If you're visiting Madrid and want to make a quick day trip to a city with a unique cultural heritage and plenty of activities and attractions, the southern city of Cordoba is a great destination to add to your vacation to Spain.
Cordoba is located approximately 245 miles (394 kilometers) south of Madrid and serves as the capital city for the Spanish province of the same name. Known as both an important Roman city during the Roman Empire and a significant Islamic center during the Middle Ages, Cordoba and the surrounding region are rich in cultural history, famous attractions, and areas worth exploring.
You can reach Cordoba from Madrid by car, bus, or train—or by booking a tour of Andulasia—but the fastest and most convenient way is by train. However, while they may take longer, renting a car provides more flexibility and taking the bus saves you money on your travels.
Transportation Options: Bus, Train, Car, and Guided Tour
Choosing the right way to get between these two major cities really comes down to what you want out of your travel time. If you'd rather get there quickly and don't mind spending a bit more money, for instance, you can take the train, but if you'd rather make multiple stops along the way, you would be better off renting a car. Travel times, costs, and convenience of transit between Madrid and Cordoba are major factors in deciding which option is best for you, each of which is detailed here:
- By Train: Takes between two and three hours and costs between $38 to $68 with direct service aboard the high-speed AVE train line from Madrid to Seville. You can also book a two-day tour of Cordoba and Seville on AVE or book train tickets in Spain with Rail Europe. Trains depart from Atocha train station.
- By Bus: Takes between four and five hours and costs between $23 to $33, which can be purchased with a credit card online. Buses in Madrid depart from Mendez Alvaro bus station, and the most popular company with service between these destinations is Movelia.
- By Car: The 245-mile journey takes about four and a half hours, mostly along A-4, but car rental rates vary by the company in Madrid.
- By Guided Tour: If you're pressed for time, you may be interested in a whistle-stop guided tour of Andalusia (starting in Madrid), which could be a four-day tour of Cordoba, Seville, and Granada.
Booking a hotel near Madrid's bus and train stations or within a short walk of a car rental company can also help you cut down the hassle of your travel day exploring Andalusia, so make sure you plan your travel itinerary so you can make your hotel reservations accordingly.
Where to Stay and What to Do in Cordoba
Both trains and buses will arrive into Cordoba's Central Station from Madrid, so your best bet if you have to return to Madrid after a night in the city is to book a hotel nearby. Fortunately, there are plenty of great accommodations ranging in price from $37 to $58 a night within walking distance including the AC Hotel by Marriott Cordoba, Hotel Cordoba Center, and Hotel Riviera.
Once in Cordoba, the options for exploration are unlimited, especially if you visit during the start of summer and fall when the weather's not too hot and the crowds aren't at slightly lower than the height of tourist season. Historic attractions in the city include La Mezquita (the Mosque of Cordoba), which was built in 784 A.D., the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, which was built in the First Century B.C., and the Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos, a Moorish palace constructed in 1328.