Our guide to spending a fantastic 2 days in Córdoba, home to an Islamic Caliphate, Roman artefacts, beautiful patios and some of the cheapest tastiest tapas around.


It seems our early ancestors were onto something when they deemed Córdoba the greatest city in western Europe in the 10th century. Home to an Islamic Caliphate, Roman influences and local Spanish charisma, 2 days in Córdoba is an ideal European weekend getaway.

We went to Córdoba in late April to get some sun and escape the dragging English winter. In this Spanish charmer, we explored world-famous Mezquita, an ancient ruined caliphal capital, gorgeous patios, plus a host of other alluring sights.

Here’s our complete 2 days in Córdoba with the sights ordered to take advantage of their location while also factoring in opening and closing times.

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN CÓRDOBA

Day 1 AM / The Mezquita-Catedral & Puente Romano

Day 1 PM / Alcázar, Casa Andalusí & people watching

Day 1 Evening / Leather work & traditional dining

Day 2 AM / Madinat al-Zahra & Palacio de Viana

Day 2 PM / Archaeological Museum & Museo de Bellas Artes

Day 2 Evening / Spanish dining

DAY 1 AM / THE MEZQUITA-CATEDRAL & PUENTE ROMANO

08:30/ Get an early start this morning to take advantage of the free entry at the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (10:00 – 19:00 Mon-Sat; 8.30 – 11.00 and 15:00 to 19:00 Sun / €10 / Calle Cardenal Herrero 1). Between 08:30 and 09:30 every day (except Sunday) access is free of charge, allowing you to explore one of the most fascinating sites in Córdoba for nothing. It’s a truly memorable site and a great way to understand the complex history that makes Córdoba such a fascinating place to visit. A definite must-see for your 2 days in Córdoba. Originally built in 785 CE as a mosque, it was converted to a cathedral after the Christian conquest in 1236. The mix of Christian and Islamic iconography in the building is compelling. Intricate Islamic mosaics clash with the frescoed opulence of the Christian chapels. The Islamic prayer niche is a particular highlight, as is catching the light as it dances past the rows and rows of colourful, double arches.

10:00/ Be sure to head up to the Bell Tower (9.30 – 13.30 and 16.00 – 18.30 Mon-Sat / €2) for an uninterrupted view of the Christian cathedral punching its way through the Islamic mosque. From here the towering dominance of the cathedral serves as a reminder to the power of religion. Entrance to the bell tower occurs every 30 minutes.

11:30/ After the Mezquita, walk across the Puente Romano (Av. del Alcázar). It was originally constructed in the 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river, but it has been reconstructed so many times since, it’s hard to date each individual section. The bridge you see now is mostly from the Islamic period and contains the famous Moorish arches familiar across Córdoba today. There are great views across the town from the bridge which is beautifully lit for photos. Keep an eye out for the old wooden mills in various states of disrepair. At the end of the bridge is the Torre de la Calahorra, which contains the Museo Vivo de Al-Andaluz. This could possibly be the most uninteresting, sloppily assembled museum we have ever seen. Give it a miss.

12:30/ Head back into Córdoba to explore the Patios San Basilio (08:30 – 20:45 Tue–Fri; 08:30 – 16:30 Sat; 08:30 – 14:30 Sun; Closed Mon / €5 / Calle San Basilio 14). A ticket for €5 provides access to 5 patios which are all privately owned by locals. The patios are an extension of Roman influences with the house built around a central courtyard. Pick up your tickets from Calle San Basilio, 14 and follow the trail of smiling locals from one patio to the next. Read our full review of the patios of Córdoba here.

DAY 1 PM / ALCÁZAR, CASA ANDALUSÍ & PEOPLE WATCHING

14:00/ No 2 days in Córdoba would be complete without an al fresco lunch in an atmospheric square. So, after the patios, have lunch at Puerta Sevilla (Calle Postrera 51) taking up prime spot in the square just inside the Sevilla Gate. It hearty Spanish fare, so if unless you have a healthy appetite, one dish per person will probably do, even though they call them tapas.

15:15/ After lunch and a cheeky glass of fino, head over to the Baños de Alcázar Califal (08:30 – 20:45 Tue-Sat; 08:30 – 14:30 Sun / €2.50 / Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires). They’re not great. In fact, they’re not great at all. But they are the site of the execution of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Rahman V in 1024 CE, which marked the beginning of the end of the Caliphate in Europe. While Muslims ruled in Al-Andalus for almost another 500 years, it would never return to the enlightened times of the tenth century. There’s not much left of these 10th-century baths today, but still, they’re worth a quick look for their historical significance if nothing else.

15:45/ Just near the baños is the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs (08:30 – 20:45 Tue–Fri; 08:30 – 16:30 Sat; 08:30 – 14:30 Sun; Closed Mon / €2.50 / Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires) which is well worth checking out. The Alcázar was built by the Christians after they conquered Córdoba in 1328. It’s a popular spot for conquering nations as the current palace sits on top of Roman, Islamic and Visigoth Ruins. Their constructions are our reward as the Alcázar is an ideal addition to 2 days in Córdoba. In a case of the supporting act upstaging the headline, the gardens of the Alcázar draw the most energetic gasps of pleasure from visitors.

17:00/ Next up, explore some more of the Jewish Quarter. Start at Casa Andalusí, (10.00 – 19:30 / €5 / Calle Judíos 12) a house/museum full of Moroccan charm. It’s loaded with interesting trinkets and a scale model of the first paper factory imported to Spain by the Islamic empire. The courtyard with an eastern feel and the Visigoth bas relief create a beautiful atmosphere. Next, take the short stroll to the Maimonides statue located here. One of the most prolific and influential Jewish scholars, Córdoban born Maimonides was also an astronomer and physician.

18:00/ After meandering more of the Jewish Quarter, it’s probably time for a refreshing beverage, so head to Cosmopolitan Food on Plaza de Judá Levi. Despite the terrible name and even worse reviews on TripAdvisor, they have a great location in the square which is ideal for people watching. If that’s not enough to tempt you, their oversized gin & tonics certainly will.

DAY 1 EVENING / IMPRESSIVE LEATHER WORK & TRADITIONAL DINING

19:00/ After your early evening sundowner, make your way to Casa Ramón García Romero, ( 10:30 – 14:00 & 16:30 – 20:00 Mon-Sat / free entry / Plaza Agrupación de Cofradías 2) to witness one of Córdoba’s traditional crafts. If anyone told us before we spent 2 days in Córdoba that a museum dedicated to leather art would be a highlight, we would have scoffed. Shopping is not something we do on holidays, nor is wandering around looking at tourist-geared crafty stuff. But the fine displays of art at Casa Ramón García Romero are no tourist trap. They are impeccable works of art and – as the friendly guide was happy to point out – no metal is used to create these stunning masterpieces. It’s all leather and all amazingly done.

21:00/ For dinner this evening, make a reservation at Taberna Luque (Calle Blanco Belmonte 4; Reservations required: +34 699 80 65 60) for authentic regional cooking. If you’re young, hip and cool, the decor probably won’t be to your taste. It’s aging old-school Spanish styling, with aging old-school Spanish customers. But, the service by Antonio is warm, friendly and energetic; the cooking by Maria full of home-styled elegant goodness. The pork with PX sauce was a particular standout, but the whole evening was sealed by the fantastic service.

DAY 2 AM / MADINAT AL-ZAHRA & PALACIO DE VIANA

10:15/ This morning, head out to Madinat al-Zahra (09:00 – 21:00 Mon-Sat & 09:00 – 15:00 Sun / free for EU citizens, otherwise: €1.50 / Ctra. Palma del Río, km 5.5;), palace of Abd al-Rahman III, and the heart of the 10th-century Islamic Caliphate in Spain. The palace was a sprawling complex stretching 1500 metres across and set in the foothills of the Sierra Morena Mountain Range. The tour starts in the modern museum which has artefacts collected from the site and a film showing what the palace looked like in the 10th century. A free shuttle bus whisks visitors up to the site of the ruins. Weathered arches remain standing with the iconic orange stripes that conjure up an image of what it once looked like.

Even with only 2 days in Córdoba, heading out to the Madinat is easy and well worth it. You can either take a taxi (it’s not that far from Córdoba) or take the bus from Paseso de La Victoria outside the Almodovar Gate which is €9 return and leaves at 10.15, 10.30 and 11:00, returning at 13.30, 13.45 and 14.15. A good 2.5 hours is required to explore the site and the excellent museum and explanatory film.

13:30/ Back in Córdoba and after finding your favourite local hangout for lunch, stroll through Christo de los Faroles and Casa Baillo for some interesting sculptures. Then make your way over to Palacio de Viana (10:00 –  19:00 Tue-Sat; 10:00 to 15:00 Sun and holidays / €5 / Plaza de Don Gome 2), the second of Córdoba’s prime patio offerings. Palacio de Viana was originally built in the 15th century and after 5 centuries of expansion now boasts 12 beautiful courtyards, open for public inspection. As the scent of orange and jasmine blossom fills the air, keep an eye out for hints of Arabic roots such as the ornate mosaics and water features, or the Hispanic details such as the sculptured cypress trees.

DAY 2 PM / ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM & MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES

16:30/ After inspecting the patios, stroll past Templo Romano (Calle Capitulares) the remains of a Roman temple with reconstructed pillars. There’s not much too see but the towers standing beside the modern buildings make a nice contrast. Then, head into Plaza de la Corredera for a late afternoon coffee in a very local square. A €1 coffee never tasted so good in this thoroughly local atmosphere.

17:45/ Potter around the Muslim quarter before checking out the Archaeological Museum (09:00 – 21:00 Tue-Sat; 10:00 – 19:00 Sun / free for UE citizens, otherwise €1.50 / Plaza de Jerónimo Páez 7). It has a good selection of artefacts from prehistoric times discovered in the Córdoba area. The basement houses the remains of a Roman theatre, said to be the largest in Spain. While not the top highlight of our 2 days in Córdoba, it’s free, well laid out and interesting for a quick stroll around.

18:30/ After the Archaeological Museum, head to the nearby Museo de Bellas Artes (09:00 – 21:00 Tue-Sat; 10:00 – 19:00 Sun / free for EU citizens, otherwise €1.50 / Plaza del Potro 1). The gallery contains work by Córdoban artists from the 15th to 20th centuries supported by a number of contemporary paintings and sculptures. It doesn’t contain any huge names in art, but it is a great little gallery located on one of the prettiest squares in Córdoba.

DAY 2 EVENING / SPANISH DINING

20:00/ For dinner tonight try La Boca (Calle San Fernando 39; +34 695 96 18 62). While it didn’t have the earthy atmosphere of Taberna Luque (or any customers) it did have an innovative take on some Spanish/Moroccan fusion dishes. The service is a little perfunctory and confusing but offers a different type of Córdoban dining in a modern stylish space.

If you want to eat in a more traditional setting, head a little further north to Taberna Salinas (+34 957 48 29 50 / Calle Tundidores 3) which has very traditional décor and some fine food. Their speciality is Tundidores, ratatouille with fried egg.

GETTING TO CÓRDOBA

To get to Córdoba, you can either fly in to Malaga or Seville. The train from Malaga to Córdoba on Spain’s fast rail network costs around €86 per person return and takes 50 minutes. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

The train from Seville to Córdoba takes around 45 minutes (times vary) and costs around €44 per person return. Train tickets can be purchased in advance from here

STAYING IN CÓRDOBA

While not a big place, to make the most of your 2 days in Córdoba, you will want to stay in the old town. From here you can walk to all the sights listed in this itinerary. We went fairly economical with our accommodation and stayed in this Airbnb property.

WHEN TO GO TO CÓRDOBA

Spending 2 days in Córdoba is best done on foot, but it can get very hot in the middle of summer. So, the best time to go is April/May or October/November. During those times you can take full advantage of the pleasures of Córdoba without suffering from heat exhaustion.

ALSO IN THE AREA

Travelling Andalucía means you’re spoilt for choice for historically significant, beautiful places to visit. Try our guide on our favourite things to do in Cádiz, or check out this great travel guide to Seville.

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? PIN IT!

Our complete guide to spending 2 days in Córdoba.

Our complete guide to spending 2 days in Córdoba.

Fancy an update? 

To stay up to date with our latest posts and travel updates, subscribe to our monthly newsletter. No junk. No spam. We’ll never share your email address with anyone.

Suitcases and Sandcastles