Imagine old cobbled streets, narrow lanes overflowing with colourful flowers, potted plants, whose florets hang effortlessly from wrought-iron balconies. A little town with a fascinating history; which feels traditional yet manages to intertwine modern bars & restaurants into its historic facade. Whilst its streets are lined with some incredibly old and historically significant buildings; they are also filled with students who sit on their stone-paved plazas, sipping cervezas and eating tapas and breathe life into this old town.
And you have the charismatic little town of Cordoba.
Cordoba is a city in the south of Spain, about 2 hours from Malaga, yet feels more like a little town. It is a lovely place to spend a couple of days away from the busier, more relentless cities of Spain, and to learn more about the countries history. It is also home to one of the most important and spectacular Islamic buildings in the world; The Mezquita.
If you are looking for what to do in Cordoba, then look no further. We have pulled together this guide to include the best things to see and do, where to sleep and where to eat. We spent 2 days here and felt it was enough time to see the main attractions without being too rushed!
the best things to do in cordoba
The first thing we would always recommend you do when visiting Cordoba, or any other city for that matter, is to take a free city walking tour. This enables you to get your bearings, learn about the history of the city and see the main points of interest. This way, you can decide what you want to go back and see or pay an entrance fee for as the majority of the time, entrance into the attractions aren't included in the walking tours. We took a tour with OWAY tours which we found interesting and enjoyable.
VISIT THE MEZQUITA
We can't possibly talk about the best things to do in Cordoba without mentioning the spectacular Mezquita. The Mezquita is an architectural wonder, a place whose expanse and beauty will always need to be seen to be believed; no matter how many times you've read about it in your guide book. The Mezquita is one of the worlds most important Islamic buildings, and signifies a time of Spain's history when Cordoba was the capital of Islamic Spain, and Europe's largest and most powerful city.
Today, the mosque is now a Catholic cathedral, which explains why it is called the Mezquita Cathedral. When the Muslim dynasty in Spain came to an end, a cathedral was constructed in the heart of the mosque.
Entrance to the mosque cathedral costs €10 between 9am and 5pm; however, if you visit between 8:30am and 9:00am then entrance is free, and the mosque will be almost completely empty; enabling you to wander around and get lost in its magnificence. Once finished in the mosque, you can climb up to the bell tower where tickets only cost €2 and you get panoramic views over Cordoba. Sometimes tickets sell out quickly so, if possible, purchase your tickets in advance or you may have to buy them for a time slot later in the afternoon.
TAKE A WALK ALONG THE ROMAN BRIDGE (EL PUENTE ROMANO)
This ancient bridge once connected the rest of Andalusia to the Mezquita; but today, it's a lovely place to wander along and, looking back, it offers stunning views of the mosque. At the far end of the bridge you will also find the Museum of Al-Andalus Life.
Fun Fact: This bridge also appeared in Game of Thrones
VISIT THE ALCAZAR DE LOS REYES CRISTIANOS
The gardens of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is an ancient fortress, and its gardens are reason enough to pay this place a visit. Filled with colourful flowers, plentiful fish ponds, countless fountains and lined with orange trees; at only €4 entry, it is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. Alternatively, if you visit before 9:30am in the morning, entry is free. Either way, make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card!
MEANDER THROUGH CORDOBA'S PRETTY LANES
Cordoba's picturesque, narrow streets are a joy to wander through. Lined with lots of colourful flowers, and "Instagram worthy" shots at every turn. We loved simply wandering around past the various patios and terraces with coffee in hand, taking in all the sights of this pretty little city. Even the doors in Cordoba are beautiful, with ornate and intricate designs.
where to stay in cordoba
We opted to stay in Las Casa de La Juderia de Cordoba, a stunning hotel in the heart of Cordoba. The hotel is utterly charming, filled with patios and fountains which are lit up at night. The rooms were also very spacious, clean and the bed was ridiculously huge and comfy. It even has an outdoor pool!
We had breakfast included with the room which had a wide selection of both hot and cold options; perfect for filling up on before a day of sight seeing!
where to eat in cordoba
For lunch, then we went to Restaurants Casa Pepe which was recommended by our hotel, and has been part of the Cordoba food scene since 1930. There are two menus here; an a la carte menu which serves a variety of bigger plates or a tapas menu, which serves smaller plates. Both menus serve traditional Andalusian food so it was good being able to sample some of the most common foods from this area. The restaurant had a "fine dining" kind of feel, and was more on the expensive side. Some of the dishes we tried were lovely, however a lot of options on the menu were fried which became a little sickening after a while. The almond soup with a pear-like jelly was delicious though!
Another great place we found was Mercado Victoria. This little marketplace, was filled with different food places with a seating area in the middle. You could get everything from Paella (which was amazing!) to churros for dessert.
If you are looking for a good coffee then look no further than Horno La Tortuga, everything here is homemade and the coffee is delicious. La Tarterie also has an incredible selection of cakes and great coffee to match.
how to get to cordoba
We travelled to Cordoba from Malaga, which only cost €5 and took 4 hours. We used the bus company Alsa who we have travelled with before and would highly recommend. They tend to be the cheapest option for travelling around Spain and so far, all journeys have been punctual and comfortable. There are also daily bus services from other cities too, including Seville, Madrid and Granada.
Alternatively, you can also get the train to Cordoba from the above cities which is much faster than the bus, however, significantly more expensive. To get the train from Malaga to Cordoba is only 50 minutes, however, will set you back at least €40, so we opted for the cheaper bus option instead!
the best time to visit cordoba
Cordoba gets ridiculously hot in the summer months, and surprisingly cold in the winter months. We visited Cordoba in January and temperatures were around 2 degrees Celsius in the mornings, rising to around 10 degrees throughout the day.
Our walking tour guide, Carmen, told us that last summer the temperature was around 45 degrees Celsius from July through to October! Even for the locals this is pretty unbearable so we definitely wouldn't recommend visiting Cordoba in the height of summer.
The best time to go to Cordoba is in Spring, with April and May being the best months weather wise.
We really loved our time in Cordoba, it was brimming with history, architecture, cute little eateries and great coffee. Spending a couple of days here simply wandering around, without a jam packed itinerary was exactly what we needed. As it is such a small city, everything is easily accessible on foot and you don't even need a map. It was the perfect stop off in between Malaga and Madrid, to catch our breath and slow down a little bit before jumping back into the bustling city life of Madrid.
Half This World Away was a guest of Las Casas de la Juderia de Cordoba, however as always, all opinions remain our own.