Few places hold as much indisputable charm as Cordoba, with its colorful flower-lined streets and gilded remnants of Moorish Spain’s glory days.
First a key Roman settlement and later the capital of Al-Andalus, Cordoba was once the most important city in Europe. Its picturesque cobblestone streets hold thousands of years of secrets and stories belonging to each of the three major world religions, and its role as a key player in world history is undeniable. Today, the picturesque city on the Guadalquivir continues to draw millions of visitors every year with its irresistible Andalusian passion—and with an ideal location easily accessible from both Seville and Madrid, there’s really no reason not to go. Here’s a rundown of our favorite things to do in Cordoba so you can be sure to plan an unforgettable day and make the most of your time in this stunning gem of a city.
Planning a day trip to Cordoba from Seville
The fastest way to get to Cordoba is by rail. Dozens of Cordoba-bound trains depart Sevilla-Santa Justa every day, with prices ranging from around 11 to 34 euros depending on the time of day and the type of train. The high-speed AVE, AV City, and Avant trains will get you there in about 45 minutes, whereas slower trains like the Media Distancia (MD) can take up to an hour and 20 minutes. You can get your tickets online via the RENFE website, or in person at the station.
Another option is to take the bus, operated by Alsa. This is a great budget-friendly option (you can find tickets for as low as €5.40 one way!), but buses run less frequently than the trains and often take up to two hours.
If you have access to a car and prefer to go at your own pace, you’re in luck—Cordoba is just a quick hour and a half drive northeast of Seville along the A-4 highway.
Now that you’ve figured out how you’re getting there, it’s time for the fun part: rounding up our favorite things to do in Cordoba and planning an unforgettable day trip!
24 hours in Cordoba: the perfect itinerary
1. Enjoy breakfast
Start your day on a delicious note with breakfast at Maddow. This cozy, colorful cafe has it all, from classic Spanish tostadas con aceite, jamón y tomate to modern favorites such as avocado toast, yogurt bowls, and freshly blended smoothies and juices. They even offer a delicious four-course brunch menu every day for just 12 euros!
2. Marvel at the Mezquita
Next up: the main reason you probably came here—it’s time to visit the one and only Mezquita. Often found at the top of any list of things to do in Cordoba, this spectacular structure is a mosque, cathedral, and UNESCO World Heritage Site (just one of Cordoba’s four!) all rolled into one. The endless forest of candy-cane striped arches will take your breath away and transport you back in time to the heyday of Al-Andalus.
When you’re done marveling at the awe-inspiring interior, head back out across the courtyard and climb up to the top of the bell tower for stunning views across the city. Keep in mind that entrance to the tower is an extra €2 on top of the €10 entrance fee to the building itself.
Insider’s Tip: On a budget and don’t mind waking up early? The Mezquita is free to individual visitors Monday through Saturday from 8:30–9:30 a.m. Switch these two around and enjoy a peaceful visit to the mosque in respectful silence followed by a relaxing breakfast.
3. Explore the beautiful streets around the mosque
After you’ve been sufficiently amazed by Cordoba’s most iconic monument, take some time to explore the maze of streets surrounding it. Head down Calleja de las Flores for Instagram-worthy glimpses of the Mezquita tower peeking up from between whitewashed flower-lined walls, then make your way around the building and out onto the Roman Bridge, where you can enjoy a full view of the mosque in all its glory.
4. Experience the magic of the Alcázar
Just down the street from the Mezquita, you’ll come to another of the can’t-miss things to do in Cordoba: the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. This centuries-old complex has a bit of a dark past: it once served as the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition, as well as a meeting point between Christopher Columbus and the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, before the former’s controversial voyage to the Americas. Today, however, it’s home to bright, colorful gardens; ancient Roman relics and mosaics; and jaw-dropping panoramic views of Cordoba from its towers.
5. Get lost in the judería
Finish off your morning by exploring the historic judería, or old Jewish quarter. This picturesque neighborhood feels like something out of a fairy tale, with centuries of magic hiding around every cobblestoned corner. Don’t miss the fourteenth century synagogue, one of the best-preserved of its kind dating from the medieval period in all of Spain.
6. Discover a world of flavors at Mercado Victoria
After a morning full of exploring, you’ll probably be getting hungry by this point. The perfect option for lunch is Mercado Victoria, Andalusia’s premier gastro market and home to nearly 30 stalls selling hundreds of culinary delights, from Cordoba’s own salmorejo to Argentinian empanadas to decadent oysters and champagne and so much more. Grab a glass of Montilla-Moriles wine (similar to sherry, but unfortified and produced exclusively in the province of Cordoba) from the excellent market wine bar to sip on as you wander among the stalls in search of whatever makes your tastebuds happy.
7. Fall in love with flowers at Viana Palace
One of the most incredible things to do in Cordoba worth mentioning is Medina Azahara, a complex on the outskirts of the city consisting of the ruins of a sprawling Moorish palace-city and a fascinating museum. While this breathtaking site is absolutely worth a visit if you have time, its location outside of Cordoba proper can make it hard to fit into a day trip. An excellent alternative within the city itself is Viana Palace, home to 12 of Cordoba’s legendary floral courtyards—in fact, it’s one of the few places where you can experience the city’s famous patios year round.
On your way from the market to the palace, stop and relax for a bit in the beautiful gardens at the center of Plaza de Colón if you need to get off your feet. Once there, be sure to take a guided tour of the stately villa itself in addition to visiting the pretty floral courtyards.
8. Shop till you drop in the city center
As the day moves along, small businesses throughout Cordoba will start to open up shop for the afternoon again, which means one thing: it’s time for some shopping! The streets leading into Plaza de las Tendillas in the city center make up the best shopping district in the city.
As you shop, be sure to take advantage of the plethora of local businesses in the area where you can pick up a souvenir that you’ll treasure forever.
- De Colores has a beautiful selection of authentic handpainted fans and flamenco flair. These are the real deal—more expensive than the tacky knockoffs sold in the souvenir shops surrounding the Mezquita, but of infinitely better quality.
- Olive & Co. sells lovely artisanal bath and beauty products, many of which are made with local olive oil.
- For foodie mementos, Faustino Prieto is a must for cured meats (including Spain’s famous jamón!).
9. Treat yourself to merienda
Around 6 p.m., it’s time to enjoy one of Spain’s most beloved foodie traditions: the sacred merienda, or afternoon snack. This is a time made for indulging in sweet treats, so make your way to La Tarterie, a lovely little bakery that sells their fantastic homemade cakes by the slice. There’s not much seating room inside, so get your slice to go and take it to sunny Plaza de la Corredera just around the corner where you can watch the world go by as you devour it.
Not in the mood for something sweet? Now’s as good a time as any to grab a few beers at Califa, Cordoba’s top craft brewpub.
10. Grab drinks at a rooftop bar
As your time in Cordoba draws to a close, it’s time to take things easy. If you’re sticking around into the nighttime hours, enjoy a relaxing sunset stroll along the Guadalquivir, drinking in the magical views of the city’s beautiful evening colors. Along the way, stop for a pre-dinner drink if you haven’t already at a riverfront rooftop bar —Sojo Ribera and the bar atop the Hesperia Hotel are both excellent choices.
11. Enjoy a fabulous dinner in a picturesque setting
End your day in this historic city by partaking in one of our favorite things to do in Cordoba (or anywhere, really): eat! Lively Plaza del Potro just off of the riverfront is the perfect place to enjoy dinner with great vibes in positively magical surroundings. There are a handful of great bars and restaurants surrounding the plaza, with La Siesta and Taberna La Alquería being standouts. For something a bit more sophisticated, head around the corner to La Regadera, an upmarket contemporary restaurant serving elegant modern dishes. No matter which you choose, it’s a positively delicious way to end your time in Cordoba!
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.