When exploring Andalusia, most people choose to base themselves in Seville and explore from there. There are lots of Andalusia Tours from Seville and the city itself has so much to do that it makes a lot of sense. However, there is a lot to be said for basing yourself in Cordoba instead. Here are the advantages of using Cordoba as your jump-off point:
- Cordoba is closer to Madrid or Barcelona than any other major city in Andalusia. There is a direct high-speed AVE train from Madrid to Cordoba as well as Barcelona to Cordoba (the same trains also go to Seville, but Cordoba is earlier on the line).
- Cordoba is roughly half way between Granada and Seville, making it quicker to reach both cities than it would be to go between Seville and Granada.
Of course, there are disadvantages to basing yourself in Cordoba, mainly that if you have a few extra days in the region, they're really better off spent in Seville than in Cordoba. However, if you just want a taste of each city, I would... recommend starting in Cordoba.
Alternatively, if you are arriving in Madrid, there is also this .
Check out your options for exploring Andalusia from Cordoba.
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Take a Three-Day Tour of Andalusia from Cordoba
This tour starts in Cordoba, where you will be picked up at the train station and taken to your hotel. The tour then proceeds as follows:
- Day 1: Cordoba
Explore Cordoba on a walking tour of the city, which includes entry to the Cathedral-Mezquita, the huge former mosque that has been the religious center of the city during both its Islam and Christian eras. Free time in the afternoon. Accommodation in Cordoba.
- Day 2: Seville
You will be taken by train to Seville, where you will enjoy a walking tour (including entry to Seville cathedral), followed by free time in the afternoon. In the evening you can enjoy a flamenco show. Accommodation in Seville.
- Day 3: Granada
Travel by train to Granada, where you will have a guided tour and a visit to the Alhambra fortress. After your free afternoon, you will be treated to a choice between a visit to the city Hammam or an evening tapas tour. Accommodation in Granada.
- Day 4: Departure from Granada
Transfer to Granada train station or, for a fee, return... to Cordoba.
One nice thing about this tour is that it is all by train, whereas most tours of Andalusia are by bus.
Inclusion of entry to the Alhambra is another bonus. Normally entry to Andalusia's most important sight requires advanced booking and/or waiting in line at the crack of dawn. Having a tour guide walk you straight is priceless.
All accommodation is included (three nights), but no meals.
The downside of this tour is that you don't get long in Seville or Granada. Plus, you have to change hotels every night, which can be a pain if you don't like packing and unpacking every night.
- Day 1: Cordoba
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Do Day Trips from Cordoba
Both Seville and Granada are easily accessible by bus and train from Cordoba. There are guided tours of Seville from Cordoba that pick you up from your hotel in Cordoba and take care of everything for you. There is no Granada equivalent, though it's easy to book your train tickets to Granada and a tour for once you get there.
Seville Day Trip from Cordoba
Guided Tour: Have someone else deal with all the logistics for you. They'll pick you up from your hotel in Cordoba, take you to the train station and, after the journey to Seville, have a full tour of the city, including entry to Seville's cathedral.
By Yourself: Book either a train or bus from Cordoba to Seville (click on the link for prices and journey times). It's easy to get a good ten hours in Seville, which is time to see much of the old town and perhaps even a flamenco show or bullfight (you'll need to take one of the last trains or buses back though). I'd recommend a - it'll orient you for the rest... of your day.
Granada Day Trip from Cordoba
By Yourself: Book a train or bus from Cordoba to Granada and get a full day in Granada to explore.
If you do nothing else 'guided' on this trip, at least take a tour of the Alhambra. Most importantly, this gets you in without having to stand in line for hours:
The other big draw in Granada is the tapas. Here I would recommend going it alone and not taking a tour. Tapas in Granada is served how it is supposed to be served - for free - and this part is lost if you're paying for a tapas tour. However, if you don't speak Spanish and have any dietary needs or preferences, a could be advisable.