Known as the country’s capital during the Romans and Moorish times, Córdoba remains as one of the top cities to visit by every traveler. Its UNESCO World Heritage declared historic center, world-class cuisine, laid-back Spanish charms and youthful vibes are some of the reasons why Córdoba is one of Spain’s top tourist destinations. If you’re a first-time visitor, with only 3 days, planning the trip and narrowing down the itinerary can be a daunting task. With our suggested itinerary, your visit to Córdoba will be much more relaxed, and you’ll get a greater sense of the diversity of its landscape, food, and people. You can absolutely make any changes you like to adapt the tour to your preferences.
Things to know before traveling to Córdoba Spain:
Language – Spanish is the official language of Spain. Also called Castilian, it is the first language of over 72% of the population in the country. Other languages are also spoken in certain areas such as Catalan in Catalonia, Galician in Galicia, Basque in the Basque Country and Valencian in Valencia. Speaking at least some Spanish phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals. Some helpful phrases are as follows:
Buenos días = Good morning
Buenos trades = Good afternoon
Buenas noches = Good evening
Habla inglés? = Do you speak English?
Por favor = Please
Gracias = Thank you
Cómo está? = How are you?
Cuánto cuesta? = How much does it cost?
Currency exchange – The official currency of Spain is the Euro (EUR), the same currency now used by most Western European countries with the exception of the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. Exchanging money in Spain is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Europe. The best way to get local currency is to use the ATM and withdraw in Euros to get the best rate. You may also transact with banks and “bureau de change”.
Social life and etiquette – Spanish people usually have breakfast at around 10:00 am, while lunch (la comida), the biggest meal of the day is normally from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Dinner is no earlier than 8:00 pm and often start as late as 10:00 pm, and it is a very light meal followed by a leisurely stroll (paseo). Tipping is a common practice in Spain, although not always expected. People in Spain tend to be always on time so it is important to get used to the time zone.
Getting around – Córdoba features a good public transport network consisting of taxis, public buses and tourist buses. The center of the city is a fairly compact area which can be explored on foot or on a bicycle. You can bike on your own and enjoy one of the guided biking tours offered in the city.
Where to stay – There’s a great variety of accommodation in Córdoba, ranging from small family-run pensions to five-star luxury hotels. In almost any neighborhood, there’s something for every level of comfort and budget. If this is your first time in the city, it is recommended to stay in San Andres-San Pablo , which is considered the center of Córdoba’s old town, to get easy access to the city’s famous attractions and get plenty of accommodation options.
Hotels to consider in Córdoba:
Day by day itinerary: Discover Córdoba, Spain in 3 Days
Before you begin your sightseeing tour, go to a nearest Turismo (Campo Santo de los Martires, Plaza de las Tendillas or Renfe-AVE Train Station) and get a city guide with map. Ask the tourism officers for practical tips while you’re there, so you can maximize your time in the city. There is no better way to get acquainted in the city than walking along the UNESCO World Heritage Site-declared Historic Center of Córdoba. Located in the heart of the city, the old quarter is surrounded by a large number of old and protected buildings laid out in Medieval and Western Moorish architecture. You’ll also find picturesque little houses, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops.
Everyone’s first stop should be Great Mosque of Cordoba, the city’s crown jewel. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, this architectural wonder was a former Mosque turned Cathedral after the Reconquista. Dedicate at least 2 hours in this museum and enjoy viewing the works of some of the greatest Western Islamic and neo-Moorish style art. You may also visit the mosque at night and join the Soul of Cordoba – Night Visit.
Your next stop is Alcazar des los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Kings), which is a former residence and fortress of Christian Monarchs. To appreciate its beauty, you may stroll around the magnificent interiors and pay a visit to its Moorish courtyards. Then, climb to the top of Torre de los Leones (Lions’ Tower), the royal lions were kept, and marvel at the views.
In the evening, it’s time to enjoy a passionate flamenco show! It’s hard to know which shows are offering the real deal, so make sure to read plenty of online reviews in TripAdvisor or other forums. Tablao El Cardenal and Arte y Sabores de Cordoba are some of the best in the city based on TripAdvisor reviews.
On Day 2, head for the Gothic-style Capilla Mudejar de San Bartolome (Chapel of San Bartolomé), one of the finest examples of Mudejar style.
Then, make your way to the Palacio de Viana (Viana Palace), the former residence of the aristocratic Marqueses de Viana located near Plaza de las Tendillas. This Renaissance palace with 12 stunning patios exhibits the fascinating history of the family and houses a vast collection of historical paintings and artworks. Once you’re done with the museum tour, head to the Archaeological Ensemble of Madinat Al-Zahra. Because of its monumental architecture and historic relevance, we recommend joining one of the guided tours offered in the city.
After lunch, make your way back to the city center and to the Mercado Victoria, Andalusia’s first gourmet market. Aside from its vast array of fresh produce and food products, the market itself has a great atmosphere with an equally interesting history.
With time remaining, go for a stroll through San Andres-San Pablo. In the evening, do not miss to try the traditional tapa bars and stand at the bar while eating tapas and drinking lager beer. Visitors will surely appreciate Córdoba’s unpretentious bar scene and vibrant nightlife.
You can dedicate Day 3 for Cordoba’s Judeira (Jewish Quarter), which is a great testament to the Jewish life and Intellectualism in the city. Biking around its fascinating network of narrow lanes is a great option which allows you to enjoy the area at your own pace. Check out its statue in honor of Maimónides, Cardinal Salazar Square and Cast Sefarad (Sephardic House). Squeeze in some gourmet product shopping at El Zoco before you head back to your hotel and prepare for your departure.
Have you been to Córdoba or anywhere else in Spain? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: The Roman Bridge and The Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain (emperorcosar / Shutterstock)