gardens with over five centuries of history.
A visit to this noble residence allows the intrepid tourist to discover various architectural styles and decorative art in an aristocratic setting.
Like many museums and historic homes around the world, the Palacio de Viana is closed on Mondays. – Book tickets in advance here
Address: Plaza de Don Gome, 2, 14001.
Opening hours: Summer from 09:00 to15:00. Winter 10:00 to 19:00.
Admission: Adults 10€ Children under the age of 10 free with I.D.
The Almodovar Gate
Located in Calle Cairuan near to the Castle of the Christian Monarchs, the Almodóvar Gate is one of the ancient entrances to the city with origins dating back to the Romans.
The gateway was built in the 14th century by Abd al-Rahman I and is the only remaining gateway of the nine entrances into the city.
If you like steaks and grilled meats you will love El Churrasco! Located in Cordoba’s old Jewish district, the restaurant is a contemporary classic that serves up grilled meats and fish.
Try the charcoal-grilled Iberian pork accompanied by Arabic style red and green pepper sauce. It’s considered one of the best restaurants in Cordoba for lunch.
Address: 16 Calle Romero, 14003.
Opening hours: 13:00 to 16:00 and 20:30 a 24:00.
Visit the Museums of Cordoba
Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba:
A must-visit attraction for history buffs, the Museo Arqueologico de Córdoba may not have one of the largest collections of artifacts you have ever seen, but it does do a nice job in transporting you through Córdoba’s rich cultural history. It’s a must of any Cordoba tour.
Address: Plaza de Jeronimo Paez 7, 14003.
Opening hours: 09:00 to 20:30.
Admission: E.U. citizens free all other’s 1.50€.
Casa de las Cabezas- Patios de Leyenda
The Casa de las Cabezas is a carefully restored medieval house that used to belong to a wealthy Córdoba family. With four courtyards and a narrow alleyway that dates back to the Moors the Casa de las Cabezas is interesting, to say the least.
The museum’s collection is very well kept and provides an insight into what life must have been like during the Middle Ages.
Address: Calle Cabezas 18, 14003.
Opening hours: Open every day from 10:00 to 20:00.
Admission: Adults 6€ children under 11 free.
Taste Typical Food from Córdoba
As you would imagine with Córdoba being well inland from the coast, many of the typical dishes revolve around meat.
The two must-try meals for any visitor to Cordoba are bull tail stew and a thicker creamer type of gazpacho soup called salmorejo.
Other than the places we have already mentioned for lunch, we recommend the following two restaurants.
Bodegas Mezquita Ribera: Located next to the river between the Roman bridge and the Miraflores bridge, with outdoor seating, the Bodegas Mezquita Ribera is a great place to try typical Cordoba cuisine.
Visit at lunchtime and order the Menu del Dia for less than 15€.
Address: Calle Céspedes, 12. 14003.
Noor Restaurant: Despite being located a little away from all of Cordoba’s attractions, this two-Michelin-star restaurant offers fine dining in a pleasant atmosphere.
Noor, which means light in Arabic, offers a fusion of Andalucian and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes.
Address: Pablo Ruiz Picasso 6, 14014.
Related: 25 Foods to eat in Cordoba
Tapas Night Out
No trip to Southern Spain is complete without trying the tapas and Córdoba is no exception with plenty of bars serving tasty morsels typical of the region.
How you go about sampling tapas is up to you. Many people prefer to try just one place and have the staff bring out all kinds of dishes, while other people like to bar hop to see what different establishments have to offer.
Below are three places we can recommend for tapas typical of Cordoba:
- Taberna La Viuda
- El Aljibe del Río
- El Abanico
Discover some hidden tapas bars with this Cordoba Tapas Tour.
Medina Azahara Day Trip
Located in the Sierra Morena mountains eight kilometers west of Córdoba, the Medina Azahara was once the de facto capital of al-Andalus, a vast fortified palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III.
Today, sadly all that is left are the ruins of what was once a magnificent city. To appreciate the Medina Azahara fully, you need to take a guided tour. It’s one of the most rewarding day trips from Cordoba. – Check rates for guided tours here
Plan to spend around two hours at the site.
To get to the Medina Azahara from Cordoba, you need to take the Palma del Río (A-431) highway until you see a signpost for the Medina.
Opening hours: 09:00 to 15:00 closed on Mondays.
Admission: E.U. citizens free all other’s 1.50€. – Book a guided tour here
Head over to Puente Genil
As the name may suggest, Puente Genil is a picturesque Spanish village on the banks of the Genil River.
Well preserved with several noble homes and traditional houses, the town has several Bodegas where you can witness the winemaking process.
While in Puente Genil be sure to stop by the Municipal Archaeological Museum to see its impressive display of Roman mosaics.
For bird lovers, the nearby Tiscar Lagoon and Cordobilla Reservoir have been designated Nature Reserves.
To get to Puente Genil from Cordoba, take the A-45 motorway in the direction of Malaga.
A quick stop in San Jerónimo de Valparaíso
On the hills above the Medina Azahara, you will discover the 15th-century Monastery of San Jerónimo de Valparaíso.
Check to make sure if you can visit, as it is only open on certain days and is only accessible from the Medina.
Best Hotels in Córdoba, Spain
When it comes to accommodation in Cordoba, you will have no problem finding a place to match your budget.
Families or groups of people may find that choosing to rent an apartment or house through websites like Airbnb can be a good option.
For those preferring to stay in a hotel, below are three of our favorites from high-end to mid-range and budget.
Hospes Palacio del Bailio ***** – Luxury
The 5-star Hospes Palacio del Bailio is set in a 16th-century palace in the heart of the city.
Opulent in every way, this luxurious hotel features an outdoor swimming pool and gardens perfect for soaking up the sun or chilling out in the evenings.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a relaxing time at the hotel’s exclusive Body Spa. The Hospes Palacio del Bailio has an excellent restaurant and is within walking distance of the most important Cordoba attractions. – Check rates & reviews here
Address: Calle Ramírez de las Casas Deza, 10, 12, 14001 Córdoba.
Telephone: 957 49 89 93
Balcón de Córdoba **** – Mid-Range
Ideally situated in a 17th-century building and decorated with archaeological remains, this trendy boutique hotel is just 20 meters from the Mezquita and a short walk to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.
Refined rooms with tiled floors and an upscale Mediterranean restaurant together with a chic lounge-style bar, make the Balcón de Cordoba an excellent choice right in the heart of the city.
As a bonus, the hotel features three serene courtyards and a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the city. – Check rates & reviews here
Address: Calle Encarnación, 8, 14003.
Telephone: 957 49 84 78
La Llave de la Judería*** – Budget
For cost-conscious travelers, La Llave de la Judería is an excellent choice for people who only use their hotel room as a place for sleeping.
Having said that, it is ideally located in the old city’s Jewish Quarter, a stone through from the imposing Cordoba Mosque.
All rooms in the hotel feature air-conditioning, have a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a 24-hour reception desk.
People on the travel website, TripAdvisor, gave the Llave de la Judería 9.8 out of ten for value for money. – Check rates & reviews here
Address: Calle Romero, 38, 14003.
Telephone: 957 29 48 08
Getting Around Córdoba
With Cordoba’s main attractions all within walking distance of one another, it is not necessary to use public transport or taxis to get around.
Like most cities in Southern Spain, Córdoba has a very efficient network of buses and routes. From the bus or train station, you can take either the number 3 or 13 bus to the historic centre.
All fares on city buses in Córdoba are 1.30€ and are payable to the driver. All bus stops in the city have route maps to help you navigate your way around.
Like many old European cities, they were never built with cars in mind and Córdoba is no exception. The city has a nightmarish one-way system that will have you going around in circles.
Parking is also a huge problem in Córdoba with cars banned in the historic center. If you visit Córdoba by car, park south of the river on the far side of the Puente de Miraflores where you will find free unmetered parking.
If you have limited time or want to cram as much as possible into a single day, the Córdoba hop-on-hop-off bus is a great option. A 19.99€ ticket is valid for 24 hours and stops at all of Córdoba’s main attractions. – Book tickets here
Cordoba Map with most important sights:
Short FAQ about things to do in Cordoba, Southern Spain
– La Mezquita, the great mosque of Cordoba
– Palacio de Viana: A Renaissance palace packed full of art and antiques
– Medina Azahara: A city-palace built by the Moors
– Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos: The home of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon
– Jewish Quarter: An area of the city where its Jewish population lived between the 10th and 15th centuries
– Roman Bridge: Originally built in the early 1st century BC the bridge spans the Guadalquivir River.
Depending on how much time you have, a visit to Cordoba can be crammed into 24 hours or spread over 2, 3 or even 4 days depending on your travel rhythm.
Train: The best way to travel to Cordoba from Madrid is to catch the high-speed AVE train from Madrid-Atocha station. There are 16 trains a day between the Spanish capital and Cordoba with an average journey time of around 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Bus: To get to Cordoba from Madrid by bus you need to make your way to Mendez Alvaro bus station. Tickets are cheaper than the train but the journey time is much longer at between four and five hours. Buy here tickets for the bus Madrid Cordoba
Car: To get to Cordoba from Madrid by car you need to head south along the A-4 motorway for 245 miles, a journey which should take just over four hours.