How to Travel From Madrid to Cordoba by Train, Bus, and Car

Alcázar of Córdoba, Spain
Emad Aljumah / Getty Images

Cordoba is located approximately 245 miles 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.

If you want to visit Cordoba for a quick weekend trip, the train gets you there in under two hours. You could even leave Madrid early in the morning and come back the same night, although Cordoba is truly worth staying for a weekend if you have the time. The bus is the least expensive option, but it takes more than twice as long as the train. If you have a car, driving yourself and taking a road trip through southern Spain is the most gratifying way to move around.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 1 hour, 40 minutes from $21 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus 5 hours from $18 Traveling on a budget
Car 4 hours 245 miles (395 kilometers) Exploring the south of Spain

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Madrid to Cordoba?

Buse tickets provided by the company ALSA start at $18 for a one-way journey to Cordoba from Madrid, making it the cheapest option for travel from the Spanish capital. The prices do go up as seats sell out—especially around holiday weekends—but they never get as expensive as train tickets. However, it's also the slowest method for getting to Cordoba, with a total travel time of five hours.

Buses depart Madrid from the Estación Sur, or South Station, near the Méndez Álvaro metro stop, just a few minutes away by subway from the central Atocha train station. Cordoba is a small city and when you arrive at the bus stop—adjacent to the city's train station—it's easy to walk to the center where most accommodations are located.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Madrid to Cordoba?

For quick weekend trips or even a day trip, you can take the train to Cordoba in just one hour and 40 minutes on the high-speed AVE train. If you buy tickets when they are first released, which is about 90 days before the travel date, they start at $21—practically the same price as the bus. However, train tickets quickly go up in price and can get prohibitively expensive if you wait too long to buy them. Finalize your plans and reserve your seats as early as possible through the Renfe website.

Trains for Cordoba depart from Atocha Station, which is centrally located and easy to reach by metro. The Cordoba train station is also centrally located and within walking distance from all of the major attractions and the majority of accommodations.

Tip: If tickets are pricey, try looking at nearby times or days to see if you can find a better deal.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Renting a vehicle and driving yourself to Cordoba is the most liberating way to see not just Cordoba, but all of the Andalusia region in southern Spain. The route from Madrid is just under 250 miles and takes about four hours by car, an easy drive to complete in a half day. Parking in the city center of Cordoba is complicated and highly restricted, so you'll be better off parking outside of the center and leaving your car there. Once you're in Cordoba, having a vehicle isn't necessary and everything is accessible by foot.

Another travel option for driving to Cordoba without renting your own car is to use BlaBlaCar, a popular ride-sharing service. You can search for drivers who are heading to Cordoba and have an open seat in their car, usually paying just a small fee to chip in for gas. It's a great way to travel not just to save money, but also for the chance to interact with locals and learn about Spain.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Cordoba?

Springtime in Cordoba not only has the best weather, but it's also a time full of special events in the city. The two biggest annual events in the city are Semana Santa, which takes place during the week leading up to Easter, and the Festival of the Patios, which is in mid-May. Both are huge city-wide events and bring in thousands of visitors, so be sure to plan out your transportation and accommodations long in advance if are visiting during either of these times.

The summer is also a popular time for travel, but be aware that Cordoba is usually unbearably hot throughout July and August, with the average high temperature reaching 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) during both months.

What's the Most Scenic Route to Cordoba?

The route from Madrid to Cordoba drives through a vast region of Spain known as La Mancha, which is flat, dry, and not the most spectacular landscape. You could make short detours to nearby towns along the way, such as Toledo and Consuegra of Don Quixote fame, which would add only about 30 minutes to the total drive. And once you arrive in Cordoba, it's a great jumping-off point to explore the rest of the beauty in the region, such as the olive orchards around Jaén, the Sierra Nevada Mountains around Granada, or the beaches of the Costa del Sol.

What Is There to Do in Cordoba?

Cordoba's most famous attraction is La Mezquita, historically a mosque that showcases the art and architecture typical of the times during the Islamic Empire in Spain. It dates back to over 1,000 years ago, but it's not the only building with a long history in Cordoba. The Roman Bridge in the city has been there for 2,000 years and the Alcazar fortress is a more recent addition, built back in 1328. The Jewish Quarter is one of the city's most photogenic neighborhoods, with its labyrinthine streets and white-washed walls that pop with the occasional burst of color from flowers or hand-painted tiles. As with the rest of Andalusia, Cordoba is known for flamenco music and tapas, and there's no better way to spend the evening than with a frosty beer, a cold dish of local salmorejo, and the sound of a guitar to accompany you.

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