Visitors to Córdoba with a penchant for Baroque churches should take a day trip to the charming town of Priego de Córdoba, which is known to have the most beautiful collection of such buildings in Spain. Located just over an hour’s drive south of Córdoba, Priego also offers a stunningly-restored Moorish castle and a charming old town, Barrio de la Villa. This cluster of centuries-old white houses sits precariously on top of a cliff, overlooking the untamed expanses of the Sierras Subbeticas National Park (check out the Balcon del Aldarve viewpoint). It is also home to plenty of traditional tapas bars where you can refuel, many of which have lovely outside terraces offering humbling views of the surrounding landscape, which produces some of the finest olive oil in Spain.
Located on the northern tip of the Guadalquivir river—which runs down through Córdoba and Seville before spilling out into the Atlantic via the Gulf of Cadiz—is the charming countryside town of Montoro, spread over several gentle hills on the lush riverbanks. That it’s only a 45-minute drive from the regional capital makes it perfect for a day trip, during which you can take in the town’s principal historic attraction, the Puente de las Dondas. According to legend, this elegant 16th century bridge was financed by the local women, who pawned their jewelry to pay for its construction. There’s also an olive oil museum, in which you can learn about how the region’s most sought-after product is made.
A pretty little town located about 45 miles south of Córdoba, Puente Genil is known throughout Andalusia for its elaborate Semana Santa (Easter) celebrations, and for producing a kind of sweet pickle called membrillo, which is made from quince. Extending eastwards from the banks of the river after which it is named (which is crossed by the 16th century Puente de Miragenil), it is also home to some beautiful churches and squares, the latter of which boast sunny terraces from which you can admire the old buildings that surround you. This town is still relatively unknown among visitors to Córdoba, so it never gets that busy, even during the summer months.
If the crowds of Córdoba get too much, then the perfect antidote is only about a 45-minute drive north of the city. Espiel makes the other pueblos blancos in this article look like bustling metropolises, so remote and rustic is this former mining village. Home to a population of just over 2,000, it extends up one side of a hill, at the top of which you can take in panoramic views from the Mirador de los Pinos observation platform. Only the most curious travelers head to Espiel, so you’ll be able to explore its quiet streets and squares in peace, undisturbed by other visitors. And when you need a break, head into one of the many traditional little tapas bars and blend in among the locals—you’re unlikely to hear any other language than Spanish being spoken.
Pozoblanco is one of the better-known pueblo blancos in Córdoba province, and is located about an hour’s drive from the regional capital, making it ideal for a day trip. It has all the graces and charms you’d expect from a small Andalusian town—whitewashed houses, narrow little lanes, sun-drenched squares with old men sitting on benches in the early evening—which can be enjoyed away from the tourist crush of Córdoba itself. Pozoblanco’s pretty bullring is famous throughout Spain for being the arena in which Paquirri, one of the most popular matadors of the late 20th century, was fatally gored during a bullfight in 1984.