How to Spend 12 Hours in Córdoba, Spain

How to Spend 12 Hours in Córdoba, Spain

Straight forward getting to the point, Córdoba is spectacular. Went there last week and loved it! You definitely, absolutely have to visit it if you ever come to Andalucía. In one day you can get quite a good glimpse of the cool stuff this city has to offer, so there’s no excuse for you to miss it!

I went there with friends by car from Sevilla, the trip takes around an hour and a half, and returned home the very same day at night.

How to see Córdoba in 12 hours

First, head over to the well-known Great Mosque, with its famous red & white arches. Important tip: the entrance is free between 8:30 and 9:30 just for individuals. However, we were a bit late.. we unfortunately arrived at 9:40 and had to pay 8 euro for the entrance. The visit took us around an hour and, honestly, I was expecting a tad bit more from this edifice. I was imagining it more impressive and spectacular than I actually felt it was when I got there.

Don’t get me wrong! The place is truly wonderful and definitely worth a visit first things first! I was amazed by the mixture of extremely different styles, from Islamic to different European architecture and the way they seemed to blend in perfectly. The flyers were giving a short resume of the history of this cathedral and I also sneaked into a group of elder people with an English guide and found out some interesting pieces of information about it. But overall (probably due to the way-too-wide-and-epic photos that float on the internet) I was expecting the feeling of i’m-so-freaking-small-in-here to be much stronger.

Lesson learnt: never set your expectations unrealistically high based on internet photos!


After this history & architecture infusion, you can take a walk on the old Roman bridge, which for many years used to be the only bridge in Córdoba.

We also crossed on the other side of the river in search of some Rem Koolhaas contemporary architecture, just to find out… it wasn’t built yet. But we wasted time by taking this extra walk because we are Architecture students and sometimes exaggerate by going to such lengths just to see some buildings that for other people don’t mean anything, so you don’t have to take this part of the walk as well.


After that, you can cross the river back but by taking the next bridge, a modern one made of Corten steel, and get lost on the cute streets (discovering here and there a great old patio or an impressive colourful church), making your way back towards the heart of the old historic center and passing by Plaza de la Corredera as well.

By the way, I’ve gone nuts to find Calleja de las Flores, a well-known street full of flowers that’s featured everywhere when Googling “Córdoba”, but when I saw it I was so disappointed that I didn’t even photograph it (at this point I still didn’t have my expectations’ lesson learnt)! It might not have been blossoming at its best in this particular moment of the season, but there were plenty of other much prettier streets.

Long story short, I loved this part of the old city! If you also have a thing for narrow stone streets, you’ll certainly understand my excitement.

It was about time to feel hungry, so we headed off to a place my friends knew, una cerveceria on Avenida del Aeropuerto (I don’t remember the exact name, sorry!), with cheap but very good tapas (2 euro per tapa + tinto de verano).

On our way here we walked through large commercial streets, discovered ancient columns next to modern buildings and visited the mercado. So yea, we got to see plenty of Córdoba in just a few hours, without really being on a rush.


After eating, drinking and relaxing at the bar, we returned in the historic city center for a 2-euro coffee (pay attention where you take your coffee or where you want to eat, the historic center is way too expensive).

With plenty of time left, we decided to give a chance to the Alcázar Palace as well. The panorama from the tower and the gardens are exceptional, however I have to admit that the one from Sevilla is much more beautiful. If you have time left it’s worth a visit, the entrance was around 2,5 euro for students. Note that it doesn’t include the visit to the Arabian baths!

Plus: A Short Visit to Madinat Al-Zahra

It was around 6 o’clock in the afternoon when we left Córdoba and headed to the cherry on top, which is the arqueological site of Madinat al-Zahra, 8 km away from the city.

Madinat al-Zahra is an old Islamic city, very well preserved but with some parts reconstructed as well. I simply loved it. We arrived there nearly at closing time, when the visits were ending, and because we were the only ones at that hour, the guard acted as our guide.

The guy knew a LOT of interesting things and gave us invaluable information about the place and what each ruin represented. He was so descriptive, that I could vividly paint in my mind the enormous rooms and baths and kitchens and even toilets. And there were pieces of walls or pavement where you could see the original reddish tint they used.

These ruins actually represent the kalif’s residence (with all the generals and houses of the military) and all the green fields that lie at the foot of this enormous residential constructions is the place where the city with the rest of the population lived, but which is yet uncovered at the time I’m writing this article.

The museum is a beautiful modern construction, with clean and quiet lines, a project realised by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, in 2009.

If you love history and old cities, you have to do this 8 km detour to see Madinat al-Zahra!

And now I have to hurry and pack my bag ’cause tonight I’m heading off to… Lisbooooon!

See’ya! ♥

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