On the lower reaches of the River Guadalquiver is the picturesque city of Seville, known for having a grand Easter procession and for being the birthplace of flamenco. Just 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of it is Cordoba, home to the famous La Mezquita (a mosque that was founded in 785 CE), medieval towers, and a Roman bridge. Both located in the Andalusia region, Seville and Cordoba are two of the most well-connected cities in Spain. They're also some of the hottest cities in Europe, reaching highs of 100 degrees Fahrenheit during summer. You can get between them by car, bus, or train.
Spain's high-speed AVE train connects the cities in just 45 minutes, which is more than an hour faster than taking the bus and 45 minutes faster than driving. For this reason, and because it's often just as cheap as a bus (starting around $9), most people choose to travel by train.
Although both cities do have airports, there are no direct flights between them and even if there were, they wouldn't be able to beat the high-speed AVE with time-consuming security lines and the like.
How to Get from Seville to Cordoba
- Train: 45 minutes, starting at $9 (fastest)
- Bus: 2 hours, 15 minutes, starting at $7 (cheapest)
- Car: 1 hour, 45 minutes, 93 miles (150 kilometers)
Spain is the king of high-speed trains. It's home to four of the top-five fastest trains in Europe: Altaria, Alvia, Euromed, and the AVE. Renfe's Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) train—also known as the "bullet train" because of its speed and silver facade—travels at 193 miles (310 kilometers) per hour. It connects Seville to Cordoba via the Madrid line in a matter of 45 minutes.
The AVE is undoubtedly the fastest way to get between the two destinations, but the downfall is that ticket prices vary greatly. They can cost between $9 and $45 depending on the time, day of the week, and how far in advance you book, so it would be wise to make your travel plans early.
AVE trains are more comfortable and spacious than public buses, even offering free wifi, first-class lounges, meal services, and a snack cart. Be prepared to have your bag checked by security before you board, which should only take a few minutes.
According to Rail Europe, there are about 25 trains that run the route between Seville and Cordoba daily. They leave every 50 minutes, departing from Seville Santa Justa Train Station from 6:45 a.m. to 9:35 p.m. Trains arrive at the Cordoba railway station, which is about a 25-minute walk to the historic center and Mezquita. You can purchase tickets on the Renfe website, where you'll also find more information about amenities, accessibility, and baggage restrictions.
The bus from Seville to Cordoba takes about 2 hours, 15 minutes, but what they lack in speed they gain for being cheap. Bus tickets can cost between $7 and $26. They're operated by ALSA, Socibus, and Eurolines FR, with Socibus offering the most frequent departures and cheapest fares. Buses depart from Seville's Plaza de Armas bus station and arrive across from the train station in Cordoba every few hours.
Besides the public bus, traveling by coach in a tour group is an all-inclusive option. Cordoba makes for a great day trip from Seville and Viator offers a nine-hour tour for $130. Many also opt for an optional tour of nearby Carmona.
Those who want to see more destinations in the area may be more interested in a whistle-stop, four- or five-day guided tour starting in Madrid and swinging by Seville, Granada, and Cordoba (with an optional extension in Ronda and Toledo).
Alternatively, you could drive the 93 miles (150 kilometers) from Seville to Cordoba yourself. This eliminates the discomfort of public transportation and can even be cheaper if you plan to share the cost of fuel with friends. The best part about driving is the freedom it offers. Along the way, you can stop off for a short walk in Parque Natural Sierra de Hornachuelos, a UNESCO-protected biosphere, or visit Medina Azahara, a Moorish palace-city just west of Cordoba.
Driving from Seville to Cordoba takes, on average, 1 hour, 45 minutes. The quickest route is via the A-4 highway, but you can also go the long way around on the A-431. Because they offer similar views and attractions, it's recommended to take the A-4 because it's a shorter route.
What to See in Cordoba
Cordoba's top attraction is Mezquita, the largest mosque in the world. Erected during a time when Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived alongside each other peacefully, this magnificent work of art is unique in that it's a cathedral inside of a mosque. This is why it's often called Mezquita-Catedral. The building itself is a feat of Islamic architecture, featuring picturesque red-and-white-striped archways (comprising 850 granite and marble pillars), a lush courtyard blossoming with palms and orange trees, and a 54-meter bell tower that you can climb for a bird's eye view.
Cordoba has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other city in the world. That includes the Alcázar of Cordoba, a Moorish fortress perched along the Guadalquivir River near the mosque, and the famous Roman bridge, an unmissable landmark dating back to the 1st century.
In fact, the entire historic center where these things are located is a UNESCO-listed area as well. It is home to the medieval Calahorra tower; Palacio de Viana, a Renaissance palace and courtyard; a 700-year-old synagogue; and Roman ruins. Needless to say, Cordoba is a history buff's dream come true.
It does have something for the foodie, too. As with any Spanish destination, Cordoba is stuffed with tapas places serving up salmorejo (similar to gazpacho) and flamenquin (battered and deep-fried cured meats). Because of its warm climate, you'll be treated to lush florals hanging from every window as you stroll through the historic center on a summer afternoon.