Day Trip to Córdoba, Spain
Spain is a fascinating country and if you are one who cannot get enough of the rich heritage and interesting combination of Moorish and Christian architecture, you have to visit Córdoba!
As Córdoba is quite a small city, one day is quite sufficient to cover all the sites. But if you are doing some kind of a road trip, driving around Andalucia; you might just want to stay for a night or two in this charming city. Unlike the megacities like Barcelona or Madrid, Córdoba is a lot quieter and rustic, and it is definitely worth adding this UNESCO World Heritage Site plus Game of Thrones filming site to your itinerary!
All you need to know about Cordoba:
How to get to Córdoba, Spain?
Well, there are buses that get to Córdoba but these take roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes. It does cost slightly cheaper at 12 euros, but we're not sure if that is worth your time!
Situated in Southern Spain and in the region of Andalusia, Córdoba is easily accessible by train from neighbouring cities like Seville (45 minutes) and Malaga (50 minutes), and even the further away Madrid (1 hour 40 minutes, thanks to the AVE high-speed train). This makes heading to Córdoba on a day trip extremely convenient!
We visited Córdoba from Seville as an unplanned day trip and only got the train tickets on the day itself. If you're familiar with how Renfe works, you'll know that getting the tickets in advance can save you quite a bit, even for short travels like from Seville to Córdoba.
There are actually two types of trains that get to Córdoba. The AVE high-speed train that is a little more costly and the regional train that takes a longer time and stops at many stops before you finally reach your destination. For those who are travelling to quite a bit of cities in Spain plus taking the train multiple times in a day can consider getting the Spain Rail Pass.
You may also be interested in, Train Travels in Spain: How to book Spain's Renfe trains?
Guided Tours from Seville
For those who don't like the hassle of planning the entire day, you may want to consider going for a Guided Tour to Córdoba. The tour would bring you to most of the places that we are going to cover in this blogpost and includes the entrance tickets to the Mezquita and the Alcazar. The guide would also furnish you with the history and information of what you would see. If that isn't your thing, and you prefer doing things on your own, then read on for our itinerary and things that you can do in Córdoba in a day!
How to get around Córdoba, Spain?
Since Córdoba is a small city, you can actually get to most of the attractions by walking. The only long portion is from the train station to the city centre (around 15 minutes by foot). The rest of the monuments and attractions are situated close to one another.
You may also be interested in the Cordoba Guided Walking Tour.
However, if you are not okay with walking for long stretches, then you should take the bus! Single tickets for the buses are 1.30 euros and I would advise that you just pay the 1.30 euros. Since you are really only paying for the trip to-and-fro the Córdoba train station, there is no need to buy any special pass. But if you really want to save on the transport costs, get a rechargeable Bonobús card that reduces the price of each trip. Using bonobús, each ride costs 0.72 euros.
Finally, there's also the Hop-on-Hop-off City Sightseeing bus option for those who like to be whisk to their destination!
Now that we got most of the administration out of the way, let's get to the main sights!
Córdoba One Day Itinerary!
Start your day early if you want to spend more time in Córdoba. We advise that you arrive in Córdoba at around 9am to 10am so that you can maximise your time in this charming little town!
Mezquita of Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba)
In the morning, head to the Mezquita of Córdoba (or Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba). To get here, you can either take a 20-minute walk straight to the Mezquita from the train station, past the Jewish Quarters, or take bus number 3 outside the train station to San Fernando and a short 5-minute walk.
No other monument is more representative of Spain's religious evolution and rich history and culture than the Mosque-Cathedral. Getting there is easy as the Mezquita is easily identifiable by the tall bell tower an dis a short walk from the Jewish Quarters. Do take note that the Mezquita closes in the afternoons for mass on Sundays (between 11.30am to 1.30pm) so if you arrive in Cordoba at that time, head for the other attractions first!
Pro-Tip: Because almost everyone who visits Cordoba travel there to see the World Heritage Site: the Mezquita, expect the queues for the tickets to be long. If you do not want to stand in line, purchase your tickets online (10 euros) or even for a guided tour (20 euros) into the Mezquita that grants you skip-the-line-tickets. Remember to also purchase the tickets for the bell tower (2 euros) so that you can head up for a splendid view of Cordoba!
Insider's Tips: For those early birds, you'll get to enjoy free entry into the Mezquita from 8.30am to 9.30am on Mondays to Saturdays!
While outside, take some time to also admire the Patio De Los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard). When in season, the bright cheery orange trees are so beautiful to take photographs with!
Read more about the Mezquita in our blog post here: Mezquita-Catedral, The Great Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain.
Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba
Calle Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
Mondays to Saturdays - 10am to 7pm; Sundays - 8.30am to 11.30am and 3.00pm to 7.00pm (ticketing office closes half an hour before closing time)
Book to bring along for #travellerswithchildren: The Most Magnificent Mosque
The Most Magnificent Mosque is a children's book that tells about the story of three boys: Rashid, a Muslim, Samuel, a Jew, and Miguel, a Christian. Based on a true story, learn about the boys who stood together in the face of power and force in just a few pages. What's amazing is also the colourful illustrations; a glimpse of it given on the cover of this book.
Roman Bridge of Córdoba
Game of Thrones fans will recognise this structure as the Long Bridge of Volantis in Season 5. #GoT
From the Mezquita, you can get to the Roman Bridge and walk all the way till Torre de Calahorra on the other end. You get a great view of the Mezquita plus the bridge from there, and I would think is even more magnificent than the above heavily photographed of the Roman Bridge.
Even though the Roman bridge actually reflects little of its Roman roots, due to frequent reconstruction over several decades, according to Arab geographer, Al-drisi, the Roman bridge's architecture surpasses all other bridges in terms of its solidity and beauty. While walking towards the other side, you'll even see a little shrine to St Raphael where devotees burn candles. The cobbled pavements provide a rustic feel to the city and certainly does somehow transport you to the medieval times.
The construction in the distance is a pity but I managed to remove them with a little help of photo-editing software. Check it out below!
Roman Bridge of Córdoba
Av. del Alcázar, s/n, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (The Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs)
Besides the Royal Alcazar of Seville, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is another Mudéjar-style palace that has terraced gardens and Gothic towers, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
The entire complex of Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs was an medieval fortress which turned into a residence of the Catholic Monarchs for eight years. The building of the Alcazar was initially a Muslim one and was reformed during the Baroque period. It is fortified with walls with a twin ashlar-work faces boasting the fortress itself and the gardens. It also comprises four walls with a tower in each of the corners. The entire edifice has three levels. The ground floor that houses the Moorish Courtyard and the Women's Courtyard, the upper floor has the Hall of Mosaics and the top floor is the roof of the tower.
The interior of this Alcazar is not as impressive as the one in Seville and it is much smaller, but you'll get to enjoy less crowds and strolls in the gardens without that many photo-bombers!
The gardens occupy a large area of 55,000 square metres. There is a wide variety of plants, cypresses, orange trees, lemon trees, and palm trees. Even though it is not that evident here as it was close to winter at the time of our visit, you also get to enjoy some flowers, stone fountains and large ponds. Initially, water was supplied into the Alcazar by an aqueduct from Sierra Morena and the Albolafia waterwheel in the nearby River Guadalquivir.
One of the sculptures you would see in the gardens is the meeting between the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, and Christopher Columbus!
You may also be interested in our All you need to know Seville Travel Blog post as we covered the Cathedral of Seville where the Columbus monument is located!
Queues for tickets to enter the Alcazar is still expected even though it is much less crowded than the Real Alcazar in Seville. The tickets cost 4.50 euros per person and it is free for children under the age of 14. Should you not want to line up, purchase a guided tour that grants you insights to what exactly you are looking at when in the Alcazar. There's also an application that brings you through the sites that you can download for free.
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (The Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs)
Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain
Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays
In Winter, Tuesdays to Fridays: 8.30am to 8.45pm; Saturdays: 8.30am to 4.30pm; Sundays: 8.30am to 2.30pm
In Summer, Tuesdays to Saturdays: 8.30 to 3.00pm; Sundays: 8.30am to 2.30pm
Ticket office closes 30 minutes before the closing time
Lunch Time Food Time - Bodegas Mezquita
After all that exploring, you must be hungry and ready for a good Spanish lunch at around 2pm! After some seraching and roaming, we found a great restaurant located near the Mezquita - the Bodegas Mezquita.
Even though it was situated in the heart of the tourist area, we would say that we still thoroughly enjoyed our food and it is also a popular restaurant frequented by the locals.
For lunch, Mezquita Bodegas offers a Lunch Set Menu where for 14.95 euros, you'll get your choice of an appetiser, a main course, and a dessert. I would say it is definitely quite value-for-money! We decided to just order ale-carte as we wanted to try the famed Cordoban flamenquín!
A dish typical of the Cordobans, the flamenquín comprises jamon serrano wrapped in slices of pork loin and then coated with egg and breadcrumbs before they go into the fryer. The dish is often served alongside a portion of fries and mayonnaise which is what we had in the restaurant!
When the flamenquin is sliced, you'll see the beautiful colour of pink serrano and the white pork loin. It reminded us a little bit like Beef Wellington or even Sushi!
The flamenquin is best eaten with friends and family as it can get quite greasy after several bites. Pair it up with a mug of beer to mellow down the greasiness!
We also had the Oxtail Stew, another Andulsian delight. The oxtail is simmered and served with thick gravy that tasted as a great contrast to our greasy flamenquin!
The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and it really soaked up all the juices of the gravy.
Since Bodegas Mezquita was also a tapas bar, we ordered a serving of their fried cod-fish to share! The cod fish was lightly battered and the golden brown pieces paired with mayonnaise was indeed a treat!
Service at the Bodegas Mezquita was amazing as the waitress observed and catered to our needs. They asked if we needed plates for sharing and also to our surprise, gave us each a glass of sweet sherry at the end of our meal!
Sherry in Andalusia, ah, that was one of our best meals in Spain!
The restaurant is normally packed and I would recommend you to book your seats online if you intend to have your lunch there.
Calle Céspedes, 12, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
Sundays to Thursdays, 12.30pm to 12 midnight, Fridays and Saturdays, 12.30pm to 1.00am
Calleja de las Flores
Now that you've got your bellies stuffed, walk it off by exploring the area near the Mezquita. Of which, you'll need to find your find to Calleja de las Flores where it gives an interesting view of the bell tower of the Mezquita.
You may miss this tiny alley while roaming the streets, so bookmark it before you head off to Cordoba!
Calleja de las Flores
Calleja de las Flores, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
After that, head over to the Jewish Quarters. This area is fascinating as the narrow lanes lead to beautiful courtyards. This old quarter is also less commercialised that in Seville so it is nice to take a late afternoon stroll here. Some of these courtyards or patios are free to enter while others require a small fee. An Authentic Patios Guided Tour is available that grants you access to 5 private patios
Since the maps do not exactly demarcate where the Jewish Quarters are, you can find your way there behind the walled fortress from the Seneca Statue (at Calle Cairuan). Should you come from the Mezquita, it is a short 4-minute walk and it is likely that you'll already be making your way through the Jewish Quarters and ending here.
Should you come from the Cordoba station, take bus number 5 outside the station for 5 stops and alight at Glorieta Media Luna. Cross the gardens and you'll see the statue and the stretch of medieval walls!
Through those walls, be transported to ancient times into the Jewish Quarters!
In the middle of the Jewish Quarters you'll find the Sinagoga (Synagogue) at Calle de los Judios. As one of the only three original Synagogues left in Spain, it is hidden within the little alleyways. The Sinagoga is a Mudéjar construction dating back to the 1315 and was converted to a church in the 16th century. Thereafter, it was the location of the Guild of Shoemakers all the way till the 19th century when it was rediscovered.
The unassuming Synagogue has Hebrew inscriptions on the beautifully restored wall, a semi-circular arch as well as a chest where the Holy Scrolls of Law used to be kept. Entrance into the site is free but if you wish to have a guided tour of the Jewish Quarters, you may wish to purchase the Cordoba's Mosque Cathedral and Jewish Quarters Guided Tour.
Calle Judíos, 20, 14004 Córdoba, Spain
Templo Romano (Roman Temple Ruins)
In the evening, head over to the last stop in Cordoba, the Templo Romano (Roman Temple Ruins). Many miss this as it is a little far off from the rest of the monuments in Cordoba. When you are here, especially if you catch it at the golden hour, the scene of the towering columns is kind-of-magical. Never did I think that I would be able to see something like this in Spain!
Calle Capitulares, 1, 14002 Córdoba, Spain
Plaza de las Tendillas
While visiting the Roman Temple Ruins, you may just want to head for some shopping at the end of the day at the area around Plaza de las Tendillas. This plaza originates in the 1920s and is a good spot for people-watching!
If you love this place so much so that you don't want to head back and want to lengthen your day trip experience, book your accommodation away!
Book to bring along: In the Garden of the Caliph
In the Garden of the Caliph is a historical fiction that is set in the city of Cordoba in Spain in 100AD. This is the time period of the Golden Age where the Jews and the Muslims were living together and has created a beautiful civilisation. Like The Most Magnificent Mosque, it tells of a tale where religious pluralism exists and how the characters travel by boat to the mysterious pool in the garden.
We really hope that by the end of this post, it may have sparked some serious wanderlust and encouraged you to visit the unassuming city of Cordoba! We really fell in love rich histories and amazing medieval architecture of Andalusia and can't wait to visit the other cities in Spain on our next trip. Love Cordoba too? Share your experiences with us in the comments down below!