Planning a Seville to Cordoba day trip? The Andalusian city offers many striking landmarks and a charming old Jewish quarter, making for a delightful one day in Cordoba.
Cordoba is worth visiting just for the Mezquita, the magnificent mosque-cathedral that’s one of the most impressive monuments in Andalusia.
But there’s a lot more to see and do in Cordoba.
It also has picturesque alleys perfect for wandering, an impressive Roman bridge that featured in Game of Thrones, and patios bedecked with flowerpots offering bright pops of color.
The historic center of Cordoba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Located mainly on the right bank of the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba has a long and rich history. A Roman settlement, it was later controlled by the Visigoths.
In the eighth century, the Umayyads conquered the region, and created the Caliphate of Cordoba. Under the Muslims, the city became a renowned center of learning, and by the tenth century, Cordoba became the second largest city in Europe.
The Christians conquered Cordoba in 1236, bringing it under the rule of the Crown of Castile.
Excited to learn more about this beautiful Andalusian city? Let’s get started discovering the ultimate one day in Cordoba itinerary!
And if you are looking for a hassle-free guided tour from Seville to Cordoba that covers the major sights, consider this highly-rated tour that takes you back and forth by air-conditioned vehicle.
Is one day in Cordoba enough?
One day in Cordoba will allow you to take in the major highlights. You can tour the Mezquita, stroll the gorgeous gardens of the Alcazar, and get lost in the Judería de Córdoba. You can also peek into the city’s Roman past. And sample tapas!
Cordoba is one of the best day trips from Seville you can do! The train journey by high-speed train is super short, making it easy to visit Cordoba from Seville.
Plan to arrive early on your day trip to Cordoba from Seville, to maximize your sightseeing time, and stay late, to savor the ambience of the Jewish Quarter at night.
And if you have one additional day in Cordoba, you can venture outside the city to tour Medina Azahara, the ruins of a Moorish palace-city: it’s another of Cordoba’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
What to Do in Cordoba in One Day
Our 1-day itinerary for Cordoba is geared toward first-time visitors to the city. It covers the essential sights and landmarks, and allows you to soak in the ambience of the historic quarter.
There’s a lot to see and do in Cordoba, so the itinerary moves at a brisk pace, but most of the sights are located within short distances of one another, making it very doable in one day, especially if you start early.
The historic center is very compact, so depending on operating hours at the time of your visit, you could easily switch the order in which you visit the major landmarks, to maximize your time.
And if you prefer the structure of a guided tour, this full-day trip from Seville to Cordoba lasts nine hours, including transport from Seville and back. You’ll have guided tours of the Mezquita, the Alcazar, and the Juderia, and free time to explore on your own.
Tour the Mezquita, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
Undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Cordoba is exploring the extraordinary Mezquita, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba was constructed in the eighth century, when Cordoba was the capital of the Umayyads. It was expanded and embellished over subsequent years of Muslim rule.
When the Christians conquered Cordoba, the mosque was converted to a cathedral, but remained structurally pretty much untouched until the 16th century, when a Renaissance cathedral was inserted into the center of the structure.
Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mezquita of Cordoba warrants top billing on your Seville to Cordoba day trip itinerary.
The great hall, which used to be the main prayer space during Muslim rule, features hundreds of eye-catching double arches on top of columns.
The lower horseshoe arches and upper semicircular arches have striking red and white stripes, making for a unique sight that will stop you in your tracks.
The ornate mihrab, the Muslim prayer niche, is set within a decorated arched area called the maqsura.
Although the cathedral was derided as having destroyed the beauty of the original building, it is nevertheless beautiful, not jarring, and it is fascinating to wander around and observe the architectural and decorative elements of the mosque and the cathedral.
If you plan to visit the Mezquita on your own, buy skip-the-line tickets in advance.
If you only join one guided tour in Cordoba, make it the Mezquita! A guided tour will provide context for your visit, plus you won’t miss out on any of the must-see elements within. This highly-rated tour lasts 75 minutes.
Pro tip: Appropriate attire is required inside the Mezquita, since it’s a place of worship. Short skirts and sleeveless tops are not permitted.
Enjoy the Patio de los Naranjos
Set within the Mezquita compound, the Courtyard of the Oranges is a tranquil oasis when it’s not crowded.
Apart from the bitter orange trees planted in rows, the patio also contains palms and cypresses. This version of the courtyard dates from the 16th century, although oranges and palms, along with water features, have existed here since Muslim times.
In late March and April, when the citrus is in bloom, the scent in the courtyard is intoxicating. The sound of running water is lovely.
From here, you can access the Mezquita and the bell tower of the Cordoba Cathedral.
The courtyard is free to enter, but you’ll likely visit in conjunction with visits to the Mezquita and its bell tower.
Take in the views from the Bell Tower
Built as a minaret during the rule of Abd al-Rahman III, the tower was partially demolished and replaced by the Renaissance bell tower you see today. It was completed in 1617.
The tower is 54m (about 177 feet) tall, the tallest structure in Cordoba. There are 191 steps to the top of the tower, and you can climb to the top for bird’s eye views over the city.
From the viewing area, set at about 40m (about 131 feet), you’ll get views of the Mezquita itself, and the historic quarter. It is a great spot for photos!
The entrance fee is modest, three euros per person at the time of writing. It is separate from the fee for the Mezquita.
Tour the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
The Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba is definitely not ornate, like Seville’s Royal Alcazar or the Alhambra of Granada. It is more a fortress than a palace, although it did serve as one of the residences for Isabella and Ferdinand.
Built as an extensive fortress-palace complex with a large library, baths, and gardens during Muslim rule when Cordoba was the center of Al-Andalus, the Alcazar was rebuilt when the Christians took over.
Under Ferdinand and Isabella, much of the structure was used as a tribunal for the Spanish Inquisition. Also, Christopher Columbus is believed to have had his first audience with the monarchs here.
Walk through the Alcazar building to take in the views from the ramparts and view the “found” Roman mosaics and other architectural pieces inside.
You can also climb the Torre de los Leones, which is where you enter the complex. The tower dates back to the 13th century. You can also access the Torre del Homenaje from the Tower of the Lions.
What you do not want to miss are the gardens of the Alcazar: they make the visit to the Alcazar complex truly worthwhile!
Stroll the Alcazar Gardens
The gardens of the Cordoba Alcazar are stunning, especially if you visit when the flowers are in full bloom.
Although gardens and orchards existed here during Muslim rule, they weren’t always kept up since, and it was only in the mid 1900s that they were extensively restored.
The gardens are arranged in three tiers, stretching out from the Tower of the Lions. The Lower Garden is the largest of the three tiers.
The centerpiece of the Lower Garden is a series of three large rectangular pools with fountains. Surrounding the impressive water features are formal plantings of cypresses, palms, oranges, and lemons.
Boxed beds hold plantings of many flower species for bursts of color amidst the deep green of the trees and bushes.
Also in the Lower Garden you’ll find the Promenade of the Kings, where cypresses line the walkway and two narrow ponds run along the middle. Look for the statue of Christopher Columbus with Ferdinand and Isabella.
If you are a garden lover, you will definitely want to allow for enough time during your Cordoba day trip to stroll through the gardens!
Visit with a guided tour that includes skip-the-line entrance, to learn more about the history of the structure, the mosaics, and the baths.
Or, for an efficient way to cover the major sights on your Seville to Cordoba day trip, consider this highly-rated 4-hour tour that includes the Mezquita, the Alcazar, and the Juderia, including the Synagogue. The price includes skip-the-line tickets.
Have lunch in the Juderia of Cordoba
Cordoba is known for its cuisine, so eating should definitely be high on the agenda for your Seville to Cordoba day trip.
Salmorejo is a popular offering on many menus, as are fried eggplant and honey, Cordovan ox-tail stew, artichokes in saffron and Montilla wine, anchovies in vinegar, fried japuta (pomfret), and ajoblanco, a white soup with almonds.
Casa Pepe de la Juderia is a Michelin-recommended restaurant located near the Mezquita. Opt for seating on the roof terrace: it has a great view of the bell tower of the Mezquita! This is one of the places where we ate on our first visit to Cordoba.
Their tapas is highly rated. Try the burrata with cherry tomatoes, eggplant sticks with honey, and the ham croquettes, and leave room for dessert! Their sangria is very good as well.
Bodegas Mezquita Céspedes is also located near the Mezquita, and is hugely popular. They offer a good variety of tapas, including all the favorites: jamon croquettes, pork cheek, fried cod, and eggplant fritters.
Explore the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba
A stroll through the Juderia of Cordoba will likely be one of the most charming parts of your one day in Cordoba itinerary.
The labyrinthine alleys, cobblestone streets, and flower-filled patios will make you want to snap photos every few steps. You’ll also find little shops to browse, and numerous eateries.
As a plus, many of the narrow alleys remain shaded by the houses, so it’s a comfortable walk even in the afternoon.
The Jewish Quarter of Cordoba is part of the city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jews of Cordoba lived here from the 10th to the 15th centuries.
Today the quarter stretches from the Mezquita to the Puerta de Almodóvar, and makes for a wonderful wander. If you walk on your own, prepare to get lost: it’s part of the fun of exploring the Juderia.
Look for the statue of Moses Maimonides, the great rabbi and philosopher, on Tiberiades Square.
Step inside the Synagogue of Cordoba
The Juderia of Cordoba is home to one of only three medieval synagogues left in Spain: the other two are in Toledo.
The small structure is located on Judios Street, and has an unassuming exterior.
Inside, you’ll find filigree-look Mudejar decoration, and the walls feature inscriptions in Hebrew that date back to the mid-14th century.
The Synagogue of Cordoba survived the era of Jewish persecution by the Christians, because it was first converted into a hospital for people suffering from rabies, and then a chapel.
Snap photos at Calleja de las Flores
The Calleja de las Flores is popular on Instagram. The picturesque street is part of the historic center, and you can swing by to snap some photos before you head to the river.
Famous for its view of the bell tower of the Mezquita between narrow alley walls, the Calleja de las Flores also features the signature flower pots of the region, often bursting with bright color from geraniums and petunias.
Walk to the end of the alley to the tiny square, and then look back, to see the bell tower at the opposite end.
The narrow street is usually crowded during the day, so in season your photos will likely have lots of people in it.
It’s not too far from the Mezquita, so if you arrive early on your day trip from Seville to Cordoba, you may want to make the Calleja de las Flores your first stop of the day.
Walk over the Puente Romano de Cordoba
Your next stop is the stunning Puerta del Puente, the gateway that leads out to the Roman Bridge of Cordoba. Originally a Renaissance gate built in the 16th century, the gate was rebuilt in 1928.
There was a gate here during Moorish times, when it served as the main entrance into the city, and an even older gate is believed to have existed in Roman times, when it was part of the Via Augusta.
The Roman Bridge is one of Cordoba’s major landmarks. It served as a filming location for Game of Thrones, where it features as the Long Bridge of Volantis.
The historic bridge was first built in Roman times, in the early first century BC, and until the middle of the 20th century, it was the only bridge across the Guadalquivir River in Cordoba.
The bridge has been rebuilt many times since, but quite a bit of the current structure is from the time of Muslim rule. The sculpture of St. Raphael, created by Renaissance sculptor Bernabé Gómez del Rio, was added in the 17th century.
Today only the 14th and 15th arches (counting from the Puerta del Puente) are original.
Walking over the Roman Bridge on a nice weather day is a joy. You have views on both sides of the river, and sometimes there are street performers performing music.
On your walk back, you’ll have splendid photo opportunities of the Mezquita and its outer walls. Also look for the Molino de la Albolafia, a medieval waterwheel, on the bank near the Alcazar.
The bridge looks stunning lit up at night, and is also a great spot for sunset photography.
Climb the Calahorra Tower
At the south end of the Roman Bridge you’ll find the Calahorra Tower, originally built by the Moors as a defensive structure.
In the 14th century, at the behest of King Enrique II of Castile, the tower was reconstructed to its current appearance. A third cylindrical tower was added in place of the gate between the two original towers.
There is a small museum inside the tower that showcases the history of Cordoba at its zenith, when Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived here in harmony. It includes a scale model of the Mezquita, and a multimedia presentation.
Climb to the top of the Calahorra Tower for views of the river, the bridge, the city, and the Mezquita.
Enjoy dinner (and a show, if you like)
Stroll back to the historic center for dinner.
While Casa Pepe de Juderia and Bodegas Mezquita Céspedes, whichever you did not try for lunch, is a great option for dinner, here are a couple more restaurants from which to choose:
Regadera is located just a short walk from the Puerta del Puente, and offers an innovative take on the traditional local cuisine. As a bonus, the dining room is beautiful.
El Rincón de Carmen is located in the Jewish Quarter. They offer traditional Andalusian cuisine, prepared with care. Opt to dine in the stunning courtyard if the weather is nice, and end with pastel cordobés for dessert!
After dinner, you can walk around the historic center if you like, before calling it a night. The monuments are lit up after dark, and the ambience is delightful.
It’s also cooler in the evening, pleasant for strolling outside.
The Mezquita has a nocturnal sound and light show. If the monument was crowded when you visited during the day, you may want to go back and experience the details in a less crowded environment.
When we visited Cordoba for the first time in 2015, there was a sound and light show in the gardens of the Alcazar that we thought was fabulous, with the dancing colored sprays of water from the many fountains.
I haven’t been able to ascertain whether the show still exists, but when you visit, check with your hotel or the local tourism office, and if the show is on, go!
And if you want to include a flamenco performance in your one day in Cordoba itinerary, consider Tablao Flamenco El Cardenal. Housed in a historic archbishop’s palace, the show features a quality troupe of performers.
Getting to Cordoba
By High-Speed Train
By far the best way to get to Cordoba from Seville is by high-speed train.
The journey each way, from Santa Justa Station in Seville to Cordoba Central or vice versa, is just over 40 minutes. There are many departures in both directions everyday.
If you plan to visit Cordoba from Madrid, the journey is a little under 2 hours each way, with numerous departures in either direction each day.
You’ll save a few bucks on the Seville to Cordoba train tickets by booking a few weeks in advance of your trip. Book return tickets so both journeys are covered ahead of your trip.
We use Omio to book train and bus travel in Europe. The website is in English, very easy to use, and we’ve not had a problem getting US credit cards processed, which happens sometimes with Renfe, the train company in Spain.
From the train station in Cordoba, you can walk to the Mezquita in about 20 minutes, or you can take a taxi.
If you are on a road trip in Spain and you have a car, you can drive from Seville to Cordoba and back via the A-4.
The distance from Seville to Cordoba is 140.5 km (about 87 miles) and the drive time in normal traffic is about 1 hour and 35 minutes.
If you are looking to rent a car for your Seville to Cordoba trip, consider Discover Cars! They scour multiple providers to get the best price for you, including brands like Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, Budget, and Sixt.
By Public Bus
You can also travel between Seville and Cordoba by bus. Bus tickets are cheaper but the Seville to Cordoba bus takes longer to arrive, cutting short your one day in Cordoba.
Bus service between the two cities is provided by Alsa, and there are seven departures each day at the time of writing. The journey takes about 2 hours (or a little more) each way.
Traveling by bus will allow you only a few hours for sightseeing on a Seville to Cordoba day trip, so we suggest only considering the bus as a last resort.
By Guided Tour
If you prefer to have your sightseeing itinerary mapped out for you (or at least the major sights), then consider a guided Seville to Cordoba day tour.
It’s an efficient way to explore the city, plus your guide will offer live commentary on the major sights.
This highly-rated tour lasts about 9 hours, and includes tours of the Mezquita, the Alcazar, the Synagogue and the Jewish Quarter. You’ll travel to and from Cordoba by air-conditioned vehicle.
This well-reviewed full-day tour includes trips to both Cordoba and the white village of Carmona from Seville. The tour lasts 9 to 10 hours and includes guided tours of the Mezquita, the Jewish Quarter, the Patios of San Basilio.
Entrance fees and round-trip transfers are included in the tour price.
Getting around in Cordoba
Cordoba’s historic center is compact, and you can walk everywhere on your one day in Cordoba if you do not have mobility issues.
Here’s a walking map for the itinerary we’ve described in this article:
Where to Stay in Cordoba
If you decide you want to overnight in Cordoba, you have lots of options for hotels! On a short trip, we suggest staying in the city center.
We spent a couple of nights at the Hospes Palacio del Bailio on our first visit to Cordoba. Located in the Old Town, the hotel is housed in a beautiful 16th century palace. There’s an outdoor pool set in the midst of gardens.
Our suite had frescoes on the walls and ceiling and the bed was to-die-for comfortable. If you are looking for a luxury stay in Cordoba, look no further! We added breakfast and it was a huge spread.
The Eurostars Conquistador is located right in the Jewish Quarter, just opposite the Mezquita. The property includes a lovely Andalusian courtyard and gardens.
Rooms are air-conditioned or heated, depending on the season. Breakfast can be added for a fee and is rated excellent.
The NH Collection Amistad Cordoba is located in the Jewish Quarter, next to the old town walls and a short walk from the Mezquita. The hotel has an Andalusian patio with bar service.
Rooms feature comfortable beds and spacious bathrooms. Breakfast can be added for an additional charge and is rated great.
So that is our perfect itinerary for one day in Cordoba, and we hope it helps you plan your own day trip from Seville to Cordoba!
More Spain Travel Inspiration
Planning a trip to Andalusia? Start with our in-depth 3-day itinerary for Seville, the vibrant capital of Andalusia. If you are on a quick trip, check out all the fun things you can do in just one day in Seville!
And if you are planning a winter trip, we have a complete guide to Seville in winter. The city is dazzling during the holidays and mild temperatures mean that you can explore outdoors in relative comfort.
Also be sure to visit Granada, home of the famous Alhambra Palace.
If your trip is short and you are wondering whether to visit Granada or Seville, we have some information that may help you decide!
Looking for smaller places to add to your itinerary for Andalusia? Check out the darling white village of Casares, one of the most picturesque white villages in Spain, or spend one day in Ronda, admiring the Puente Nuevo and the jaw-dropping views of the countryside.
If you are planning to explore broader in Spain, consider one of these amazing Spain road trips.
Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Spain, and a must on any first-timer’s itinerary for the country. Consider adding a few day trips from Barcelona to explore other nearby destinations, such as Girona or Montserrat, or explore the Costa Brava, including some pretty white villages.
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