How to Spend a Day in Córdoba, Spain

Explore the delights of Córdoba with our insider's guide
Explore the delights of Córdoba with our insider's guide | © Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Mark Nayler
28 July 2020

Córdoba in southern Spain is home to one of the region’s most famous landmarks, the Medieval Mosque-Cathedral, a hybrid structure that speaks eloquently of the two cultures that have shaped Andalusia over the centuries. But there’s much more to this beautiful city than its most iconic building, including flower-filled courtyards, giant tortillas and impressive Roman architecture. Read on for our tips on how to get the most out of a day in Córdoba, southern Spain.

Explore the old town

Architectural Landmark
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Viana Palace at the courtyard gardens in Cordoba, Spain.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

While wandering around Córdoba’s oldest and most attractive neighbourhood, San Basilio, look out for the flower-filled patios hiding behind iron gates: every May these are opened to the public (for free) as part as the Feria de Patios, in which cordobeses compete for the honour of having the prettiest internal courtyard. In the equally historic neighbourhood of Santa Marina there’s a monument to Manolete – a famous cordobese bullfighter killed in the ring in 1947 – situated just around the corner from an old-school tapas joint of the same name (it’s the only bar on Plaza Santa Marina). Both are a five-minute walk from the 15th-century Palacio de Viana, where you can visit twelve historic Córdoban courtyards.

Visit the Mosque-Cathedral

Cathedral, Mosque, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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CORDOBA, SPAIN - CIRCA 2014: Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. The site underwent conversion from a church to a mosque and back again
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

Córdoba’s Mezquita-Catedral, or Mosque-Cathedral, is one of the greatest surviving relics of Al-Andaluz, as medieval Moorish Spain was called. Construction began in 784 CE and wasn’t completed until 987, at which time Córdoba was one of the west’s most sophisticated and important cities. Charles V built a Renaissance nave amongst the interior’s iconic archways in the sixteenth century, resulting in the double-aspect landmark we see today. Tickets cost €11 and can be bought on the Mosque’s website in advance or on site.

Eat tortilla for lunch

Bar, Spanish
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Once you’re done at the Mezquita head to tiny Bar Santos to sample its signature dish. Located directly opposite the Mosque-Cathedral, Santos is famous for doing the largest tortillas in Córdoba: wedges are cut from thick tyres displayed on the bar then served on paper plates with plastic forks. Accompany yours with a caña (small beer) and take it over the road, where you can sit next to the Mosque-Cathedral’s ancient walls and people-watch as you eat.

Visit the Alcázar

Bridge, Park
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Christopher Columbus meets King and Queen, Statues, Columbus, Ferdinand, Isabel, Alcazar, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain
© Andrew Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
After lunch at Bar Santos, it’s a ten-minute walk to another of Córdoba’s architectural landmarks, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, or Castle of the Christian Kings. Its construction was ordered by King Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328, on the site of a Moorish fortress that had once housed the largest library in the west. The Alcázar’s standout features include its opulent interiors and its gardens, which abound with ponds, fountains and orange, lemon and cypress trees.

Take an early-evening stroll along the river

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Spain, Andalucia Region, Cordoba City, Roman bridge, Cordoba Cathedral-Mosque
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
When the day’s heat starts to fade, take a paseo (stroll) along the banks of the Guadalquivir, the river that also runs through Seville. From the Alcázar, follow the waterside thoroughfare of Calle Ronda de Isasa in the direction of the Mezquita and, directly opposite the city’s most famous building, you’ll soon come to the Puente Romano, or Roman Bridge. This elegant stone crossing dates from the 1st century BCE and was extensively renovated by the Moors in the 10th century CE.

Enjoy dinner at a rooftop restaurant

Bar, Tapas, Spanish, $$$
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Round off your day in Córdoba with dinner and drinks at Casa Pepe de la Juderia, a traditional Andalusian eatery just over the road from the Mosque-Cathedral. The menu revolves around southern classics such as stewed rabo de toro (oxtail) and salmorejo, a cold tomato and garlic soup that’s native to Córdoba. Dishes are available as tapas in the ground-floor bar or raciones (full portions or main meals) on the romantic rooftop terrace, the perfect spot from which to watch the sunset.
These recommendations were updated on July 28, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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