I really enjoyed visiting La Mezquita de Cordoba each morning during my week in the city. It’s FREE to enter the church-mosque-church from 8:30 am to 9:30 am, and tours are not allowed inside during this hour. Also, you’ll see behind-the-scenes action of restoration and cleaning. This is also the best time to get photos without lots of tourists in your photos (quickly go to your preferred photo spot as soon as you enter, and you may be able to get a wide-angle photo with only a few tourists).
Once you enter, head straight for the bathrooms in the back right corner, so you realize how large the place is and observe a great vista of the hundreds of painted arches. From here work your way back towards the entrance. This way you can time your hour-long free visit. Every morning as the guards herded all the tourists out of the building at 9:20 am, I overheard some tourists complaining that they’d missed half the place, not realizing it’s vast size. (I visited every morning for a week, and found new details each day.)
The building was originally a Visigoth church. The Muslims converted it into a mosque, from which it gained the painted arches and stunning mosaics and paintings on the ceilings in various areas. Currently, it’s a Catholic church, with a full church built inside the mosque. Catholics still pray here, although Muslims are not permitted to pray in the mosque section.
Free and Less Expensive Areas
Since I entered La Mezquita for free each morning, I paid the 5 euros to go up the bell tower one evening for the beautiful golden glow of the setting sun. The tour up the tower is timed, and you only get to stay at the top for a few minutes. However, the entrance fee is much less than for La Mezquita, and the bird’s eye view of the city is gorgeous!
You can hang out for free in the orange grove courtyard all day long. It’s a beautiful place to sit and people watch. The ground is hard cement for sitting, and there is no toilet access in this area.
Are you planning a trip to Granada to visit La Alhambra? It’s just a few hours away. Click here to read my 2-day itinerary, with 1 day free.
Tours of La Mezquita and Cordoba Generally
There are loads of tours available in Cordoba. I took some of the ‘Free Walking Tours’ where you go to a certain spot to meet. Of course, you leave a hefty tip at the end as payment to your guide. Just google ‘Cordoba Free Walking Tour’ to review availability from the various companies.
To reserve a tour with a fixed price, click here now to review availability. There are so many tours of La Mezquita, Al Zahra, the Jewish Quarter and more. They even have full-day tours from Seville. If you choose a 1-hour tour of La Mezquita alone, choose a time well before closing hour. With so many details and even a mini museum inside plan on spending another hour admiring everything (or longer, if you’re a photographer).
Choose a location in the Old Town that has a patio. If you’re in the old town you shouldn’t bring a car, as parking is extremely limited. Also, you’ll experience the famous Cordoban patio culture. There are even patio tours and a patio festival in May when the patio plants are in full bloom!
When chatting with other tourists, I discovered that my private room in an Airbnb across the street from La Mezquita was cheaper than their hostel dorm room several blocks away! That was a surprise for me. The legal Airbnb’s will need to make a copy of your passport (Airbnb is strictly regulated in Spain). Click here for a $40 credit towards your first Airbnb stay.
A Great Airbnb (Highly Recommended!)
I stayed in this wonderful Airbnb private room and bathroom for several days. It’s located across the street from La Mezquita and the host is fantastic. I wanted to stay longer, but someone else had already booked the rest of the week.
The host is very enthusiastic and has taken up Airbnb hosting as his work and manages a few rooms. He is super friendly and lives onsite. He provided me with lots of tips and recommendations, including maps. He speaks some English. The room is spacious and has good WiFi. If you have a kid or other people with you, there’s an attached room available. Plus, you get a private bathroom! There’s a lovely patio on the ground floor, too. Click on the photos for full details and exact pricing for your dates.
A Bad Airbnb
If you’re looking for a super cheap Airbnb, I stayed in this one. It’s clean, but I was peeved by the multiple lies in the listing. (1) The intermittent Wifi in my room meant I couldn’t work from ‘home’. Also, the (2) included breakfast turned out to include moldy food! Of course, I didn’t know about this until morning and then had to leave the home for breakfast (I buy a container of milk and cereal for breakfast normally, to avoid eating breakfast out and better keep to my food budget). (3) Finally, the place was advertised as having central heating, but when I asked about it the host told me there weren’t enough guests staying to warrant the cost of turning it on. The place was freezing cold and the heater in my room was completely insufficient.
Unfortunately, by the time I realized all the issues upon my arrival, I couldn’t find another place of comparable location and price. I suppose I should have reached out directly to Airbnb Support right away to complain. Someone once told me that my expectations were too high for such a cheap place. However, my expectations were based on the details the host provided. So, if you get a bad Airbnb, reach out to Airbnb Support immediately. They’re really good and will help you out with credits and vouchers.
Are you planning to visit more places in Spain? Make life easy and click now to look at the places I visited during my 6-week road trip. It includes an itinerary from which you can easily pick and choose, with descriptions of each place.
Hotels in Cordoba
If you prefer a regular hotel, the easiest way to sort through the innumerable options is on Booking.com. Just enter ‘Cordoba’ and your dates in the box below or click here and enter your dates Walking around outside La Mezquita one morning, I stopped at the Hotel Mezquita. It has a huge patio with tons of antiques. I wasn’t a guest, so only got to peek inside, but it looked amazing. And, the prices are very reasonable!
Have a look at my Spain page! This includes my favorite restaurants in Cordoba and Granada, plus lots more!
Are you visiting La Alhambra in Granada, too? Check out my 2-day itinerary of the wonderful UNESCO site.