Cordoba, Spain

After our three days in Barcelona, we took a short flight from Barcelona to Seville on Vueling, a very affordable regional Spanish air carrier, then rented a car at the Seville airport. Many people were surprised that we didn’t choose to stay in Seville, and I’d love to see the city someday, but I really wanted to spend more time in Córdoba, so we decided to skip Seville on this trip.

  • Tip: If you need an automatic car (like we do), make sure you book one in advance! The majority of cars in Europe are manual, so you’ll need to reserve the automatic to make sure you get one! I also recommend choosing a small compact car. While the highways in Spain were excellent with nice wide and well paved roads, the roads in cities can be pretty narrow and having a smaller car will help you navigate any tight squeezes with a bit more confidence.

You can find our full travel itinerary in Spain and our recommendations for a 10-day trip here:

Three days in Barcelona
Two days in Córdoba
Two days in Ronda
Two days in Granada
One day in Gavà

Day 1

Our Hotel

We stayed at the Eurostars Palace in Cordoba. I’d give this hotel 4 stars out of 5. The hotel is located right outside of the old city and at the edge of a large city park. It is very conveniently located to all the major sights and the popular Victoria Market is just a few steps away. The hotel is very modern in design—it’s covered in this interesting steel structure with holes in it, which kind of obstructs the views, but also kind of looks cool. There is a nice little pool on the roof, and we also liked the rooftop bar. I’d say the one downside is that the hotel is a very popular event venue—we saw both a conference and a wedding while we were there. But I’d definitely recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a good central location with modern amenities.

Exploring Cordoba

Cordoba has so much charm and character and we really enjoyed just exploring the streets. It’s a small enough city to feel manageable and not overwhelming, but large enough to keep you busy for a long weekend. The streets are lined with colorful buildings and the window boxes are often bursting with flowers. Each square is paved with mosaics made of polished stone pebbles, and there’s a lovely promenade on the river. Really a charming place to visit and my second favorite city on our trip (favorite goes to Ronda, which I’ll write about next).

La Mezquita

One of the reasons I wanted to travel to Andalusia was to see the Moorish architecture that is so unique to that region. La Mezquita is a perfect example of that. The site was originally a mosque, but was transformed into a cathedral after the Christians conquered the region in the 13th century. The combination of the two types of architecture is really stunning. You enter a hall filled with red-and-white striped arches, and can find tombs decorated with Catholic icons and statues lining the walls. At the center of the Mezquita, the architecture dramatically shifts to the Renaissance with a soaring domed ceiling decorated in white and gold relief. In other areas of the mosque-turned-cathedral, you can find gold-leaf Islamic designs and tile work. It’s truly a stunning combination of two very different design styles.

Spanish-Asian Fusion and Oxtail Churros

By the time we got to Cordoba, Andrew and I were a little burned out on traditional Spanish tapas. I mean, I love Iberico ham and croquetas as much as the next person, but I can’t eat that every night. So we tried two modern Spanish restaurants during our stay in Cordoba and loved them both. The first, La Furgo, was a fusion restaurant that included Asian and French influences. We loved the dumplings, which were filled with traditional Japanese flavors but topped with Spanish ham and saffron threads. Our second night, we dined at Garum 2.1, a modern Spanish tapas restaurant. We had a ton of great dishes here, but our favorite was an oxtail churro with a bitter chocolate dipping sauce—yum! Both of these restaurants are near the river in a really nice area that’s less touristy than the streets right around La Mesquita and La Alcazar.

Day 2

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

The Alcazar is a medieval fortress that was one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. It’s well known for its stunning formal gardens, including sculpted topiaries and fountains. We visited the Alcazar on a Sunday, when they unfortunately close the doors at 3pm…and we got there at like 2pm, so we didn’t have much time to explore more than just the gardens. Whoops!

Festival de los Patios

I specifically planned our visit to Cordoba to coincide with the Festival of the Patios. This festival is held in early May each year and residents around the city open their courtyards to the public and decorate them with gorgeous displays of flowers and plants. I’m a little bit of a voyeur when it comes to other people’s homes—I’m all about an open house—so being able to wander into people’s gardens around the city is like a perfect festival for me. You can grab a map to see which homes are participating, and there is also a pretty great website that alerts you to which patios are experiencing heavy traffic. Really helpful!

We decided to head to an area of the city away from the main tourist center to explore the Festival of the Patios, which was a great idea because we got to see more of the character of the city and the gardens we visited were a little less crowded.