one day in cordoba - the perfect itinerary for a day trip

One Day in Cordoba: The Perfect Cordoba Itinerary for a Day Trip

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Are you planning a day trip to Cordoba? Wondering what to do in just one day in the city? Cordoba is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, and it has so much to offer. From historic monuments to stunning gardens and delicious food, you can easily fill a day with amazing activities. 

If you’re looking for the perfect Cordoba itinerary for your day trip, look no further! I’ve visited Cordoba twice: once on a day trip and another was a longer stay so I know the best way you can enjoy the city even if you have limited time. Here is my guide to spending the perfect one day in Cordoba. 

Brief History of Cordoba

The city of Cordoba, located in the south of Spain, has a long and rich history that dates back to Roman times. The Romans founded the city in the 2nd century BC, naming it Corduba after the river which runs through the city. 

In 711 AD, the city was conquered by the Moors who built a grand mosque and a large palace complex. During the Middle Ages, Cordoba grew in a major center for learning and culture, as it was home to one of the most important universities in Europe. 

With the fall of the Moors in 1236, the city became part of Castile and was renamed Cordoba. Over the centuries, Cordoba has continued to be an important cultural center in Spain. 

Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of Spain’s most iconic monuments, including the magnificent Mezquita Cathedral-Mosque and its colorful Jewish Quarter. It’s a must-visit on any trip to Andalucia, even if you have only a day to spare. 

things to do in cordoba spain in one day

Top 3 Things to Do in Cordoba, Spain in One Day

Cordoba, Spain is a beautiful city full of culture and history and if you have the time, it’s well worth spending more than a day here. But with so much to see and experience in Andalucia, it’s understandable that most visitors squeeze in a day trip here in between seeing other bigger Andalucian cities like Seville and Granada. 

And hey, a day trip is better than not seeing Cordoba at all! 

So if you’re short on time, here’s a quick look at the top 3 things to do in Cordoba, Spain in one day. 

This is ideal for the laid-back traveler who just wants to see Cordoba’s highlights at a relaxed pace. You can easily tick off these 3 Cordoba must-dos in 3 to 4 hours… or take your time and savor your time at each experience if you have more time. 

1. Marvel at the Mezquita

There’s no doubt that the top thing to do in Cordoba in one day is to visit the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, the crown jewel of the city. I’ve visited Cordoba twice and went to the Mezquita twice and to me, it’s one of the most fascinating buildings in the world. 

The mosque was built in 785 when Cordoba was the capital of Al-Andalus and the complex was expanded until the 10th century. Things changed with the Reconquista and in 1236, the building was converted into a cathedral. The 16th century saw the insertion of a Renaissance-style nave in the center of the building and the conversion of the former minaret into a bell tower. 

The Mezquita is an intriguing look at Spain’s inter-religious history and there’s really no other building like it in the world. Indeed, the Mezquita has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. 

The monument itself is beautiful to behold and there are countless stunning details to see. You can visit the Mezquita on your own and wander around at your own pace. If you’re an early bird, entry is free from Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 am to 9.30am. It’s the most popular attraction in Cordoba so it’s a good idea to book your ticket in advance.

That said, I would highly recommend visiting the Mezquita with a local guide. I did this on my second visit and learning the history and stories behind the building of the monument plus having specific details in the monument pointed out to me completely elevated my appreciation for the Mezquita. 

2. Stroll across the Roman Bridge

Situated just behind the Mezquita, you’ll find the city’s Roman bridge that dates back to the 1st century BC. For thousands of years, this was the only bridge in Cordoba across the Guadalquivir river!

It’s believed that the bridge was part of the Roman Via Augusta which connected Rome and Cadiz, further south in Andalucia. When the Arabs arrived, they built on the ruins of the bridge for their own use. In medieval times, the two towers book-ending the bridge, Calahorra Tower and the Puerta del Puente , were added on. 

Today, the bridge is part of Cordoba’s historic center and strolling across it is a chance to follow the historic footsteps of the Romans and Moors. The bridge is completely pedestrianized and it offers stunning views of the city. My favorite is to look back towards the Mezquita and historic center for that iconic shot of the monument and the bridge. 

There’s no bad time to see the bridge: in bright sunshine, the views are pretty and you can snap the best photos. But it’s equally great in the evening when the buildings are softly lit and there’s a romantic atmosphere. 

3. Wander around Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter

One of the best things to do in Cordoba in one day is to simply wander around the well-preserved Jewish Quarter and it’s part of Cordoba’s historic center that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Spanning from Puerta de Almodóvar to the Mezquita and the episcopal palace (the former Arab fortress) to the south, this area consists of narrow, winding streets that feel like a labyrinth. Inhabited by Jews from the 10th to 15th centuries, notable landmarks here include the synagogue that was built in 1315, Museo Taurino (a museum on bull-fighting), and the Zoco Municipal (an artisan marketplace in a beautiful Cordoban courtyard).

But really, the wonderful thing about La Juderia is just the atmosphere and history. Put away the (Google)maps and just savor wandering around without a plan. Discover small shops and cafes you might find along the way and don’t forget to look upwards to admire the colorful accents on the white-washed buildings and the hanging plants on the balconies. 

Puerta de Almodóvar is a great starting point to explore La Juderia. And don’t leave without seeing the famed Calleja de las Flores, a little street teeming with gorgeous flowers and the bell tower peeking over the rooftops. 

If you’re able to tick off these 3 things during your one day in Cordoba, it’s a day well spent! 

cordoba itinerary

Cordoba Itinerary: 1 Day

Want a little more help with your one day in Cordoba to make the most of every moment and experience as much of the city as possible? Then read on for my tried and tested Cordoba one-day itinerary!

One Day in Cordoba: What to Do in the Morning 

Stop 1: Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

It’s a great idea to start your day in Cordoba early and what better way to start the day than to visit the number one attraction: the Mezauira. I’d recommend getting to the Mezquita as soon as it officially opens at 10.00am. 

To save time, you can book your ticket in advance and ensure that you’ll be ready to enter as soon as the doors officially open at 10.00am. I suggest spending at least one hour here, walking around and taking in the splendor of this magnificent monument. And if you’re like me, you might even want to spend more time here!

To get the most out of your visit, take a guided tour of the Mezquita. You can get a tour that starts in the morning when the monument opens and these tours typically last one hour as you learn about the highlights of the Mezquita. I did a tour on my second visit to Cordoba and it greatly enhanced my understanding and appreciation so I would highly recommend it!

Another great alternative: If you’re a very early bird or on a tight budget, consider coming between 8.30am and 9.30am (Monday to Saturday), when the monument offers free entry. (Note that they do clear everyone out before the official opening at 10.00am). 

If you have time, the bell tower is also accessible with an additional ticket and it offers some nice views of the city. Nice to see if you have the time to spare, but not essential in my opinion. 

Stop 2: Roman Bridge, Puerta del Puenta, and Calahorra Tower

After discovering the wonders of the Mezquita, take a 5-minute walk towards the river behind it and you’ll come across the city’s Roman Bridge. Flanked by two towers, the bridge is an impressive sight!

Take the time to wander along the bridge and enjoy the views of the river as well as the city. It’s worth it to walk all the way across the bridge to the other side of the city, if only to admire the exceptional view of Cordoba you’ll get from that vantage point. This is the spot for that Instagram-worthy picture! 

Exploring the Roman Bridge can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how leisurely your walk is. 

Stop 3: Calleja de las Flores, La Judería, and Lunch 

Next, you’ll retrace your steps back to the Mezquita and the Patio de los Naranjos in order to find Calleja de las Flores, the prettiest street in Cordoba. Admire the pretty flowers hanging off the balconies and be sure to snap that picture-perfect shot with the Mezquita bell tower peeking out!

By now, you’re ready in Cordoba’s famed Jewish Quarter so feel free to just wander around the charming, winding streets. This is the place where it’s fun to get lost, stumble into dead ends, and bask in the history of Cordoba. 

Once you’re ready for a break, feel free to find a restaurant in the area that appeals to you for a much-deserved rest to fuel up for the rest of your day. Good restaurants to check out include Restaurante Damasco and Casa Pepe de La Judería. 

cordoba itinerary one day

One Day in Cordoba: What to Do in the Afternoon

Stop 4: Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

After a hearty lunch and some rest from all that walking, you’ll continue your one day in Cordoba with a visit to Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. 

Built in the 1300s, this Mudejar-style palace is definitely a must-have in any Cordoba 1-day itinerary. The building itself doesn’t have much to offer; compared to other palaces, the interior is relatively bare and the only notable highlight are some beautiful mosaics. 

The real reason to come here: the stunning gardens.

 Filled with lush greenery, flowers, and fountains, the gardens of this palace are truly an oasis in the city. And from some vantage points, with the Alcázar looming in the background and the fountains and greenery in the foreground, you can capture some amazing photos of this historic site. 

There’s definitely something charming about this place, especially if you’re visiting on a sunny day that puts the gardens in the best light. Prepare to spend about an hour here, or even more if you find that you enjoy the atmosphere. 

One downside: you can only buy tickets on-site and there’s a good chance that there’ll be a line to get tickets and enter. Often, the line moves pretty quickly but if you happen to be visiting on a busy day and the line is too long, you may be better off spending your time in Cordoba elsewhere. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour of the Alcazar which includes skip-the-line tickets!

Stop 5: Cordoba’s Patios

Hidden away from sight but by no means a secret are Cordoba’s unique and beautiful patios. This is an awesome way to experience the local flavor either as an alternative to visiting the Alcázar or as an add-on after you’re done with it. 

The city’s famous patio festival takes place in May with numerous patios around the city opened to the public as they compete to win the patio competition. But even outside of May, you can see this tradition being kept alive. 

You might’ve already seen such a patio if you had stopped by the Zoco Municipal while wandering around the Jewish Quarter. You may also come across other patios within that area; just keep your eyes open! Another good place to spot these patios is near the Alcázar, along Calle de San Basilio and the streets around it. 

You can visit this website to learn more about Cordoba’s patios and where to find them. 

Stop 6: Mercado Victoria 

Lastly, cap off your one day in Cordoba with a visit to Mercado Victoria. This food market is home to various food stalls offering local and international delights. 

This is a great spot to get some bites for your train or drive back from your day trip or you can even have dinner here. The atmosphere here is lively and there’s plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors. 

What I like about a food market like Mercado Victoria is that you get the chance to try a little bit of everything from different stalls. It’s great when you’re dining as a group and people have different preferences. Try the halal food stall, salmorejo and flamenquillo. 

If You Have 2 Days in Cordoba

Have more than a day in Cordoba? Amazing! You definitely won’t regret spending more time here. 

You can use the Cordoba 1-day itinerary above and take a slower approach to seeing the city’s main attractions. In my opinion, Cordoba’s historic center is the most appealing part of the city and it’s great just being there to soak up the vibe.  

But if you’re an efficient traveler who wants to see and do more, then here are some ideas on what to do when you have 2 days in Cordoba. 

Discover Cordoba’s Roman Past

Before the Moors, Cordoba had significance as a Roman city and digging into its Roman roots is a fun way to spend your second day in the city. Head outside of the historic center to view the ruins of Cordoba’s Roman Temple

Only a few pillars are standing but the entire site is open and free to view so you can get a good sense of what it might’ve looked like. Around the area, you can find bars and restaurants to people-watch and pass some time. 

Museum lovers, you may want to stop by Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba which details the city’s interesting and colorful history. Plus, you’ll find the remains of a Roman theatre in the basement. The museum is free for EU nationals and charges €1.50 for non-EU visitors. 

Visit Palacio de Viena & Its Gorgeous Patios

This delightful Renaissance palace is, in my opinion, a hidden gem in Cordoba. I honestly didn’t know much about it before visiting it (I went as my friends wanted to) and I ended up really liking it!

Built in the 15th century, this palace-mansion takes its name from the Marquisate of Viana, the last owners of the home. There’s a small fee to enter but then you’ll be transported to a peaceful retreat. There’s a guided tour of the interior available (although only in Spanish, with a small English leaflet si no entiendo español). 

And while the interior has its interesting points, its the outdoor areas that shine the brightest. Patios after patios, courtyard after courtyard (12 in total), this palacio is a beautiful show of Andalucian style. Each space is picturesque and well-maintained; even if it is busy, you can find a peaceful spot just to breathe and take it all in.  

A visit to Palacio de Viena is a lovely way to spend an hour or two on your second day in Cordoba. You can buy your tickets online here.

Check out Plaza de la Corredera 

Cordoba’s Plaza de la Corredera has the distinction of being the only quadrangular main square in Andalucia and it’s a great place to take a break and enjoy the beautiful Cordoba weather, if you’re exploring the areas outside of the Old Town.

Like the main squares you can find in other major Spanish cities, the one is dotted with restaurants and cafes, making it ideal for a beer or coffee break. It can get very hot here in the afternoons in the summer, so it’s better to dine here in the evening when it cools down. 

Venture out to the ruins of Medina Azahara

Get a glimpse of the grandeur of the Moorish empire with a visit to Medina Azahara which lies just a short 15-minute drive from Cordoba. There’s also a bus that runs from Paseo de la Victoria Blvd in the city center so this historical site is easily accessible even without a car. 

This palace city dates back to the 10th century and it’s said that it was utterly luxurious and magnificent when it existed. Alas, it was conquered and looted by the Berbers just a mere 74 years after it was built and what we see today in the archeological site is all that remains. 

Nonetheless, enough remains to spark your imagination. The site is huge and the remnants of various buildings make it easy to visualize what a grand sight it must’ve been. 

A visit to Medina Azahara is an amazing way to add on to your experience of the Moorish side of Spanish history and I highly recommend it! Entrance is free for EU nationals and €1.50 for non-EU visitors. There’s also a small charge for the shuttle bus that takes you to-and-from the museum and archeological site. 

To learn more about the history and architecture of Medina Azahara, take a guided tour.

tips for one day in cordoba

Tips for Making the Most of Your One Day in Cordoba

Plan to arrive early and leave late

When doing a day trip to Cordoba, I recommend arriving in the city in the morning and leaving late so that you can make the most of your time here. 

If you’re coming by car, you’ll have the most flexibility with your time and it’s not hard to find a parking lot outside of the historic center. 

You can also have a pretty full one day in Cordoba even if you travel by public transportation. Cordoba has great train connections, whether you’re coming from Madrid, Seville or Granada which are all popular places from which to make a day trip to Cordoba. If you’re traveling in peak season, you may have to pay a bit more for the ideal trains to-and-from Cordoba but it’ll be worth it! I also suggest buying your train tickets in advance for the best prices. 

Car Rental Recommendation

If you’re looking for the best prices for car rental during your stay in Spain, check out Discover Cars. Just plug in your location and dates and you’ll get the best deals available. Super convenient and easy! 

Wear your most comfy walking shoes 

Cordoba is a very walkable city and if you’re like me, you’ll love discovering it on foot. Whether you just do the top 3 things to do in Cordoba in one day or follow my Cordoba 1-day itinerary outlined above, there’ll be a lot of walking… so don your best sneakers or walking shoes to ensure your comfort throughout the day. 

The historic center basically consists of cobblestoned roads so say no to heeled shoes or anything with a soft sole. Don’t let a bad shoe choice run your chance to see Cordoba!

Book your tickets for the Mezquita in advance 

The Mezquita is one of the most-visited monuments in Spain and it’s pretty much the main reason most people come to Cordoba. So if you’re short on time in the city or if you’re coming during the busy summer months, it’s a good idea to get your tickets in advance. This way, you won’t waste precious time in line and be guaranteed a ticket for entry. 

Another good alternative, especially if you love history, is to take a guided tour of the Mezquita. The price of a tour will include an entrance ticket and your local guide will provide you with precious information that will help you understand the wonders of this iconic building. 

Be flexible

While I do love having a well-thought-out itinerary in hand, sometimes you never know what will catch your interest when you’re actually in a new place. So even if you decide to follow my Cordoba 1-day itinerary and make the most of your time in the city, I encourage you to stay open to possibilities and be flexible once you’re actually in Cordoba. 

Afterall, travel is more just than checking things off a list and seeing the main sights, right? Maybe you come across an adorable cafe and choose to relax or decide to indulge in a long Spanish-style lunch instead of hitting the next thing on the list. That’s okay. In fact, that’s great! 

What matters is that you’re enjoying your day the way you want to. 

Enjoy Your One Day in Cordoba! 

Cordoba offers so much, even if you only have one day in the city. From its interesting history to iconic monuments, delicious food, and friendly locals, Cordoba has something for everyone. 

It’s even better if you can stay a second day in Cordoba or have more time to explore the city in depth. No matter how much time you spend in this magical city, you’re sure to remember it forever!

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