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More time in Cordoba or Madrid?

Towards the end of our 16-day Andalucian trip, we plan to spend 2 days/3 nights in Cordoba. On the last full day, we actually intend to rent a car and day trip to Montilla, Baena, and Priego de Cordoba before returning to Cordoba.

As I read more about Madrid, though, I’m questioning if we should instead spend 1 day/2 nights in Cordoba, drop the day trip, and take the AVE to Madrid. It'd give us another day in Madrid, for a total of 2 days/3 nights, before flying home.

So, do forum readers suggest more time in/around Cordoba or more time in Madrid?

Posted by
16832 posts

I'm not familiar with the three towns you'd be skipping, but I do like to give Madrid the two days, in order to fit in visits to the palace and more than one art museum, and not to be as rushed on your last day. Renting a car for one day can be somewhat expensive if booked ahead, same as the three-day rate.

Posted by
3071 posts

I have to say that between adding to your short time in Madrid and visiting the three small towns you've listed, I'd go for Madrid. I haven't visited the other two, but I found Baena only moderately interesting. Priego de Córdoba does look interesting, however.

Posted by
4522 posts

I'm not a big fan of Madrid, but having 2 days there is easy to fill up. You can spend the better part of a day just at the Prado. A single day in Cordoba (with 2 nights) will be adequate to see the town and it is very nice at night.

I don't know the daytrip towns but it seems like a lot to rent a car for a day and squeeze all that in.

Posted by
4556 posts

Córdoba is one of my favorite cities in Spain.

Having said this, if you've not visited Madrid before, you may want to add the extra night to Madrid, or....
Have you considered visiting Toledo?

Posted by
13 posts

@Laura. Based on travel guides, I understand why you advise 2 days in Madrid. And terrific point about car rental rate.

To clarify: when I wrote "last day" in my post, I meant final day in Cordoba not our entire trip. Regardless of Cordoba v. Madrid, our last night will be spent in Madrid.

Thanks!

Posted by
13 posts

@Rosalyn I follow your logic. And I appreciate getting your opinion of Baena. Thanks!

Posted by
13 posts

@Douglas Thanks for your insight, as well as confirming that 2 nights in Cordoba will be sufficient.

I'm curious: why are you not enamored with Madrid? This is our first trip to Spain, so I have no opinion on its capital.

Posted by
13 posts

@Priscilla Aside from Mezquita and Patios de Cordoba (which we'll attend), what makes Cordoba a favorite for you?

I haven't considered Toledo. I'll give it some thought.

Thanks!

Posted by
4522 posts

This is just my personal opinion, many love Madrid. I find it dull compared to the other major tourist cities in Spain. It is not as old and doesn't have any Moorish architecture or history. It also lacks the architectural gems of Barcelona. I think Plaza Mayor is pretty, but way too big to be a place to just hang out. I don't think Madrid has the café culture that other Spanish cities have, nor the hidden courtyards and narrow winding streets that allow one to just explore blindly. And I don't think the restaurants are as good.

That said, the art museums are some of the best in Europe. Many people love the royal palace and parks. And I have been to Madrid several times so it isn't a city I dislike - just not my favorite in Spain. You can easily fill your time with 2 days there. And it is a very easy city to get around in. This doesn't apply in your case, but Madrid is a great base to spend a week traveling to surrounding sites and cities (like Toledo).

Posted by
2458 posts

I enjoy Madrid...but not as much as the other top sights in Spain. Madrid is wonderful for art - if you like art, a stop at the Prado is basically required, as is the Reina Sofia (great overall, required due to Picasso's Guernica). There are other interesting things in Madrid, besides art, but overall I find it less interesting than Toledo, Sevilla, Granada and the like. To me, it seems to have less personality or character. I don't really know. There is nothing wrong with it and if you go you will enjoy your time. But that time may be better spent elsewhere. I don't love Cordoba, either, but it is certainly worth one day! I am not familiar with the towns on your Cordoba day trip, but in general getting out into smaller towns is an interesting way to spend time. So I'd vote for your Cordoba option over Madrid. But be sure to consider Toledo. I can't tell if it will work logistically, but between Cordoba, Madrid, and Toledo I'd choose Toledo.

Posted by
13 posts

@Douglas and Mira Thanks for sharing your opinions. It's coincidental that both of you, along with Priscilla, suggested Toledo. The majority of our time will be spent in Andalucia, so I hadn't considered it. But I did more research and it's definitely a consideration. We could either visit Toledo while in transit from Cordoba before reaching Madrid or day trip while in Madrid. Again thanks!

Posted by
11798 posts

I also consider Madrid my least favorite place in Spain (with the exception of El Prado gallery, but you can walk there from Atocha station). Toledo on the other hand is a great town, it's my favorite twisty road medieval city in Spain. If you added a full day there, I don't think you would be disappointed.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks, Brad. At this point, we plan to spend 2 days in Madrid, but leave the option open to day trip to Toledo. My will weakens, though, when I view web images of the Cathedral's retable and all of those Goya paintings.

Posted by
4556 posts

Palmisanoj,

Here are some of the reasons why Córdoba is one of my favorite cities in Spain.

I love the history, the culture, the architecture, the food, the people we met, etc...

We stayed in a hotel right across from the Roman Bridge, so we enjoyed strolling on the bridge to & from the city every day.
My mom & I enjoyed walking on the narrow cobble stone streets surrounded by the whitewashed buildings, eating lots of tapas, visiting the patios, Viana Palace, the artisan shops on ‘Calle de los Judios’, the Synagogue, Casa de Sefarad, Victoria Gardens, Calahorra Tower, the wonderful market at Plaza de la Corredera & various churches.

One afternoon, we got lost looking for, 'Cristo de los Faroles', but we finally found it in a small hidden plaza surrounded by a church & other buildings.

Another day after having visited Palacio de Viana, my mom was too tired to continue walking, so we called the taxi driver we'd met when we first arrived to Córdoba, & he gave us a small tour of the city as he drove us back to our hotel.

We visited many small beautiful churches & ate wonderful Andalucían food during our 4 day stay in Córdoba.

We also found a couple of "Fruterias" (Fruit shops) near our hotel, where we purchased the sweetest green grapes we've ever tasted.

Staying in any city for at least an overnight, gives one a chance to experience the city at it's best, before & after the hordes of tour groups arrive & depart the city.

We witnessed a couple of amazing sunsets & were mesmerized by the Mezquita, especially when it glows at nightfall.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
7124 posts

2 nights Córdoba and 3 nights Madrid is definitely more desirable. Lots of options from Madrid if you are looking for a day out - Toledo, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial, Aranjuez.

Posted by
13 posts

@David Thanks. I tweaked our itinerary and reservations to spend 2 days in Madrid with an option open to day trip to Toledo.