Trying to figure out what the best things to do in Cordoba, Spain are? I’ve got you covered!

Of all the stops on our Andalucía road trip, I was the most excited about coming back to Cordoba. I first visited back in 2012 when I was just a college student after reading a book that had me super interested in Islamic Spain and fell in love. I was wondering if the city would still hold over a decade later and, not a shocker, it did!

Cordoba is small but absolutely packed with the prettiest alleyways and historic landmarks. Even now, I still feel it gets shafted for Granada or Sevilla whenever someone plans a trip down south! Not only did it play a crucial role in Islamic Spain’s most prosperous period, it’s quieter and, to me, more charming.

Anyway, if you’re trying to decide (or if you already have), below are all the things to do in Cordoba that I’d recommend to a friend.

Quick Córdoba Tips

  • Getting in: We drove in and had a pretty easy time getting to our parking garage. Otherwise you can use Renfe for train routes and Alsa for bus routes to get here easily. The closest airport is in Málaga, and you can always book a private transfer to make things easy.
  • Parking: Free parking across the bridge but reviews are so-so. We paid 15€/night to park in a garage near our apartment stay.
  • Getting Around: Pretty much everywhere is easy to get to on foot. The hard spot to get to is Medina Azahara, which is about 20 mins by car outside of town.
  • Where to Stay: We stayed at Apartamentos Plaza, which was a great location and spacious. I also looked at Las Casa de la Juderia and Hotel Madinat

The Coolest Things to Do in Cordoba

Cordoba history

1. Learn about Cordoba’s history

Córdoba has to be one of Spain’s most interesting historic destinations, so before you visit, I think it’s good to have a little context for all you’re about to see.

You see, Spain has an uber Catholic reputation these days but for a large swatch of history over half the peninsula was actually under Islamic rule. It’s why the north often feels so different from the south – they were literally part of different cultures for centuries. Córdoba as we know it today roughly began with the Romans, then the Visigoths (I can literally here my professor saying visigóticos right now), the Muslims, and then the Kingdom of Castile and present day Spain.

Essentially, Islamic rule began in 711 and didn’t end until 1492 and as known as al-Andalus. For a lot of this period, Córdoba was the capital, and it’s said during the 900-1000s AD, it was one of the most culturally, economically, and financially advanced places in the world. It was during this period that you got creations like Medinat al-Zahra, The Mezquita, etc.

There was a ton of unrest after this period which made it easy for Ferdinand III to siege the city and then take it over in 1236. This is when the mosque was turned into a cathedral and when the Alcazar was built.

If you want even more of a history lesson, I’d make sure to book some sort of guided tour when you arrive! (There’s even a running tour now)

2. Visit the incredible Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

Even to this day the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba) is one of my favorite landmarks in the whole world. It is such a stunning representation of Spain’s mixture of religions and cultural influences. And truly how many places in the world have both such strong Islamic and Catholic interior designs mixing with one another?

Basically, on this land once stood a Visigothic Church. Even back then it was shared between Christians and Muslims for worship. When Abd al-Rahman I came into power, he demolished the church to build the Great Mosque. However, his builders used both parts of the old church as well as Roman materials found in the area. al-Rahman’s later successors would expand the mosque until the Reconquista.

During the Reconquista, specifically in 1236 under King Ferdinand III of Castile, the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. They didn’t demolish the mosque but instead build the church within – adding instead of replacing.

Through the centuries, the Mosque-Cathedral has undergone additional interior changes but has always maintained its mixture of religious influences – at least in the design sense. Unfortunately, while it’s still used as a church today, both Spain’s Catholic clergy and the Vatican have opposed Muslims coming to pray.

3. Go up the Torre Campanario

For those of you that want to get a bird’s eye view of Córdoba, you’ll want to go up the Mezquita-Catedral’s Torre Campanario (Bell Tower). I didn’t realize it was an option on my last trip and it wasn’t open to the public when I visited in college. Maybe next time!

Puente Romano, Cordoba, Spain - things to do in cordoba

4. Cross the Puente Romano

For any “Game of Thrones” fans, does the Puente Romano look familiar? It was used as the Long Bridge of Volantis in Season 5, Episode 3! (Obviously looks a little different in the show thanks to CGI)

As you’re exploring Córdoba, definitely take some time to walk over the bridge to the Torre de la Calahorra (Calahorra Tower). It goes all the way back to the 1st century BC and is thought to have been part of the Via Augusta, a path that connected Rome to Cádiz.

The first time I visited Córdoba, it actually down poured as soon as we crossed over, so I remember sitting in the Torre de la Calahorra to take cover and wait for the rain to stop!

Of course on the main city side, you also have the Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge) which is a reconstruction of an old Roman gate. It was built to commemorate a visit from King Philip II (yes, the same guy who married Mary I of England).

5. Find the blue flower pots

You know, I’m not sure when these cheerful blue flower pots became an unofficial symbol of Córdoba, but I’m sure glad they did. I don’t even remember seeing or seeking them out in college but I do remember seeing them pop up all over Instagram and Pinterest in the years since.

There’s just something really charming about a white stucco wall covered in flowers and blue pots!

Book a tour to explore all the blue flower pots.

6. Explore the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

For even more historic things to do in Cordoba, you’ll want to check out the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs). Like many sites in Cordoba, it started off as a Visigothic fortress before becoming the main center for various Islamic rulers. Abd al-Rahman I first built an alcázar on this spot and named it the official seat of power for al-Andalus.

Later, well after Cordoba was captured by the Catholic forces during the Reconquista, Alfonso XI of Castile began to build what you see today and why it’s known by its current name. It would later be used as headquarters for Isabel and Ferdinand. Which, yes, means it was used for the Inquisition, for their campaign against the Nasrid dynasty still holding strong in Granada, and for the first meeting with a guy by the name of Christopher Columbus.

7. Shop for the cutest souvenirs

Of all our stops in Andalucía, I found the cutest souvenirs around Córdoba. I won’t pretend I did any intense shopping research like I have for other places I’ve visited, but I saw lots of cute little stores. My sister asked for something, so I picked her up some pretty magnets and Alyshia got this little straw donkey while we were in the square.

If and when I return to Andalucía I’ll do more shopping research to let you know specific brands and designs to seek out but for the casual traveler, know that Cordoba had the most eye-catching options!

8. Check out the Judería de Córdoba

Right in the historic center, you can find Cordoba’s Jewish Quarter (or the Judería de Córdoba). It still has the same layout as when the city was under Islamic control and stretches between the Puerta de Almodóvar to the Mezquita-Catedral. You can do a walking tour to learn more the Jewish history in Córdoba, which lasted until Isabel and Ferdinand took over.

Templo Romano, Cordoba, Spain

9. See the Templo Romano

If you walk into town a bit, you really can’t miss the Templo Romano. It’s all that remains of a Roman temple built between the reign of Emperor Claudius and Emperor Domitian. I know you can do inside but we went by around sunset, so it was obviously closed.

To me it just adds to all of Cordoba’s layers. Like you truly have so many different eras of history on display within mere minutes of each other, and it’s just wild to think how much this city has witnessed.

10. Wander for some street art

I don’t have specific locations but I did notice quite a bit of cool street art. We saw this piece coming back from Puente Romano and had to snap a few pics!

11. Find the alleys that look like that default Tiktok Green screen background

Have you ever picked the green screen option on Tiktok and gotten a stock image of what looks a white washed pathway with mustard yellow details? Okay, so technically that specific photo is by Inma Santiago and is in Jérez. However, that architectural style is all over Andalucía and it especially reminded me of Córdoba.

You’ll see so many similar roads as you walk around, so be sure to snap a photo. The one above was literally right next to our accommodation, Apartamentos Plaza.

12. Go out to the Madinat al-Zahra

Of all the things to do in Cordoba, this is the one that has continued to evade me but is also the place I want to visit the most! The book I read that lead to me wanting to learn more about Al Andalus and Islamic Spanish history in general is actually more set at the Madinat al-Zahra (also Medina Azahara) versus in the main town, so that’s pretty much my main reason.

Under Ab al-Rahman III, this medina was actually the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba. Because al-Rahman III declared himself caliph in 929, he needed to establish a new city instead of inhabiting one that already existed. The name, of course, comes from his favorite concubine. It’s about 4 miles from Córdoba, so you’ll need a car or to book a tour to visit.

13. Experience a hammam

I did this over in Granada but I recommend it for anyone coming to Andalucía. It’s obviously more touristy than, say, a jimjilbang in Korea or sauna in Norway but it’s still such a cool experience. Soak in different tubs, enjoy a steam room, and opt in for a nice, traditional Kessa massage.

Delicious Things to Do in Córdoba for Food & Drink

14. Grab lunch at Restaurante El Churrasco

Located in Cordoba’s Jewish quarter, we stopped into Restaurante El Churrasco to cool off midday and get something to eat. It’s a really charming traditional-style restaurant that’s been around since 1970. They’re also open for dinner, and if we weren’t more in need of hydration than food, we’d have tried their main speciality – el churrasco – as well. That said the above tapas were absolutely perfect!

Restaurante Campos de Toro

15. Get Paella at Restaurante Campos de Toro

I know, I KNOW paella is really only ever eaten at lunch. If you go, feel free to switch my tips and go here for lunch and dinner at El Churrasco.

However, if you freshly arrive to Córdoba and check-in to your hotel, and all you want is some paella for dinner, know that Restaurante Campos de Toro will deliver. It’s right by the Mosque-Cathedral and just a really charming little restaurant with friendly, chatty owners. And for those late arrivals, it’s open until 11:30 PM!

Restaurante El Caballo Rojo

16. Also Get dinner at El Caballo Rojo

Located in the Judería, El Caballo Rojo has all the classic Andalusian cuisine. They have so many good dishes but I actually can’t remember what we got and all I took a photo of was the above lol. (If you can’t tell – I was a croqueta fiend on this trip.

Plaza de Corredera

17. Grab drinks in Plaza de Corredera

Every time I travel with Alyshia, she likes to go somewhere for a nice beer, a patio, and some people watching. Which means I like finding somewhere with Diet Coke, a patio, and some people watching. In Cordoba, we found ourselves in Plaza de Corredera to do just this. There are plenty of random little spots to get a drink, and we just relaxed here for a bit to finish off this leg of our road trip.

The plaza itself is also really cool as it’s the only quadrangular plaza in Andalucía and has been around for centuries!

And there you have it – all the coolest things to do in Cordoba, Spain, aka one of my favorite places to visit in the world. Anything to add? I have a feeling I’ll be visiting again soon!

For more Spanish travel, read these next:


things to do in cordoba

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