Best Things To Do in Cordoba

Cordoba is one of the most exciting cities in Spain thanks to its fascinating history, the warmth of its people and its impressive cultural legacy.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

16 min read

Best Things To Do in Cordoba

Views of the city of Cordoba | ©Saad Chaudhry

Cordoba is, without a doubt, a perfect destination to make a getaway for any occasion and that will surprise you, no matter how you look at it, you will fall in love with Cordoba! I leave you with a list of the best things to see and do so you don't miss anything and make the most of this charming city.

1. Discover the Cathedral - Mosque of Cordoba

Columned interior of the Mosque-Cathedral| ©dr_zoidberg
Columned interior of the Mosque-Cathedral| ©dr_zoidberg

To think of Cordoba is to inevitably imagine its famous Mosque. It is possibly the first monument that all travelers agree on when asking what to see in Cordoba during a visit.

The great protagonist and the queen of all eyes. It radiates a unique beauty that does not leave indifferent any traveler who has the opportunity to contemplate it in person.

Declared a World Heritage Site in 1984 by Unesco, it is considered the largest monument in the Islamic West, but at the same time it is a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary since the time of the Reconquest. All this makes this temple one of the most enigmatic monuments in Spain and one of its twelve treasures along with the Alhambra in Granada, the Basilica del Pilar in Zaragoza or the Roman Theater in Merida, among others.

Observing it inside is like taking a trip back in time to the heyday of the Caliphate of Cordoba. It summarizes the evolution of Umayyad art in Spain mixed with elements of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style of the Christian temple, resulting in a true work of art at the service of God and human spirituality.

There are so many details to see in this temple and so many stories within its walls that in my opinion, the best way to explore it is to take a guided tour to make sure you don't miss anything. In my experience, it is well worth it.

In the post Tickets for the Mosque of Cordoba I tell you how to visit this icon of Hispano-Muslim Umayyad art and how to complete the experience with other must-see sites in the city.

Useful information about Cordoba

  • Where to go? Cardenal Herrero Street, 1.
  • Opening hours? Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM / Sundays and holidays: from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM and from 3 PM to 6 PM.

Book tickets for the Mosque of Cordoba

2. Enjoy the sunset at the Roman Bridge of Cordoba

Roman Bridge of Cordoba| ©Paul VanDerWerf
Roman Bridge of Cordoba| ©Paul VanDerWerf

Very close to the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba is the Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River as it passes through the city, which you can reach by taking a pleasant walk. At present it serves as a link between the city of the Cathedral district with the Campo de la Verdad.

Considering that it has thousands of years of history, it is worth admiring the good state of preservation in which it is and it seems to me a privilege to be able to walk on this perfect work of Roman engineering.

However, over time it has undergone some reconstructions that have modified the original structure as the Tower of Calahorra dating from the Reconquest, the Arch of Triumph built in the sixteenth century or the image of the archangel St. Raphael placed in the seventeenth century.

The Roman Bridge of Cordoba was built in the first century A.D. under the rule of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and was part of the Via Augusta that crossed half of Europe to communicate Rome with Cadiz.

Take advantage of your visit to Cordoba to watch the sunset from the Roman Bridge as there are wonderful views of the river, the cathedral-mosque and the nature reserve of the Sotos de la Albolafia, where several species of birds nest. There are many tours and guided visits around the city of Cordoba that take you around this and other must-see monuments.

Useful information about Cordoba

  • Where to go? Avenida del Alcázar, s/n.
  • What time of day? You can visit it whenever you want, but the best time of the day, for me, is at sunset.

Book a guided tour in Cordoba

3. Enter the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs of Cordoba

Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs of Cordoba| ©Gonzalo Castán
Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs of Cordoba| ©Gonzalo Castán

The old part of the city is one of the largest in Europe, which houses an inexhaustible wealth of monuments. Near the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba is also located the Alcazar of the Christian Kings, a medieval palace-fortress built by King Alfonso XI in 1328 on the remains of the old Muslim Caliphate palace.

It is another of the most visited monuments by tourists, not only for being a landmark of the military architecture of the Christian Reconquest in Cordoba but because this palace was the scene of important episodes in the history of Spain as the strategic planning of the capture of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs or as the visit that Christopher Columbus made here to these monarchs to present his project to reach Asia across the Atlantic and that would lead to the discovery of America.

As you pass through the gates of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos de Córdoba, I recommend that you climb the Torre de los Leones, one of the four towers that outline the complex. From here there are stunning panoramic views of the Alcazar, its gardens and surroundings such as the cathedral-mosque, the Roman bridge or the Guadalquivir River.

Inside, my favorite areas are the pools, fountains and gardens decorated with lush trees and exotic flowers. On a sunny day it is a fantastic place to see in Cordoba to take pictures.

But in the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos there are many other amazing spaces such as the Museum of Roman Mosaics, the wall or the Royal Baths. It's a very nice place!

Useful information about Cordoba

  • Where? Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n.
  • Hours? Tuesday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 8:15 PM / Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM / Sundays and holidays from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

Visit the Royal Stables of Cordoba

You can complete your visit to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos de Córdoba by visiting the Royal Stables, which are located next to the palace. Declared a National Historic Monument in 1929, King Philip II founded them in the sixteenth century in order to create the purebred Spanish horse.

Today you can see the main stable, the stallion stables and a riding arena, but its main attraction is the collection of 19th century carriages. In addition, the fantastic equestrian show "Pasión y duende del Caballo Andaluz", one of the most beloved shows in Cordoba, takes place here.

Useful Information

  • Where? 1, Caballerizas Reales Street.
  • Opening hours? Monday from 10 AM to 1:30 PM / Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM and from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM / Sundays and holidays: from 10 AM to 1:30 PM.

Reserve tickets to the Alcazar de los Reyes

4. Tour the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba

Jewish Quarter of Cordoba| ©Francisco Anzola
Jewish Quarter of Cordoba| ©Francisco Anzola

One of the essential visits to make in the old town of Cordoba is undoubtedly the Jewish Quarter.

Strolling through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Jewish quarter of Cordoba is an experience that I enjoyed very much because we are in front of the best preserved medieval Jewish quarter in Europe.

During the tour you can contemplate the living legacy of the history of this community in Spain through its whitewashed buildings, courtyards decorated with flowers and squares. The Jewish quarter of Cordoba shows the typical layout of Muslim cities and stretches from the Puerta de Almodovar to the Cathedral-Mezquita.

What to see during the tour?

The best place to begin to unravel the secrets of the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba is the Casa de Sefarad, a cultural institution that preserves the Hispanic-Jewish heritage. A must-see for those who want to learn about the history of this community in Spain and are looking for more than just postcard photos in this itinerary.

Next to it is the synagogue, a small treasure of Mudejar style and one of the very few historic synagogues still remaining in the country. A few meters from the temple we find the Maimonides square dedicated to the famous Jewish philosopher whose statue can be seen in the nearby Tiberias square.

Other places of great interest to visit during a tour of the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba are the Andalusi House, the Calleja de las Flores or the souk, one of the most visited courtyards of Cordoba. Do not miss our article on the best tours of the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba.

Useful information

  • Where is it located? In the center of Cordoba, northwest of the Mosque.
  • When? Ideally, you should walk around this area in the morning or in the afternoon, when the neighborhood is at its most lively. You can also do it with a guided tour.

Isabel's Traveller Tip

Remember to take a picture in the popular Calleja del Pañuelo, one of the narrowest streets in Cordoba and in Europe, the width is as wide as a stretched handkerchief!

5. Be amazed by the Roman Temple

Roman Temple of Cordoba| ©Eric Titcombe
Roman Temple of Cordoba| ©Eric Titcombe

One of the places to see in Cordoba that impressed me the most during my trip is the Roman Temple. It is amazing to contemplate the good state of preservation of this structure dating from the first century AD and was discovered by chance during the expansion of the city hall in 1950.

Dedicated to the imperial cult, it is a building of large dimensions formed by six Corinthian-style free-standing columns at the entrance. In front of them was the altar and the temple was raised on a podium. It is believed that it was part of the provincial forum together with the circus.

You will find it in Capitulares street and you will not get tired of taking pictures of it. It is a sample of the grandeur and importance that Cordoba had in Roman times. In fact, in its day the Roman Temple was one of the most imposing buildings of the empire because of its immense size could be seen from the Via Augusta, the entrance road to the town.

Useful information

  • Where? Calle Capitulares, 1.
  • When? You can see it whenever you want, but the best photos will be taken at mid-afternoon, with a softer light illuminating its façade.

6. Climb the Calahorra Tower and contemplate the views of the city

Calahorra Tower| ©-JvL-
Calahorra Tower| ©-JvL-

Throughout this route through the old town you will surely have noticed the vast historical and cultural heritage of the city. The truth is that it is a delight to explore all the ancient monuments to see in Cordoba.

But behind each one of them there is a history that contributed to create the city we know today and that is worth knowing.

At the Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus you can delve into this important chapter of Spanish history and take a trip back in time to the Middle Ages to discover what the Caliphate capital was like at that time and how the values of the West and East were mixed in the streets of the largest city in Europe.

This museum is located at the southern end of the Roman Bridge, in what is known as the Calahorra Tower, and it was a visit that I found most interesting. Not only for the exhibits inside the Living Museum of Al-Andalus but also for the history of the structure itself that houses it.

What to see in the museum?

Visiting this museum is a good opportunity to get to know, through its exhibits and projections, the Cordoba of the three cultures (Christian, Muslim and Jewish) in the Middle Ages, its architecture, its scientific knowledge, its music and great personalities such as Alfonso X "The Wise", Maimonides or Averroes.

I also recommend entering the museum for the unique panoramic view from the top floor of the Calahorra Tower, from where you can see the Alcazar of the Christian Kings, the Roman Bridge and the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba. It is an excellent opportunity to take some of the best photos of the city.

Useful information

  • Where? At the south end of the Roman Bridge in the Tower of Calahorra.
  • Opening hours? Monday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM in winter (from October 1 to April 30) / Monday to Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM and from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM in summer (from May 1 to September 30).

7. Marvel at the art and the courtyards of the Palacio de Viana

Inner courtyard of the Palacio de Viana| ©Andrew and Annemarie
Inner courtyard of the Palacio de Viana| ©Andrew and Annemarie

Another of the most beautiful places to see in Cordoba is the Palacio de Viana located in the neighborhood of Santa Marina.

Many tourists come to this luxurious residence of the fourteenth century attracted by the beauty of its twelve outdoor courtyards, which concentrate the essence of Islamic and Roman architecture so characteristic of the city.

These courtyards are a true wonder, a tribute to the light of Andalusia and a haven of peace that has a variety of plants, trees and fountains that are a joy to walk through.

However, the Palacio de Viana is much more. It is also a beautiful museum spread over two floors with collections of great artistic and historical value.

I was very surprised by all the pieces that can be seen here: from Flemish tapestries, porcelain and 17th century furniture to antique books, period firearms and several works by Goya. Without a doubt, one of my favorite visits in Cordoba.

Useful information

  • Where to go? Plaza de Don Gome, 2.
  • Opening hours? Hours from September to June. Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 7 PM. Sundays and holidays from 10 AM to 3 PM / July to August. Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 3 PM. Fridays and Saturdays from 9 AM to 3 PM.

8. Relax with a hammam ritual in the Arab baths of Cordoba

Relax with a hammam ritual| ©Sandra Vallaure
Relax with a hammam ritual| ©Sandra Vallaure

Cordoba is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Its old town has an inexhaustible wealth of monuments and on every corner there is something amazing to see to soak up culture, history and tradition.

Now, if after so much walking around the city center you need to take a break and relax for a while, I recommend you to go to one of the best Arab baths in Cordoba to enjoy a unique hammam experience in a magical place with the essence and aesthetics of the traditional baths of Al-Andalus.

If you have never visited the hammam before, this getaway to the ancient Umayyad capital can be your great opportunity to do something different and original in Cordoba.

What are the Arab baths of Cordoba?

The hammam is a type of steam bath that the ancient Arabs used to cleanse the body and relax the mind.

During a getaway to Cordoba is a fantastic plan to do to feel in your own skin how was the hammam ritual that the ancient inhabitants of Al-Andalus carried out and that has come to our days for our enjoyment, fortunately.

The secret of the Arab baths of Cordoba lies in combining cold and heat with steam. This contrast of temperatures achieves many benefits for the body such as relaxing the muscles, reducing stress, improving circulation and breathing and eliminating toxins from the skin, among others.

What to do in the Arab Baths of Cordoba?

Once you enter the Arab baths of Cordoba you will see that it is not a typical spa but the interior decoration is designed to stimulate your senses and make visitors believe that they have made a trip back in time to the splendor of the ancient Al-Andalus.

If there is one thing that fascinated me about the hammam, it was the relaxed atmosphere inside, where time seems to stand still. The rooms are characterized by their Arabic-style decoration with Islamic arches and beautiful starry ceilings that allow access to natural light.

In addition, the sound of the water, the aroma of the essences that permeate the air, the Andalusian music and the soft light of the candles, manage to transport you to a state of wonderful calm. And if you accompany your massage with a delicious Arabic herbal tea, you will feel like a real sultan or sultana.

9. Take an excursion to Medina Azahara from Cordoba

Medina Azahara| ©manuel m. v.
Medina Azahara| ©manuel m. v.

Finally, a trip to Cordoba should not miss a trip to discover Medina Azahara, one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe and an essential visit to learn about the history of the Umayyad capital.

About eight kilometers from Cordoba capital are the remains of the palatine city that the caliph Abderraman III ordered to build in the ninth century at the foot of Sierra Morena as a symbol of his power after the establishment of the independent caliphate of Cordoba.

However, Medina Azahara had an ephemeral life because it was razed to the ground during the civil war that ended the Umayyad caliphate.

Although the archaeological remains are not complete because of neglect, plundering and the passage of time, thanks to the restoration work that has been done at the site it is possible to get an idea of the extraordinary beauty that this caliphate city had in its origins and for those who like art and history, it is a luxury to walk through the ruins of Medina Azahara imagining how it was during its heyday and the importance it had against the surrounding kingdoms.

What to see in Medina Azahara?

Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2018, I recommend you to make this visit to Medina Azahara because it is the ideal complement to the visit of the cathedral-mosque to understand the splendor of the city in the tenth century and one of the most beautiful places to see in Cordoba.

Here you can see the royal residence of the caliph and the magnificent Rico Hall, where political receptions were held in the city and was characterized by its careful decoration. Also the Aljama Mosque and the house of Yafar, the home of the first minister of the caliph Alhaken II, who built the maqsura of the mosque of Cordoba.

In the vicinity of the archaeological ruins of Medina Azahara is the Interpretation Center, which aims to promote the study and dissemination of this site and to be a bridge between the Western and Eastern worlds.

Here are preserved all the historical objects found in the archaeological excavations and an audiovisual documentary that is worth watching to learn more about Medina Azahara and life there, as they came to inhabit more than 20,000 people.

How to get to Medina Azahara?

  • Bus: from Avenida del Alcázar there is a tourist bus to the Medina Azahara Interpretation Center. To get a ticket for this bus you must reserve a seat at the tourist office in Cordoba at least one day in advance.

  • By car: from the center of Cordoba you can take the A-431 road to Palma del Rio until you reach the sign for Madinat al-Zahra. Once you arrive at the Medina Azahara Interpretation Center you will have to park the car and buy a ticket to take the shuttle bus that goes up to the archaeological site. It leaves every 20 minutes.

  • Guided tour: usually includes transportation from the center of Cordoba, entrance to the site and tour guide. It is the most comfortable way to visit Medina Azahara. I leave you our post about the best Excursions to Medina Azahara from Cordoba.

Isabel's Traveller Tip

To better understand the importance of Medina Azahara in Spain, my advice is to first visit the palatine city and then this museum.

10. Go for tapas in Cordoba!

Enjoy the rich and fresh salmorejo cordobés| ©Javier Lastras
Enjoy the rich and fresh salmorejo cordobés| ©Javier Lastras

In addition to the legendary cathedral-mosque of Cordoba, if this city is known for something is for its gastronomy where you can eat outrageously. Tapas are the order of the day in Cordoba and, in my opinion, one of the best ways to get to know the culture of a place is through its gastronomy.

With a Mediterranean base, Cordoba's cuisine is one of the most complete in Andalusia thanks to its wide variety of ingredients where meats and vegetables abound.

What are the typical dishes of Cordoba?

There are so many and they are all delicious! There are so many local specialties that it will be difficult to choose. Some of them are salmorejo, fried eggplants with honey, flamenquines, snails, oxtail, Cordovan cake, marinated japuta or Iberian ham.

All accompanied by a good glass of wine, of course. What are the most famous wines of Cordoba? There is also a lot of variety, for example the Montilla-Morilles, Pedro Ximénez, Casa Villa-Zeballos or Fino Cordobés, although the drink par excellence in all Andalusia and also Cordoba is the mythical rebujito. Be careful, it goes up quickly!

Where to eat in Cordoba?

In Cordoba you can find good restaurants where to eat in practically all parts of the city.

  • The ideal is to go to eat in a tavern in the center, for example in the Judería and Plaza de las Tendillas, considered the gastronomic epicenter of Cordoba.

  • Another option that I recommend to try a little bit of everything in the form of raciones is to go to the Mercado Victoria, a few meters from the wall of Cordoba. Here you can enjoy the best of Spanish and Cordovan cuisine as well as delicious Iberian cured meats, cheeses, salted meats and wines.

  • A similar place to the previous one is Los Patios de la Marquesa Market where you can taste typical Cordovan food with flamenco shows, show cooking or photographic exhibitions in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, a few meters from the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba.

  • Finally, how about a drink on one of the terraces on the banks of the Guadalquivir to toast your trip to Cordoba under the stars and enjoy the beautiful views of the river, the Roman bridge and a little further on, the historic center? Sounds great, doesn't it? You have more information about nightlife in Cordoba in our post about 10 things to see and do in Cordoba at night.

Tips for a perfect trip to Cordoba

Cordoba is a small city that can be easily covered in a few days. You will not like it any less, in fact, you will be surprised and very much! But in order to enjoy 100% of all its attractions I recommend you to organize your visit so that you choose well what to see each day. Therefore, here is a list of the best things to do depending on the duration of your trip:

Another suggestion I give you for your visit to the Andalusian city is to choose the right time to visit it. Cordoba has a lot to offer in spring when it dresses up to receive its main festivities. But if you take advantage of the summer period to visit it, you won't be disappointed either (Check out this article with 10 things to see and do in Cordoba in summer).

Whenever you go, a very comfortable option to explore its streets is the tourist bus. Even more if you decide to visit Cordoba with children.