With over 2,000 years of history, beauty around every corner, and a whopping 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s safe to say that exploring the best things to do in Cordoba, Spain is an absolute delight.
Today, Cordoba is primarily known for its Moorish architecture–especially the incredibly unique Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba–and its flower-filled patios.
While spending one day in Cordoba on a day trip from Seville or Granada is a common way to experience the city (and we have some tips on how to make the most of a short time frame in this Cordoba travel guide), there’s no doubt that this riverside city is enchanting enough that you can enjoy a longer trip, too.
Here’s what to do in Cordoba, Spain!
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The Best Things to Do in Cordoba, Spain
Step inside the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
Visually mesmerizing and historically fascinating, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is one of the most unique houses of worship in Spain–or possibly in the world.
Construction on the mosque originally began in 785, when Cordoba was a decidedly Islamic city.
In 1236, the city changed hands and the mosque was transformed into a cathedral.
Today, as you wander through the building, you’ll see a structure that very clearly resembles both faiths (though today, it operates solely as a Catholic cathedral).
It’s an incredible place to explore, and indisputably the top attraction in Cordoba.
If you only have one day in Cordoba, the Mosque-Cathedral should be your top sightseeing priority.
Lines get extremely long (not to mention sweltering hot in the sun), so be sure to pre-book a skip-the-line ticket or, even better, a guided tour that will help bring the history of the building to life before you go!
Prefer to explore independently?
Book a skip-the-line ticket for your visit to the Mosque Cathedral!
Stroll across the Roman Bridge.
Cordoba’s long history begins with the Romans–and one of the most enduring Roman features of the city is the Roman Bridge across the Guadalquivir River!
While the bridge has been rebuilt several times since its original construction in the early 1st century, its name still harkens back to its origins.
Today, beautiful views and plenty of buskers will greet you as you make your way across it.
Game of Thrones fans may also recognize the Roman Bridge as the Long Bridge of Volantis!
Visit the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs.
Built on the site of a former Moorish palace, the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs has played many roles throughout its long history, from the seat of royalty to a military prison.
Christopher Columbus even met with Ferdinand and Isabella here in 1486–6 years before the famous voyage that would change the world.
Unfortunately, much of the original structure is no longer in place, though what remains is interesting and popular to visit.
The real star of the show in the 21st century, though, is the stunning gardens!
To get the most out of your visit, consider booking a guided tour to bring the history of the structure to life!
Meander through the Jewish Quarter.
With its maze of beautiful medieval streets, not to mention its status as one of Cordoba’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s no surprise that exploring the beautiful Jewish Quarter is one of the top things to do in Cordoba, Spain.
From the 10th to the 15th centuries, this is the neighborhood that Jewish people in Cordoba called home.
Remnants of that time can still be found throughout the neighborhood, whether it’s through a carving of Hebrew scripture or a statue of Maimonides, a celebrated Jewish philosopher from Cordoba.
… and visit the Cordoba Synagogue.
Of course, no visit to the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba could be complete without a visit to its beautiful Synagogue!
Dating to 1315, the Synagogue is peculiarly small–some theories suggest it was the private synagogue of a wealthy person at one point–but exquisitely decorated.
It was used consistently for almost 200 years, up until Jewish people were forced out of Spain in 1492.
Want to make sure you don’t miss any details in the Jewish Quarter?
This well-reviewed tour includes a visit to the neighborhood as well as a trip to the Synagogue!
Explore the patios of Palacio de Viana.
Dating (in certain places) to the 14th century, the Palacio de Viana is most famous for having one of the most stunning collections of Cordoba’s famous patios imaginable–12 of them in all.
Situated a decent walk away from many of the best things to do in Cordoba, the Palacio de Viana requires a bit more effort to reach than many of the other most popular Cordoba attractions, but it’s well worth making time for during your trip.
Depending on time, you can choose to tour the patios, the palace, or both.
Buy your skip-the-line tickets for the Palacio de Viana today!
Climb the Calahorra Tower.
Situated at the end of the bridge, just across the river from the historic center, lies the Calahorra Tower.
Inside, you’ll find a small museum exploring Islamic history and contributions to the city, including some incredibly impressive models.
Honestly, the models alone–especially of the Mosque-Cathedral in its days as a mosque–are worth the modest entry fee.
The top of the tower, which you can visit with the entrance to the museum, also boasts a beautiful view of the city (the photo of the Roman Bridge used earlier in this blog post was taken from the rooftop)!
Relax in the Patio de los Naranjos.
Cordoba is known for its patios, and none is more visited than the Patio de los Naranjos!
Featuring planted cypress and (sour) orange trees, this shady, beautiful square lies in the shadow of the Mosque-Cathedral and is one of the best places to visit in Cordoba.
However, as this is also where plenty of tour groups meet, where visitors who haven’t pre-booked tickets line up to grab tickets for the Mosque-Cathedral, and where visitors enter the famous building, it’s safe to say that it’s not particularly peaceful for most of the day!
If you want to have it (more) to yourself, arrive well before the Mosque-Cathedral opens (which is at 10:00 AM most days).
Snap photos along the Calleja de las Flores.
This tiny cobblestone street is one of the most photographed places in Cordoba, Spain–and as you may your way through it, it’s easy to see why!
When you reach the end of the (short) street, be sure to turn around and capture the view of the bell tower of the Mosque-Cathedral that is perfectly framed by the flower pots!
The Calleja de las Flores dead-ends into a small, charming square.
Due to limited space and its popularity, this is definitely one of those places that are best experienced early in the morning, before the bulk of the visitors taking day trips to Cordoba arrive in the city!
Check out the remains of the Roman Temple.
It’s a common story in Europe, really: someone tries to build something, and instead, they find a Roman archaeological site!
Such is the story of this Roman temple in Cordoba, which you can find right next door to the distinctly modern city hall.
In the 1950s, plans to expand the city hall were interrupted by the discovery of this temple, which is now a quick and interesting stop when visiting Cordoba.
People-watch in Plaza de la Corredera.
Sprawling, charming, and generally packed with people enjoying a tinto verano and some tapas, the Plaza de la Corredera is the largest square in Cordoba.
It’s a fun stop on any Cordoba itinerary and reminds me forcefully of the famous Plaza Mayor in Madrid!
Explore the patios of Cordoba.
Cordoba is famous for its patios, which have acted as relaxed, outdoor gathering spaces for centuries.
They’re famous for their beauty and many, many flowerpots.
Today, you can visit several patios around town that have been repurposed as everything from restaurants to museums (like at the Palacio de Viana).
If you want to see the spectacularly decorated patios of Cordoba’s private residents, though, the best time to plan your trip to Cordoba is around the annual Patio Festival, when many homes open their patios to the public!
Whether the patios are open or closed to the general public, though, doesn’t help you much if you don’t see them–and many lurk just out of sight.
If you want to see the best of Cordoba’s patios year-round, you can access several through a guided patio tour!
Book your Cordoba patio tour today!
Soak in views of Cordoba from a rooftop bar.
Cordoba’s beautiful skyline is well worth admiring with a tinto verano and plate of tapas in hand–and there’s no better place to do so than at a rooftop bar!
We loved the views from the rooftop of Hesperia Cordoba, where we stayed during our trip, but there are plenty of options around town.
Take a (quick) half-day trip to Medina Azahara.
Built in the 10th century, the remains of the capital of the Caliphate of Cordoba is one of the best places to visit near Cordoba!
This sprawling archaeological site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and lies just 5 miles outside of Cordoba.
If you don’t have a car with you, the easiest way to access Medina Azahara is by tourist bus, taxi, or guided tour.
Like most archaeological sites, Medina Azahara is best appreciated with the assistance of a tour guide who can bring the area to life!
… and the Castle of Almodovar del Rio.
Lying just 15 miles outside of Cordoba, the Castle of Almodovar del Rio may just be one of the most picturesque castles that we have seen anywhere in the world!
… And, considering that the castle played both Highgarden and parts of Casterly Rock in the seventh season of Game of Thrones, we’re certainly not the only ones to think so.
Built by the Moors in 760, the Castle of Almodovar del Rio is perched high above its corresponding small town and appears to erupt from the top of Floresta Hill (which, as you might imagine, means that the views from it are stupendous).
You can tour both the interior and the exterior of the castle, and it makes a fantastic day trip from Cordoba, Spain.
Book tickets to visit the Castle of Almodovar del Rio today!
Where to Stay in Cordoba, Spain
Assuming you’re not visiting Cordoba on a day trip from Seville or Granada, you’ll need the perfect place to spend the night!
When visiting Cordoba, it’s best to stay in or near the historic center of the city in order to be able to access the city’s top attractions on foot.
If you’re driving into the city as part of an Andalucia road trip like we were, there is ample parking available just outside of the historic center.
Here are a few popular, well-reviewed places to stay in Cordoba!
Cordoba Carpe Diem — You can’t ask for a better location for enjoying the best activities in Cordoba than what you’ll find at Cordoba Carpe Diem!
Set less than a 5-minute walk from the Mosque-Cathedral, Cordoba Carpe Diem offers modern rooms, easy access to the city’s best sights, and even a rooftop terrace to enjoy.
Hesperia Cordoba — We loved our stay at Hesperia Cordoba!
Set just over the river from Cordoba’s historic center and a very short walk from the Roman Bridge, Hesperia Cordoba features spacious rooms, excellent customer service, and a rooftop with one of the best views in the city.
We’d be happy to stay again (and so would Ranger–Hesperia Cordoba is very dog-friendly).
Hospes Palacio del Bailio — Housed in a 16th-century palace built on top of the remains of a Roman villa (that you can catch glimpses of through the floor!), staying at Hospes Palacio del Bailio is a bucket list Cordoba experience.
With features such as a pool, spa, flower garden, and original art in some rooms, a stay at this unique and incredibly popular hotel is not one that you’ll forget anytime soon.
Suggested One Day Itinerary for Cordoba
If you only have one day in Cordoba, you’ll want to plan your itinerary carefully!
Start first thing in the morning with a visit to the Mosque-Cathedral.
Making sure you prioritize the Mosque-Cathedral is the most important aspect of planning a one day Cordoba itinerary!
From there, stop by the Calleja de las Flores and wander through the Jewish Quarter.
Once you wrap up, enjoy some tapas and tinto verano.
Be sure to wander across the Roman Bridge around sunset!
If you’re taking a day trip to Cordoba and are pressed for time, this popular tour of Cordoba will show you the top attractions in the city, fast!
Getting Around When Visiting Cordoba
Cordoba, Spain is an extremely walkable city.
While attractions outside the city, such as the Medina Azahara Palace, require a car or bus to reach, everything within the city center is reachable on foot.
As long as you are staying in or near the historic center, you’re unlikely to need anything beyond decent walking shoes to enjoy most attractions when visiting Cordoba.
If you’re visiting Cordoba as part of a road trip, there are plenty of places to park right on the outskirts of the historic center.
When to Visit Cordoba, Spain
Often considered the hottest city in Europe, it’s safe to say that the sweltering summer months (especially July and August) are not the best time to visit Cordoba!
With its extremely mild winters, though, just about any other time of year will do (and summer is workable with lots of air conditioning and gelato).
Spring is the absolute best time to visit Cordoba, Spain, thanks to its gorgeous blooms and milder temperatures.
However, the best things to do in Cordoba can be enjoyed year-round!