Scenic Day Trips from Cordoba Spain
Córdoba, the southern Spain charmer, has an abundance of Byzantine and Moorish sites from the Middle Ages. Visitors who have tasted this living piece of history will no doubt want to explore further. With options for all types of travelers, venture deeper with these easy and fun day trips from Cordoba, Spain.
You’ve explored the mosque/cathedral, visited UNESCO World Heritage sites and tickled your taste buds in the city, but are craving more of seductive Cordoba. Blessed with both man made and natural wonders, the heart of Andalusia is an excellent region for both active and tasty adventures. Take a sip of liquid gold, climb ancient castles to look out over olive groves that lead to hiking trails through dramatic limestone mountains. Are you ready to explore some of the best day trips from Cordoba?
Day Trips from Córdoba for Outdoor Adventures
Parque Natural de las Sierras Subbéticas
Looking for outdoor adventure one day in Córdoba? Bird watchers and hikers will want to explore the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park. The dramatic limestone mountains are found just a short distance outside of Córdoba. Here visitors will explore a wide variety of landscapes just waiting for outdoor adventures.
Jagged mountain tops, dense forests and lush plateaus provide an excellent backdrop for raising your heartrate, getting a shot of adrenalin and exploring nature. La Tiñosa, the highest peack in the region, clocks in at just over 5,000 ft. Typical Mediterranean vegetation includes elm trees, poplars, and oak groves.
Hiking in the area presents trails for all skill levels with a variety of lengths. I am a big fan of the All Trails app, and use it whenever I hike. There are also a number of outfitters in the area with guided trips available.
Bird-watchers will appreciate that abundance of species found in the park, including eagles, vultures, peregrine falcons, and storks. Sierras Subbéticas National Park is the habitat of one of Spain’s largest colonies of griffon vultures, a protected species.
Visitors might be surprised to find a number of small, scenic towns within the park nestled into hilltops. Ancient Pueblos Blancos are full of Andalucian history and visually charming with their whitewashed houses, narrow streets and welcoming residents. Drawing their inspiration from the Moors’ native homeland of North Africa, these whitewashed villages are rarely on an itinerary of travel guides. Visitors will be richly rewarded if they take the time for a guided tour of discovery.
Priego de Córdoba
One such scenic town is Priego de Córdoba, located in the interior of Sierras Subbeticas. With a population under 25,000 residents, an old town of winding streets, noble houses, abundant fountains and Baroque architecture, it’s a wonderful place to get lost and uncover Priego’s fabulous secrets.
This olive farming town is just over an hour from Córdoba. It also makes a great stop if you are heading north from Marbella to Cordoba. Many think Priego is one of the prettiest pueblo blancos, and after visiting, I’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Make sure to follow the path of the flower filled Barrio de la Villa to reach the Balcón del Adarve. A walking tour will have you gazing out over the surrounding olive groves where the infamous liquid gold is born.
Castillo de Priego de Cordoba
Best to begin with the Castle of Priego de Córdoba which was built during the Middle Ages over many years. From the lookout and walls there are 360° spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The Moorish castle had a square floor plan, with towers at the corners and buttresses on the defensive walls.
Most of the fortresses in Spain have one distinct tower along their wall. This would be the most imposing site of the fortress, representing the last “stand” if the walls were breached and destroyed. The castle was donated to the town in 1996.
The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
While I’ve spent most of my time thus far firmly planted around the 12th century, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción moves us forward. The building was begun in 1525 and the design is gothic and mudéjar in style.
The sacristy however is a whole different story. Created between 1772 and 1784, the dome is a breathtaking example of Spanish baroque. This masterpiece by Francisco Javier Pedrajas with a sculpted tabernacle by Manuel Garnelo has been a well deserved National Monument since 1932.
Olive Oil Tasting-Liquid Gold
Taste the essence of Priego through olive oil tourism. Look to the countryside and view rows of olive trees as far as the eye can see. Some of these precious branches have been cared for since Roman times. Their Protected Designation of Origin (Priego de Córdoba) status speaks volumes about their award-winning oils.
I sat down for a tasting and warmed the different samples with a swirl on the palm of my hand. Not unlike a wine tasting, the steps to discovering the oils characteristics involve using sight, smell and taste. I was amazed at the variety of flavors profiles this small fruit could offer. It was truly an all-sensory experience.
Castro del Río
For an alternative opportunity to get in some hiking, add another pueblo blanco to your travel plans. Castro del Rio is a worthy day trip from Córdoba. Located about 45 minutes southeast from the capital city, you’ll also be able to taste some fine olive oil in this village.
From here, you can take in a stretch of the Camino Mozárabe de Santiago. This pilgrimage winds its way to the Santiago de Compostels in Galicia. Serious hikers will also find an opportunity to pick up the Ruta del Califato (Caliphate route), a moderate historic hike that connects Córdoba with Granada. (The entire route takes approximately 8 days to complete).
Medina Azahara is an attraction of royal ruins just eight kilometers outside of Córdoba in the foothills of Sierra Morena. Central to the understanding of Andalusian history, the settlement represents the largest archeological site in Spain.
In 936 then Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III decided to build the new royal city on the site of an old Roman settlement. This location would provide an alternative site away from the corruption and sin he found running rampant within Cordoba. The government, royal family and full garrison of protection were housed there.
Named after his wife, Zahra, the new capitol survived for only 65 years. It was destroyed in the civil war between the Berbers and the Moors and remained a secret until it was discovered in 1911. While still under excavation, only a small number of buildings have been cleared. To date visitors can see the lower terrace which housed the infantry and calvary. Part of the middle terrace has uncovered the mosque. The upper terrace exposes the noble residence, alcazar and dignitaries residences. Spain declared Medina Azahara a national monument in 1923.
Castillo de Almodóvar del Río
Fans of Game of Thrones should visit Almodóvar del Rio, about a half hour from Cordoba. The formidable castle, sitting high on a hill was the setting for scenes in the show’s 7th season. A guided tour includes the highlights. Dating back to the 8th century, this Moorish fortress offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
During Medieval times, the strategic setting of the castle played an important defensive role for Córdoba. Today, sightseeing visitors will find its walls, towers and dungeons in excellent condition providing a terrific backdrop for the theatre based productions performed there.
Córdoba, Spain is a great home base for day trips branching out into other villages and even the Spanish countryside. Full days are easily spent in the neighboring rural areas. Traveling deeper into a region will expand your sense of place and allow a more complete approach to travel.
With an emphasis on connection with local people, culture and food, Slow Travel forms a deep emotional bond while helping local communities remain sustainable in the future. Touring on day trips around the Cordoba region is the perfect place to engage in this type of responsible travel.
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such a wonderful places to go .Will make a trip soon. Thanks for virtual tour.
Your article reminded me of our beautiful trip to Cordoba, Alyson. We had such a good time in Cordoba (except for the scorching temperatures). I found Medina Azahara particularly interesting and hope to go back and explore more of Cordoba’s attractions.