If you’re visiting southern Spain, Córdoba will certainly be on your itinerary. However, there are a lot of places to visit in Andalusia, and it might be tempting to take Sunday off to relax in your hotel – after all, everything is closed on Sundays in Spain, right?
Think again – Sunday is a great day to visit and there’s plenty of things to do in Córdoba.
What are the best places to go in Córdoba?
The best places to go in Cordoba are:
- The Mezquita
- The Alcázar
- The Museum of the Inquisition
- The Judería, for bars and food
1. Be dazzled by the Mezquita
The most visited site in the city is the Mezquita (the Mosque) which is one of the biggest mosques in the world – 24,000 square meters! This is a perfect place to start your visit to Córdoba on a Sunday morning, because you you can get in for free. It usually costs €8, but if you go to the 11.30am mass at the Baroque cathedral inside the Mezquita complex, you get free access to the cathedral and the rest of the complex as well.
Everybody is permitted to attend the mass, on the condition that you don’t have big suitcases or large pieces of luggage with you.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Patio de los Naranjos (Garden of Orange Trees) in front of the Mezquita, which is, perhaps unsurprisingly, full of orange trees – in April, the garden is in full bloom.
Afterwards, go and take a walk around the Mezquita. The city is full of Moorish buildings, some very well preserved. If you don’t like walking, you can always travel by vehicle — not a cab, not a bus, but a carriage!
Near the Mezquita is the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) – if you cross the bridge, you’ll get to Torre de la Calahorra. Climb to the top for great views of the city.
2. Check views and architecture at the Alcázar
If you cross the bridge back, a few steps from the Mezquita you will find yourself at the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Palace of the Christian Monarchs). Built in the 14th century, it served as a fort and as a prison.
Check the opening hours and prices in advance if you can, as they seem to change with alarming frequency. At the time of writing, the entrance costs €6.80 and if you are a student under 26 years old, it’s only €2.25!
The Alcázar is definitely worth visiting, as it has an impressive garden and a tower from where you can see the Alcázar from above. Your ticket also gives you entrance to a night show, held three times every evening at different times depending on the month you visit — check the schedule at the ticket office when you enter.
3. Squirm at The Museo de la Inquisición
If you crave some excitement, go to Museo de la Inquisición (Inquisition Museum): the entrance is €3 and the exhibition is large.
The Spanish Inquisition is nothing more than a Monty Python joke to many of us, but there’s so much more to understand. All items are described in both Spanish and English.
4. Lunch and dinner in the Judería
Now you can take a break and go to lunch – Córdoba has plenty of bars and restaurants suitable for all budgets. Afterwards there’s no time for siesta; it’s time to explore more of the city.
Judería – the ancient Jewish neighborhood – is also not to be missed. Head there in the evening, when a lot of bars and restaurants are open and you can have a traditional Spanish dinner outside.
After dinner, wander back to the Puente Romano, which is beautiful in the evening and has a great view of the lit-up Mezquita – it’s quite a nice way of ending your visit to the city.
When’s the best time to visit Córdoba?
The best time to visit Córdoba is in Spring and Summer. Then, you’ll find that many of the streets are full of flowers – the inhabitants of the city compete with each other to create the best-looking street, as part of the Festival de los Patios.
You’ll also see the Patio of Oranges in full blossom! (See information about the Mezquita above.)
More things to do in Córdoba
It’s definitely worth visiting Córdoba, Spain. It has plenty more to offer the curious traveller in search of beauty, like:
- An archaeological museum,
- A synagogue,
- The Medina Azahara, and
- The Casa Sefarad (Sefarad House).
These are generally closed on Sunday, though, and you’ve already visited quite a lot in one day – but if you’re looking for an excuse to come back (and you probably will want to return), this is an ideal pretext to come back to Córdoba.
Practical Travel Advice for visiting Córdoba, Spain
- The city is easily reached by bus (just check www.alsa.es) and it also has its own airport.
- Sunday isn’t a good day for shopping as almost all of the shops are closed – except the souvenir ones.
- Many shops and restaurants close for siesta during the middle of the day, or are only open in the morning.
- Make sure to check the opening hours of the attractions you plan to visit, as schedules vary – some are closed in the morning rather than in the afternoon, others close on Monday rather than on Sunday.