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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 26 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

No city better distils the essence of old Andalusia than Cordoba. From the 9th to the 11th centuries, it was the most populated and brilliant metropolis in Europe, a past glory that lingers in its sublime Great Mosque, one of the world’s greatest buildings.

But all of old Cordoba is a World Heritage site, irresistible for history lovers and romantics, for getting lost in its intricate maze of medieval lanes, for its flowery patios and picturesque relics of its Roman and Moorish past, including the ruins of the spectacular Medina Azahara, the palace of the Caliphs.

Orientation

The Mezquita is in the old Jewish Quarter (the Juderia) on the Guadalquivir river, while just south is  San Basilio, site of the Roman bridge and medieval Alcazar of the Christian kings.

Modern Cordoba’s Centro district is just north of the Jewish Quarter, around key hub Plaza Tendillas; further north is the Santa Marina district, with the Viana Palace, famous for a dozen patios, and an ancient Roman temple.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Exterior of the marketplace, with many arches and people walking around
Experience

El Zoco

Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Also known as the Mercado de la Artesania, this patio house in Calle Judio hosted the first handicraft shops in Spain. Come here to peruse the city’s traditional arts – leather, ceramics and silver – and watch silversmiths make delicate filigree.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Exterior of a building with purple trailing flowers covering the facade
Experience

Fiesta of Patios

Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

For two weeks in May, home-owners in Cordoba’s old neighbourhoods show off their gorgeous white-washed courtyards to the public, filled with flowers in a mind-bobbling explosion of colour and fragrance.

Best for ages: Any | Free | 2 weeks

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Stone hammam beds under arches beside the bathing pool
Experience

Hammam at Hammam Al Andalus

Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Next to La Mezquita, a small hammam in a traditional Andalusian brick, tiles and garden setting. The massages are excellent including the hot stone bed option; it’s so relaxing your two-hour slot will seem to fly by. Book online here.

Best for ages: 18+ | £29 | 1-3 hours

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Sunny ruins of the Upper Basilica building from the Medina Azahara
Experience

Medina Azahara

Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

The partially excavated and reconstructed halls, mosque, gate, porticoes and gardens of a 112-hectare mysterious palace city. It was built in the 10th century by Abd-ar-Rahman III, the first Caliph of Cordoba; now a World Heritage Site.

Best for ages: 18+ | £17

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Best of Cordoba Guided Tour

Best of Cordoba Guided Tour

Cordoba

Explore this historic and cultural city of Andalusia where you will develop your knowledge of the famous Jewish quarter, the Mezquita, a mos...

€42 | Rating 4.64 / 5 [62 ratings]

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Bike Tour Córdoba

Bike Tour Córdoba

Cordoba

On this bike tour through Cordoba, you visit the most beautiful places in the city. Of course you see the Mezquita, the Jewish quarter, squa...

€29 | Rating 4.93 / 5 [59 ratings]

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City Sightseeing Cordoba Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Cordoba Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Cordoba

There is no better way to see Cordoba than on this City Sightseeing double-decker, hop-on hop-off bus! See top Cordoba attractions on this c...

€20 | Rating 4.23 / 5 [103 ratings]

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Classic Cordoba: Mosque, Synagogue, and Jewish Quarter Guided Tour

Classic Cordoba: Mosque, Synagogue, and Jewish Quarter Guided Tour

Cordoba

Embark on a 2-hour guided tour of classic Cordoba, one of the most interesting and must see locations in this region. Make the most of your ...

€35 | Rating 4.54 / 5 [73 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Balcon de Cordoba

Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

An evocative 17th-century mansion with plush rooms, a charming courtyard, a panoramic rooftop bar and a superb location near La Mezquita.

Official star rating:

Hotel Madinat

Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Delightful 11-bedoom hotel for couples, packed full of quirky charm and local flavor, right in the heart of old Cordoba. 

Official star rating:

When to go

Peak season is spring, with Semana Santa and other fiestas: Christmas is another busy time. The city roasts in July and August; if you go then, take a long afternoon siesta. Autumn is lovely and warm; January and February are quiet, and can be rainy, but offer a good chance to feel like a local.

Getting there and away

The nearest airports are in Seville and Malaga, both less than an hour from Cordoba by high-speed trains (AVE); even if you fly into Madrid, you can be in Cordoba at an hour and 40 minutes.

Getting around

The city is so compact you won’t need any public transport; you’ll want to just park your car and leave it. Sites outside the centre, such as the Medina Azahara, 8km from Cordoba, are perfect for visiting by bike; some rental shops offer guided tours.

Where to stay

Cordoba is compact, and for sightseeing the best places to stay are the hotels concentrated in the warren of lanes in the central barrios (neighbourhoods), all of which are in easy walking distance of the sights, restaurants and bars.  Santa Marina and San Basilio are two of the prettiest, and the lack of traffic means they remain pleasantly quiet in spite of tourist numbers.

Motorists may find the central barrios a bit tricky as access by car is extremely limited; if you’re driving make sure you know where to park before arriving or look for a hotel away from the centre.

There are bargains to be had by the train station, as long as you don’t mind the 20-minute walk to the centre.

Where to eat or drink

There are delightful restaurants, tabernas  and tapas bars scattered throughout Cordoba’s medieval core, with large concentrations of terraces along the Guadalquivir on Calle Ronda de Isasa north of the Roman bridge.

Where to shop

The Jewish quarter in the heart of Cordoba is packed with shops, from souvenir tat to quality leather and ceramics.

East of the centre, the Sunday morning Mercadillo Arenal along Calle de El Infierno has over 200 stalls, selling handicrafts, olive oil, Iberian hams etc.

Look for the city’s  famous traditional crafts – leather, Arabic-style fabrics, jewellery, ceramics and guitars.

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