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20 Epic Things to do in Córdoba, Spain

20 Epic Things to do in Córdoba, Spain

There are quite a few wonderful things to do in Córdoba, Spain, but there is one thing in particular that draws most tourists to this beautiful city.

While the city of the same name in Argentina is perhaps more well-known around the world, the Spanish city of Córdoba gave it that name. Or rather, the conquistadors who settled in that region of Argentina used the name of the already-existing city of Córdoba, Spain. Just like they did with Guadalajara or Merida in Mexico.

History of Córdoba, Spain

Córdoba was founded in the 2nd Century BC by the Romans. The city thrived under Emperor Augustus as Zaragoza did. But it truly became a city of valor during the Moorish occupation in the 8th century.

You would be shocked to hear that this quite small city was home to 300 mosques. There were also many palaces and public buildings that were built to rival the grandeur of Constantinople, Damascus, and Baghdad.

It was during this time the Great Mosque was built. At the height of Moorish power, the mosque could house up to 40,000 worshippers at one time. When the Spanish began again to take control of the region, the mosque was converted to a cathedral.

But not in the way that many other mosques around Spain were converted. Instead of turning the minaret into a bell tower and completely changing the interior of the mosque (or worse, knocking it down), the Great Mosque was kept almost entirely as it was left. Instead, a large catholic cathedral was built inside the middle of the mosque.

large gate at the entrance to the old city in cordoba.

The gate at the entrance to the old city near the Mesquita.

How Many Days in Córdoba?

A single day is a good amount of time to see the major Córdoba tourist attractions.

Many people come to Córdoba as a day trip from Malaga. I came to the city on a day trip from Seville. A single day allows you to see the absolute best things to do in Córdoba.

You can arrive early in the morning and stay until early evening really packing your day full. If you want to get a little bit deeper and see all of the absolute best things to do in Córdoba, you can stay overnight and extend your trip to two full days.

I always use to find the best places to stay in a city. Check their website for availability in Córdoba here.

Map of Things to Do in Córdoba, Spain

The Best Things to Do in Córdoba, Spain

For such a small city, there are so many different things to do in Córdoba. Whether you want a guide or you want to tour around each of the different Córdoba attractions on your own, you’ll have plenty to discover.

1. Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Number one on the list of things to do in Córdoba is go to the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. Sometimes called the Mezquita, this is an essential part of any trip to Córdoba. This Great Mosque is what has made Córdoba a place worth visiting for thousands of years.

Many people simply visit the city to go to the mosque and then head away to visit other things to do in Andalucia.

If you want to self-guide around the Cathedral, you can pre-book your tickets and grab an audio guide before entering. The audio guide is essential if you don’t plan to explore with an actual guided tour.

The audioguide offers so much fantastic information about the history of the mosque, about the people who built this and turned it into the grand mosque that you see today. You can pre-book your tickets and audioguide here.

If you want to really get below the surface and hear stories about the people who built this mosque and later the interior cathedral, then you should consider taking a guided tour. This guided tour includes a historian tour guide as well as the price of your entrance ticket.

Groups remain small so that you can explore the cathedral with ease and ask questions that come up throughout the tour. Book onto the guided tour of the cathedral here.

inside of the mosque cathedral in cordoba with arches in brick and white and marble pillars it is one of the best things to do in cordoba.

The inside of the Mesquita is a magical place.

2. Puente Romano de Córdoba

Just in front of the Mezquitais the Puente Romano or the Roman Bridge.

It was originally built during the 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir River, the same one that you can ride down on a boat tour in Seville. It is likely that this bridge was part of the road that connected Rome with Cadiz.

The bridge has been reconstructed many times over the years, but it remains one of the most historical sites in Córdoba to visit. When the Moors rebuilt the bridge, they constructed it with 16 arcades. There are only two that still remain from the original construction, the 14th and 15th arches (if you count from the Mosque-Cathedral side).

Take a stroll across the bridge and at the far end you will get the absolute best views back over the Mosque-Cathedral. For great views of the bridge, walk towards this old watermill and you will be able to see it and count the arches well from there, too.

green river with a large and long stone bridge across it.

The Roman Bridge and its 16 arches.

3. Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs

Perhaps the second most visited Córdoba tourist attraction is the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs. If you’ve traveled around some other areas of Andalucia, you’ll know that the Royal Alcazar is one of the best things to do in Seville.

The Alcazar of Córdoba looks a little bit different. And unlike the Alcazar in Seville, it is not a residence for the royal family anymore.

The word Alcazar is used to describe Spanish palaces and fortresses that were built during the Moorish occupation between the 8th and 15th centuries. It comes from the Arabic word, al-Qasr.

This beautiful palace was built in 1328 and at one point in its history, was one of the main residences for Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

You can explore the interior of the palace, which is relatively small and should only take about 30 minutes. You can also go up to the top of the tower and walk along the fortress walls to take in a view over the Alcazar gardens as well as the neighboring Mosque-Cathedral.

The best part of the Alcazar (in my humble opinion), is the gardens. You can bring food into the gardens with you and actually enjoy your lunch or a snack sitting beneath the flowering trees.

There are stunning pools and fountains, impeccably trimmed shrubbery, and sweet-smelling trees. It is one of the most beautiful places to see in Córdoba.

If you want to explore the Alcazar with a guided tour, you can book into a very affordable tour that includes your entrance ticket, a skip-the-line ticket, as well as a knowledgeable guide. You will be able to learn all about the history of the people who called this palace home and in turn, learn even more about Córdoba. Book onto that tour here.

If you want to save some money and time, book onto a tour that includes both the Alcazar and the Mosque-Cathedral. You will perhaps move through both places a little bit quicker than if you were doing them as individual tours. But if you only have one day in Córdoba, this tour is a great option.

gardens with a long fountain that looks liek a swimming pool and a castle in the background at the alcazar which is one of the best things to do in cordoba.

The gardens in the Alcazar.

4. Córdoba Ecuestre

The Córdoba Ecuestre also referred to as Caballerizas Reales, are royal stables located in the old town area of Cordoba.

These stables are home to the absolute best horses of the royal breed of Andalusian horse. The royal stables have been here in Córdoba since the 16th century and this site has remained the home of these royal horses ever since.

The building itself is worth visiting for its beauty and historical significance, but you can also visit to see a horse show. The Caballerizas Reales Equestrian show is unique to Córdoba and is one of the best things to do in Córdoba if you like live performances and/or horses.

Grab a ticket to the show beforehand. It is essential to pre-book tickets if you are visiting during busy periods like July and August or around Christmas time or Easter. Book your tickets here.

Just note that you cannot bring any drinks or snacks and you cannot take any photographs or videos before entering. This is the perfect place to put your phone away for a while and simply enjoy these regal horses putting on one heck of a show.

exterior of the mesquita in cordoba with colorful tiles and intricate carvings above the windows it is one of the most beautiful things to do in cordoba.

There are so many intricate carvings and archways to explore around the Mosque-cathedral, both inside and outside.

5. La Casa Andalusi

La Casa Andalusi is a beautiful museum and old home that is well worth visiting in Córdoba if you have a little bit of extra time and want to see something off the beaten path in Córdoba.

The house was built during the 12th century and has been updated over the centuries. So you will see a combination of Moorish and Mudejar architecture. The tilework and mosaics around the house are one of the main reasons to visit. But the home is also a window into another time here in Spain when the country was called Al-Andalus.

The patio is a stunning place to explore. You also have the paper museum which shows both the history of the Jewish people of Córdoba as well as how paper has been made for thousands of years here.

There is also a collection of coins that goes back to the time of Al-Andalus until nearly the present day. It’s amazing how little has changed and yet how unique the coins can be from different time periods.

6. Museum of Fine Arts Córdoba

I always love visiting art museums when I explore cities around Spain. You never know when you’re going to walk into a small fine arts museum in Spain and stumble upon a Goya, Picasso, a piece by El Greco, or even an unknown-to-me Spanish artist that absolutely blows me away.

The museum mostly focuses on fine art from Cordobese artists, you will also find a few pieces scattered around from other Spanish artists.

Housed inside the old Hospital de la Caridad, the building has a Renaissance style that makes it worth wandering through even if it wasn’t full of a wonderful fine arts collection. Be sure to take note of the staircase as well as the restored wooden ceiling that can be found in a few of the rooms.

EU citizens can get into the museum for free. Other nationalities can enter for the small fee of only €1.50.

narrow cobbled streets with white buildings that have yellow windowsills around the edges.

The streets of the historic center of Córdoba are so fun to get lost around.

7. Archeology Museum of Córdoba

As you’ll find from all of the other sites around Córdoba, this city is packed with history. There have been people living in this region for centuries and this museum is where to go if you want to learn more about each of the different groups.

The museum is housed in the beautiful Palace of the Páez de Castillejo Family. This Renaissance home is worth exploring alongside the interesting artifacts that are on display in the museum.

Wander through the palace’s three different courtyards where many of the exhibits are on display. Be sure to take a look up when walking through the museum, there is stunning architecture to spot around every corner.

When the building was originally being converted into a palace, it was discovered that there was a Roman patio beneath the dirt which makes this even more of a special place.

Inside you can explore Roman mosaics, stone pillars, and Moorish artifacts from the nearby Medina Azahara.

8. Center of Contemporary Art Rafael Boti

Contemporary art lovers will not want to miss a trip to the Center of Contemporary Art Rafael Boti located in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba.

Like the art, the space itself is quite modern. The museum has worked hard to build a collection of art from around both Spain and internationally that has been created in the last 20 years.

The collection is displayed in two large, open galleries inside the museum. They change the exhibits quite regularly, so it’s a place you can return to again and again if you live locally.

As the name of the museum suggests, you will always find plenty of paintings from local artist Rafael Boti.

an old stone tower at the end of a long bridge.

The Torre de Calahorra is a beautiful museum and offers some nice views back over the Mesquita.

9. Torre De Calahorra

You’ll spot this tower when you explore some of the other popular things to do in Córdoba like the Mesquita, the Alcazar, and especially when walking across the Roman Bridge.

Torre de Calahorra is the tower that sits at the far end of the Roman Bridge. It is an ancient defensive tower that was part of the larger city fortress during the time of Al-Andalus. It is mentioned in several texts from this time period as well as in texts during the Christian conquest of the area.

It is unclear when the tower was first built, but it is known that it was reinforced in the 12th century and there are mentions of it in writing starting in the 13th century.

Although the tower appears small, it is quite large inside and is now home to a museum about the Moorish occupation of this area. There are 8 different rooms inside that you can explore. It currently costs €4.50 to enter.

Another reason to visit the museum is to head up to the top of the tower and get some of the best views in all of Córdoba.

The opening times change depending on the time of year you are visiting. Check the website for exact opening times.

10. Mercado Victoria

If you are getting hungry while you’re exploring Córdoba, stop at the Mercado Victoria. The market is open for lunch, but it really comes alive in the evenings when all of the stalls are open the cañas are flowing from the bars and people are pouring out into the patio area.

Victoria Market is something of a gourmet market with everything from tapas to sushi inside. There are traditional stalls where you can have Andalucian classics like salmorejo and seafood. Then there are places that offer Mexican food, delicious burgers and barbecued steaks, and a few places that have some slightly healthier options, too.

The market structure dates from 1877 when it was used as a stall at the Córdoba Fair. The walls were added later when it was converted into a market hall and it’s now one of the coolest food markets in Andalusia.

outside of mercado victoria, a gourmet food market and one of the best things to do in cordoba.

The Mercado Victoria is a fun place to have a meal and a few drinks during a trip to Córdoba.

11. Templo Romano

Further proof of the Roman footprint in Córdoba can be found at the Templo Romano or the Roman Temple.

Completely free to visit, this temple is located near the Plaza de la Corredera and next to the town hall building. It is right in the middle of the bustling business district of Córdoba. Imagine walking past these enormous temple pillars on your way to work.

The ruins were found in the 1950s when the city began building work on expanding the current city hall. Of course, expansion work was halted and the ruins were excavated. They have been mostly recreated, as many of the pieces that were found were broken.

However, it is an incredible site to see and well worth walking past on your way to explore some of the other larger things to do in Córdoba.

roman pillars that are being propped with metal rods.

The Templo Romano allows you to see the scale of this once-grand temple.

12. Plaza de la Corredera

This is perhaps my favorite plaza in Córdoba. It is huge and the style of the buildings reminds me of Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

If you come during siesta time, you can have this entire plaza almost completely to yourself. But come at busy lunch or dinner time when the restaurants that line the plaza are open and it’s one of the most bustling places in the city center.

El Sótano is one of my personal favorites. If you want to sit outside on a busy weekend, be sure to call ahead and make a booking. However, if you come early enough, you can snag a spot in the sunshine.

They have delicious tapas, a nice selection of wines and beers at a good price, and the staff is about as good as it gets in this plaza (which is to say, they may come to the table if you flag them over).

large spanish plaza with colorful orange buildings around the outside and a large open space in the middle.

The Plaza de Corredera is a huge space that is well worth visiting.

13. Palacio de la Merced

There is so much grandeur in this city (as in many old cities in Spain). Palacio de la Merced was once a convent of La Merced Calzada. The palace is now used as the seat of the provincial government of Córdoba.

It is a Baroque-style building that was common in this region of Andalucia at the time it was built in the 18th century.

Because it is a government building, you can only visit a small part of the palace, but it is well worth visiting if it is open during your trip. The hours are limited 9 am-2 pm on weekdays, so you have to act quickly when you arrive.

I think the courtyard is absolutely stunning and since it’s free to enter, you don’t have to feel too bad about popping in for just a few minutes to have a look. There is usually a temporary exhibition hall with some regional or national art on display to make you feel like you’ve gotten a little bit more out of your visit.

outside of a grand palace in Cordoba with red paintings on the outside of the facade.

The Palace of La Merced has a very ornate exterior and a beautiful courtyard to visit.

14. Torre de la Malmuerta

While you’re near Palacio de la Merced, you may as well pop across the Jardines de la Merced, the Merced Gardens, and see the Torre de la Malmuerta.

During the Moorish occupation, Córdoba was split into two separate walled areas. The historical center was walled off and next to it was the Axerquía wall. This wall circled the eastern side of what is now the city of Córdoba.

Torre de la Malmuerta was part of the Axerquía wall and was used as an entrance (or exit) to the walled area. After the Christian conquest, the tower was used as a prison for nobles.

It is free to go up to the top of the tower. There is no museum or any other plaques here. It seems to have been left as a public space rather than a historical monument, but it is still quite an interesting site to see in Córdoba.

small ancient tower with a walking gate through the middle

The Torre de la Malmuerta is small but cool to visit and free to climb up.

15. Botanical Gardens of Córdoba

Andalucia has so many incredible gardens. Whether you are wandering through the Alcazar in Córdoba or the royal palace in Seville. The Botanical Gardens of Córdoba is a stunning green space that is home to many different types of plants.

It feels more like an exotic garden rather than what you find in some of the palaces in the area. Instead of lush orange trees, expect cacti, Bonsai trees, ferns, roses, and tons of other lush vegetation that you are unlikely to find elsewhere in Córdoba.

There is a hothouse with over 130 species from the Canary Islands. There are also two museums on the premises that explain the different plants that you will see around the gardens and where they come from. You might be surprised to learn that although these cactus and ferns seem exotic, they are in fact growing in different parts of Spain.

16. Hammam Al Andalus

No trip to Andalucia would be complete without a visit to a Hammam.

If you have never been to a Hammam before, it is essentially an Arab bath house. Men and women are separated into different areas. You can opt to wear your bathing suit or go completely nude.

You will then bathe in the different pools of varying temperatures before giving yourself (or paying someone else to give you) a total scrub down. You can watch this video to get an idea of what a Hammam experience is like.

If this is going to be your first Hammam experience, it really doesn’t get better than the Hammam Al Andalus. This is more of a spa than an Arab bath, but you will still get a chance to experience the different pools and a wonderfully decadent scrub-down.

You absolutely have to make an appointment to visit. You cannot simply show up and visit this particular bathing house without an appointment unless it is during a very quiet time of year.

tower of a cathedral inside a garden with tall cyprus trees.

The orange garden just outside of the Mosque-cathedral is free to visit. You can sit and relax here for a while before moving on to explore other things to do in Córdoba.

17. Tour the Jewish Quarter

During the 10th century, Córdoba was a huge center for Jewish people in Spain. At the time, it had one of the wealthiest and most educated Jewish populations in the whole peninsula.

During that time, they lived in a specific area of the city which was called Juderia. Although many of the Jewish people of Spain were eventually forced to either convert or leave the country, the city has tried in recent years to conserve the history of the people who once called this part of the city home.

You can take a tour of the Jewish Quarter, still referred to as the Juderia with a guide to learn more about the people, their stories, and what life was like for them here during Medieval times.

Most tours of the Jewish Quarter are included in the Mesquita or Alcazar tours. This tour starts at the Jewish Quarter where you will also get a chance to visit the old synagogue. You will then tour the Mesquita with a guide. All entrance tickets are included in the tour price. Book that tour here.

18. Explore the Courtyards of Córdoba

If you want to get beneath the surface of current life in Córdoba, you should definitely take a tour of the Cordovan Courtyards. These courtyards or patios as they refer to them in Spanish, are the courtyards of actual people’s homes.

On this tour, you will explore the historic center of Córdoba and visit the homes of five different residents. You will hear the stories of these families and what life is like for them. They will share stories of their ancestors who have been living in these homes for generations.

Of course, you will enjoy their stunning patios which are packed with flowers from the start of spring until close to the end of summer. The flora that grows within many of these courtyards has been here for many generations.

This is a fantastic tour for photo ops, but it’s more than just a tour to get you your Instagram photos. It’s about people and their stories. It’s about the history of the people of Córdoba. Book the courtyard tour here.

alleyway with white buildings on both sides and bright blue plant pots along the side of the building.

You will see white buildings and this particular shade of blue flowerpot all over Andalucia.

19. Palacio de Viana

The history of this palace dates back to 1425 when the first owner bought a row of medieval houses and began working to turn this into the home that you see today.

Since then, there have been 18 different owners of the palace and each has added their own flare. Each has given something to the history of the home that we as visitors get to relish in today.

The inside of this palace is absolutely wonderful. It’s so different from the palaces that you can visit in Seville or in the small towns that are day trips from Valencia (the Ducal Palace in Gandia is worth a visit!).

The interior of the palace has been decorated to represent different periods of time. You can discover paintings of the city of Córdoba from centuries ago. There is a wonderful library that you can peruse.

There is a tapestry gallery, a leather gallery, and a battle gallery with oil paintings attributed by Flemish painter Pieter Van Der Meulen from 1650 that each represents different battles of the 30 Years’ War.

inside of a cathedral with dark lighting and stunning gothic arches.

There are many architectural similarities between the Mesquita and the Medina that you will notice after visiting both locations.

20. Medina Azahara

Although not technically in the city of Córdoba, this is a very easy trip to make when you are visiting Córdoba.

If you are driving yourself, I recommend seeing all of the best things to do in Córdoba first. Then you can see the Medina Azahara once you have visited the Mesquita, taken a tour of the Alcazar, and learned about some of the history at the Archeology Museum.

If you don’t have a car (or even if you do), I highly recommend visiting the Medina with a tour guide. They can pick you up from your hotel in Córdoba or meet you at the site if you are driving yourself.

The Medina Azahara was a fortified palace-city located 5 miles (8km) from Córdoba. It was originally built in the 10th century by Abd al-Rahman III, the first Caliph of Al-Andalus.

The city was his chance to show the power that he held as a Caliph. A Caliph was essentially a ruler of a designated area, in this instance, the area was the entire country of Al-Andalus.

Inside the city walls, there was a castle, a mosque, living quarters, baths, and gardens. While the entire city is mostly in ruins, you can explore the site and get an idea of just how grand this city used to be.

A tour guide will be able to share stories and history about the people who used to live and work here. Book a tour of the Medina Azahara here. This option allows you to choose whether you want transportation or if you plan to meet the tour at the entrance of the Medina.

Watch the Best Things to Do in Córdoba