A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids

Welcome to the vibrant and captivating city of Cordoba, nestled in the heart of Andalusia! As the sun cast its fiery August glow upon the historic streets, my family and I embarked on a family adventure in historic Cordoba that combined the rich tapestry of Cordoba’s past with the energy of two grown ups and three curious kids, aged 14, 14, and 9.

August’s fierce heat with temps as high as 46C didn’t deter us from uncovering the treasures this enchanting city has to offer. From awe-inspiring architecture to delightful culinary experiences, our exploration was a blend of education, culture, and pure fun. With 5 sets of eagle eyes and the help of Google maps, it was also pretty easy for us to find great places to eat as well.

Our basic plan for the week was to go out early in the morning for day trips and visits and return to the hotel late afternoon to enjoy the cool of our room and the hotel pool. With temperatures rising this plan actually worked out fine for the whole family. Though, I must say, there were quite a few comments along the lines of “Goodness its hot!! :)

A bit about food and eating out in Cordoba. (My kids eat everything and anything :) )
Eating out in Cordoba with kids
Cordoba boasts a rich culinary scene that beautifully blends traditional flavors with contemporary twists. From time-honored recipes passed down through generations to innovative dishes that reflect modern influences, the city offers a diverse range of dining experiences that cater to a variety of tastes.

Cordoba’s traditional cuisine is deeply rooted in the region’s history and culture. One iconic dish that captures the essence of Cordoban gastronomy is “Salmorejo,” a cold tomato soup that’s both refreshing and hearty.

Eating out with kids in Cordoba
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Made from ripe tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic, and vinegar, Salmorejo is a delightful starter or light meal, especially during the hot summer months. If you are vegetarian ask the waiter to leave out the Iberian ham garnish!

Another Cordoban classic is the “Flamenquín,” a dish that showcases the influence of Andalusian cuisine. Flamenquín consists of rolled ham or pork loin, wrapped in cheese and coated with breadcrumbs before being fried to golden perfection.

eating out in Cordoba with kids
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: The flamenquin Is often served with chips and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Cordoba’s culinary scene has evolved to embrace contemporary flavors and techniques. Chefs in the city are known for their creativity in reimagining traditional ingredients and presenting them in innovative ways. Visitors can experience the fusion of old and new in dishes that incorporate local produce with international influences.

Eating out with kids in Cordoba
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Panceta (a thick strip of bacon) wrapped around cucumber with a soy sauce drizzle.

Both traditional and contemporary food experiences in Cordoba can be enjoyed in charming local eateries, upscale restaurants, and even street food stalls. Exploring the city’s culinary landscape offers travelers the chance to savor the authenticity of Cordoban traditions while embracing the evolving tastes of the present day.

Eating out with kids in Cordoba
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Delicious fried seafood is a favorite when eating out in Cordoba with kids.
Monday August 7th. From natural serenity to urban charms: Our Cordoba escape in 2023

Even the family team here behind Ronda Today needs a break every now and then! Thus, our 2023 holiday adventure commenced with a short yet picturesque road journey from our home in Grazalema to our hotel nestled on the fringes of Cordoba. This marked a significant shift for us, as Grazalema is ensconced within a breathtaking natural park, far removed from bustling cityscapes.

The hotel

We chose to stay for six nights breakfast included at the Crisol Jardines de Córdoba hotel. A great pick for our getaway, the hotel is surrounded by gardens, offers a seasonal outdoor pool and a restaurant. Plus, there’s free WiFi throughout. We ate out or at the hotel for lunches and dinners.

The rooms at Crisol Jardines de Córdoba are decorated in a classic style and have excellent air conditioning. Some rooms have views of the hotel’s gardens all all have a TV, safe and a minibar.

Breakfasts are served buffet style from 8 am to 11 am and there is plenty to choose from sweet pastries eggs, bacon, ham and cheese to cereals, juices, tea and coffee. There is something for everyone.

The hotel is outside the city center, about 5 km away and there is a nearby bus stop with buses every 30 minutes. Taxis to the historic centre are well priced and easy to pre book from the reception. Although we had a car we decided not to drive into the city centre to avoid the parking problems and to give the family driver a bit of a rest! The staff at the hotel are friendly and very helpful which is always a bonus!

Other hotels in Cordoba
Cordoba in summer is really hot! A few tips on how to cope with the heat.

Staying safe and comfortable in the scorching heat, especially when you’re traveling with children, is crucial. Here are some practical tips to help you navigate the high temperatures and ensure a pleasant experience.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Don’t forget to put sunscreen on the kids feet!
  • Stay hydrated: The most important rule in hot weather is to keep everyone well-hydrated. Encourage drinking water regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Carry reusable water bottles for each family member and refill them throughout the day.
  • Plan indoor activities: Seek out indoor attractions during the hottest parts of the day, such as museums, galleries, or historical sites. This provides a break from the heat and keeps everyone engaged.
  • Use sun protection: Apply sunscreen before stepping out and reapply throughout the day. Don’t forget sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and lightweight, light-colored clothing that covers the skin.
  • Time outdoor activities: Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, like early morning or late afternoon. Avoid being outdoors during peak heat, usually between 12 pm and 5 pm.
  • Seek shade: When outdoors, look for shaded areas to rest and take breaks. Umbrellas or portable shade structures can be helpful, especially for kids.
  • Know the signs of heat-related illness: Educate yourself and your children about the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, such as dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and confusion. If anyone starts exhibiting these signs, move them to a cooler place, offer water, and seek medical help if needed.
  • Avoid overexertion: While exploring, take it easy and avoid strenuous activities. Heat can take a toll on energy levels, so be mindful of how much you’re exerting yourselves.
  • Stay in air-conditioned accommodations: If possible, choose accommodations with air conditioning. This will provide a reprieve from the heat and ensure a good night’s sleep.
  • Frequent breaks: Plan regular breaks during your explorations. Find shaded spots to sit, relax, and recharge.
  • Pack snacks: Carry light, hydrating snacks like fruits and granola bars to keep energy levels up and avoid heavy meals that can make you feel more sluggish in the heat.
  • Stay informed: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories. Stay informed about any potential extreme heat warnings in the area.

Remember that safety comes first, and it’s essential to adjust your plans based on the weather conditions. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy your family adventure in Cordoba while keeping everyone safe and comfortable in the heat.

Tuesday, August 8th. Unveiling Córdoba’s charms through a scavenger hunt adventure
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: On the bus to the city centre.

Our second day in Córdoba kicked off with a breezy 10-minute bus ride, as we opted to chart our own course using the Córdoba: Scavenger Hunt and City Highlights Walking Tour from Get Your Guide.

Our adventure unfolded as we embarked on an interactive scavenger hunt and audio-guided tour. With the help of this user-friendly app, we set out on foot, rewarded for solving various engaging challenges and tasks.

The beauty of this experience was that it allowed us to explore the city at our own pace, making stops and starting again as we pleased.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Starting the treasure hunt tour just behind the Cathedral by the Rio Guadalquivir

Guided by hints, we unveiled the city’s top sights and hidden gems, utilizing the app’s map feature to navigate. Our journey led us to iconic locations like the Mosque-Cathedral, the charming San Basilio’s Courtyards, and the majestic Gate of the Bridge.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Sam looking for clues to the next monument

It was really enjoyable as we tackled intriguing photo tasks that sparked our creativity and learned some history at the same time. Successfully completing these challenges earned us well-deserved points. Our route also took us to incredible places such as the Castle of the Christian Monarchs and the Triunfo de San Rafael de la Puerta del Puente.

On the way we spotted sights and museums that we would come back and visit later in the week. This scavenger hunt proved to be an unforgettable way to delve into Córdoba’s treasures while enjoying a touch of friendly competition.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
In the shade of one of the “patios” of Cordoba. Worth visiting even in high summer.

Lasting around 1-2 hours on average, this tour offers the flexibility to pause and resume whenever it suits.

Self guided tour in Cordoba

It is available in English, Spanish, and French at Get Your Guide Here.

Wednesday August 9th. Journey through time and fantasy: Exploring Almódovar castle’s rich history and ‘Game of Thrones’ charms

Today’s excursion was just a 30-minute drive away, and it led us to the awe-inspiring Almódovar Castle. As we set out to explore, we found ourselves stepping into one of Spain’s most remarkable fortresses – a place that holds not only historical significance but also a connection to the realm of fantasy through its appearance in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Almodovar castle. A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Almodovar castle. A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids

Perched atop La Floresta hill, the castle offers panoramic views that stretched out before us, allowing us to appreciate the picturesque landscape that surrounds it. A short 10-minute walk brought us to the grand entrance, where we were warmly welcomed and handed a useful map for our self-guided adventure.

As we ventured through the castle’s towers and walls, each corner came alive with history thanks to informative boards that painted a vivid picture of the castle’s origins and evolution.

Almodovar castle. A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Its quite a steep walk up to the castle entrance if the top car park is full!

Climbing to the highest point, we reached the Tower Keep, and from its vantage point, we soaked up the breathtaking panoramic views that extended in every direction. The very same Tower Keep had served as a backdrop for scenes in “Game of Thrones,” adding a touch of enchantment to our visit.

Not the best video as the heat at 45 degrees Celcius was tremendous and making the phone camera act a bit oddly :)

The journey continued as we explored each tower and significant spot, uncovering the layers of the castle’s history as down as the scary dungeons. Our exploration also led us to the chapel and medieval hall, offering a glimpse into the private areas owned by the castle’s owners.

Almodovar castle. A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
The special charm of Almódovar Castle left an indelible mark on us, offering a blend of history, fantasy, and panoramic splendor that’s hard to forget.

In this exceptional setting, we found ourselves not only immersing in Spain’s ancestral history but also discovering a unique connection to a modern film culture. You can buy entry tickets for the Almodovar castle from Get Your Guide here.

Thursday August 10th. Exploring history: A guided journey through the Alcazar and the Mosque
A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Our guided tour of the Alcazar in Cordoba was great!

Again, using the excellent Get Your Guide website we bought our guided tour tickets online the day before and just arrived at the stated meeting points at the correct times. Our guide was incredibly knowledgable and took time to explain in great detail the history of these two amazing monuments in Cordoba. We certainly learned a lot and here are a few facts about them!

The Alcázar

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, commonly referred to as the Alcázar of Cordoba, is a captivating historical fortress and palace complex located in Cordoba, Spain. This architectural gem is celebrated not only for its magnificent design but also for its lush gardens and deep-rooted cultural significance.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Dating back to the 8th century, the Alcázar’s origins are intertwined with Cordoba’s complex history under Muslim rule.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alcázar stands as a testament to Cordoba’s enduring legacy. Its historical significance, architectural grandeur, and serene gardens combine to create an immersive experience that transports visitors through the annals of time. For those exploring Cordoba, the Alcázar promises a journey into the past that’s rich in beauty, culture, and history.

When the Moors (Muslims) Ruled in Europe! A fascinating documentary by Bettany Hughes. A must watch!

If you are interested in the Moorish (Muslim) history of Spain, monuments like the Alhambra or the mosque of Cordoba then grab a glass of wine and a few tapas, sit down and enjoy this amazing documentary.

Over the years, the Alcázar has undergone transformations and served various functions, from a residence for both Moorish and Christian monarchs to a military stronghold and administrative hub.

What makes the Alcázar truly remarkable is its harmonious blend of architectural styles that span centuries and cultures. The fusion of Islamic, Christian, and Romanesque influences is evident in the intricate detailing, arches, and mosaics found throughout the complex. This amalgamation of architectural elements reflects the dynamic evolution of Cordoba itself.

The gardens offer not only a visual feast but also a peaceful escape, inviting visitors to wander and contemplate.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
At the heart of the Alcázar are its enchanting gardens. These meticulously landscaped grounds are adorned with fountains, pools, and verdant foliage, providing a serene oasis in the midst of the city.

The Alcázar’s courtyards serve as inviting spaces where history comes alive through ornate tilework, graceful archways, and exquisite craftsmanship. These courtyards stand as testaments to the palace’s role as a center of power and culture throughout the ages.

Among the notable features of the Alcázar is the Tower of Homage, a commanding structure that harkens back to the complex’s military heritage. Ascending this tower rewards visitors with panoramic views that encompass both the palace and the city beyond.

Inside the palace, visitors are treated to a visual feast of mosaics, murals, and artworks that offer insights into the palace’s diverse history. This fusion of artistic expressions echoes the Alcázar’s role as a cultural crossroads.

Guided tours offer an opportunity to delve deeper into the Alcázar’s captivating narrative. Expert guides lead visitors through the historical context, architectural marvels, and cultural significance that define the complex.

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, known as the Mezquita-Catedral in Spanish, is an architectural marvel that encapsulates the complex history and cultural blend of Cordoba, Spain. This iconic structure stands as a testament to the city’s evolution from its roots in Moorish rule to its transformation under Christian influence.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Originally built in the 8th century as a mosque during the period of Al-Andalus, the Mosque-Cathedral’s construction marked a high point of Islamic architecture.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it stands as a living embodiment of Cordoba’s cultural heritage. Its journey from mosque to cathedral mirrors the city’s complex past and serves as a testament to the power of architecture to convey the ebb and flow of history. A visit to this remarkable monument is an opportunity to traverse centuries and witness the blending of faiths and civilizations within the embrace of one remarkable structure.

Its grandeur lay not only in its architectural design but also in its symbolism as a spiritual center. The mosque’s iconic double-arched columns, horseshoe arches, and intricately designed mihrab (prayer niche) showcased the exquisite craftsmanship of the time.

However, with the Reconquista and the fall of Cordoba to Christian rule in the 13th century, the mosque underwent significant changes. Rather than dismantling the mosque entirely, the Christian rulers opted to build a cathedral within the existing structure, creating a unique blend of Islamic and Christian architectural elements. This fusion resulted in the remarkable juxtaposition of the Mosque-Cathedral’s original beauty with the ornate chapels and altars of the cathedral.

Stepping into the Mosque-Cathedral is like entering a living history book. The vast expanse of its prayer hall, punctuated by rows of columns and arches, conveys a sense of awe and reverence. The distinct transition from the mosque’s elegant geometry to the cathedral’s intricate details represents not only architectural transformation but also a cultural narrative of coexistence and adaptation.

The Mihrab Mayor, the mosque’s main prayer niche, remains a masterpiece of Islamic artistry. Its intricate mosaic work and geometric patterns are a testament to the artistic achievements of the era. Adjacent to it, the Cathedral’s choir and altar bring forth a different aesthetic, yet one that harmoniously fits within the larger tapestry of the structure.

The Patio de los Naranjos, a courtyard with orange trees and fountains, adds to the serene ambiance, allowing visitors to reflect on the passage of time and the interplay of cultures. The minaret, which was transformed into a bell tower known as the Giralda, offers panoramic views of Cordoba, further underscoring the mosque-cathedral’s significance as a historical landmark.

Friday August 11th. A splashing birthday adventure: Celebrating at the AquaSierra water park

The following day brought a delightful and heartfelt twist to our Cordoba adventure – a birthday treat for our youngest family member.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
The view of the main pool from our VIP cabin.

As we decided to escape the city’s heat, we found ourselves heading to a thrilling water park, adorned with water slides and inviting pools. Our destination held the promise of a refreshing change from the urban heat that had been our constant companion.

Not quite as planned as the birthday boy flops like a dead fish into the pool after a slooooww ride down the slide. :)

Our youngest, now a year older, was visibly thrilled by the prospect of spending his special day in this aquatic wonderland. His eyes sparkled with a unique blend of anticipation and joy, knowing that this experience was his birthday gift – a day of fun and play amidst the cooling waters.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Our VIP (number 1 on the map when you book) close to all the slides, bar and restarant

The soaring temperatures of Cordoba’s streets were soon forgotten as they immersed themselves in the aquatic world, celebrating not only the young one’s birthday but the sheer delight of being in the company of family.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Water slides right outside our VIP area.

With the sun descending and the day’s adventure drawing to a close, we left the water park fairly exhausted but not too sun burned! This birthday treat had evolved into a shared celebration of life, love, and the simple joys that water and play can offer. As we returned to our Cordoba base, we carried not only the memory of a fun-filled day but the reminder that the best gifts are often the ones that are shared, cherished, and celebrated together.

The Aquasierra water park

The Aquasierra water park is just 30 minutes away by car and can be found in the small town of Villafranca de Cordoba. For booking information check out the website (in Spanish) here: https://aquasierra.es/

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Inside our VIP area was fantastic with tables, loungers and chairs.

Booking online is recommended and if there are any of the VIP areas available then reserve one for just a few euros more. We booked the VIP area number 1 which was close to the best slides, bar and toilets. Fantastic!

Saturday August 12th. Retreating to tranquility: A day of leisure by the hotel pool in Cordoba

After a series of daily exciting activities, we all agreed that it was time for a well-deserved break on the sixth and final day of our Cordoba trip. We opted for a relaxed day at the hotel centered around tranquility and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Nice and cool in the hotel with plenty of places to relax.

As the morning light filtered through the curtains, we took advantage of a slow start to the day. Without any specific plans and leaving the outside world’s hustle behind, we savored a leisurely breakfast.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
Relaxing by the pool in the hotel gardens on our last day in Cordoba

With satisfied appetites and renewed energy, we were drawn to the hotel’s inviting poolside area. Lounging by the pool, we discovered the art of simply unwinding – soaking in the peaceful atmosphere and searching for the best shady area to shelter us from the blistering heat of August.

We spent the day reclining on comfortable poolside chairs, playing board games, swimming and chatting with the world outside the hotel distant and unimportant. This day of relaxation reminded us that true luxury lies not in extravagance, but in the ability to pause, recharge, and fully appreciate the current moment.

Sunday August 12th leaving captivating Cordoba: A journey of history, discovery, and family bonds

Our Cordoba adventure came to a close as we embarked on the journey back to the familiar mountains of Grazalema. Six eventful days filled with exploration, history, and bonding had left an indelible mark on us. From the bustling streets of Cordoba to the tranquil oasis of our hotel, we had experienced a captivating blend of urban vibrancy and natural serenity.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
New friends found in the hotel gardens.

The journey began with a short road trip from our serene home in Grazalema to the outskirts of Cordoba. This transition from countryside tranquility to the city’s energy marked a significant shift, setting the tone for our explorations.

We immersed ourselves in Cordoba’s rich history, wandering through the mesmerizing corridors of the Alcázar, a living testament to the city’s cultural evolution. The Mosque-Cathedral stood as an awe-inspiring marvel, a symbol of the interplay between different civilizations and architectural styles.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
As we headed back to the mountains of Grazalema, we carried with us memories of laughter, discovery, and connection. Our Cordoba adventure had been a beautiful blend of history, culture, and family moments, leaving us enriched and grateful for the experiences that had unfolded.

From the heart of Cordoba to and enchanted hilltop castle and the water park’s splash-filled delights, our journey was a tapestry woven with experiences that catered to everyone’s interests. The children’s laughter echoed in the air as they conquered water slides and formed new friendships, a testament to the power of shared adventures.

Amidst the excitement, we also embraced moments of stillness and rejuvenation. A leisurely day by the hotel pool provided a refreshing contrast to the city’s heat, reminding us of the importance of rest and bonding in the midst of exploration.

A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids
As is our custom after returning from a family holiday, all the leaflets and many photos we make into a collage. Here is the collage for A family adventure in historic Cordoba: Exploring the heart of Andalusia with kids

Here are a few alternative titles for this article
  • Family Adventures in Cordoba: Exploring History and Cooling Off
  • Cordoba Unwrapped: A Family-Friendly Journey Through History and Play
  • From Palaces to Water Parks: Navigating Cordoba with Kids
  • Cordoba Escapade: A Family’s Guide to Culture, Relaxation, and Fun
  • Cordoba Chronicles: A Kid-Friendly Escapade in Spain’s Jewel
  • Discovering Cordoba with Kids: A Blend of Heritage and Splash
  • Cordoba Unveiled: A Family’s 6-Day Exploration and Escape
  • Cordoba Odyssey: Navigating History, Sunshine, and Smiles with Kids
  • Cordoba Uncovered: A Family’s Summer Saga of Exploration and Play
  • Exploring Cordoba as a Family: Heritage, Heat, and Happy Moments

This article should be of help if you are looking to visit Cordoba with children. Please feel free to leave any comments and feedback!

We used the website Ronda Today to reserve our hotel and most of the activities we experienced during our stay in Cordoba and if you do the same Ronda Today receives a small amount of commission that helps us keep the site current and up do date. Thankyou!

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