Often viewed as one of the cities comprising Andalucia's 'must-see' trinity (the others being Granada and Seville), Córdoba is compact enough to explore in a weekend. Easily accessible by the AVE high-speed train from Madrid and Seville, it's an ideal city break getaway for those looking for a relaxed destination with historical sights and good food.
|The tower of Córdoba's Mezquita|
Where to stay
The partly-pedestrianized centre of Córdoba is compact, and easily accessed from the train and bus stations either on foot (around 15 minutes, depending on how many books/shoes you packed for your weekend break) or by local bus. Córdoba's most famous sight is the Mezquita, the mosque-turned-cathedral, which is surrounded by narrow cobbled lanes lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and pensiones. If a peaceful location close to the sights (the Alcázar and Puente Romano – Roman bridge – are also close by), go for a pension or hostal near the Mezquita, such as El Antiguo Convento. This area can be quiet once sun sets and the day trippers leave, so if you'd like to be closer to tapas bars, try one-star Hotel Boston on Plaza de las Tendillas. This pretty café-filled square is lively in the day and evening, but by bedtime the action has moved on – the hotel's sound proofing's good, too. Hotel Boston has decent en-suite rooms for a low price – ask for one of the corner rooms with views of the square. You're less then a ten-minute walk from the Mezquita in one-direction, and a few steps from tapas and wine bars in the other.
Where to eat
|Tortilla at Bar Santos|
With food possibly more important to me than the sights (hey, a dire meal can ruin a holiday – a dull museum can't), Córdoba doesn't disappoint. It may be a column-filler in every guide book, but Bar Santos is on tourists' itineraries for a reason: it serves the best tortilla in town. You'll spot this stand-up bar next to the Mezquita from the queue of locals and visitors snaking out of the door (it moves quickly). Make like the cordobeses and buy yourself a slice of the thickest Spanish omelette you'll ever see and a cup of salmorejo (cold tomato cream typical of Córdoba) and head outside to the steps near the Mezquita: lunch for under €5. In the evening, you'll find plenty of cheap tapas bars on and around Plaza San Miguel, most of which have tables outside in summer. El Aguacero and La Tortuga are both trendy but kind to your wallet, serving a mix of traditional and modern bites and salads. You'll find dirt-cheap drinks nearby at Mercado Provenzal: yes it's a chain, but it has a terrace. And who can argue with 40 cent cañas (small beers) or a €1.50 glass of Rueda (white wine)?