Seville or Cordoba?
Which is the perfect city for your next Spanish trip?
Andalusia is one of the most popular Spanish Southern Regions among international visitors, and it is often associated with picturesque villages, Moorish architecture and flamenco. Its ancient history and its unique mix of cultures, together with warm weather and welcoming people, make it a great destination for a Spanish trip!
Among the most famous Andalusian cities, Seville and Cordoba are particularly charming and picturesque, and their differences might make it easier for you to choose the perfect base for your explorations of this amazing Spanish Region.
Let’s see how you can choose between Seville and Cordoba!
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Seville vs Cordoba. Which one to visit?
Choose Seville if…
- You like royal atmospheres
Seville is the perfect destination for travelers who are passionate about castles, forts, and royal palaces. The Royal Alcazar of Seville will make you step back in time through different eras and cultures. Visit also its beautiful and elegant gardens, and get lost in its many rooms and courtyards with evocative names (Patio of the Maidens, Room of the Prince, Patio of the Dolls, etc.)
Tip: Don’t forget to buy your tickets in advance. They sell out fast. I recommend Alcazar, Cathedral, and Giralda Guided Tour Combo.
- You like Spanish Movida
Seville is the capital of Andalusia, so it’s one of the liveliest cities in the Southern area of the country, and its nightlife is vibrant and busy all year long! You’ll be able to choose among countless tapas bars, clubs, bars, and cafés, and you’ll find young people everywhere since Seville is also an important university town. Just keep in mind that a typical night out starts around midnight!
- You are a shopping addict
The area between Calle Tetuan and Calle Serpes is the commercial center of Seville, featuring all the main national and international brands. If you prefer design and architecture, head to the Los Remedios district, while if you like vintage clothes, reach el Barrio de la Macarena. The best area for foodies is the Triana district, with the best market in town.
- You like visiting museums
Seville is full of interesting museums, and you could visit at least one per day during your stay! The unmissable ones are Museo de Bellas Artes with its baroque masterpieces, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo for contemporary art lovers, and the Archeological Museum for visitors wanting to learn more about the ancient history of the Andalusia Region.
- You like Gothic cathedrals
The largest Gothic cathedral in the world can be found in Seville: St. Mary of the See is the third-largest church in the world, and it was built upon an ancient mosque about 500 years ago! During your visit, don’t miss a stop in front of the tomb of Cristopher Columbus! Another highlight? The climb to the top of the Giralda Tower, which was the ancient minaret of the previous mosque.
- You like flamenco
You cannot leave Seville without spending a night out at one of its many tablaos flamencos, that is the special cafés where flamenco artists perform for locals. Flamenco is the most authentic expression of Andalusian culture and you can also take a dance lesson to completely immerse yourself in this local tradition.
- You love contemporary architecture
At the heart of an elegant and royal city, a huge piece of contemporary architecture will amaze you: that’s Metropol Parasol, also referred to as Setas, built by Jurgen Mayer in 2011. It’s a sort of giant wooden parasol aimed at shading the sunny Plaza de la Encarnacion. You can also climb to its top and enjoy the view!
- You want to experience the local Andalusian lifestyle
Despite being a large city, Seville still keeps an authentic vibe, especially in a couple of neighborhoods, a bit further away from the city center. One of those is Triana, located just on the other side of the river: typical buildings, flowered balconies, authentic restaurants, and the best market in town will let you see another facet of the city. Even less touristy, El Barrio de la Macarena is the perfect place to see how locals live, and it’s also the favorite neighborhood of local students.
- You’re planning to be there during the Easter Week
The Holy Week is a real institution in Seville, and it’s a great occasion to see local folklore. Parades and processions organized by the local Brotherhoods gather large crowds of faithful and curious from all over Spain.
Choose Cordoba if…
- You are short on time
Cordoba is relatively small and you can visit it in just one day. All the main attractions are within walking distance, and you can simply wander around and take some pictures because it’s a very picturesque town. If you only have one day for your visit, just focus on the Mezquita, the Real Alcazar, and the Juderia neighborhood.
Tip: Lines are long so I recommend the Skip-the-Ticket-Line Mosque-Cathedral Guided Tour.
- You want to learn more about Islamic Spain and its history
Arabic and Christian cultures have been living side by side for centuries in Spain, especially in the Southern Regions. Cordoba still shows many traces of that, and its exotic charm together with its Moorish architecture still reminds us of North Africa. The main example of this cultural mix is the Great Mosque named Mezquita, which is one of the most beautiful mosques in Europe.
- You like flowers
Cordoba is a flowered town: buildings, balconies, courtyards, and gardens are full of colorful flowers welcoming the visitors and inviting them to take some pictures! There’s even a street bearing a significant name: Calleja de las Flores (literally “flower trail”).
Needless to say, it’s one of the most photographed places in Cordoba! If you happen to be there in May, don’t miss the Fiesta de Los Patios (literally Feast of the Courtyards) when every courtyard is decorated with hundreds of spring flowers. To fully enjoy this green side of Cordoba, take a guided tour like this one in Córdoba: Guided Tour of the Patios.
- You like visiting Roman ruins
The main trace of the Roman era is the majestic bridge crossing the Guadalquivir River. Anyway, there’s also a reconstructed Roman temple giving you a glimpse of what the town looked like back then! Don’t miss the local Archeological Museum to learn more about the Roman era in Cordoba!
- You’d like to visit some typical Andalusian towns nearby
The so-called Pueblos Blancos (literally “white villages”) are typical villages and small towns scattered throughout Andalusia and feature the traditional white-washed buildings, flowered balconies and courtyards, narrow alleyways, and an elevated position. Near Cordoba, you can visit the tiny and scenic village of Espiel or the picturesque and panoramic town of Pozoblanco.
- You’d like to learn more about Spanish Jews
Cordoba is a true mix of cultures: not only Christian and Arabic, but also Jewish buildings and pieces of heritage. The Jewish quarter is named Juderia and it was the place where the local Jewish community lived until 1492 when the Christian king kicked them out of Spain. In Cordoba, you can visit one of the last remaining synagogues in Spain. Visit also the Jewish Museum to learn more about that historical period.
- You’ll be traveling in winter
At the heart of Andalusia, Cordoba’s weather is relatively warm all year long! Of course, winter can be a bit rainy, but you can still find 20°C in November and February! The worst month is December, which is rainy and colder, but you’ll be able to spend several hours outdoors during the other winter months.
- You like to go hiking
Near Cordoba, there are plenty of hiking trails leading you to discover some scenic landscapes and hidden natural gems. A few tips? Mirador Cañon del Charco Hondo, Las Ermitas, Baños de Popea or the Castillo Almodovar del Rio
- You like spas
Local Arabic traditions are still alive, thanks to the many local hammams where you can relax after an entire day of sightseeing!
You might like: Hammam Al Ándalus with Optional Massage.
- You are into photography
If you want to revamp your Instagram page, Cordoba is the perfect destination for you, since it offers plenty of amazing views and picturesque corners. What are the pictures you cannot miss? The Roman Bridge, the Grand Pool, and the Upper Gardens in the Alcazar, the inside of the Mezquita and Calleja de las Flores, of course!
What if you want to visit both Seville and Cordoba?
Combining both cities in the same trip is easy: it only takes 40 minutes by train! The best option is to stay in Sevilla for at least 3 or 4 days, and plan a day trip to Cordoba.
Alternatively, I recommend this Full-Day Tour of Córdoba and Carmona from Seville.