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Cordoba as day stop only?

I'm building my itinerary for Spain. Flying into Madrid, probably one or two nights there to get my sea-legs, then going South. Does it make sense to take an early AVE to Cordoba, see the main sites, then catch a train to Seville for the night? Or is it better to plan at least a night in Cordoba before going elsewhere?

Posted by
12172 posts

@neil, No, not just one night. I'm figuring out a budget for my time right now. The entire trip will be more than three weeks but probably not four, so I've eliminated Portugal, Extremdura, Murcia, Valencia, Galicia, Asturias, Santander, Basque and the Baelaric Islands. In Andalucia I want to see Cordoba, Seville, Granada and Gibraltar. I still haven't completely given up on Ronda. I was thinking ten days, for the area, but may try to pare it down further. After I finish Andalucia, I'll get to Barcelona as quickly as possible (AVE or air). After we stay in Barcelona, we'll rent a car and do a loop in the north. There is a lot we want to see in that area so I'm trying to preserve as much time as possible for that.

Posted by
12172 posts

Now I'm looking at the dates and may rearrange my thinking. We'll probably fly into Madrid on April 1st (the airfare jumps quite a bit even a few days later), which puts us smack dab into Semana Santa. I still want to go south first and am more than happy to experience Semana Santa, but I'm worried about outrageous crowds and lodging prices/availability. So maybe a better question is should I stay in Cordoba and day trip into Seville instead? I appreciate any thoughts or experiences.

Posted by
9110 posts

You'd be hard-pressed to do Seville justice in one day.

Posted by
9110 posts

A couple or three hours is enough for the main stuff, but I think the train station is a good mile away.

Posted by
984 posts

'Cordoba as day stop only?' Depends on what you want to see and how long you want the day to be - main sites probably to many are the Mezquita, the Alcazar, the Roman Bridge area, a walk about the Jewish quarter and time for a meal. The station is about 30 minutes walk or a 15 minute bus ride to the vicinity of the Mezquita. Bemused by 'then catch a train to Seville for the night' - is this is the time you are spending in Seville?

Posted by
16868 posts

We prefer overnights to "daytrips" with luggage stashed at the train station. We don't mind changing hotels and prefer to stay in the historic center of places like Cordoba. We loved Cordoba, both day and night. There is so much more to Cordoba than the Mezquita and a walk around the Jewish Quarter. The history goes back to Roman times; Seneca came from there and you will find his statue on a walk. It was the capital city of Moorish Spain and the intellectual center of the Western world in the 11 century (aka the Dark Ages). Read up on Maimonides and the other intellectuals of the time, then find his statue too. After spending the whole afternoon (5 hours or so) visiting the usual suspects, we wandered the city, along the river, through the parklike modern area between the city walls and the train station, then lucked into ticket for the Andalusian horse show and spent an hour there before going to dinner. After dinner we wnadered again, under a sky filled with fireworks (someone's wedding, we were told).

Posted by
811 posts

You should stay overnight in cordoba if you can, but if you don't have too much time it's ok to just see the grand mosque and wonder around a little bit. train station has lockers for big bags and you can take a cab to the mosque directly.

Posted by
12172 posts

The question originally was, can I plan to get through Cordoba without spending a night. If so, that frees up extra time for the rest of Andalucia. I was thinking three nights in Seville. If it's the middle of Semana Santa, should I plan three, or four nights, in Cordoba as a place to stage day trips into Seville by train to see the sights and experience the week? Is there another town that would be easily reachable by train or bus into Seville that might be a good staging area? What happens with transportation to and from Seville during Semana Santa. Will the AVE be booked up? Will flights between Seville and Barcelona be booked? What about lodging? Is it all booked? Double the normal price?

Posted by
4535 posts

You can't really do Sevilla in a day and a great deal of its charm is found at night. That said, if the cost savings is significant, you could take 2-3 days trips and stay in Cordoba. I personally really enjoy Cordoba at night and there are lots of great restaurants.

Posted by
9110 posts

I've gotten so confused I can't figure out what you're trying to do, but you might be getting wrapped around the axle for no reason. I've only been in Andalucia for Holy Week twice, the most recent about three years ago, but it's my impression that the festivities are put on by, and particiapted in, mostly by folks who live close by or actually in the cities. There's not going to be throngs commuting around and clobbering up the hotels. The last trip I did come across a few out-of-towners in Seville, but I showed up both there and in Cordoba and had no trouble finding a room without reservations. Some small business close. (I had a heck of a time finding a rental car in Rota, for example.) I think I'd make the plan as though Santa Semana doesn't exist (or is not a factor) and just enjoy the deal as you come across it. I'm guessing there's going to be some impact on cathedral hours for tourists (more masses, maybe ?), but I never encountered it.

Posted by
12172 posts

Yes Ed, that's more to my point. Is Seville like Munich during Oktoberfest (crowded trains, booked lodging - wouldn't expect the same drunks for an Easter celebration), or can we get lodging and just work around some limited hours for sites (while also seeing some processions)?

Posted by
3202 posts

Instead of asking over and over if hotels in Sevilla will be all booked up or double in price during Semana Santa, why don't you look for yourself? That's the only way to know for sure. People can say yeah, it's crazy crowded, or maybe it's not, but that doesn't help. And I think Rick's book says prices double, but is that really true? As for trains being all booked, have you considered buying tickets way in advance to save some money, and be sure you have them during this busy time?

Posted by
281 posts

Brad, I see you mentioned going to Gibraltar. IMO there are more worthy sights. You might consider spending more time in Cordoba
or Seville by dropping Gibraltar.

Posted by
12172 posts

@ Sasha, Thanks for your reply. I prefer to travel without reservations when I can. I usually book hotels in advance only on arrival and before flying home, because those dates/places are set. Otherwise, I like to leave myself flexibility to spend an extra day where I want (for more sites or just a little down time) or leave early if I've seen everything I want. Each reservation ties you into a specific time. So a general knowledge that hotels are/aren't booked up is preferable, for me, to booking a room months in advance. I avoid traveling in high season and never have a problem simply calling ahead in the morning to book a room - except for some nerve racking efforts to get a pension in Munich during Oktoberfest (I'm not sure I've visited a festival since then). That's why I was concerned about Semana Santa in Seville it sounded crowded even when Steinbeck (edit: meant Hemingway, I'm always getting the two mixed up. Sorry) wrote about it in the 20's. From what Ed says, however, it's a local crowd rather than a crowd of visitors - so booking won't be the problem I was worried about.

Posted by
565 posts

I did a somewhat similar trip very last minute a few years ago. I went to Spain during Easter not realizing it until a week before when I booked Skymiles airline tickets. I still found a room in Toledo for a few days prior to & during Good Friday and managed to spend the latter part of the weekend in Andalucia. We stopped in Cordoba for about 5 hours on the way south. It wasn't ideal, but I was glad I did it and it didn't interfere with my half-arsed non-scheduled ittenerary either (I also had a car so not a luggage issue) . My plan was Seville, but due to my last minute plans, I ended up in Arcos on Easter Sunday and a few days around then. It was a top ten travel experience. Bull runs, beer tents, and live bands (just about all locals, brush up on your HS Spanish). Due to my lack of planning and sheer ignorance, I just got lucky. I still haven't been to Seville, but if you have some issues finding anything in Seville, check out Arcos. Also spent a day in Ronda. If you are a Hemmingway fan, it's a must. If not, it's a must. I promise I will be back to Arcos on Easter again it was that fun.

Posted by
6788 posts

Brad, to get back to your original question - yes, it's quite feasible to catch an early fast train from Madrid and jump off in Cordoba mid morning. Stash you bag in a locker (when I was there a few years ago, there were no lockers in the train station, but there were a few lockers for the quick and organized in the bus station across the street), then grab a bus to the old center. Wander the city for a few hours, take in the major sites (hint: go to Mezquita later in the day - the crowds thin out and the afternoon golden light inside is magical). You can comfortably see the major sights in half a day then head back to the train, arrive in Seville by dinner time. Some will say that Cordoba is worth more time. I'm sure that's true, if you have the time to spend - and the same can probably be said for most Spanish cities. If you're trying to squeeze in the maximum you possibly can into your trip, I think the Cordoba-as-a-stop between Madrid and Seville works great. I was glad we did it that way. Hope that helps.

Posted by
12172 posts

Thanks for all the replies so far. I appreciate hearing what people experienced. I'm still in the planning stage so I can factor your comments into my plan.