The Mezquita in Córdoba is a great day-trip destination by train or bus tours from Seville, Malaga, Granada or a stopover when traveling from Madrid and Barcelona.
The Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba is worth a journey but travelers with limited time can easily see this top sight in Andalucia on day trips from other cities such as Seville, Granada, Malaga or even Madrid and Barcelona. Córdoba is also a great stopover when traveling between these popular cities in Spain. Trains provide the fastest public transportation but buses are also sensible in some cases. Driving is easy in Andalucia and the main roads are generally in very good condition. Organized day-trip bus tours are also arranged from many nearby cities including Seville, Granada, Malaga and the Costa del Sol.
See the Mezquita in Córdoba on Day Trips or Stopovers
The Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba is worth a journey but due to this historic Andalusian city’s favorable location at the crossing off two very busy high-speed railway line networks can easily be seen on day trips or stopovers when traveling by train to other cities such as Seville, Malaga, Granada, Madrid and even Barcelona.
The main road network in this area is very well developed and in good condition too making it pleasant to drive in the Córdoba region. Drivers can easily add a visit to Medina Azahara too. It also make guided day-trip bus tours to the Mezquita a good option from cities such as including Seville, Malaga and Granada. Although bus trips restrict the freedom of staying longer or leaving earlier, they are often cheaper than solo travel and have the advantage of including skip-the-line ticket reservations for the Mezquita and other sights.
Visit the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba
The Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral is the top sight to see in Córdoba and one of the most-popular tourist attractions in Spain. This over a thousand year old former mosque is famous for its forest of 856 columns topped by double red-and-white arches in horseshoe-shaped and Roman forms.
The Renaissance-Baroque Roman Catholic cathedral built in the heart of the former Islamic prayer hall caused some destruction but 70% of the original mosque built between 786 and 994 survived.
The highlights of the Mezquita may be seen in an hour or so and few visitors stay a full two hours, although lovers of religious art could possible spend half a day here.
The Mezquita is open daily, generally from 10:00 to 18:00 (19:00 in summer) but Sundays from 8:30 to 11:30 and 15:00 to 19:00.
Avoiding the Mezquita between 11:00 and 15:00 is generally a good strategy, as most day-trip tour groups visit during these hours. Even then, the Mezquita is generally not too unpleasantly busy as it is a vast space.
Tickets for the Mezquita is only sold onsite — skip-the-line reservations are not possible. If on a tight schedule, consider joining a guided tour to ensure admission at a specific time.
See Visit the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral for more on this amazing building and Tips on Visiting the Mezquita for more on opening hours, tickets and the best times to visit. It is free early morning but harder to fit in on a day trip.
Travel to Córdoba by Train to See the Mezquita
Córdoba is a major stop on the fast AVE high-speed train networks linking Madrid and Sevilla as well as Madrid and Malaga making Córdoba an ideal stopover or day-trip destination to visit the Mezquita. Córdoba is a very pleasant city with a beautiful historic center but the Mezquita is by far the main reason why travelers call here. Hotel prices are generally lower than other cities making it sensible to spend the night here and leave for say Seville or Madrid in the morning rather than late afternoon.
Spanish train tickets may be bought from the national operator Renfe but Trainline and Loco2 are often far easier sites to use, amongst others no switching to Spanish at a critical moment if that is an issue, and also offering intercity buses as an option.
Several types of trains are used in the region. The MD trains (free seating, no reservations needed or possible) are usually the cheapest and slowest while prices for the high-speed trains (AVE and Avant) vary according to demand. In some cases, first class (Preferente) tickets are only a few euro more expensive and may include a meal and drink in the price (not on weekends). Also note that refunds are available in many cases making paying a few cents more worth it when booking well in advance.
Seat reservations are obligatory and always included in AVE and Avant prices — standing is not allowed and the specific train booked must be taken or a new ticket bought. Depending on the ticket, changes may be possible if the ticket is cancelled before train departure.
Prices below are for one-way turista (second class) tickets booked a few days in advance — full fare may be more expensive, especially over vacations, while special deals may be available at quiet times and for early reservations. Discounts are usually given for return tickets.
Trains from Seville to Córdoba for Day-trips
Trains to Córdoba Central from Seville Santa Justa take from around 45 minutes for the high-speed AVE and Avant trains to 1h20 for the slower MD stop trains. With up to 40 trains per day, this is one of the busiest intercity train routes in Spain. Typical prices range from €14 for the MD to €30 full fare on the AVE but deals below €10 are often available.
- Timetables Seville to Córdoba at Trainline
Trains from Malaga to Córdoba for Day-trips
Trains to Córdoba Central from Malaga Maria Zambrano take around an hour on the high-speed AVE and Avant trains. Over 20 trains connect Córdoba and Malaga per day. Prices range from around €30 to €42 full fare on the AVE.
- Timetables Malaga to Córdoba at Trainline
Trains and Buses from Córdoba to Granada
The two Andalusian cities with the two best Moorish monuments — Córdoba’s Mezquita and Granada’s Alhambra — are only 200 km apart but public transportation is fairly slow and usually requires a transfer. Only around a dozen connections per day are available making a bit of planing sensible on the Córdoba-Granada route. Bus day-trips from Granada to Córdoba are often a simpler option but not that frequent.
The simplest and often cheapest option is the direct bus, which takes around 2:45. The fastest options are the AVE train from Córdoba to Antequera (40 minutes) and then around 90 minutes by frequent bus to Granada. The fares from Córdoba to Granada range from around €20 to €60.
- Timetables Granada to Córdoba at Trainline — look for the separate bus option if only trains are displayed.
See the Mezquita on a Stopover by Train from Madrid
Around 30 trains connect Madrid to Córdoba daily, as AVE trains on two major routes split in Córdoba — some go to Malaga and others to Seville (and beyond). Trains between Madrid and Córdoba may run up to three times per hour and rarely less than every half hour.
As a result, Córdoba is an excellent stopover when traveling between Madrid and cities in Andalucia such as Seville, Cadiz, Malaga and Granada. Train fares from Madrid to Córdoba range from around €50 to just over €100 but €60 to €80 is normal for short-notice reservations. Buses may be a fraction of this price but take about five hours.
- Timetables Madrid to Córdoba at Trainline
Trains from Barcelona to Córdoba for Stopover
It is worth taking one of the five daily direct trains when traveling from Barcelona to Córdoba. Traveling time is less than five hours. Many further connections via Madrid are possible and may even be a few minutes faster but of course require a train change.
Tickets for travel from Barcelona to Córdoba range from around €70 to €200.
- Timetables Barcelona to Córdoba at Trainline
From Córdoba Train Station and Long-Distance Bus Stops to the Mezquita
Córdoba’s train and long-distance intercity bus stations are next to each others towards the north of the old town. From here, it is around a 2 km walk to the Mezquita — head towards the Jardines de Victoria and then take a short cut through the old Jewish Quarter. It s quite a pleasant walk when the weather is fine: most of it is through parks with the final walk through the lovely old town. Plan on about half an hour if not lingering en route.
A taxi is on the whole probably the most sensible way to travel from Córdoba Station to the Mezquita when time is pressing or when it is very hot. The fare should be less than €10 with traveling time less than 10 minutes.
Bus 3, is also an option but less convenient towards the Mezquita than on the return. Take bus 3, direction “Sta. Emilia De Rodat (Gago Jiménez)”, and get off at stop 262 San Fernando. From here a maze of medieval alley ways eventually leads to the Mezquita. All in, this should take around as long as simply walking from the station in the first place. The one-way fare is €1.30.
The return to the station by bus 3 is far easier and a good alternative to walking or even a taxi. From bus stop “Puerta del Puente”, which is conveniently located between the Mezquita and the Roman Bridge, take bus 3 back to the station (bus direction José Aguilar De Dios). Traveling time is around 10 minutes. The one-way fare is €1.30.
For drivers: don’t even think about driving in the old town area. The one-way system is designed to make it slow, cumbersome and to take long detours. The Mezquita parking is near the Mezquita (€15) but tight for big cars and with small parking spaces. On the whole, it is more sensible to park in the newer parts of town, or across the river, and walk a few blocks.