A melting pot of ancient Moorish culture and deep-rooted Spanish traditions, Córdoba is like being in two different places at once. By day, you can wander through centuries-old Islamic palaces, mosques, and forts before spending your evenings hopping between hidden tapas bars and checking out high-octane flamenco shows.
The incredible Mezquita is a must-see when you’re in the city. Córdoba’s great mosque is astoundingly beautiful and serene – even when it’s crowded. There are plenty of other magnificent wonders and mesmerizing museums to explore that date back to Moorish times, too.
While it’s certainly the star of the show, ancient history isn’t all Córdoba is about. The spellbinding city is also home to tempting food markets, lively squares, incredible wine bars, enticing restaurants, and flower-filled gardens where you can immerse yourself in the more modern side of the city. Whatever type of vacation you’re looking for, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Córdoba.
With so many interesting things to see and do, it can be challenging to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Córdoba. Stick to our Córdoba bucket list recommendations, and you’re sure to have a fantastic time discovering the city that was once the capital of Islamic Spain!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Córdoba, Spain
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Córdoba
1. Try the finest Andalusian cuisine at Mercado Victoria
For some of the best smells and best sights in Córdoba, pay a visit to the Mercado Victoria. Hidden away inside a charming conservatory on the edge of a lush green park, this market is a foodie’s dream come true.
Filled to the brim with stalls selling the very finest Andalusian cuisine, Mercado Victoria is a wonderful place to enjoy a delicious meal. And with reasonable prices that will fit into most travelers’ budgets, you don’t have to worry about spending too much.
Here you’ll find all the classic Spanish dishes, from croquetas, tortilla española, and paella to jamón ibérico, carrillada, and empanadas. There’s also a couple of stalls selling drinks, plus a cocktail bar in the center.
The Mercado Victoria is open every day between 8:30 am and 1:30 am, making it a great place to visit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even late-night drinks. It’s always busiest on Friday and Saturday evenings, so if you want a more chilled-out experience, go on a weekday evening instead.
2. Explore the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba
A visit to the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba) should be at the top of your list of must-do things in Córdoba.
This marvelous, imposing structure dates all the way back to the year 785 AD, when the city was Europe’s pioneer of culture and science under the rule of Emir Abd-ar-Rahman. Although the foundations were first laid in the 8th century, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the mosque was completed in the way it looks today.
A walk through the building’s impressive grounds really does feel like traveling back in time. One of the most beautiful examples of Islamic art in all of Europe, the mosque-cathedral becomes ever more gorgeous the more you explore.
From the imposing columns and horseshoe arches that greet you as you first enter to the colorful red and white arcades within, this enchanting building is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen!
If the sun is shining, make sure you check out the apse (also known as Mihrab). This part of the mosque-cathedral is gilded with calligraphy and lights up like magic when the sunlight hits it.
3. Join in with the Batalla de Las Flores
The Batalla de Las Flores (Battle of the Flowers) is one of the most fun festivals that takes place in Córdoba each year.
This colorful event is considered to be the opening party to the May festivities and usually takes place on the final Sunday in April. Sometimes it takes place on May 1, so it’s best to check with a tourist information office or look for posters advertising the event to confirm the date.
During the battle, a procession of floats travels along Paseo de La Victoria a few times in circles around the Jardines de La Victoria. Riding on the floats are women dressed as gypsies singing the “Soy Cordobés” (I’m from Córdoba) song.
The floats are gorgeously decorated with bright paper flowers, horseshoe arches like you see inside the Mezquita, and statues of Córdoba’s patron saint, San Raphael.
At noon, everyone on the floats tosses a grand total of 140,000 carnations into the crowd while a brass band plays. This special parade goes on for over an hour and is great fun to get involved with.
4. Unwind in a relaxing hammam
When all the Córdoba sightseeing gets to be too much for you, take it easy and chill out in one of the city’s hammams. There are several Arab baths throughout the city, but Hammam Al Andalus is our favorite. No matter how exhausted we are, we always come out of here feeling fantastic.
You’ll be spoiled for choice with all the different treatments and packages on offer. Emerge is the most traditional hammam experience and includes a 90-minute Arab bath. The gentle sensation of the water on your skin makes you feel instantly relaxed.
If you’re looking for something else, Hammam Al Andalus also offers bespoke massages with carefully-chosen essential oils and massages on hot stone beds. There are also weightless pools where you can float as if you’re light as air and let all your worries fall into the depths of the water.
The entire hammam is absolutely stunning. It’s designed to look like the traditional Arab baths from centuries ago and it does a great job. You can easily forget you’re in a spa and think you’re actually inside the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba!
5. Cool off with salmorejo
If you’re planning on visiting the city during the hot summer months, one of the best things to do in Córdoba is to start your meal with a cool bowl of salmorejo. One of the city’s most famous and loved dishes, salmorejo is a chilled, thick tomato soup that’s pretty similar to gazpacho.
It’s made by blending ripe tomatoes with garlic, bread, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and sherry vinegar. But unlike gazpacho, which is usually served plain, salmorejo takes things to another level and is often topped with some slices of jamón serrano or hard-boiled eggs.
We’ve enjoyed plenty of bowls of salmorejo, but the best one we ever had came from El Rincón de Carmen. This traditional restaurant serves up typical Spanish food and has a wonderful patio with plenty of shade. Here the salmorejo is topped with both jamón serrano and hard-boiled eggs.
La Salmoreteca inside Mercado Victoria is a fantastic place to go if you want to try different types of salmorejo. The tiny stall serves up a surprising number of variations of the soup, including one based on beets, one on mushrooms, and one on avocado. There are also loads of different toppings to choose from.
6. Relax in the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos gardens
The Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos (Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs) is one of the most stunning things to see in Córdoba. Just a short walk away from the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, this palace-fortress has been used for all sorts of purposes.
It was originally the royal residence of Christian monarchs before it became the Courts of the Holy Offices. After that, it became a civil prison and transformed again to become a military prison. Today, it’s a magnificent building that’s set in some of the most stunning gardens you’ll find in Córdoba.
These blissful gardens are bursting with aromatic orange trees and colorful flowers. In fact, they’re so beautiful that many locals choose to have their wedding photos taken there!
See if you can spot the fountain in the gardens. It’s filled with cool water that flows down from the mountains. After it passes through the primary fountain, it continues on to fill the rest of the dazzling pools and bubbling fountains in the gardens.
7. Discover hidden patios as part of Patios de Córdoba
One of the coolest things to do in Córdoba in May is to explore the many hidden patios that are off-limits for most of the year. Annually on the first or second week of the month, locals open up their graceful interior courtyards for the public to admire as part of a competition.
This is the time of year when the patios are at their most stunning – orange blossom and jasmine fill the air and all the flowers are in full bloom.
There are more than 50 individual courtyards to explore, which are normally kept private. Locals take this competition very seriously and go all out to win first place. This means you get to see some incredible patios for free!
Walls decorated in plant pots overflowing with colorful flowers, sculptures used creatively to show gorgeous plants off at their best, and staircases thickly covered with bright, fragrant petals are just some of the wonderful things you can expect to see.
You can find out the exact dates and locations of the patios on the competition’s website.
8. Celebrate like the locals at Feria de Córdoba
There’s a lot going on in the city in May, and one of the most fun things to do in Córdoba at this time of year is to celebrate the Feria de Córdoba. Similar to Seville’s Feria de Abril, Córdoba’s celebration is an exciting event influenced by a distinctive Andalusian flavor.
During the weeklong festival, a temporary fairground is set up with hundreds of stalls offering all kinds of things for you to enjoy. From stalls selling typical food and drinks from Córdoba to stalls playing music and hosting live entertainment, there’s a great atmosphere here that will sweep you away with it.
As well as the stalls, you’ll also find horse-drawn carriages being driven throughout the streets, locals wearing typical flamenco outfits, loads of flamenco dancing shows, plenty of Sevillian music, and enough wine for the whole of Córdoba to enjoy.
Like a regular fairground, you can also expect all kinds of thrilling and family-friendly rides, plus horse shows and spectacular fireworks displays.
9. Take a walk through Córdoba’s Old Town
When you’re in the mood to do some exploring, but don’t want anything intense, one of the best things to do in Córdoba is to take a gentle walk through the city’s Old Town. The neighborhoods that make up central Córdoba form a charming fairytale-like town that you’ll fall in love with on your first step.
A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Town is full of winding cobblestone streets lined with colorful boutique stores selling artisan goods, family-run cafes offering freshly-baked cakes, and beautiful homes with gorgeous flower-filled balconies.
If you follow the twisting alleyways, you never know where you’ll end up. Sometimes you’ll stumble upon another magical street, while other times, you’ll unveil a peaceful patio where you can rest in the shade.
One of the best-kept secret’s of Córdoba’s Old Town is San Andrés-San Pablo. This trendy neighborhood is where you’ll find a huge choice of cool cocktail lounges and stylish tapas bars with countless innovative offerings.
10. Dig into rabo de toro
Rabo de toro is one of Córdoba’s classic comfort food dishes. This local favorite is made of stewed bull’s tail (or oxtail, which is more commonly used today) and is the perfect thing when you need a little pick-me-up to give you the boost you need to explore everything Córdoba has to offer.
This dish has a wonderful melt-in-the-mouth texture, thanks to the cooking process. The bull’s tail or oxtail is slowly simmered for hours in a deliciously rich red wine sauce. This helps create beautifully tender meat that literally falls off your fork and a deep flavor you won’t be able to get enough of.
La Siesta dishes up some of the finest rabo de toro in Córdoba. Here the meat is so tender you could practically eat it with a spoon, and the sauce is so good you’ll want to order it as a soup.
For an alternative take on rabo de toro, visit La Tranquera. Here you’ll find delicious stewed rabo de toro stuffed inside crispy golden empanadas.
11. See the Puente Romano de Córdoba at dusk
The Puente Romano de Córdoba (Roman Bridge of Córdoba) is one of the biggest Córdoba attractions. It crosses the Guadalquivir River, and although it dates back to the 1st century, it has a distinctly medieval look. If you think you recognize it, it’s probably because it featured in season five of Game of Thrones!
From the south bank, the prominent landmark really does look like something from a postcard. The view of the imposing bridge in the front, with the Calahorra Tower and the Mezquita in the backdrop, is something that will definitely make you open up the camera app on your phone.
While the bridge is quite impressive to see at any time of day, it’s at its most spellbinding just after sunset. At this time, the golden shades of the sunset are gradually fading as the sky turns into dreamy pinks and purples, while the arches of the bridge are lit with dazzling lights.
12. Wander through the courtyards of the Palacio de Viana
When you’re in the mood for a break from all that Córdoba sightseeing, head to the Palacio de Viana and enjoy a scenic stroll through the palace’s spectacular courtyards. Tucked away in the Santa Marina neighborhood, this magnificent palace dates back to the 14th century and features an enchanting façade that was added 100 years later.
There are 12 exquisite courtyards to explore in total, each of which is filled with the original artwork and furniture which were used by the Viana family who lived there centuries ago. Each of the courtyards is unique and features its own special theme. They’re all laden with flowers that are so beautiful and sweet-smelling that you’ll never want to leave!
If you can tear yourself away from the stunning courtyards, you’ll discover plenty more things to explore inside the palace. There’s a huge library with books dating back to the 16th century, plus comprehensive artwork displays, mosaic exhibitions, and firearm collections.
13. Step back in time at the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
If you want to learn more about the city’s fascinating and multi-layered history, one of the top things to do in Córdoba is to visit the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba (Archaeological Museum of Córdoba). The majority of the museum is spread across eight vast halls and three courtyards that made up a Renaissance palace that was once home to the Páez de Castillejo family.
The exhibitions here feature treasures and artifacts starting from prehistoric times all the way up to the medieval period. Here you can see walls of ancient patios that date back to the 1st century, delicate stone statues carved entirely by hand, everyday items used hundreds of years ago, and incredibly detailed mosaic artwork.
One of the most interesting things about the museum is that when work was underway to expand it several years ago, the builders uncovered the largest Roman theater in Spain! Thankfully the expansion work hadn’t damaged the theater. Since then, the site has been completely excavated, and the theater now forms one of the most fascinating parts of the museum.
14. See a flamenco show
Seeing a flamenco show is one of the most exciting and entrancing Córdoba activities. Flamenco dancing is a quintessential part of Andalusian culture, making Córdoba one of the best places in Spain to see an authentic performance.
There’s a huge number of places to see flamenco shows in the city, from grand halls that cater to huge groups to small tablaos (the name for genuine flamenco clubs) where visitors pack themselves in to catch a glimpse of the fascinating show.
Tablao Flamenco el Cardenal is one of the top spots in the city to see a flamenco show. This place was established more than 25 years ago and puts on spectacular performances inside a stunning 16th-century Mudejar-style building.
If you’re looking for something a little more intimate, we recommend Baños Árabes de Santa María. Don’t let the name fool you. This flamenco club is situated in a place that used to house Arab baths. Today it’s a small venue that puts on an amazing show and includes a free drink as part of the ticket price.
15. Sip Montilla-Moriles wine
If you want to feel and look like a local while you’re in Córdoba, pop into a bar and order yourself a class of Montilla-Moriles wine. This special type of wine is similar to sherry with a couple of differences that make it taste superb.
Montilla-Moriles wine goes through the same production process as many Spanish sherries, but the unique drink is made from the Pedro Ximenez grape. Unlike sherry, Montilla-Moriles wines aren’t fortified, and they’re produced exclusively in two small towns in Córdoba.
There’s a great variety of Montilla-Moriles wines to try during your visit. From nutty amber amontillado wine and dry white fino wine to the sweet dark Pedo Ximenez wine and everything you could possibly imagine in between, you’re sure to find a variety that suits your palate!
What makes Montilla-Moriles wine extra special is that it’s almost impossible to find them outside Spain. Only 10 of the 170 wine producers export their wines, making Córdoba an excellent place to savor it.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Córdoba. What’s your favorite thing to do in Córdoba?
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