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  • The Alhambra Palace, Granada

    The Alhambra Palace, Granada

 Andalusia in five days

Andalusia is an essential destination for holidays in Spain. You really have to visit the south, because it’s home to some of the world’s most famous historic sites, a really delicious culinary tradition, unique Arab heritage, picture postcard villages of whitewashed houses, a wealth of shops selling artisan products, and a bustling street life with a cheerful atmosphere you won't find anywhere else.

Andalusia is the second largest region of Spain. It measures 500 kilometres from end to end, so if you have just five days and you want to explore the region as an independent traveller, your best bet is to hire a car and concentrate on a few of its most famous cities.

DAY 4: Cordoba

A 200-kilometre journey from Granada brings us to Cordoba, another exceptional Andalusian city, with impressive heritage sites, not least the Great Mosque.

Great Mosque of Cordoba
Great Mosque of Cordoba

Exploring the Great Mosque

Probably the most important European Islamic site, its architecture is truly dazzling. Wander among its hundreds of columns and be lulled by the sounds of the Patio de los Naranjos (Court of Orange Trees). If you would prefer to visit by night, “El alma de Córdoba” arranges tours.

© Noor
Noor restaurant
Noor restaurant

The old town centre and the Jewish quarter

From the Mosque it is an easy walk to other important heritage sites in the city: El Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Royal Stables, and the Roman Bridge, with one of the loveliest views of Cordoba.

You can also visit the Jewish quarter, a charming setting where you can see the Synagogue, Casa de Sefarad, the Zoco (market) and Plaza Tiberiades.

You could have lunch here, or if you would prefer something more exclusive, go a little further (three kilometres from the centre) to Restaurante Noor, under chef Paco Morales, serving mainly Arab-inspired dishes.

Courtyard in Cordoba
Courtyard in Cordoba

Courtyards and shopping in the afternoon

This Andalusian city is famous for its courtyards full of flowering potted plants. The best time to see them is the first half of May when they are open to the public for the Festival de los Patios Cordobeses, although at other times of the year you can arrange a visit (ask at any tourist office).

Of course, the city also has good shopping options. Have a look in any of the artisan shops selling leatherwork, silver or ceramics, and take the opportunity to find a special fashion item in leather, jewellery, or shoes.

© Turismo de Córdoba
Equestrian show
Equestrian show

Córdoba by night

Before dinner, you might like to relax in one of the city’s famous Arab baths, and then visit any restaurant to try local specialities like salmorejo cordobés, a cold tomato soup with olive oil and bread (often accompanied by ham shavings and hard-boiled egg. You can ask for these extras to be served separately).

You could finish the evening by getting a ticket to the water, light and sound show in the Alcázar of Córdoba, or with an equestrian show at the Royal Stables.

View of Medina Azahara
View of Medina Azahara

Optional excursion to Medina Azahara

If you have more time, we strongly recommend an excursion from Córdoba to Medina Azahara, less than 30 minutes’ drive. This mysterious city was built by the Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III. Seeing the archaeological remains today is an amazing experience.