Day trip to Córdoba
Ever since my last visit to Spain, I’ve daydreamed about returning to visit the Andalucía region. So, when I found out that I had the opportunity to go to Madrid for work, I knew I wanted to try to fit in a quick trip to southern Spain. I explored my options for a weekend or day trip to Granada, Sevilla, Ronda and Córdoba before ultimately deciding on a day trip to Córdoba, which is less than two hours from Madrid by train. The city has a variety of interesting sites but didn’t seem overwhelming. Overall, it was an easy day trip, and I was happy with what I saw in a day. If you want to take your time, consider staying overnight. Here’s my itinerary. (I was there on a Sunday. Hours may be different other days, so check ahead of time.)
7:35 a.m.: Catch a train
I bought my ticket to Córdoba via Loco2 before I left the U.S. There are regular trains — every half an hour or so — from Madrid’s Atocha train station, which is easily accessed via the metro; get off at the Atocha Renfe stop, which is attached to the station.
9:15 a.m.: Arrive in Córdoba
After getting my bearings, I walked along Avenida de Cervantes and Paseo de la Victoria, which line a park filled with orange trees, palm trees and fountains. I could already feel that I was in a different part of the country. Along the way, I stumbled across a parade.
After about 15 minutes, or .8 miles, veer left to walk along Puerta de Almodóvar, the old city walls and gate, which date back to the 14th century.
9:45 a.m.: Visit the Mezquita
My first stop was the sight I most wanted to see: the famous Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, which dates back to the late 8th century. It was converted to a Catholic church during the Reconquista in the 13th century. Today, you can see both the Muslim and Christian influences.
Be sure to check the hours in advance here. The entrance fee was 10 euros, and, while there were lots of people, I didn’t have to wait in line to buy tickets or to enter the building. It’s easy to get away from the crowds inside.
10:45 a.m.: Explore the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
My next stop was el Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Kings), which is just a few blocks from La Mezquita. The entrance fee was 4.5 euros, and the line moved quickly.
The castle, which dates back to the 14th century, was one of the primary residences of Queen Isabella I of Castilla and King Ferdinand II of Aragón, who used it during the Spanish Inquisition and who met Christopher Columbus at the castle before his voyage. I loved walking around the palace and gardens.
11:45 a.m.: Walk across the Roman bridge
Córdoba’s Roman Bridge is a short walk from the castle. It was originally built in the 1st century but has been rebuilt many times. I walked across the bridge and back to enjoy the views. (You might recognize the bridge from Game of Thrones.)
12:15 p.m.: Wander
I had a little time to kill before my lunch reservation, so I walked around the streets surrounding La Mezquita. I stopped to take the famous photo at Calle de La Flores, but you could easily skip this. It’s crowded, and you can see more charming streets and flowers around the city.
1 p.m.: Eat tapas
I ate lunch at Bodegas Mezquita (the Corregidor location), which is near the mosque. Gluten-free items are labeled on the menu. I had tinto de verano, tortilla (potato omelette with onions and aioli), salted vegetables and, for dessert, orange slices with olive oil, sugar and cinnamon. The tortilla and the oranges were my favorites. I’d make a reservation in advance if you’re with a group.
2 p.m.: Explore plazas and ruins
After lunch, I wandered the winding streets in the old town and then stopped at Plaza de la Corredera, the Roman temple and Plaza de las Tendillas. I saw some of the more modern parts of town while slowly making my way back to the train station.
If it had still been open on Sunday, I would have loved to visit Palacio de Viana, a palace with 12 courtyards.
4 p.m.: Arrive at the train station
I wasn’t sure how much time I would need in the city, so I didn’t buy my return ticket in advance. Cue several minutes of panic when I looked at the ticket kiosk screen and saw that most trains were sold out and I might have to stay at the station until 9 p.m. Luckily, I was able to buy a ticket for the 5 p.m. train at the ticket window, but I had to pay for business class. Save yourself money and stress by buying your roundtrip tickets ahead of time.
5 p.m.: Depart for Madrid
The train left the station on time, and I was back in Madrid at 7 p.m.
- Paseo de la Victoria
- Las murallas and puertas de Almodóvar
- Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos
- Roman Bridge
- Calle de las Flores
- Plaza de la Corredera
- Roman temple
- Plaza de las Tendillas