Planning a Seville to Cordoba day trip? This guide will show you how to get to Cordoba from Seville, what to do, and how to best plan you time.
Cordoba is a worthwhile and easy day trip from Seville. The history is fascinating and has a long and glorious past. While the rest of Europe was in the middle of the dark ages, Cordoba flourished as a city with wealth, wisdom, art, and order. Cordoba, now quite small, was actually the second largest city in Europe during the tenth century. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Cordoba is that Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together peacefully. Cordoba was a city of one culture and three religions. Culturally, the people dressed in the same fashion, ate the same food, appreciated the same art, and spoke the same language…yet in private, practiced different religions.
With the turmoil in today’s world between religions, Cordoba is a city that really gets you thinking. Walking the streets, you can’t help but visualize people of the past, coming from three very different religions and backgrounds, yet all living together and adopting the same culture.
If you have extra time in Seville, Cordoba is hands down the easiest and best day trip. A day trip allows enough time to visit the famous Mezquita, the Moorish mosque turned Cathedral, wander the Jewish Quarter, peek into a few picture-perfect patios, take in the views across the Roman bridge, and enjoy a tapas lunch. Now let’s get into the details or your Seville to Cordoba day trip!
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Where is Cordoba, Spain
Cordoba is located in the Andalusia region of Southern Spain. It’s about 80 miles northeast of Seville and 245 miles south of Madrid. Cordoba’s location between Madrid and Seville actually makes for a convenient stop between the two cities. More on that in the next section.
How to get to Cordoba: Seville to Cordoba train
A Seville to Cordoba day trip is easy and quick via a non-stop train service. Travel time is around 40 minutes and tickets can be found for as low as $12 each way if you book in advance.
Cordoba is an easy stop if you are traveling between Seville and Madrid or visa versa. The train from Seville to Cordoba is just over 40 minutes and Cordoba to Madrid is about 1 hour 50 minutes. Anticipate paying about $12 for the Seville to Cordoba leg and around $45 for the Cordoba to Madrid leg if you book in advance.
If you do a stopover in Cordoba you will most likely have to store your bags. There are luggage lockers in the bus station (map location) across from the Cordoba train station. Have coins ready and know these often fill up. Nannybag is another option where you can pre book your luggage storage with partner hotels and companies. It will be more expensive than the lockers but offers peace of mind.
It’s a 20 minute walk from the train station to the Mezquita in the city center. The walk is actually quite nice as it’s mostly along a park. Taxis are available just outside the train and bus station and will cost around €7 to get to the city center. A cheaper option is to take bus #3 and get off at San Fernando stop and walk about 5 minutes to the Mezquita. Bus tickets are €1.30. Google maps works well if you decide to go the public transportation route listing bus numbers and times.
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How much time do you need in Cordoba?
The amount of time you spend in Cordoba depends entirely on what you want to see. Many tourists visit the Mezquita and then head to their next destination. If you have limited time in Spain and/or this is your first visit in Spain, I would recommend about three hours for a Cordoba day trip to allow time to see the Mezquita, snap a few pictures of the Roman bridge, and wander around the surrounding old town a bit. The Mezquita is a brilliant sight, but if you already have limited time in cities like Seville, Granada, and Madrid, you’re going to want to focus your precious hours in those cities.
If you aren’t on a time crunch and have had your fill of Seville, Madrid, and other popular cities in Spain, then plan on spending the entire day in Cordoba. Book an early morning Seville to Cordoba train and return after dinner. This will allow enough time to tour the Mezquita and surrounding old town, wander the Jewish Quarter, enjoy a meal or two, take a walking tour, and visit a few other sights.
Cordoba is also a great place to spend a night if you really want to slow down and enjoy the city empty in the morning and evening when the day trippers are gone. I chose to spend the night last time I was in Spain and really enjoyed how peaceful it was in the morning and evening.
Getting around Cordoba
Cordoba is 100% walkable with a compact city center. You can get to pretty much anywhere in 25 minutes or less by foot, including the train station and all the top attractions. I recommend walking everywhere because the city is beautiful, clean, and well preserved. In fact, half the fun of a Seville to Cordoba day trip is seeing all the quaint streets on the way to main tourist sights.
Taxis are available outside the train and bus station and also fairly easy to find at the top tourist attractions. Cordoba also has a good bus system. Use Google maps if you need to navigate taking the buses as it shows which bus numbers to take and what stops to get off at.
Best Things to do in Cordoba Spain
Walking Tour – if you have limited time in Cordoba or just want someone to take the guesswork out of what to visit, consider doing a walking tour. Many of them include the sights below and give insights to the histories and stories behind Cordoba’s past. This 4 hour tour takes you to the highlights of Cordoba including the Mezquita, Jewish Quarter, Synagogue, and Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. It’s $55 a person and includes entrance to all the sights. This 2.5 hour tour focuses on the Mezquita and Jewish Quarter. The $29.50 ticket includes entrance to the Mezquita and tapas with a drink.
Mezquita – the first stop once you arrive in Cordoba should be the Mezquita. If you can’t make it before 11:00am, visit later in the day, preferably after 3:00pm, to avoid the worst of the crowds.
The Mezquita, aka the Great Mosque of Cordoba, is without a doubt the highlight of Cordoba. This mosque turned cathedral is considered Europe’s best Islamic sight after the Alhambra in neighboring Granada. I easily spent over an hour just touring the ground floor and walking through the 856 pillars topped with eye catching candy cane colored double arches.
Take your time to really take in the significance and beauty of the Mezquita. For four centuries Muslims worshiped in and were called to prayer from the Mezquita. In 1236 the mosque was converted into a catholic cathedral after Cordoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III.
Don’t leave without touring the outside courtyard, Patio de los Naranjos, filled with palm, cypress, and orange trees. If you want spectacular views of the city, climb the bell tower!
Buy your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line. General admission tickets are €11 (€13 if you want to include a climb up the bell tower). Night visits are €18 if you want something a little different. Varying discounts are offered for students, disabled, local residents, children, and individuals over 65.
Consider a “skip the line” tour if you want to dive deep into the history of the Mezquita. This 1.5 hour tour is $26 (includes entrance fee) and absolutely worth it for everything you learn as well as the perk of being able to skip the line.
Roman Bridge – walk across the pedestrian bridge to get postcard perfect views of Cordoba.
Historic Center and Jewish Quarter – the area surrounding the Mezquita is known as the historic center of Cordoba. Wander this area and continue northwest to enter the Jewish Quarter. Both these neighborhoods are small and filled with narrow picturesque streets. The most popular and probably the most photographed street is Calleja de las Flores. Here you will find whitewashed buildings and balconies filled with flowers.
Calle de San Bastilio – neighboring the Jewish Quarter is the San Bastilio neighborhood, most famous for having some of the best flower filled patios and courtyards during the Feria de los Patios, the patio contest of Cordoba in May. If you see a private courtyard or patio closed by only an iron gate, don't be afraid to take a peek. The residents leave the main wooden door open and have the iron gate closed to allow others to admire their patio.
You will also find the Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos in this neighborhood. While the gardens are beautiful and worth a visit if you have time to spare during your Seville to Cordoba day trip, I personally think this sight is skippable. Especially if you visited the Alcazar in Seville.
Join a tour to take you to the best patios!
Plaza de las Tendillas (new town) – to give yourself a complete look into Cordoba visit the modern part of the city starting with Plaza de las Tendillas. This grand square is a nice contrast to the historic city center and the perfect spot to get your shopping fix. Walk down Calle Conde de Gondomar and Calle Jose Cruz Conde to find popular stores like Zara and Massimo Dutti. Try Tortuga or Colombio 50 Cafe for a coffee break.
San Andres-San Pablo – this neighborhood is a great spot for tapas and where you will find a lot of locals dining and hanging out. La Cuarta offers beautifully presented dishes like tuna tartar and grilled octopus. Taberna Los Berengueles is the perfect option for traditional Andalusian fare in an old palace. Stop by Plaza de la Corredera, a historic square similar to Plaza Mayor in Madrid, and filled with restaurants and bars.
These are all the must visit sights in Cordoba, Spain and I’m sure you’ll discover a few favorites of your own. Seville to Cordoba via train makes for an incredibly easy and worthwhile day trip. Whether you are here for a just a few hours to see the famous Mezquita, or you have an entire day to wander the varying neighborhoods, I’m sure you will leaving glad you visited this historic and charming city.
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