The Essential 2 Day Cordoba Itinerary

Our guide to 2 days in Cordoba itinerary will help you plan the perfect Cordoba itinerary, allowing you to explore the historic center of this beautiful, ancient city. Discover its fascinating history and visit the famous attractions including the Mezquita and the ancient roman bridge.

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How to see the best of Cordoba in 36 hours

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cordoba was once the capital of Spain and home to over half a million people. In the middle ages, this charming city was among the biggest in Europe and considered a place of high culture.

The city has a diverse cultural heritage; having been conquered by Romans, Visigoths, and Muslims and as a result is home to some of the most outstanding architecture in Spain.

Sign on the old town wall in Cordoba

On a quick visit, we suggest you spend most of your time in the old quarter to allow you to soak up as much of that history as you can. You will not have time to see all the attractions that Cordoba can offer, but you will certainly have time to cover the most interesting sites.

Did you know that Cordoba is home to four UNESCO sites, the most of any city in the world.

The main reason most people include a visit to Cordoba on their Spain itinerary is that it is home to one of the country’s most impressive buildings, the Mezquita.

The Mezquita is a stunning mix of Moorish, Jewish, and Spanish architecture and is guaranteed to take your breath away.

What makes Cordoba special?

Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived and worked together peacefully in this city in southern Spain for many hundreds of years.

The narrow winding streets of Cordoba’s old town feel like they hold a thousand secrets and walking them in the early morning light is one of our favorite memories of the city.

Walls of the Cordoba
One of the many doors of the Mezquita, each one a beauty.

While many visitors allow only one day in Cordoba, I can see why spending three or four days in this beautiful city is often recommended by locals, especially in the spring, when the old town is a sea of color.

On this visit, we settled for a compromise of two days and one night. It was a quick visit but days, but we covered all the main attractions, albeit with not too much time to sit and soak up the atmosphere.

Our visit was a detour en route from Barcelona to Malaga, where we were meeting family for a reunion. Cordoba sits on the main train route, making it an easy stopover when traveling to Seville or southern Spain.

The Spanish inquisition had its headquarters in Cordoba

2 days in Cordoba is the perfect amount of time to see the old town and four UNESCO sites. Allow a little longer to see the rest of the city and enjoy its laid-back atmosphere.

When is the best time to visit Cordoba, Spain?

Cordoba is at its best in Spring when the Feria de Los Patios is held in early summer while the flowers are still blooming.

Summer has many other festivals, one of the biggest is the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra (Guitar Festival)

Cordoba flowers Spain Patio Festival
The Patio Festival is held for 2 weeks every May

If you are only there for one day, avoid Monday if possible as while the Mezquita is open, many sites close for the day.

Things to do in Cordoba

If you have limited time here, you should not miss these main attractions when planning your itinerary:

  • The Mezquita and the 856 striped columns that make up the old roman temple
  • Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
  • The Roman Bridge
  • The Patios and beautiful courtyards
  • The old Jewish Quarter
  • Free walking tour – There are several free (tip-based) tours of the old town

Day one in Cordoba

Start your visit with Cordoba’s star attraction! Once you have finished exploring here – which can take one hour to half a day find a nearby cafe for lunch.

Cordoba Cathedral / Mezquita-Catedral

The Mezquita is one of the most amazing buildings we have ever visited. First, a Roman temple and then a mosque and now a cathedral, the building has operated as a place of worship every single day since 932AD.

Given its history, it is sometimes referred to as a mosque cathedral.

Cordoba Mezquita Cathedral Spain
The Mihrab, a horseshoe-shaped prayer niche is particularly beautiful.

The building began life as a mosque when it opened in 786AD. It was consecrated at a Catholic church in the 12th century. The Christians were impressed with the architecture of the building, so rather than destroy it, thankfully, they built their new cathedral within it.

This room of striped arches was built in the 8th century.

The columns of the Mezquita were made from the remains of an old Roman temple.

The vision of the candy-striped columns, all 850 of them, is something you will never forget.

Do you need to buy tickets for the Mezquita in advance?

We purchased our ticket (€11) when we arrived at ten am for a tour that afternoon. This did not take too long, as we were visiting in the off-season. However, I would book in advance if I visited in the busy season when queues are said to be ridiculously long or if I was doing a Cordoba day trip.

Cathedral Spain Cordoba Mezquita
Cathedral Spain Cordoba Mezquita

Should you book a guided tour of the Mezquita?

In short, if you want to learn about the architecture and history of the building, then a guided tour is by far the best option.

If you choose not to take a guided tour and do not read Spanish, then I highly recommend you purchase the audio guide as the English signage is limited. You should also pick up the free map when you enter because you need to navigate around the building and while the audio tour is good, the features of the building are not numbered so it can get a little confusing without the map to refer to.

If you would like to book a guided tour, I recommend you book your guided tour online as these fill quickly.

Is the Mezquita Bell Tower with visiting?

At 54m tall, the bell tower/minaret is the highest structure in the area. It offers spectacular views over the complex and the old city, and we think it is well worth visiting.

There are approx 190 stairs to climb to top of the tower. About 3/4 of the way up is a balcony where you can take a rest if you need to. The staircase is in great condition and most people of average fitness would have no trouble with it.

Tickets for climbing the tower, a separate €3 entry fee, sell out quickly, so it pays to be organized for this as there are only 14 sessions a day and only about 20 people can join each session.

Mezquita catherdal cordoba
Visitors are welcome to attend Mass which is offered twice on Sundays at 11.30 and 1.30 pm

How long should you allow for visiting the Mezquita?

We spent about an hour and a half wandering around the Mezquita before making our way to the bell tower. Allow another 30 minutes for this.

Take some time before you leave to sit in the Patio De Los Naranjos and enjoy the gardens with their beautiful orange trees.

Can you visit the Mezquita for free?

Entry is free for one hour every morning except Sunday. Early morning is a great time to see the building and the Patio De Los Naranjos in relative peace, but as this time is meant for worship, it is not a great time to be taking lots of photos.

You can enter the gardens at any time without charge.

For a different experience check out the “Soul of Cordoba” light and sound show (€18). In summer three, one-hour tours are offered each night from Monday through Saturday. Tours are not available on Sundays. During winter, tours are only offered on weekends.

Where: Calle del Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba
When: Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Free but no groups and in strict silence. Paid visits from 10 am. Bell Tower tours from 9:30 to 18:30. on the half hour and must be booked in advance.
More details: Official site–Cathedral of Córdoba

Next up explore the Jewish Quarter and back streets of Cordoba

Cordoba shopping in old town
Plenty of color in the shops of Cordoba

Puente Romano / The Roman Bridge

Game of Thrones fans might recognize this bridge as the basis for the Long Bridge of Volantis from season five of the series. The Roman Bridge, originally built in 1 AD, crosses the Guadalquivir River on the edge of the old town. In case you are wondering how such an old bridge looks so good, it was rebuilt in 2006.

I recommend walking across the bridge at sunset, it’s a lovely way to end your first day in Cordoba. There is a fabulous view of the Mezquita from here.

Cordoba Spain Roman Bridge 2
The Roman Bridge features in season 5 of Game of Thrones.

Where: Av. del Alcázar, s/n, 14003 Córdoba
When: Walk across at sunrise and sunset for the best light
More details: Official site

Dinner in Cordoba

End your first day in cordoba itinerary by setting into a local restaurant and enjoying the fine food and friendly local culture.

If you are traveling solo, or just want to find the best eats in town, you might like to take a Tapas Tour.

Dinner at sunset in Cordoba

Day Two in Cordoba

If you are an early riser, you can begin your day with a stroll through the streets of the Jewish Quarter. The morning light and empty streets make a lovely combination.

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

Next up is a morning visit to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. A palace was built in the 14th century by Alfonso XI. The Alcazar was the home of the Christian Kings of Spain.

Over the years, the Alcazar has been a royal residence, and a military prison, during the Spanish Inquisition.

Climbing to the top of the tower is worth the effort for a magnificent view of the town and the ponds and terraced gardens.

see the Alcázar de los Reyes  in Cordoba in 2 days
The gardens of Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos from the tower

Thanks to the light rain this morning, there were very few visitors when we arrived, and for at least 30 minutes we had the place to ourselves. In spring and summer, the gardens here are exquisite.

Alcázar de los Reyes gardens Cordoba
The Alcázar Gardens are spectacular

Buy your tickets for a guided tour and skip the line, which in summer or during the Patio Festival each May can be very long!

Where: Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires, s/n, 14004 Córdoba
When: Tue to Fri, 8:30 to 20:45, Sat, 8:30 to 16:30, Sun, 8:30 to 14:30. Closed Mondays.
More details: Official site – Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

Calleja De La Flores

Calleja De La Flores is in the Jewish Quarter, just a block or two from the Mezquita. The narrow street boasts colorful flowers. This narrow street with pots of flowers and lovely flower-filled patios or courtyards.

Cordoba empty flower pots
Empty flower pots in October.

We were there in early October, so nothing was flowering, but I imagine it as it looks in the guidebooks and postcards you see in every shop in town.

The best time to visit is early spring, with the Festival of the Patios, which is UNESCO listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and held in the second week of May. The festival sees residents open their beautiful courtyards to the public.

You will find Calleja De La Flores to the northeast of the Mezquita. If you prefer someone to help you find all the best patios, this walking tour is very affordable and will let you relax and snap photo after photo without consulting your map.

Garden lovers visiting outside the festival period might like to make a side trip to the Patio Museum – Palacio de Viana, a 20-minute walk from the center of the historic quarter.

Cordoba Spain in May
A visit in May will be more crowded but wow those flowers!

Where: 14003 Córdoba, Cordoba
When: Anytime but spring to see the flowers and early morning for people-free photos
More details: Official site – Calle of flowers

The final and optional inclusion on our 2 days in cordoba itinerary is the Medina Azahara. You can choose to do a night tour if you are spending a second night or perhaps switch it with the Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos if the timing works better.

Medina Azahara

The Caliphate city of Medina Azaharais an archaeological site of a city built in the mid-10th century CE by the Umayyad dynasty. It is located 8km west of the city.

View of the great eastern portico in Medina Azahara, an archaeological site just outside Cordoba
View of the great eastern portico in Medina Azahara

Getting there: There is a bus (Tues-Fri) that departs Cordoba at 11 am and on weekends at 10 am and also at 4:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday during the summer

You can also join a guided tour which combines the bus with a tour guide to show you the highlights of the site. Alternatively, join the night tour.

How to get to Cordoba

Visiting Cordoba is easy with plenty of high-speed train services and regional bus services to choose from.

Train station in Cordoba
The train station in Cordoba

Traveling to Cordoba by train

Cordoba is a stop on the high-speed AVE train with services traveling to key cities.

Train fromTravel TimeFrequency
Seville54 minutesHourly
Malaga50 minutesEvery 1-2 hours
Granada90 minutes5 trains per day
Madrid1 hour 40 min.Hourly
Barcelona4 hours 40 min.3 trains per day
Cadiz2 hours 20 min3 trains per day

If you are staying along the Costa Brava make the journey from Malaga Station.

Many people who are short on time take an early train from Madrid and jump off for the day in Cordoba before taking a late afternoon train to Seville. Obviously, you could also do this in reverse.

Where: Calle Julio Pellicer, 13, 14005 Córdoba
More details: Official site – Spain trains

Traveling to Cordoba by bus

You can travel by bus between Seville and Cordoba in just under 2 hours. The quickest route is 48 minutes. The bus station is across the road from the main train station and about 3 miles from the old town. It is not within walking distance for anyone with luggage, so we suggest you jump in a taxi to transfer to your hotel.

Related: The Best Experiences in Madrid

Where to stay in Cordoba?

When visiting Cordoba on a short visit, I really think you should try to stay in the old streets by the Cordoba Mosque. The atmosphere here in the evenings is lovely, and you are surrounded by the sights on this Cordoba itinerary along with plenty of cafes and restaurants.

Hotel Boutique Caireles

We stayed at Hotel Boutique Caireles, Cordoba, a small nine-room hotel located directly opposite to the entry of the Mezquita. Our city view room had a view of the Mezquita and was well soundproofed, so we didn’t hear any noise despite being on the street being busy with pedestrians. The room was very comfortable with a great bathroom and a good breakfast.

Hotel Los Patios

This hotel was right next door, and we wandered in for a look before dinner when we heard some guitar music as we walked past. If you fancy staying in a property with one of the lovely patios that Cordoba is famous for, this is a great choice.

The renovated rooms are modern and clean. The bathrooms are large, and the three beautiful courtyards are lovely for a drink after a day of exploring. A real drawcard is the rooftop terrace with wonderful views of the mosque cathedral.

Check the reviews and photos

Want something different? Check the full range of hotels in Cordoba here.

Day tours of Cordoba

If you prefer someone else to do the logistics and cover the bulk of this itinerary in one day, leaving you the second to relax and soak up the atmosphere this tour fits the bill!

Jewish Quarter, Synagogue, Mosque, and Alcázar Tour

This tour hits up all the main sites and includes fast-track tickets to save you precious time standing in queues. Your guide will give you a full background of the mosque, Alcazar, and synagogue and for anyone who has not had time to do a bit of background reading this tour is excellent.

Day tours from surrounding cities

If your itinerary doesn’t stretch to another location, I still think Cordoba is worth a day trip.

From Seville – This 9-hour tour from Seville includes a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter, Synagogue, and of course the Mezquita.

From Malaga – This 10-hour tour from Malaga and Marbella covers the key sites.

We hope you find our guide to 2 days in Cordoba itinerary helpful and that you enjoy this beautiful city.

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