Once the world’s largest city, a rival of Constantinople, Cordoba is perhaps the most underrated city in Spain, despite the fact that it is the only city in the modern world to host four UNESCO World Heritage sites: Mezquita Mosque and Cathedral, Historic City Center including Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, The Cordoba Patios, and Palace Town of Medina Azahara.
Cordoba lies in the heart of Andalusia, within easy travelling distance from Sevilla, Granada and Malaga. It is the kind of city that takes you by surprise.
I visited Cordoba twice during my PhD research in Andalusia, tracking the Iberian lynx in Sierra de Andujar Natural Park. The first time, I stayed in Cordoba for one full day and explored the main sites from my Cordoba in 1 Day itinerary. On return from my fieldwork, I stayed in Cordoba for another three days and explored the city in more detail.
So here, I offer you tried and tested itineraries for 1 day and 2-3 days in Cordoba. There are a lot of things to do in Cordoba, so it’s going to be a long post. Skip ahead to 1 day or 2-3 days itineraries.
Where to stay in Cordoba
Luxury – Hospes Palacio del Bailio
My absolute favourite hotel in Cordoba is the stunning Palacio del Bailio. This exquisitely luxurious hotel is located in a restored renaissance mansion that itself was built on the foundations of a Roman villa. This is the essence of Cordoba – layers upon layers of history.
The property has been artfully restored to preserve its Roman heritage. You can see the remnants of the Roman patio through the glass floor of the hotel’s restaurant. But you should also ask the staff at reception to take you on a quick tour of the Roman patio to see the incredible site up close.
And to truly feel like a centurion, visit the hotel’s Roman baths. The baths are smaller than the more well-known Hamman al-Andalus, but you’ll love having the baths all to yourself.
Comfort on a budget – Loft el Arcangel
If you prefer the privacy of your own apartment and wish to keep your budget under control, Loft El Arcangel is a lovely apartment about a 15-minute walk from the Mezquita. It is located on a quiet backstreet near a supermarket, making it very easy to be self-sufficient.
Alternatively, have a look at all the options available for your dates. I like using Booking.com for accommodation bookings simply because it lets you book without having to pay a deposit until much closer to your travel dates.
How to get to Cordoba
The easiest way to get to Cordoba from Madrid is on a high-speed train. The journey takes 1hr 45min and you can book your train tickets online and simply turn up at Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha train station on the day of the departure. The tickets start at 27 euros each way.
Insider tip: If you are travelling with large suitcases, aim to arrive at the platform slightly before the departure time and figure out where your carriage will stop (the number of the carriage (coche) is printed on your ticket). You’ll want to be one of the first people to board the train and deposit your heavy bag in the luggage compartment. The luggage compartment is quite small for the size of the carriage, and it fills up on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. The smaller luggage can be easily stored in the overhead compartments.
How many days to spend in Cordoba?
As with any city, the more time you have, the more you will see and the better you will get to know the place. In Cordoba, most of the key sites are concentrated in a relatively small area, making it possible to experience the essence of Cordoba in 1 day.
If you only have 1 day in Cordoba, you will want to concentrate on the city’s ‘must-see’ attractions, including 3 of Cordoba’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The historic city centre (including Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos), Mosque-Cathedral, and the Patios of Cordoba.
Tip: One way to maximize your time and skip the ticket lines is to join a walking tour with a local guide. There is a variety of walking tours on offer in Cordoba, ranging from 1 to 4 hours in duration, depending on how many attractions you would like to visit. For a 1-day visit to Cordoba, the best option is the 4-hour tour of the Jewish Quarter, Mosque-Cathedral and Alcazar. It covers all the essential Cordoba attractions and leaves you half a day to explore the rest of the historic city centre. Or if you are travelling as a family or a group, consider a Private Walking Tour of Cordoba.
If you have 2 or 3 days in Cordoba, you can explore the old town’s historic neighbourhoods (barrios) at a leisurely pace, get lost in the maze of adorable alleys in Juderia and San Basilio, visit the Palace Town of Medina Azahara, relax in Hamman al Andalus, see the beautiful snow-white Andalusian horses at the Royal Stables and enjoy Cordoba’s vibrant night scene.
Exploring Cordoba mostly involves wandering around the atmospheric stress of the historic city centre, and you’ll want to wear your most comfortable walking shoes because, chances are, you’ll walk much more than you planned. Every time you turn a corner in the old town, you’ll be tempted to explore another street.
Things to do in Cordoba in One Day
This part of the guide introduces the unmissable sites of Cordoba that can easily be seen in 1 Day. You can pack more attractions in your day or keep a reasonably relaxed pace exploring these key sites. This is what makes Cordoba one of the best places to visit in Spain – Mezquita draws you in, but the city continues to surprise you.
Visit the Mezquita – Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral
Of all the things to do in Cordoba, a visit to the Mezquita is the absolute must. Chances are, that’s why you came to Cordoba in the first place. Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral, or the Mezquita, is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the world.
Sitting on a foundation of a Roman Basilica, the mosque was built in 785 when Córdoba became the capital of Al-Andalus. Over the centuries, it has been expanded four times to become one of the greatest places of worship in the world.
Insider tip: Don’t miss the mosaics from the Roman Church of St Vincent’s underneath the Mezquita’s foundation. A small section of the tiles can be seen through a glass panel on the mosque’s floor in the oldest section of the building.
When Cordoba fell back to the Christian monarchs in 1236, they couldn’t bring themselves to destroy such an incredible structure and instead built an exquisite Renaissance-style cathedral right into the centre of the mosque.
The most striking features of the Mezquita are the giant arches supported by a forest of about 856 columns recycled from the earlier Roman, Byzantine and Visigothic structures. When it was built, Mesquita was the second-largest mosque in the world.
Insider tip: Another secret of the Mezquita is a little starfish fossil encased into one of its walls. While not many people know about it, those who do, consider it to be a lucky charm. You can find it at about your knee level, on Calle Torrijos, not far from the corner with Calle Corregidor Luis de La Cerd.
Depending on when you arrive in Cordoba, you can visit the Mezquita for free at 8.30 am. The free entry and the lack of crowds in Mezquita early in the morning is the worst-kept secret in Cordoba. Personally, I found this time slot to be just as crowded with everyone ‘in the know’. Plus, the Cathedral is not accessible during this time as it’s being prepared for Mass. And to add insult to injury, at 9.30 am, the guards will come rounding you up to escort you out of the building.
In my experience, the best time to visit the Mezquita is the last thing in the afternoon, after 4 pm (unless you visit it at night, which is by far the most spectacular experience). At this time, the large tour groups from Granada and Seville, or even Madrid, have already departed, and most of the local tourists had visited earlier in the day. You can find more details in this post about visiting Mezquita at different times of the day.
If you don’t have the chance to visit the Mezquita at night, another option is to join a guided tour for about an hour and then explore the mosque on your own for as long as you wish.
And lastly, like with all tourist areas, the area around the Mezquita is not the best place to eat since most bars and restaurants are crowded and more expensive. If you are feeling pekish, walk a couple of minutes to El Baron (Plaza de Abades, 4) and have a delicious meal at a local favourite.
- Opening hours: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm daily (last admission at 6:00 pm). Check opening times before your visit.
- Entrance fees: Adults – €11. Monday to Saturday: 8:30 to 9:30 hrs free visit.
- Tickets: purchase on Mezquita website to skip the line
- Best tour: Private Tour of the Mosque-Cathedral and Jewish Quarter
- Group tour: Skip the line guided tour of Mezquita
Climb Mezquita Bell Tower
Don’t leave the Mezquita without claiming its Bell Tower for 360-degree views of Cordoba’s rooftops and the Mezquita itself. And if you are a photographer, climb the tower first, before visiting the Mezquita to benefit from the softer light. The hot Andalusian sun casts harsh shadows on the city as early as 10 am.
Luckily the first entry to the Bell Tower is at 9.30 am (30 min before the first entry to the Mezquita). The 200 steps may sound like quite a climb, but you start getting amazing views about halfway through the climb, so you hardly notice the second half.
- Opening hours: 9.30:00 am – 6:30 pm daily (last admission at 6:00 pm). Check opening times before your visit.
- Entrance fees: €3.
- Tickets: purchase on Mezquita website to skip the line
Walk over the Roman Bridge
Right outside the Mosque-Cathedral, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba is one of the oldest structures in town. It was constructed by the Roman emperor Augustus in the 1st century BC, and for two thousand years, it was the only bridge across the Guadalquivir River.
It most likely formed part of the ancient Via Augusta – one of the longest roads built by the Romans in Hispania connecting Rome and Cadiz.
Of course, the bridge has been restored and renovated several times during its 2,000-year-long history, and most of the present structure dates to the 8th century when the bridge was restored by the Muslims. More recently, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba appeared in Season 5 of the Game of Thrones series as the Long Bridge of Volantis.
Climb Calahorra Tower
Located on the other side of the bridge, opposite the Mezquita, Calahorra tower is the oldest defence building in Cordoba. It was originally built by the Moors but was later expanded by Christian kings who added a third tower to the structure, giving it a fortress-like appearance.
The main draw of Calahorra is the amazing views of Mezquita, the bridge and the old town. There is also an ethnographic museum in the tower – Al-Andalus living museum.
Most people skip the museum and head straight for the views. And it’s true that the museum is not as interesting as most other Cordoba museums, but there are two pieces that are worth a look: intricate models of Alhambra and Mezquita. The Alhambra model is particularly interesting as it features the entire complex.
- Opening hours: Generally 10 am to 7 pm, but the hours vary with seasons. Check the opening times prior to your visit.
- Entrance fees: €4.50.
- Ticket: Buy at the tower on the day of the visit
Visit Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos, or the Castle of the Christian Kings’ is a 14th-century palace with magnificent terraced gardens, watchtowers with sweeping views of the city, and gorgeous patios. Like most of Cordoba’s historic monuments, it was built on the site of an earlier Moorish structure.
The palace’s most notable residents were the first Catholic Monarchs of re-conquered Spain: Ferdinand and Isabella. It was here that Christopher Columbus met the monarchs in 1486 in his second attempt to secure funding for a voyage that would lead to the discovery of the Americas (the first meeting took place in Segovia Alcazar)
Insider tip: If you use Google Maps to navigate to the Alcazar, it will take you to the exit of the complex rather than to the entrance. To get to the entrance, navigate to Torre del Homenaje – one of the towers of the palace.
The most striking feature of Cordoba Alcazar is the sprawling gardens, Jardines del Alcázar – a smaller version of those in Granada’s famous Alhambra fortress.
And the best way to experience the gardens is to take a stroll along Paseo de Los Reyes ‘The Walk of the Kings’, past the meticulously manicured cypress trees and stunning ponds to the statue that commemorates the meeting of Christopher Columbus with Ferdinand and Isabella.
Within the walls of the Alcazar, don’t miss the mosaics room with its collection of Roman mosaics uncovered at archaeological sites in the city.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:15 am – 2:45 pm. Last session 14:00. Last entrance at 2:15 pm
- Entrance fees: €4.90.
- Tickets: book online
- Best Guided Tour & Ticket: Alcazar guided tour & skip the line ticket
Insider Tip: Just a couple of minutes’ stroll from the Alcazar, at Plaza Campo Santo de Los Mártires, 6, you’ll find Cordoba’s prettiest pharmacy – Farmacia Botica. The antique tiled signs on the facade of the building look the same as they did centuries ago.
Wander among the Patios of San Basilio
Beyond its magnificent historical edifices, Cordoba is most famous for its patios or ‘courtyards’. Cordoba’s patios are works of art made up of plant pots of brown, blue or green overflowing with flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes and exquisite decorations.
The most popular way of exploring Cordobas patios is during the annual Cordoba Patios Festival that runs in the first two weeks of May. During the festival, Cordoba gets quite busy, and while you can visit the patios independently, seeing them with a guide will be a quicker and more interesting experience.
Best Cordoba Patios Tour: Sights, Sounds, and Scents of Cordoba Patios.
But in the charming San Basilio neighbourhood, next to Cordoba Alcazar, you can visit the prize-winning patios on a self-guided tour all year round and without the crowds. And if you are a keen photographer, you can book a private tour to have the patios to yourself.
- San Basilio Patios Tours time: 12 pm and 5 pm. Closed on Tuesdays; and on Saturday afternoons.
- Entrance fees: starting from €10
- Tickets: book online
- Address: Martin de Roa 2
Get lost in Juderia
The Jewish Quarter (La Juderia) is a wonderful maze of tiny winding streets and alleyways lined with lovely whitewashed houses with colourful doors and balconies and gorgeous courtyards overflowing with flowers. Between the 10th and 15th centuries Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in Cordoba, and Juderia was the Jewish neighbourhood.
The area of Juderia is such a tangle of streets that the best way to explore it is by letting yourself get lost among its many twists and turns. Most of the streets are quite short, so very soon, you begin to feel like you are walking in a maze, a very atmospheric one at that.
You can spend as much time as you like exploring the tangle of small streets in Juderia. Stop for coffee or tapas at the street bars and cafes or shop till you drop in the souvenir stores that line the streets. Here are a few streets not to miss…
Take Photos at Calleja de las Flores
Calleja de las Flores or the Flower Alley is one of the prettiest streets in Cordoba. It is a narrow arched alleyway bookended by whitewashed house walls adorned with blue power pots. It lies in the heart of Juderia, starting near Mezquita and ending at a small square which is actually a courtyard of one of the houses.
From the square, you’ll be treated to a beautiful (if narrow) view of Mezquita’s Bell Tower framed by multicoloured flowers and pots.
Squeeze through Calleja Pañuelo
Another interesting street nearby is Calleja Pañuelo, or the Alley of the Handkerchief. This odd little Muslim-style alley is remarkable for being the narrowest alley in Cordoba; at its narrowest point, it is no wider than a lady’s handkerchief.
Insider Tip: the reason this street is so narrow is that between the Romans and the Moors, Cordoba existed in a state of turmoil when no administrative laws were enforced, and people freely encroached on public space by building extensions to their houses.
The alley ends at an equally tiny square with a small fountain and a single orange tree. Some say it’s the smallest square in the world.
Find the secret recepie on Calleja del Salmorejo
Another hidden alleyway you might want to check out is the secret Calleja del Salmorejo. The appeal of this street is the official recipe for Cordoba Salmorejo written on a tile attached to a wall. The mystery of that street lies in the fact that it is not marked on many maps.
To find it, type ‘Taberna restaurante La Fragua’ in Google maps, and it will take you to Calleja del Salmorejo. If you have trouble finding the street, here is the recipe:
- 1kg of tomatoes
- 200g of bread
- 100g of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 10g of salt
- Blend all together and top with chopped egg and jamón
And if you do find the street, you may like to stop for lunch at Taberna restaurants La Fragua as a reward for your efforts.
Admire Calleja Del Indiano
Calleja Del Indiano, or the American Alley, is my absolute favourite street in Cordoba and a bit of a hidden gem. It is tucked behind a huge, ornamental Mudejar-style gate on square Ángel de Torres square. The facade belongs to a 15th-century palace that was converted to residential apartments in the 1970s.
The street is what used to be the main entrance to the palace, and it is a super cozy little alleyway. It is filled with colourful pots perched around brightly painted doorways and window frames. Even the pavement of the street is laid out in an ornamental arrangement of stones.
Try Cordoban Salmorejo
Ángel de Torres square is also a good place to eat. There are a few tapas bars here that have a much more relaxed and authentic vibe than those around the Mezquita. This is your perfect opportunity to try Cordoban Salmorejo – a chilled tomato soup that is similar to gazpacho, but thicker and creamier. It is made from skinned tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and garlic and is traditionally served with hard-boiled eggs and cured ham.
Other traditional Andalusian foods to try are rabo de toro (oxtail stew), mojama (cured tuna loin), torrijas (Spanish-style French toast), pescaíto frito (Andalusian deep-fried fish), and of course, Jamon Iberico (Iberian ham).
And, of course, the Andalusia breakfast – Spanish toast with tomato paste and olive oil made from green olives. It sounds simple, but it is surprisingly delicious. The olive oil used for the toast is very flavoursome, unlike the bland variety we are used to in cooking.
Shop for handicrafts at Zoco Municipal
Zoco Municipal or Cordoba’s souk is a crafts shopping experience with a difference. Not only do you get to visit Spain’s first craft market, but you can also observe the artisans as they create the crafts. The souk is, in fact, a series of artisans’ workshops where you can also buy their crafts.
Zoco souk specialties include silverware, jewellery, leather, wooden puppets, and some of the finest filigree in Cordoba. Filigree is the art of fine silverwork that creates shapes of fine metal wire with tiny beads and twisted threads soldered together to create exquisite designs.
Walk through the Almodovar Gate
While you are in Juderia, make sure to walk through the Almodovar Gate (Puerta Almodovar). From within Juderia, the gate doesn’t look like much but walk through it, and you discover a long stretch of the imposing medieval city wall of Cordoba, complete with a defensive moat.
While it may not be as complete and preserved as the town wall of Avila, it is still an impressive and imposing structure.
If you visit in the late afternoon, you’ll see the golden-coloured wall reflected in the still water of the moat. It is a jaw-dropping site, even for Cordoba.
Right by the gate, there is a statue of Seneca – a Roman philosopher and statesman from Cordoba who went on to become Nero’s trusted advisor.
And if you feel like taking a walk along the wall (Calle Cairuan) you’ll soon come across the statue of Ibn Rushd – Muslim philosopher, judge, and doctor from the 13th century best known for reviving Aristotle’s ideas in the western culture.
Explore a Moorish house – Casa Andalusi
Tucked away on the narrow Judios street a couple of doors past the Synagogue, Casa Andalusi is a lovely house museum that gives you a glimpse into the Muslim lifestyle in Cordoba in the 12th century. It is very much worth the 4 euro entrance fee. The house is a typical Muslim home of that era with a number of rooms, 3 patios, and a basement.
One of the rooms houses a model of one of the first paper factories in the western world and a variety of exquisite Arabic scrolls and books. This room opens onto a small courtyard with a gorgeous fountain.
The basement is even more fascinating. Like most houses in Cordoba, this house was built on the site of an earlier structure – Visigothic in this case. The ancient floor tiles inlaid with faded mosaics are preserved in the basement, as well as a large amphora and a few other pre-Muslim artifacts.
- Casa Andalusi opening times: 12 pm and 5 pm. Closed on Tuesdays
- Entrance fees: starting from €4
- Tickets: buy at the museum
- Address: Calle Judíos, 12
Tip: The ticket for Casa Andalusi also gives you admission to the nearby Alchemy Museum Al-Iksir. The museum is quite lovely, but the best part is the view of Cordoba rooftops from the roof terrace. And since this museum is not one of the key tourist attractions, you’ll be able to enjoy the view in peace and quiet.
Dine in a rooftop bar with a view
If you are staying in Cordoba for dinner, pick a rooftop bar to enjoy a meal with a view. There are a few rooftop bars in Cordoba, but none has better views than the bar on the Rooftop of Hesperia Hotel.
Located just across the Roman Bridge from Mezquita, the bar has gorgeous views of the bridge, the Mezquita and the old town. And at night, the view is particularly stunning, with the light-up town reflecting in the dark water of the Guadalquivir river.
Things to do in Cordoba in 2 or 3 Days
With more time and more things to do in Cordoba, you can slow down your pace and start to get to know the city better. One thing I would recommend is to visit the Alcazar first thing in the morning to experience it without the daytime crowds.
Take a tour of Medina Azahara
The best thing that extra days in Cordoba enable you to do is to take a tour to the city’s final UNESCO site – Medina Azahara. Located 5 miles outside of Cordoba, Medina Azahara was a palace that was constructed in 929 A.D. by the first Caliph of Cordoba, Abd-al Rahman III. The rumour has it that the palace was dedicated to the caliph’s favourite, Azahara.
Sadly, only seven years after its completion, the palace was destroyed in the succession of Civil Wars that ravaged Andalusia at the turn of the 11th century. You can only imagine how beautiful the palace must’ve been if even its crumbled arched walls carry the status of a UNESCO Heritage site.
You can visit the site independently, but the buses are quite infrequent, and the taxi is pretty expensive. If time is of the essence, I’d definitely recommend visiting Medina Azahara on an organized tour from Cordoba.
Explore the Patios of Palacio de Viana
Palacio de Viana is a stunning 14th-century palace surrounded by 12 patios and beautiful gardens. The palace itself is an interesting place to explore to get a glimpse into the lives of Spanish nobility but is the patios of Viana Palace that you want to see.
Open year-round, these patios are some of the finest in Cordoba. And they are the perfect opportunity to see Cordoba’s courtyards outside of the Patio Festival.
The stately Patio de Recibo, Patio de Gatos, Patio de los Naranjos and the intimate Patio de la Madama are among the prettiest, in my opinion.
- Casa Andalusi opening times: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 7 pm. Sunday: 10 am – 3 pm. Closed on Mondays
- Entrance fees: €10 for the palace & courtyards, €10 for the palace only
- Tickets: buy online
- Address: Don Gomé Square, 2
- Best guided tour: Cordoba Patios and Viana Palace
Visit the Roman Temple
Near Palacio de Viana, you can find another of Córdoba’s Roman monuments with a two thousand-year-long history. In the 1st century B.C., Cordoba became the capital of the Roman Colonia Patricia of Baetca.
The new capital needed a new temple to uphold the cult of the Emperor, and construction began around 41-54 AD and concluded by 81-96 AD. Like the Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River, the Temple lay alongside Via Augusta – the ancient Roman road connecting Rome and Cadiz.
Not much is left of the Temple now, beyond a few columns, but these columns serve as a fascinating reminder of the glory of Cordoba in Roman times. You can also see the stunning Roman mosaics uncovered at the Temple, now on display at the Alcazar of Christian Kings.
And if you are a fan of all things Roman, you can spend a whole day following my Roman Cordoba walking itinerary to uncover the traces of the Roman Empire hidden out of sight throughout Cordoba.
Relax in Hammam al-Andalus
Have you really been to Andalusia if you haven’t experienced a Hammam? Legacy of Muslim rule in Andalucia, Hammam experience is similar to a hot spring bathing experience. If you are making a bucket list of things to do in Cordoba, add an hour soak at the hammam. Especially after a long day of walking and exploring. After moving between medium/hot/cold pools and a sauna room, you will emerge completely rejuvenated and blissfully relaxed.
Cordoba’s Hammam Al-Andalus near Mezquita offers a variety of options for a visit, from the standard bathing experience for 34 Euro to a decadent package of bathing, a traditional kessa bath and a relaxing massage for 87 Euro.
- Opening times: 10 am – 10 pm
- Entrance fees: Starting at €34
- Tickets: pre-book online
- Address: Corregidor Luis de la Cerda Street, 51. Cordoba
Visit Mezquita at night
Depending on the time of the day you visit the hammam, you might like to visit Mezquita at night in an experience called The Soul of Cordoba. The night-time visit to the Mezquita is a mesmerizing experience. It was easily the most memorable experience for me in Cordoba.
I suggest first doing the night tour to immerse yourself into the magic of Mezquita and then visiting during the day to explore the different features in detail and take photos or videos to your heart’s content (photography is not allowed at night).
The night visit is open to a limited number of visitors, so it’s not as crowded as during the day. Two entry times are offered each night, around 8 pm and 11 pm. Please check the exact times on Mezquita’s official website, as they vary with seasons. The night visit lasts about 1 hour and includes an audio guide. You can find more details about the experience in my guide to visiting the Mezquita.
Uncover Cordoba’s secrets at the Archaeological museum
For history buffs, the Archaeological Museum is a real gem. Sprawled over two buildings, including a former Renaissance-style palace and three courtyards, the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba is one of the finest archaeological museums in Spain.
The eight rooms in the original (palace) building house an impressive selection of artifacts from the al-Andalus era. While the new building features an exceptional exhibit – Cordoba’s Roman Theater.
The most curious fact about the Theater is that for decades, historians and archaeologists were puzzled over its location until the excavations for the new building for the Archaeological Museum began, and the Theatre was discovered underneath the building site. It has been restored and can be visited in the basement of the museum’s second building.
- Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 9 am – 9 pm; Sundays and holidays 9 am – 3 pm; Closed on Mondays.
- Entrance fees: starting from €1.5. EU citizens – free
- Tickets: buy at the museum
- Address: Plaza Jeronimo Paez 7
Visit a Moroccan Tea House
Near the Archaeological museum is Cordoba’s most charming Moroccan Tea House – Salon de Té. Located in Juderian, in an unassuming 13th-century building at Calle Buen Pastor, 13, Salon de Te is incredibly atmospheric, featuring fine North African decor complete with columns and arched walls, plants climbing up the walls and gentle mood lighting.
Order a pot of mint tea for a traditional Moroccan experience or a full Andalusian breakfast and spend some time simply soaking in the ambience of the place.
Uncover Roman Cordoba on the Underground Tour
If you enjoyed visiting the Roman Temple in the basement of the Archaeological Museum, you might be wondering what other Roman structures lie concealed underneath Cordoba’s streets. If you are, you will love the Underground Cordoba Tour that takes you to Cordoba’s subterranean nooks and crannies in search of hidden traces of Roman Cordoba.
This walking tour is one of the most unique things to do in Cordoba and the perfect opportunity to channel your inner Indiana Jones for 3 hours and discover the secret face of Cordoba that lies concealed by the thick layer of successive civilizations built on top of it.
See the legendary Andalusian Horses
This one was high on my list of things to see and do in Cordoba. World-famous Andalusian horses come from this part of Spain, and you can see them at Caballerizas Reales or the Royal Stables, which are tucked away behind the Alcazar.
There are two ways of seeing the horses at the stables. If you are in town on Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, you can attend an evening show: Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse. Alternatively, you may be lucky to catch an afternoon practice session in the courtyard at the stables.
Spot Fernandid Churches
The Fernandin Churches of Cordoba are the 11 churches built under the patronage of Ferdinand III “The Saint”, between the mid-13th and the early 14th centuries. A popular way to explore the churches is by walking one of the designated routes. Use this map to plan your Fernandin Churches walking routes.
Axerchia Route takes in the churches of San Andrés, San Lorenzo (considered a jewel of medieval architecture in Cordoba), Santa Marina, and San Pablo.
Axerchia II Route includes the baroque San Francisco church, San Pedro Church, and the Church of the Magdalene.
Villa Route corresponds to what used to be Villa de Córdoba and passes the churches of San Nicolas (with its beautiful bell tower), San Miguel & Santo Domingo de Silos.
Themed Cordoba Walking Itineraries
One of my favourite ways of exploring historic cities is by planning my explorations around a theme. In Cordoba, you can follow a Roman trail, a Moorish trail, or a Catholic trail. To make planning easier, here are the key attractions of each era
I have an entire guide on Roman Cordoba if you’d like to learn more. The main sites for this itinerary are:
- Roman Bridge
- Roman Temple
- Roman Road and Mausoleum
- Roman city wall
- Remnants of Roman olive mill
- Roman Villa and Roman baths
- Archaeological Museum
To discover even more Roman treasures in Cordoba, including those buried under your feet, consider Underground Cordoba Tour. Miguel is a fantastic guide, and going on his tours is like walking around the city with a super knowledgeable and passionate local friend.
Moorish heritage is all around you in Cordoba, but if you’d like to dive a little deeper, don’t miss these sites:
- Medina Azahara
- Calahorra Tower
- Almodovar Gate & City Wall
- Casa Andalusi
- Patios – started by the Roman’s perfected by the Arabs
- Alchemy Museum
- Arab baths
Who were the Spanish Moors?
It is important to note that while many sources refer to the Muslim rulers of Cordoba as the Moors, they were not, in fact, Moroccan Berbers, as the name Moors suggests. Initially, yes, it was an army of Berbers led by the Arab commanders backed by the Umayyad caliphs of Damascus (Syria) that invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711. Within just a few years, most of the peninsula was under Muslim rule in the newly established Muslim domain of al-Andalus.
But the splendour of the al-Andalus kingdom is due to a fateful event in Syria in 750 AD when the Umayyad dynasty fell to their rivals Abbasids. To affirm their power, Abbasids murdered every member of the Umayyad dynasty but one. Abd al-Rahman I, the grandson of the last Caliph, escaped to Spain, where he established Umayyad Emirate with the capital in Cordoba.
As the former rulers of the entire Muslim world, Umayyads rebuilt their capital in the image of their homeland in Syria and eventually proclaimed Umayyad Caliphate in al-Andalus, in open rivalry to Abbasid rule in Baghdad.
Medieval Catholic sites of Cordoba are mostly churches and palaces. Many of these palaces have been converted to hotels, like Palacio del Bailio, so you can really immerse yourself into the city’s history. Some of the most interesting sites are:
- Cathedral of the Mezquita
- Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs
- Fernandin Churches, especially San Lorenzo
- Palacio de Viana
- Palacio de la Merced
- Casa de Los Marqueses del Carpio
What is the best time to visit Cordoba?
Spring is the best time to visit Cordoba. The weather is beautiful, with daytime temperatures around 20-25°C – perfect for walking around the old city centre and relaxing in the courtyards of tapas bars.
Cordoba also hosts some of Andalusia’s most famous festivals in spring, including Fiera de Los Patios or Patios Festival – the only two weeks in the year when the citizens of Cordoba open the doors of their houses to the public to show off their ‘works of art’ courtyards decorated with plants, water features and mosaics.
Lose yourself in a book about Cordoba
Reading books about the destination you are exploring is a great way to get to know the place beyond what meets the eye. I haven’t met many travellers who are indifferent to books.
Surprisingly despite Cordoba’s long and diverse history, not many books are set in Cordoba. Here are some that are not too difficult to find online:
- The Just Men of Cordova by Edgar Wallace
- Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors by James Reston Jr.
- The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages by Nancy Marie Brown
- The Map of Knowledge: How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found: A History in Seven Cities by Violet Moller
- The Apprentice’s Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain by Melanie Little
- A Dying Light in Corduba by Lindsey Davis
The two independent bookshops in Cordoba that carry small selections of books in English are: Librería Luque book shop on Calle Jesús y María, 6 and El Laberinto on Rda. de Isasa, 4. El Laberinto sells the lovely Illustrated History of Cordoba and the more voluminous History of Cordoba.
If you read any good books on Cordoba, please recommend them in the comments below.
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- Day trip from Madrid to Segovia – a Fairytale Medieval City
- Roman Cordoba Self-Guided Walk
- Guide to visiting the Great Mosque of Cordoba, including the hidden gems
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- 26 Things to do in Cordoba: Guide to planning Cordoba itinerary
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