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Getting There

By Train -- This is the most convenient and most popular means of transport to Córdoba, as the city is a rail junction for routes to the rest of Andalusia and is on the vital rail link between Madrid and Seville. The most popular line is the AVE high-speed train racing between Madrid and Córdoba or Córdoba and Seville. These days the travel time between Seville and Córdoba has been cut to just 25 minutes, which is why travelers with tight schedules visit Córdoba on a day trip from Seville. Amazingly, the AVE train ride between Madrid in the north and Córdoba in the south takes just 1 1/2 hours. There are much slower trains but because vacation time is precious, we don't recommend them.

Between 22 and 31 trains arrive per day from Madrid, costing 54€ ($86) for a one-way ticket. A one-way ticket between Córdoba and Seville sells for 23€ ($37). If you're on the Costa del Sol and want to visit Córdoba, you can take one of the 10 to 12 trains per day from Málaga. Depending on the train, the trip takes 2 to 3 hours and costs from 19€ to 39€ ($30-$62) for a one-way ticket.

The main train station at Córdoba is on the town's northern periphery, at Glorieta de las Tres Culturas, off Avenida de América. Bus no. 3 runs between the rail station and the historic core of the city. For rail information, call tel. 90-224-02-02; for AVE schedules or information call tel. 90-224-02-02. The RENFE advance ticket office in Córdoba is at Ronda de los Tejares 10 (tel. 95-747-58-84; www.renfe.es). To reach the heart of the city from the station, head south on Avenida de Cervantes or Avenida del Gran Capitán.

By Plane -- Air travel is not the best way to reach Córdoba. It does have a municipal airport that is 9km (5 1/2 miles) from town, but it's mainly for private planes. Most visitors arriving by air from other parts of Spain or the Continent fly to Seville, Málaga (capital of the Costa del Sol), or Granada, and then travel by rail or car to reach Córdoba.

By Bus -- Córdoba is an important link in the Andalusian bus network. Whereas some local buses serving small hamlets in backwater pockets of Andalusia might be older and slower (but the only viable option for travelers without rental cars), long-distance bus routes into Córdoba from other points of Spain and Europe have improved in recent years.

Most bus routes into Córdoba from major urban points within Spain are operated by Alsina Graells Sur, whose associates include ALSA and its British affiliate, National Express. Ticket offices are in Córdoba's new bus station, behind the railway station, on Glorieta de las Tres Culturas. For information and ticketing, head there personally, buy tickets through the organization's website (no phone; www.alsa.es), or contact the station's general information line (tel. 95-740-40-40).

Whether operated by ALSA or competitors such as Lopez y Litesur (tel. 95-776-70-77), Bacoma (tel. 95-727-98-60), or Secorbus (tel. 90-222-92-92), buses pull into Córdoba's main bus terminal from points that include, among many others, Madrid, Granada, and Seville. One-way bus tickets are 23€ ($37) from Madrid, 13€ ($21) from Seville, and 12€ ($19) from Granada.

By Car -- Many visitors opt to drive to Córdoba from Seville. If you do, take the N-IV (E-5) south from Madrid, veering right (west) at the town of Bailén. Córdoba is well signposted, and the toll-free trip takes roughly 3 hours. The same national highway continues west directly into Seville. Córdoba is 105km (65 miles) west of Jaén and 419km (260 miles) southwest of Madrid. It is also 166km (103 miles) northwest of Granada, and 129km (80 miles) east of Seville.

Visitor Information

The tourist office, Calle Torrijos 10 (tel. 95-747-12-35; www.andalucia.org), is open Monday to Friday 9am to 7:30pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm and 5 to 7pm, and Sunday and holidays from 10am to 2pm.

City Layout

Córdoba is roughly divided into two different sectors, the Old City consisting of the Judería (Jewish Quarter) and the area around the Mezquita, plus the newer section with broad, tree-lined boulevards. The modern, commercial section of this thriving city extends from the railway station on Av. de América/Plaza de las Tres Culturas down to the Plaza de las Tendillas (more often called Plaza Tendillas), which is the heart of contemporary Córdoba.

Most of your time will be spent in the centro (historic center), which borders the Río Guadalquivir, the river that flows through Córdoba. From Tendillas square, a maze of narrow streets extends to the banks of the river.

Puente Romano, the Roman bridge, spans the Guadalquivir linking the "right bank" of Córdoba with the "left bank."

In the course of your visit to Córdoba, you'll inevitably come to a major city square called Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires. Directly east of this square are Córdoba's primary attractions, the Mezquita and the cathedral. To the southwest of this square is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the adjacent Jardines del Alcázar. These attractions are all many visitors ever see of Córdoba.

Barrio de la Judería is directly to the northwest of Campo Santo de los Mártires. Arabs and Jews once lived in harmony in this medieval quarter. About .5km (1/3 mile) of restored town wall runs beside a moat and gardens along Calle Cairuán at the ghetto's western edge. At the northern end of the wall you'll see a bronze statue of a former resident, the philosopher Seneca, standing beside the Puerta de Almodóvar, a gate that once protected the old quarter and that is even today the principal western entrance to the Judería.

From Puente Romano, you can walk along Ronda de Isasa, which becomes Paseo de la Rivera. This will take you to another cluster of attractions, including Iglesia de San Francisco, Museo de Bellas Artes, Posada del Potro, and Museo Julio Romero de Torres. These attractions center on another landmark square, Plaza del Potro.

Getting Around

By Foot -- The historic core of Córdoba is relatively small, and the best way to get around it is to walk. In fact, many of its labyrinthine and cobblestone streets such as those around the Mezquita and in the Judería (the old Jewish Quarter) are pedestrian-only.

By Bus -- You can cover the relatively compact historic district on foot, but if you want to branch out to bordering areas, you can take a city bus. If you're staying on the outskirts, three main buses run into the historic core: bus nos. 1, 3, and 4. Most of our recommendations in the area north of the historic core can be reached by bus no. 4, 5, 11, or 12. For bus information, call tel. 95-740-40-40.

By Taxi -- A typical fare -- say, from the Mezquita to the train station -- can range from 4€ to 5€ ($6.40-$8) depending on traffic. Radio Taxi (tel. 95-776-44-44) has taxi stands at most busy intersections, including Avenida del Gran Capitán, Plaza Colón, Plaza Tendillas, Calle Cañero, Calle Ciudad Jardín, Calle Arcos de la Frontera, and Calle Agustín Moreno.

By Car -- Don't enter the complicated maze of streets in the Old Town with a car. You'll inevitably get lost and be unable to find parking. There are two small public parking lots outside the Old Town, one on Calle Robledo and the other on Calle Aeropuerto. Both are well positioned, well marked, and easy to find.

If you plan to tour the countryside around Córdoba, a car is the most useful (and expensive) way to do so. Major car-rental companies in Córdoba include Avis, at the railway station on Glorieta de las Tres Culturas (tel. 95-740-14-45; www.avis.es), and Hertz at Glorieta de las Tres Culturas (tel. 95-740-20-61; www.hertz.com).

By Horse & Carriage -- Coches de caballo are for rent around the Mezquita and the Plaza de Alcázar, and this is the most romantic and old-fashioned way to see Córdoba. However, some of the alleyways in the Judería are so tiny that even carriages can't fit. You'll find specific stops at Calle Torrijos adjoining the Mezquita and Campo Santo de los Mártires next to the Alcázar. The actual price depends on a negotiation between you and the driver: Agree on terms before hopping aboard. Prices may vary but an average cost is 28€ ($45) per hour.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.