Southern Spain Adventures: Granada & Cordoba, Easy Day or Overnight Visits
For the next part of our southern Spanish adventure we will highlight two cities that were not done together due to logistics but made sense to combine the blog given the time we spent at each. Granada and Cordoba. First up was Granada. After leaving Madrid we caught Iberia airlines for the short 45 minutes flight to Granada. After researching the train, which took over four hours to get to Granada, we decided a flight was a wiser option. Remember your time is valuable.
Southern Spain: Granada Background
Granada is a city in southern Spain's Andalusia region. Known primarily for Alhambra a fortified fortress perched well above the city center built during the occupation of the Moors. It is a must-see UNESCO site. Alhambra combines medieval Moorish and Roman architecture. The sprawling complex encompasses four remaining royal palaces, reflecting pools from the Nasrid dynasty, as well as numerous fountains and orchards of the Generalife gardens.
Alhambra Grounds Starting our Alhambra tour
After our flight our driver† met us at the airport to take us to our hotel to drop off our luggage prior to meeting our guide for the day. As we mentioned numerous times before we do a lot of research in advance of going anywhere. Alhambra requires a great deal of planning, they offer a limited number of tickets each day. You need to pick a day, months' in advance and get your tickets. There are many ways to see Alhambra, on your own, with a local guide booked separately or guide provided by Alhambra. Tickets can be purchased on their website or in some cases your guide will purchase your tickets for you.
The Alhambra and Generalife form a collection of historical buildings. They were the old palatine city of the Nasrid Dynasty between the XIII and the XIV century. It was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984 for its exceptional urban architecture.
The Alhambra brought together various functions within the same area: defense, residences and recreation. Moorish medieval city covers the three areas of the Alhambra:
Alcazaba, the military zone Medina, city center Nazari Palaces, were the royal residences of Sultans
The Generalife are the Alhambra gardens.
We were lucky to find our guide for the day Miriam who handled everything for us. As with any guide selection we ask a lot of questions and customize the tour to our needs.
More Tour Details
Below highlights the tours we chose. We would highly recommend her as a guide for the day. She is very knowledge of everything Granada and Alhambra, we felt she offered us a truly enjoyable experience. We do recommend a guide for Alhambra, there is too much history you could miss out without one. Reach out to Miriam to see how she can help you.
Airport transfer to hotel dropping off luggage Transfer to Alhambra Alhambra Guided Tours - 3 hours Historical City Tour & Tapas - 3 hours included lunch
The ancient Medina; now the City Center is the heart of the city. We walked through the three districts: religious, political and commercial. Where we learned about its history and enjoy its tapas.
After a very wonderful day with Miriam we returned to our hotel. The NH Collection in Granada Victoria, we would associate it to a typical business type hotel. It isn't luxurious but for one night, met our needs. The rooms are clean. They have a restaurant and bar onsite additionally in our room rate we had their breakfast included which offered a variety of options. Located at the foot of the mountains, it is a 3-minute walk from the cathedral and Royal Chapel, and Alhambra is a 20-minute walk away.
You only need a full day in Granada to see everything. Since we had our tapas tour we didn't need dinner instead just a light snack at the hotel.
The next day we headed to the train station destination Seville for the next three days. Check out our blog on Train Travel in Spain because this is where we learned what it really meant. Instead of catching the train we first needed to take two buses before getting to the train station. After over 3 hours on the different buses we finally arrived at the train for the last leg into the city center.
Heading to Cordoba while in Seville: Understanding how we incorporated Cordoba
Instead of sharing Seville next, we wanted instead to share another day trip to Cordoba. You can take a train directly from Seville to Cordoba. They offer two options a speed train for slightly more or one that stops and take 30 more minutes.
Southern Spain: Cordoba
City of Cordoba
Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. Known as an important Roman city as well as a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. Best known for La Mezquita (Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba), an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.
Directions to Mezquita
After departing the train station, it is about a 20-minute walk to the La Mezquita through the old town streets. There are signs directing you but utilize Google maps for a more direct path. You don't need a taxi.
La Mezquita, the Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba was named a National Monument in 1882. Being declared a UNESCO site in 2014. It combines Islamic, Roman, Hellenistic, and Byzantine architecture with unique touches throughout. The grandeur shows the history beginning with the Visigoth basilica, flowing into the Caliphate splendor and culminating with Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque art.
Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website but isn't necessary. The ticket lines aren't long and move quickly. They also have kiosks to purchase tickets if you prefer. For a few Euros more you can purchase an audio guide. We spent roughly an hour inside.
Returning to Seville
Prior to heading back to Seville, we also walked the Roman Bridge just steps from the Mosque and looked at some of local shops. We purchased our return tickets at the train station, we chose the high speed back to Seville. We were back at our hotel roughly at 2 pm.
Spain Travel Tips
You can walk anywhere Food is relatively cheap in Spain in comparison to other large European cities Be prepared because they start eating late after 8:30 pm You don't need to tip anything more than 1-2 Euros if you really liked the service Chose a few cities to visit while Spain there are many places to see Other Travel Tips
Check out the next blog Seville, the final stop of our Southern Spanish Adventure