Seville or Cordoba?
May 18, 2009 8:22 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I are traveling to Madrid next week. We'll be in the area for seven days, and plan to spend the second half in either Seville or Cordoba and then on to Granada. Seville or Cordoba? We need to book hotels asap and can't agree on this leg of the trip.

We're both in our late twenties, live in Chicago, and have never been to Europe. I'm not really sure what we're looking for in either location other than "neat!" stuff. Any recommendations? Must-see must-do things that you can suggest to sell us on either place? I realize that the two destinations are rather close to one another, but given our time frame, I think it'd be wise to narrow it down.

Thanks for your help!
posted by macrowave to Travel & Transportation around Madrid, Spain (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I went to Madrid last summer and followed it with visits to Seville and Cordoba. I thought Seville was a bit more interesting, personally. It would definitely be my choice.
posted by grouse at 8:47 PM on May 18, 2009

never been to cordoba. Seville is a lovely place.
posted by zorro astor at 8:57 PM on May 18, 2009

Never been to Cordoba but absolutely loved Seville. Pretty much stuck to the typical tourist itinerary, but it was great.
posted by bardic at 9:09 PM on May 18, 2009

I loved Cordoba, especially the mosque converted into a church, and just walking around the city. I wasn't as thrilled by Seville, though the cathedral is lovely.
posted by foodmapper at 9:12 PM on May 18, 2009

Seville! Great interesting architecture/streets/laneways to wander, but also good active nightlife and 'energy' to the city - lots of restaurants, etc.
posted by Kololo at 9:32 PM on May 18, 2009

wild card: I loved Toledo which is much closer to Madrid than any of those. If you feel compelled to travel distance, take the high-speed train; whichever city or cities are on it might be a tie breaker.

I'm increasingly a fan of going to one city and exploring it in more depth, though. I doubt you'd get bored of Madrid in a week, and you might have a much richer experience.
posted by msalt at 9:38 PM on May 18, 2009

Honestly, it doesn't matter. Pick the one you can find the best hotel in. I went through Madrid, Seville, Cordoba and Granada a couple years ago and I can't decide which one I would recommend. They both have enough to do and their own unique attractions, either one will make a great trip.
posted by jacalata at 9:54 PM on May 18, 2009

1. I agree with jacalata: find a hotel (maybe? you're excited about and go there. 2. I did not go to Cordoba. 3. I did go to Seville, but only for one day/night. That seemed about right but I could have missed out on a bunch of things there so YMMV.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:44 PM on May 18, 2009

P.S. I did live in France for several years so if you end up wanting to head north, let me know!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:45 PM on May 18, 2009

I've been to both (along with Madrid and Granada) and I liked both, but I would give a slight edge to Sevilla because I think it gives a few more opportunities for a 'classic' Spanish experience. We also stayed in the fantastic Hotel Alminar, which I highly recommend if they have openings -- small with the friendliest staff you'll ever meet. And free coffee and hot chocolate!

I also recommend Toledo, which is a great day trip from Madrid. Get marzipan!
posted by wsquared at 11:18 PM on May 18, 2009

Have you thought about going to Cadiz or Tarifa on the coast instead, just to mix it up? Variety always helps or else all the places will start to blend into each other. I never made it that far myself but heard raves from other travelers who had.

Oh, and Granada is great and the Alhambra and blah blah blah, but read up on your history before you go. Southern Spain (Granada, Toledo, Cordoba) was where Christian Europe rediscovered the Greeks, by translating the books left behind after the reconquest (e.g.). I regret not knowing much about this when I was traveling in the area; I think I would have appreciated it more.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:30 PM on May 18, 2009

I'd recommend Seville. And when you get to Granada, drop me a MeMail and we can have a beer... :-)
posted by benzo8 at 12:57 AM on May 19, 2009

We went on a similar trip last summer [Barcelona/Andalucia] you might want to consider doing something like this [I think it worked out pretty well]. We stayed in a hostel in Seville for 4 days, spent the first in Seville itself, took a train down to Cordoba on the second [leave earliest in the morning and return latest at night], took a train down to Cadiz on the third [not much to see really, we wanted a relaxing day by the beach and some of the ones in Cadiz are imo much nicer than the tourist-infested ones at Marbella et al], spent the final day in Seville.

We went on and did it again in Malaga/Granada/Marbella - staying in Malaga and taking day-trips to the other two.

I'd recommend staying in Seville and taking a train ride down to Granada/Cordoba for just a day [or better yet a day each!]

Cordoba is a must-see if you're a history/architecture buff, Granada even more so [the Alhambra and Generalife deserve at least a day on their own - and the night-life is supposed to be superb]

Seville itself is a much bigger city than the other two, while retaining a cozy charm about it, it was pretty lively at night, and the must-see touristy stuff [dont miss the Cathedral and the Alcazar] can be done in just a couple of days. At night I'd recommend walking down the main road by the Guadalquivir river and passing by the University and the Torre del Orro. You wont forgive yourself if you miss out on a flamenco show [extra special if you can catch a more authentic gypsy show in a street/bar but time constraints meant we ended up seeing one in a more formal stage/theatre - still pretty awesome]

Oh and definitely try the food! The Bacalao con Naranja [cod with oranges] and Rabo del Toro [Ox-tail] were exquisite. We were using the excellent guide des routards to help pick out restaurants.

posted by xqwzts at 12:58 AM on May 19, 2009

Best answer: I loved Córdoba, but it depends on what kind of experience you're looking for. It is smaller and I was there more for the history and depth of it all since I'm particularly fascinated with Medieval Andalusian history. The Mezquita is absolutely amazing, as are some of the other old sites. But if you're looking for more of a food, nightlife type of place, Sevilla is more that (though there is plenty of history there as well).

Enjoy Madrid and Granada - those are my two favorite places in Spain and worth spending more time in.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:42 AM on May 19, 2009

The Feria de Cordoba is next week. It is worth seeing but I doubt you'll be able to easily find rooms at this point. INHO, the best thing about traveling Spain is seeing the festivals. Even the grandest historical and tourist sights pale in comparison to going to a city festival. You should still go to Cordoba but probably stay in Sevilla.
posted by JJ86 at 5:32 AM on May 19, 2009

edit: IMHO, not INHO!
posted by JJ86 at 5:34 AM on May 19, 2009

Seville. Hands down.
posted by theKik at 7:05 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a lovely time in both cities- but they are very different. Cordoba is quiet and you really get a feel for the history. Lovely walks by the river, the Mezquita will blow your mind, and the arab baths are really really cool. If the festival is happening that's double reason to go. Stay at the Pension Agustina if you go and if they still have rooms. It's right in the middle and has all the ambiance you could hope for for an unbelievably low price.

Sevilla is very lively and large. You're right in bullfighting season which is either awesome or terrible depending on how you feel about bullfights and all that goes with it. We wandered into a small (I mean tiny!) bar in Sevilla where a group of old friends had all gathered back for the holidays (it was around christmas) and they were singing and dancing flamenco just for themselves. They let us join in a bit and it was a wonderful couple of hours. There is also a bar somewhere that is Jesus/holy week themed and totally worth a trip if you can find it. El Garlochi- Calle Boteros 4, el centro. Accommodations are more difficult in Sevilla, but you might get lucky with a last minute deal on or something similar. Also look at for last minute vacation rentals and stay in someone's apartment.
posted by ohio at 7:08 AM on May 19, 2009

Never visited Córdoba, but here are some tips for Sevilla. (I visited there two years running for the WOMEX music conference.)

Our group stayed at Hotel Puerta de Sevilla -- small, friendly, clean. Get one of the top floor rooms if you can at this late date.

Make a reservation at the Arabic baths Aire de Sevilla, and check out the real flamenco at La Carbonería.

Also I recommend the AVE high-speed train from Madrid to Sevilla.
posted by omnidrew at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2009

On a similar-ish trip my wife and I spent 2 nights in Seville, 2 nights in Cordoba and 1 night in Granada. We ended up wishing we cut Cordoba to 1 night and added the extra night to either Seville or Granada. They've all got history and amazing buildings but Seville and Granada seemed to have more options that weren't sightseeing related as well as fewer beggars.

The ice cream was good everywhere but best in Granada.
We went to a flamenco show in Seville, and perhaps it was touristy/overpriced but my wife absolutely loved it (I merely thought it was really good).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:20 AM on May 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again guys. Seville it is!
posted by macrowave at 4:10 PM on May 19, 2009

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