Is it possible to do Cordoba in 3 days? Yes, it is absolutely possible! If a lazybones like me, who gets up at 10 AM, and, as a result, goes out closer to 11 AM to have breakfast and starts exploring the city closer to midday, did it, you will definitely manage it 🙂 So, in this post I will talk about the things to do in Cordoba, including some of my tips and observations.
If you need info on places to stay, eat, transportation and what to eat, etc, check my previous post where I shared everything I know about Cordoba.
But first things first. I visited Cordoba in October, so I did not get to see its famous Flower Festival. Anyway, I saw some of its grandeur in the streets and I will share them with you.
Then, as you may know already, Spain was under the Islamic rule for many years, and this past is well preserved across the country. Cordoba is one of the towns with rich Moorish heritage, so it is obvious you will see this in its buildings. The blend of the Islamic and Christian styles of architecture and ornament resulted in the creation of the so-called Mudejar style, very popular in the Spanish architecture. This piece of information is for you in case you wonder what Mudejar is when you hear it.
But let’s get back to the things to do in Cordoba: I list them starting with those I liked the most 🙂
Cordoba: things to do
1. La Mezquita
You can’t leave the town without visiting the Mezquita! After all, this must-see of Cordoba is the reason why tourists come here. This splendid building is famous for hundreds of columns that occupy every meter of its space. And it is so huge that it fits a cathedral inside and numerous chapels. Honestly, I did not expect it to be so big!
And when you are there, you can’t miss visiting the bell-tower across the entrance to the mosque: climb its steps for the amazing views of Cordoba and the mosque itself.
Things to know. There is no way to buy tickets for the Mezquita and bell-tower online, only on site. You will need to buy 2 tickets: one for the mosque and the other one for the tower. The mosque tickets are sold in a booth, and there is a guy next to the tower entrance selling the tickets for the tower. You can climb the tower at specific times, as the number of people is limited, so when you buy the ticket you will have to choose the time slot. You can get audio guide for the mosque, they give you a map as well, but keep in mind that there are no numbers inside the mosque to correspond to the map, so it’s easy to get lost. My advice – in case you pay for the audio guide – is to find the cathedral in the center of the mosque and try to figure it out from there.
There will be lines, trust me, so if you have any plans, I would advise to queue for tickets, choose the time slot for the tower, and come back later. You can see the Orange Patio for free.
Price: this attraction of Cordoba is the most expensive one. The entrance to the mosque is 10 EUR, bell-tower – 2 EUR, audio guide – 3,5 EUR. The price for children 10-14 years old is 5 EUR. The entrance is free for children under 10 years old: just have an ID for proof.
How to save: from Monday to Saturday the entrance to the mosque is free from 08:30 till 09:30. The building will be vacated 10 minutes before 09:30.
2. Real Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
Real Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos or the Royal Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs was once the residence of Islamic rulers and Christian kings. It was given to the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century, and they converted parts of the fortress into interrogation chambers. It was even used by the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte.
I hope I did not miss anything when I was there. I climbed two towers with bare walls: the Tower of Lions and the Tower of Homage and visited the gardens. The gardens are amazing! You just have to see the flowers, the orange and palm trees and the fountains! Consider yourself in double luck if it is sunny 🙂
Things to know. The lines are long during weekends, so avoid going there on Saturdays and Sundays. I arrived on Sunday and was touring the area when I saw people queuing at the alcazar and I thought that it would be better to buy the ticket now and come another day. I waited for about an hour and bought the ticket, but it had Sunday’s date on it. And, as no one spoke English, I had to ask in my broken Spanish if I could use it on Tuesday. I hoped they understood what I meant and said that I could, but they did not sound very sure. I was sure they would make me pay again, but it went ok. The thing is that when I actually came on Tuesday, there were like 5 people in the queue!
Price: the entrance fee is 4,50 EUR, children under 14 years go for free.
How to save: the entrance is free on Thursdays from 12:00 during the summer season and 18:00 during the winter season. Exception is if it is a festive Thursday.
3. Viana Palace
If you have ever wanted to see the famous Cordoban courtyards, that’s the place to go! This stately mansion has been a residential home for noble families for about 5 centuries and has 12 different courtyards with beautiful purple, pink, red, yellow flowers and trees. In addition to simply magnificent gardens laid out in specific styles, you will see the mansion itself with typical interiors and furniture. I hope that the weather will be sunny when you go there 🙂
Things to know. The gardens are amazing, but I advise to visit the house as well. It is possible with a guided tour only, and the tour is in Spanish, but the visitors are given brochures in English and French. Pictures are not allowed inside.
Price: the entrance fee is 8 EUR for a visit to the gardens + a guided tour to the interiors or 5 EUR for the gardens only.
4. Jewish Quarter
It is a quarter behind the bell-tower of La Mezquita. I love this part of the town! It is narrow streets with flowers on the walls, souvenir shops and restaurants. My advice here is to just throw away the map and get lost. Well, that’s my advice in general when visiting Cordoba 🙂
5. Inquisition Gallery
Everyone needs to visit the Inquisition Gallery, if not for the history, then to see how f…ed up the humankind is. The collection of torture instruments is extensive and impressive. I know that nowadays historians say that the inquisitors killed less people than it was previously believed, but it does not diminish the atrocities done. I do not think this place is suitable for kids.
Things to know. Pictures are not allowed inside, but no one actually watches. The lady selling the tickets spoke English 🙂
Price: the entrance fee is 3 EUR.
6. Casa de las Cabezas
Another traditional house with old furniture. If you want to see in what conditions people lived, how the kitchen or toilet looked, come here.
The house has a very interesting history: Casa de las Cabezas is translated as the House of Heads. According to a legend, a man named Gonzalo Gustioz was kept prisoner in this house, and the heads of his seven murdered sons were hanged opposite the house so that he could see them every day.
Things to know. There were no lines when I was there. It is easy to find the way around the house, and there are descriptive panels everywhere, so you don’t actually need a guide.
Price: the entrance fee is 5 EUR.
7. Jardines de la Agricultura/Jardines del Duque de Rivas (Roman Mausoleum)
These are the gardens not far from the bus and train stations. If you choose to go to the town center on foot, you will definitely pass through them. I guess these small parks can be proudly named the green lungs of Cordoba. In a nice and sunny weather, it is a very pleasant way of spending the day sitting on benches and enjoying palm trees, flowers, fountains and cute sculptures. When I arrived to Cordoba, I saw some ladies and gentlemen in national costumes singing in the gardens: it was really cool to be greeted like that 🙂
8. Casa de Sefarad
This is a little museum about the history of Sephardic Jews, who lived in Cordoba. The exposition is small, with a gallery dedicated to the Inquisition and exhibits of musical instruments, clothes and other things of everyday life. What makes it special is a guy, who volunteers there and sings songs to visitors. I was lucky to be there just in time for the show, and it was a highlight of my visit. I remember the song about aubergines 🙂
Things to know. The singer is a volunteer and he is not there every day and does not sing every day, so just ask about it at the desk, if you are interested. I was told that there are musical performances outside the museum’s working hours, if you wish to attend, ask at the desk.
Price: the entrance fee is 4 EUR.
9. Casa Andalusi
Casa Andalusi is another fine example of medieval Islamic architecture. As in many other houses, you first enter a patio with flowers and a fountain, and only after that you get to see the interior. The interior deserves special words: it is cosy and colorful, full of different objects reflecting the Islamic culture. There is a small paper museum inside as well.
Things to know. The visit to the house is unguided, but you will be given a brochure with useful info in English and you can easily follow it.
Price: the entrance fee is 4 EUR.
10. Calleja de las Flores/Calleja del Indiano
If you visit Cordoba during the Flower Festival, you will see a lot of beautiful patios with colorful flowers in pots on the walls, but I was there in the second half of October, but I still was able to see a glimpse of how the festival may look. Head to Calleja de las Flores and Calleja del Indiano to see it for yourself.
11. Plaza de las Tendillas
This plaza actually looks more like a plaza one would see in Madrid: its high modern buildings are standing out compared to the traditional Andalusian homes. It is a nice place to spend a sunny day. And in case you need to go to bank, you will find some international banks’ offices here.
12. Palacio de la Merced/ Jardines de la Merced
I had read that this palace is a wonderful place, so I went there. I am still confused and not sure if the place I saw is actually the palace. There is an amazing church with intricate façade, and just next to it, in the same building, there is an entrance to a hall with a fountain in the middle. I can only guess that it is the Palacio de la Merced. By the way, the hall looks splendid. I did not visit the church, as it was closed when I was nearby: I guess it is open in the morning and late evening during the services.
There is a small park opposite the church, and it is a nice place to spend some time alone far from the crowds.
13. Puerta de Almodovar and walls of Cordoba
When I googled for things to see in Cordoba, I never came across this place or maybe I did not pay attention to it. I saw it accidentally when I was checking Google Maps for directions and decided to go there: after all, seeing old city walls seemed tempting. And I was not disappointed: there is a stone gate with long ancient walls that look impressive and majestic. In addition, there is a long fountain with flowers on both sides. It is a cool place to be in hot weather, especially considering the fact that there is a park next to it.
14. Archaeological Museum
Well, Cordoba is a small town, and the archaeological museum is small as well. It has some interesting objects like ancient coins, ancient jewelry and Ancient Roman exhibits. It won’t take much of your time, and if you are a history buff, you will enjoy it.
Price: the entrance fee is 1,5 EUR. It is free for EU citizens.
15. Roman Bridge and mills
You will definitely come across the Roman Bridge built over Guadalquivir River while searching for things to do in Cordoba. It was built in the 1st century BC, but endured many reconstructions: the modern structure dates back to the 8th century. The bridge is a nice place to get fantastic pictures of Torre de Calahorra and the Mezquita.
Opposite the Torre de Calahorra across the bridge you will find the Puerta del Puente (gate of the bridge from Spanish). It is possible to climb to the top of the gate, which once was the entrance to the town. I did not climb it as I had already seen the scenery from Torre de Calahorra, but the entrance fee is 1 EUR (the last price I heard).
Another thing to pay attention to are the mills along the bridge and the river.
16. Torre de la Calahorra
This tower was built by the Almohad dynasty to defend the city and was later used by the Christian rulers. Now it houses a museum that shows the life in Cordoba when three religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – coexisted together. You will see the miniature copy of the Mezquita and the Alhambra in the tower.
But the best part is climbing to the top for spectacular views of the Roman Bridge and the Mezquita: this is the reason I went there 🙂
Things to know. When you buy a ticket, you will get an audio guide as well.
Price: the entrance fee is 4,5 EUR, audio guide included.
17. Zoco municipal
I do not think you will come across this place searching Google. Actually, it is not a touristic attraction, it is an artisanal market where local artists and craftsmen sell the results of their creative work. I vividly remember jewelry only, and it was very expensive jewelry 🙂
Price: the entrance is free.
18. Plaza de la Corredera
I mentioned it before, but I will say it again: usually, plazas in smaller towns are squares surrounded by fancy rectangular buildings with restaurants on the ground floor with terraces occupying half of the square. Personally, I like Plaza de la Corredera for the red-orange color of the walls 🙂
19. Casa del Bailío
This is another place I found by accident. I thought that if it is a casa, then I could go in, but I could not find the entrance 🙂 In the end, I found out that the building that was a palace before hosts a library now. But I included it here because I liked the surroundings: stairs lead up the hill and there is a huge bush of pink bougainvillea, and it is a marvelous scene, trust me!
20. Miraflores Bridge and Park
This bridge is perfect to get the views of Guadalquivir and the Roman Bridge. There is a nice park with benches alongside the river, and if you take this road, you will get amazing views of Torre de Calahorra and the Mezquita.
Just like I said, Cordoba is just one of the cities I visited in Spain, so if you are curious, I have a detailed, day by day itinerary for those 3 weeks I spent in Spain.
Cordoba: things to do that you can skip
I went to these places, and, in my opinion, they don’t reserve much attention, especially if you are short of time. Of course, this is only my personal opinion, and you might find these places interesting.
1. Roman Temple
Actually, this temple is ruins only, and the columns you see are a modern addition. That’s not what I expected.
2. Walls of Castillo de la Juderia and Belen Tower
Another portion of ruins not far from the Real Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos.
3. Capilla Mudejar de San Bartolome
I expected so much of it, but the chapel is a small room in Mudejar style, and even despite the fact that the entrance fee is 1,5 EUR, I still think it is not worth it.
Price: 1,5 EUR from Monday to Friday, 2 EUR during the weekend and festive days.
Another place where visitors can see one room in Mudejar style. As usually, first you enter the patio and then to the synagogue itself. It is a nice place, so if you are nearby, you could visit it. The entrance is free.
5. Caliphal baths
Another place in ruins, even with my bright imagination it was hard to picture how it looked in the past. There is a restored room with pink and black columns that aids in this difficult task. In the end, you might give it a try 🙂
Things I did not do in Cordoba but you might consider
1. Caballerizas Reales for equestrian show
I did not go to flamenco shows, somehow it does not interest me, but when I was walking past the Royal Stables, I saw that they offer equestrian shows in the evenings. The price is 15 EUR.
2. Botanical Gardens/Zoo
I love botanical gardens, it is always nice to spend some quiet time in the nature. Unfortunately, I left the visit to the gardens to the last day of my stay in Cordoba and it rained, it was gloomy and cold, and I decided to spend it inside and went to the Archaeological Museum. I can only suppose that it is an amazing place.
I have heard that the zoo is small, but kids might enjoy it 🙂
I hope you made it till the end 🙂 Any other things to do in Cordoba that I missed?
In case you are interested in the cities I visited during my solo travel in Spain and my budget, check here.
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