Córdoba is one of those few places where we actually went back to visit a place for the second time, because we were just so blown away. We’re talking about the world-famous Mezquita of Córdoba, one of the most magnificent buildings we have ever seen. But apart from the major tourist highlights, we found Córdoba really impressive overall.
In this blog article, we will explain why you should definitely stop in Córdoba on your trip through Andalusia. We will also share with you the most important sights and highlights, as well as our personal travel tips for Córdoba.
1. Córdoba in Spain: What to Expect?
Córdoba is often mentioned alongside the mesmerising Mezquita. The monumental building is rightly one of the most significant sights in all of Spain and it will no doubt leave you speechless. A trip to Córdoba, even if just to see the Mezquita, is already worth it.
As impressive as the Mezquita is, Córdoba also has so much more to offer. It’s incredibly charming Old Town is perhaps one of the most beautiful in Andalusia, if you ask us. Scattered with countless decorated courtyards (which they call patios), whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets – you are in for a very wonderful surprise in the heart of Córdoba.
Unique Fact about Córdoba: You will find countless patios here, all of which are beautifully decorated. However, not all of them are open to the public (some require entrance fees, like the Palacio de Viana), but it’s definitely worth trying your luck every now and again. The Cordobeses Festival takes place in Córdoba during May, where they award the city’s most beautiful courtyard. During this week, all patios are free and open to enter. The festival is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Old Town and the Mezquita.
How many days should I plan for Córdoba?
We ourselves stayed in Córdoba for two nights. Despite even having a rather rainy day, we didn’t feel stressed at all during this period and had enough time to visit all the important places.
Córdoba is really quite easy to explore, so if your schedule is rather tight, then you can opt to stay even just one night, if necessary. That way, you may not see everything, but it’s enough to get around all the major highlights.
2. Córdoba Travel Guide and Tips: Most Beautiful Places in Córdoba
Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba
Wow… just WOW! There is just so much to say about this magnificent place, so apologies for the following hype – but the structure is simply so spectacular that it gave us some serious goose bumps.
The Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mezquita for short) is a mosque-cathedral – i.e. a Christian Cathedral in the middle of a mosque. To understand how this came about, let’s jump back briefly into the 6th Century. According to the story, a basilica was built here first but was later converted into a mosque. After the Christian conquered it, they fortunately decided to leave the mosque be and instead, built a gigantic cathedral inside it.
The history of the Mezquita is a uniquely contrasting one and that’s exactly how it feels when you see it for yourself. The mix of Islamic and Christian architecture can hardly be put into words.
Incidentally, one of the most famous photo spots are the arches with their characteristic terracotta-colours and white stripes. You can find them all over the Mezquita, but they look a little different in every corner as history has added multiple layers over time.
Mezquita Bell Tower
The Mezquita also has a Bell Tower, which you can access and enjoy a fantastic view over the roof structure of the Mezquita and over the whole of Córdoba. The viewing platform requires a little climb up to a height of around 40 meters. It doesn’t sound that high, but the panorama is still really stunning.
Information about buying a ticket to the Mezquita
The Mezquita is the main attraction in Córdoba. This means, you can certainly expect long waiting times during the high season. However, you can also buy your ticket in advance on the official website, which does speed things up a little.
With regards to the access of the Bell Tower, things work a little differently. Access is every half hour and is limited to a certain number of people. During our visit in the off-season (November), we were able to get our tickets online the day before without any problems – and for the time-slot we wanted. When we got there, we found out that they had actually sold out of tickets for our specific time-slot! The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the availability (see the official website) and buy your ticket in advance if necessary.
Official website: Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba
Information about visiting the Mezquita
Price for Mezquita: 11 Euros
Price for Bell Tower: 2 Euros
Mezquita opening times: Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm // Sundays and public holidays with trade fairs from 8:30 am to 11:30 am and from 3 pm to 7 pm (reduced opening times from November to February until 6 pm)
Our tip: There are also evening tours in the Mezquita (“The Soul of Córdoba”, 18 Euros per person), which are apparently very worth seeing. Unfortunately, when we were there, an evening visit was not available to us. But we can just imagine how incredibly impressive that would be!
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
The second biggest highlight in Córdoba is the Palace of the Christian Kings, called Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Spanish. It dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Once upon a time, the Catholic Kings resided in this fortress – hence the name.
We particularly liked the spacious, very well-kept garden area. Here, you can walk past fragrant orange trees, water features and fountains. Despite it raining on the day of our visit, that didn’t stop the spell.
The fortress itself can also be visited, but to be honest, it was a not the highlight of the visit. However, the view from the two accessible towers, the Torre de los Leones and the Torre del Homenaje, is definitely worth seeing.
Information about visiting the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
Price: 5 Euros
Opening times: September 16 to June 14: Tuesday to Friday from 8:15 am to 8 pm / Saturday from 9:30 am to 6 pm / Sunday and public holidays from 8:15 am to 2:45 pm // June 15 to September 15: Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm (Apparently, these opening times are subject to change. Last entry 30 minutes before closing.)
Old Town & Jewish Quarter of Córdoba (Judería)
The two most significant sights (Mezquita and Alcázar) are in the middle of the historic Old Town. However, let us briefly introduce you to another lovely district called Judería – a former Jewish quarter. One thing you will notice immediately, is that the cityscape is a little bit more authentic here.
The Judería is located west or northwest of the Mezquita. Just turn a few corners and you will find yourself in a beautiful labyrinth of cobblestone streets and white houses. Some streets in the Judería are lined with souvenir shops and restaurants, but you’ll also find some lovely quiet corners all to yourself. In the Judería, there is also a small but lovely synagogue that you can visit (entrance is free).
One of the most famous and most photographed streets in Córdoba is the Calleja de las Flores, the flower alley. It is only a stone’s throw away from the Mezquita. (Not in the Judería, but on the other side of the Mezquita). The street lives up to its name 100 percent: countless flower pots decorate the white houses. Although rather crowded, its a very worthwhile place to visit.
Palacio de Viana
The beautiful Palacio de Viana was one of our personal highlights in Córdoba. If you have a soft spot for uniquely designed courtyards, like we do, then you will love it here!
The Palacio de Viana consists of a total of twelve patios and a garden, which are all connected by a circular path. Each courtyard is special in its own way and very artistically designed. For example, there is the patio de los naranjos, the inner courtyard of the orange trees. Another highlight is the patio de las columnas, i.e. the inner courtyard of the columns – a truly beautiful, Roman-like location.
The palace building and the courtyards have been built over the course of five centuries, therefore, the patios display a unique diversity in their architecture. The palace map you get with your visit is very informative and very handy to have with you on your tour. You should plan about an hour for your visit.
Information about visiting the Palacio de Viana
Price: 10 Euros
Opening times: July and August: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm // Other months: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm / Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm
Puente Romano (The Roman Bridge in Córdoba)
As you stand before the Puente Romano Bridge, you can tell immediately how much history there is behind it. The monumental stone bridge crosses the Río Guadalquivir with 16 arches. It was supposedly built in the 1st century and has been rebuilt or renovated countless times since then.
Since the Puente Romano is closed to traffic, you can take a leisurely stroll across the bridge. On the other side of the bridge you come to the Torre de la Calahorra, which is home to a museum. You can also take some great photos on that side with the Old Town of Córdoba in the background.
We actually came to the bridge rather early in the morning and really enjoyed watching the sunrise. It’s also great here at sunset because it sets directly behind the city – creating a perfect photo opportunity.
Plaza de la Corredera
The very spacious Plaza de la Corredera is not one of your classic sights, but still one that is worth a stopover. The main square dates back to the 17th century and is mostly encircled by a characteristic terracotta-coloured facade.
During the day, there is perhaps not much going on, but on weekends and during the evenings, the chairs of the cafés and bars are completely full. According to the owner of our accommodation, the Plaza de la Corredera is also a popular meeting place for locals.
In our opinion, the Plaza de la Corredera is not one of the major highlights in Córdoba, but if you still have some time, it certainly makes for a nice stop.
3. Food and Drinks: Tips for Restaurants and Cafes in Córdoba
In the Old Town of Córdoba you will find countless tapas bars and restaurants. Many of them are rather touristy – but of course that doesn’t always mean a bad thing. Generally speaking, the culinary culture in Spain is very meat-heavy. So we decided to start looking specifically for restaurants catered towards vegetarians… and we found some!
Restaurante La Boca: This stylish restaurant is an absolute must go, especially for lunch. On weekdays, they offer a vegetarian lunch menu for just 10 Euros – this also includes a coffee or the daily dessert special. The Mediterranean dishes here are served at a slightly higher notch – in the evening, the restaurant prices also become a little more expensive.
Amaltea: We enjoyed an excellent meal in this colourful restaurant. If you are vegan or vegetarian, then you are in good hands here at Amaltea. The selection is surprisingly large and the menu also has a lot of dishes with meat and fish.
4. Where to Stay in Córdoba: Our Hotel Tip
We stayed two nights at the Patio del Posadero boutique hotel and can highly recommend it. It has only six rooms – each one individually designed with its own unique theme.
The hotel is incredibly welcoming and has a cozy family-like vibe with great attention to detail. The owners (a group of young people) are super helpful and have some great tips up their sleeves. Breakfast also deserves a huge praise – they serve both a sweet and a salty dish daily, as well as an impressive selection of olive oil.
Location is amazing too. The Hotel Patio del Posadero is located in the Old Town, down a very quiet alley – about a 10 minute walk from the Mezquita. So you can reach everything by foot. The hotel also has a small parking lot just a few streets away. All in all highly recommended! We would definitely stay here again without a doubt!
You can book the hotel here: Patio del Posadero
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This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, then we receive a small commission from the company. However, this does not change the price for you at all. We really appreciate it and thank you so much!
Have you ever been to Córdoba? Or perhaps you’re planning to travel there and still have some questions? Feel free to leave us a comment below – we look forward to reading your additional tips and experiences, as well as answering any questions you may have!