Seville, the capital of one of the most enchanting regions of Spain, is a European destination that effortlessly attracts travelers with its culture and architectural wonders. Known for its passionate flamenco, thrilling bullfighting, and remarkable medieval Islamic monuments, the city leaves an indelible mark on those who have the chance to visit Andalusia.
But what if I told you that not far from this amazing city lies another place of immense historical significance that is often overlooked by travelers? Córdoba is a city steeped in ancient tales and architectural splendor, just waiting to be discovered. Being really close to Seville, it makes a perfect destination for a day trip that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Come along on a wonderful trip, leaving Seville behind and spending one day in Córdoba and discover the amazing things this city has to offer. Unveil the wonders of its remarkable its historic center, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and don’t leave before having seen the breathtaking Mezquita-Catedral, a magnificent mosque-turned-cathedral that leaves everybody awestruck.
- You can perfectly do Córdoba on a day trip from Seville and it’s definitely worth it.
- You can spend the day getting lost in the beautiful streets of the Judería before experiencing the magic of the Mezquita (also known as the Cordoba Cathedral) and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.
- The Cordoba Cathedral is considered one of the two best examples of Islamic architecture in Andalusia.
How to get to Córdoba from Seville
There are three main ways to go from Seville to Córdoba:
- You can use public transit, which gives you the most freedom and is the easiest way to visit Córdoba.
- You can drive there with a rental car, if you are traveling through Andalusia and don’t plan on returning to Seville at the end of the day.
- You can join a local tour company for a hassle-free day-trip.
Day trip to Córdoba using the public transit
Using public transit is the most convenient way to do a day trip from Córdoba to Seville.
Traveling from Seville to Cordoba is as easy as can be.
The best way to get to the former capital of Andalusia is by taking the train from Seville Santa Justa Train Station. You’ll ride the train for about 45 minutes, and from Córdoba Train Station, it’s a 1,5 km walk to reach the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (The Mezquita is in the heart of Córdoba’s old town!)
You can find fares as low as 14 euros, but for the fastest 45-minute train, you should expect to pay around 22 euros. The 14-euro tickets are usually for MD trains (Media Distancia), which are traditional trains that make several stops across the country. The tickets on the AVE, Alvia and Avant trains (which are all high-speed trains) are the ones you’ll want to buy.
The first trains to Córdoba leave Seville at around 6:00 AM, and the last ones heading back to Seville leave at around 11:00 PM. However, I’d recommend arriving in Córdoba at 9:00 AM and departing around 7:00 PM.
Here are a few tips for your day trip to Córdoba using the train:
- Buy your train tickets early: You’ll get your ticket for less if you book them ahead of time. As your travel date approaches, the price usually goes up.
- You don’t need to print out your tickets: You can simply show the QR code on your phone, but make sure your phone still has battery at the end of the day.
Day trip to Córdoba with a rental car
Driving to Córdoba is a good choice should the idea of renting a car already be crossing your mind. This is particularly convenient if you’re planning a road trip in Andalusia.
A distance of 140 kilometers separates Córdoba from Seville. Plan for a travel time of roughly 1.5 hours (but it might be different depending on how much traffic there is and the way you go). Having your own car lets you be flexible with your plans. You can easily change your schedule if you need to.
Here are some tips for a day trip to Córdoba by car:
- Kick off your day early: While the ride from Seville to Córdoba isn’t extremely long, as soon as you arrive at your destination, you’ll realize that you’ll want to spend as much time as you can there.
- You’ll want to pay for parking. If you’re looking to park close to the historic center, your top choices will be paid parking. Great options include Parking La Ribera near the Roman Bridge of Córdoba and Parking La Mezquita de Córdoba. Additionally, you can find several free parking spaces in the Parque Cruz Conde neighborhood. (These are slightly farther from Córdoba’s main attractions.)
Day trip to Córdoba with a local tour company
Taking a guided tour of Córdoba is a simple way to see the city without stressing about how to get there or itinerary planning.
There are numerous upsides to this. You can get picked up and dropped off in Seville, have a guide who speaks English, and be able to cancel up to a few days before the tour if it is necessary.
On the downside, these trips don’t necessarily run every day and don’t provide you with the same freedom as you would have with the train.
If I were to recommend a tour, it would certainly be the one below. I like to work with locals and the company is based in Seville. (This is honestly the best full-day tour from Seville.)
Here are some tips for visiting Seville on a tour:
- Find out what sights are included: Not all tours include the same things. For example, most tours include a side trip to Carmona and the entrance to the Mosque of Córdoba. That being said, the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs or the Medina Azahara are not always part of theses tours.
- Read up about Córdoba before the tour: Most tours will give you some free time in the city, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on its top spots just because you didn’t know about them. (Pssst! The Calleja de las Flores is Córdoba’s most eye-catching – and Instaworthy – street!)
Tour Recommandation: Córdoba and the Mosque day trip from Seville
History of Córdoba
Originally a Roman settlement, the city witnessed various ruling powers, including the Visigoths and the Muslim. It reached its zenith during the period when it served as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate, becoming one of Europe’s greatest cities. It’s only after the Christian conquest in 1236 that Córdoba became part of the Crown of Castile.
The city’s historical importance is recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage status of its historic center. This vast area is one of the largest in Europe and showcases the intermingling of Roman, Arabic, and Christian influences.
Amidst the historic center’s labyrinthine streets, travelers can explore famous landmarks, such as the iconic Mezquita-Catedral. This architectural marvel was once a mosque but was later transformed into a Renaissance-style church, creating a unique blend of artistic traditions.
Breakfast at Restaurante The Club
If you’re looking for a unique breakfast experience in Córdoba, make sure to visit « Restaurante The Club. »
While you won’t find your typical Andalusian cuisine here, it’s still worth a visit. The restaurant offers a vibrant atmosphere with plants hanging from ceiling planters, making it feel cozy and welcoming.
Located next to the river in Córdoba, it provides an excellent setting to enjoy your breakfast while catching glimpses of the nearby mosque.
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
If you’re only one day in Córdoba, one of the must-see attractions is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. While the entire complex is fascinating, the true highlight of the Alcázar is its stunning gardens. Here you’ll find enchanting fountains, chromatic flowers, and lush trees. Impeccably maintained and breathtakingly beautiful, they truly shine, especially during the springtime.
Inside the Alcázar, you’ll also find a museum showcasing intricate Roman mosaics that have been relocated from other parts of Córdoba.
If you’re on a budget, a helpful tip is that on Thursdays, everyone can enter the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos for free.
Want to explore more of Seville?
Lunch at Taberna Salinas (And try the Salmorejo!)
If you’re a food lover, Taberna Salinas in Córdoba is a must-visit spot. This restaurant is really famous and can get very busy, sometimes with people even queuing out the door. But it’s worth the wait because Salinas serves amazing food, especially if you want to try traditional Spanish dishes. One dish that everyone loves is their tasty Salmorejo, a refreshing tomato-based soup.
The restaurant has a lovely atmosphere too, with beautiful walls adorned with an abundance of potted plants, decorative plates, and framed paintings.
Jewish Quarter (Judería)
Situated in the historic center of Córdoba, the captivating Jewish Quarter maintains the traditional design of a medieval Islamic city. Its narrow winding streets and charming whitewashed houses are adorned with vibrant door frames that bring a splash of color to the cobblestone alleys. While strolling through this delightful neighborhood, you’ll come across stunning arches that add to the area’s charm.
While this area tends to attract a lot of tourists, as you venture deeper into it, you gradually leave the crowds behind. It becomes a serene and tranquil space, allowing you to fully embrace its authentic atmosphere.
Mezquita-Catedral (Great Mosque of Córdoba)
The Mezquita Cathedral is the most important monument in Córdoba.
This architectural marvel showcases a unique blend of Islamic and Christian influences. Originally constructed as a mosque in the 8th century, it was later turned into a cathedral after the reconquista. The Mezquita’s most impressive features include horseshoe arches, intricate mosaics, and a breathtaking forest of columns. The columns are made from various materials like marble, jasper, and granite, some of which were even repurposed from Roman buildings, adding to the grandeur of the structure.
The Mezquita Cathedral stands as a testament to the cultural diversity and religious tolerance of medieval Spain. It is a truly beautiful monument to explore.
If you’re in Córdoba for the day, visiting Medina Azahara is an absolute must.
This historical site, dating back to 936 during Spain’s Islamic period, is incredibly important culturally. Although located in a remote area about 6 km from the city center (Google Maps), you can easily get there by taxi or bus.
Despite not being as well-preserved as some other archaeological sites, Madinat al-Zahra is definitely worth a visit. The museum that comes with the site does a great job of sparking your imagination with informative displays available in both English and Spanish.
Remember, there are strict rules about keeping a distance of at least 2 meters from the stone capitals.
Palacio de Viana
If you visit Córdoba in spring or early summer, a stop by the Palacio de Viana is mandatory!
This beautiful palace dates back to the late 15th century and was owned by the Marquises of Vilaseca and the Marquises of Viana for four centuries. The Palacio can now be visited by travelers thanks to the last Marchioness of Viana selling the property at the end of the last century.
While you can freely enter the courtyards, you have to be on a guided tour to explore the palace itself. (Remember, no photos allowed inside).
The highlight of the Palacio de Viana is its charming gardens, each with its own theme. The palace closes at 7 pm, making it a great way to end your day in Córdoba before enjoying dinner.
Having dinner at Taberna Casa Pedro Ximénez
Casa Pedro Ximénez is an amazing restaurant located in the heart of Córdoba, just a minute’s walk from the city’s cathedral. The restaurant has a simple decor, but the food is absolutely delicious.
If you’re unsure of what to order, I highly recommend trying their Spanish bull tail stew, the Rabo de Toro. The portions they serve are generous. You won’t leave hungry that’s for sure. Fun detail: The restaurant gets its name from the wine made by its place’s owner. (You should definitely try it!)
Make sure to reserve in advance to secure your spot. For a special experience, ask for a table on their rooftop.
Visiting Córdoba FAQ
Best time to visit Andalusia
If you’re still in the early stages of planning your trip, the best time to visit Córdoba (and Andalusia!) is during spring (May and June) or fall (October to November). That’s when the weather is pleasant, and the days are long.
How long does it take to visit Córdoba?
I suggest setting aside at least 6-8 hours in Córdoba to explore the famous sights. This gives you enough time to walk around the charming Jewish Quarter and visit other notable places like the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos.
Is a day trip to Córdoba enough?
The truth is, to fully experience the richness and charm of Córdoba, you’ll need more than just a day.
However, if your schedule allows for only a day, visiting Córdoba on a day trip is definitely better than not seeing it at all. Besides, one day provides enough time to enjoy the main attractions of the old town.
Is Córdoba better than Granada?
The Alhambra and the Great Mosque-Cathedral are two Andalusian landmarks that we can’t help but compare. Therefore, comparing the two cities that house them might also be worthwhile.
For most people, if you have to choose between Córdoba and Granada, Granada will probably be the better choice.
But if you want a laid-back getaway, Córdoba is a place filled with history where you can escape the fast-paced modern world. (It’s the city Ronda wishes it could be.)
Is a Seville to Córdoba day trip worth it?
If you have extra time to spare while in Seville, a day trip to Córdoba is easily the simplest and most worthwhile. This might sound surprising, considering it’s not necessarily the most well-known destination nowadays. However, after a quick online search, you’ll see there’s a lot to learn and like about the city.
If Seville is the beating heart of Andalusia, Córdoba is its inner soul.
Córdoba is one of the easiest day trips from Seville. And, much like Granada, it boasts architecture that is unmatched anywhere else in Spain, or the world.