How to Spend 24 Hours in Cordoba
The Centre of Medieval Spain
Cordoba, or affectionally known by the locals as ‘the frying pan’ certainly lives up to its name. With temperatures reaching around 37C in the height of summer, it’s the hottest place in Spain and Europe. Aware of this before continuing on our journey around Andalusia, we continued on to the medieval heart of Spain. Mentally preparing ourselves for the heat and high humidity to hit, as soon as we stepped outside of the comfort of our air conditioned car.
Instantly I knew this was going to be my favourite place we had visited in Andalusia. Away from the glamour of Seville, Cordoba has a beautiful charm, deeply rooted in medieval history. Walking down the narrow cobbled streets, lined with orange blossoms and flowers, it’s easy to let yourself believe you’ve stepped back in time.
How to Reach Cordoba
We chose to fly to Malaga from our home back in Edinburgh, hiring a car at the airport and stopping at various destinations along the way. Giving us the opportunity to visit the likes of Ronda, Gibraltar and Cadiz, before arriving at Cordoba. We did this initial part over a period of days, with a week in total driving a loop around Andalusia.
If you’re short on time however, there’s high-speed rail links that connect Malaga to Cordoba, perfect for a long weekend getaway, without the requirement for a car. There’s very frequent flights into Malaga each day, especially coming from the UK, departing from all major airports.
Attractions in Cordoba
With beginnings as a Roman settlement, Cordoba became colonised by Muslim armies, which was later re-captured by Christian forces during the Renconquista. It later became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. Cordoba is home to a vast array of historic treasures; from the beautiful Mezquita, a Cathedral-Mosque, to the impressive Alcazar, where you can cool off by the Roman fountains before taking a walk down the quaint cobbled streets in search of the best tapas on offer.
One of the most unique buildings in the world, the Mosque-Cathedral is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture. A divide in styles between Muslim and Catholic rule, the Mezquita is an amazing mix of intricate Islamic and Catholic symbols and design. Be sure to arrive early to purchase your tickets and beat the crowds. The Mezquita opens daily from 10am until 7pm, with tickets costing €10 for adults and €5 for students. If you’re born or a resident of Cordoba, entry is free. There’s an additional charge of just €2 to enter the bell tower for views across Cordoba, which opens from 9:30am, perfect for visiting whilst you wait for the Mesquita to open.
Both once a fortress and a palace, the Alcazar, like the Mezquita, is a combination of Islamic and Christian architecture. Admire the Roman mosaics as you walk by the fountains and ponds in the courtyards, perfect for cooling off on a hot day in Cordoba. The Alcazar was also the headquarters of the Inquisition, not a bad hideout if you ask me!
Cordoba’s first ‘gastro market’ it’s no secret that the food in Spain is incredible, when authentic. Here you’ll find the perfect lunch selection on offer, including cheese, wine, ham and local fresh seafood. If you’ve got time before siesta, be sure to take a visit to Calleja de las Flores into a maze of boutique shops selling their leather goods, silverware and fine pottery.
Hammam Al Andalus
A luxury treat to ourselves to soak our aching muscles after another busy day exploring, we headed to the traditional Turkish baths at Hammam al Andalus. Go towards the end of the day to receive a discount on later bookings, we headed for a midnight session for a float beneath the stars. The cost of entry includes a two hour session in the pools, followed by massage of your choice. The baths are incredible beautiful and the most surreal relaxing experience I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. In total silence there’s only ever a small group of people and quite often you have the baths to yourself. You’ll leave like you’re floating on air, or perhaps that’s just the heat getting to you…
Where to Eat in cordoba
For lunch, stop by Viandas for the best bocadillos in Cordoba. The queues are out of the door here and it’s easy to see why. Filled with locals, this is mainly a traditional butchers selling only the best Iberian ham. Grab a sandwich to go and take a wander around the shops before it’s time for siesta.
Bodegas Mezquita Cruz del Rastro
For dinner, Bodega’s was probably our best meal in Andalusia. A family run restaurant, it’s moderately priced and worth every penny. We ordered almost everything on the menu here, it was worth it to be rolled back to the hotel for a few hours to sleep it off before heading to the Hammam for a midnight soak in the Turkish baths.
Where to Stay in Cordoba
As we were travelling by car, the Eurostars Conquistador is one of the few hotels in central Cordoba that offers underground parking, away from it’s narrow streets. For this reason it was the perfect match for us, as well as being directly across from the Mezquita and in the heart of Cordoba. The room was lovely and spacious and the price also included a very large continental breakfast in the morning, ideal for setting us up for a days exploring.
Hotel Cordoba Center
Although slightly further out, this hotel is still only within a 20 minute walk to the Mezquita in the centre of Cordoba. It’s an ideal location for those travelling on the high-speed rail from Malaga via train as it’s right next to do AVE train station. Even offering a rooftop pool, it showcases amazing views over Cordoba whilst you soak your aching feet in style.