How to choose between two wonderful cities?
One of the most difficult questions that comes to us daily on our Facebook page is: "Is Córdoba or Granada more beautiful?". We take a deep breath and try to be as objective as possible. But in the end it is a bit like the classic question “Do you love Mum or Dad more?”. Almost impossible to answer.
They are all 2 very beautiful, but at the same time quite different. Both have monuments and buildings that are worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. For this reason, we have written this article with the intention of giving you many arguments, similarities and differences so that you can decide which of the 2 cities you would like the most and which one could best suit your travel intentions. You will find our (totally subjective) opinion at the end of the article.
If you find yourself in the difficult situation of having to choose between Córdoba and Granada, here are some tips to help you in this difficult undertaking. The arguments that could make you lean towards one or the other are:
Most important monuments
Both cities have a monument above all, which we could count as the seventh and eighth wonders of the world. Both are symbols and representations of the most extraordinary works of Islamic art as well as some of the greatest architectural constructions of all time.
- Córdoba -> The Mosque - Cathedral (Moschea - Cattedrale): the most important monument in Córdoba:
- Property of cultural interest
- World Heritage Site since 1994
- Included among the 12 treasures of Spain
- Awarded as the best tourist attraction in Europe and sixth in the world in a competition organized by TripAdvisor
- In 2018, nearly 2 million people visited the Mezquita. It broke its record and became one of the most visited monuments in Spain (the third)
- Other wonders to visit: Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Roman Bridge, los Patios (the Courtyards), the Judería.
- Granada -> The Alhambra: the most important monument in Granada:
- Property of cultural interest.
- World Heritage Site since 1984.
- In 2018, more than 2 million people visited the Alhambra. It is the second most visited monument in Spain (after the Sagrada Familia de Barcelona).
- Other unmissable places: the Cathedral, el Mirador de San Nicolás (a viewpoint where you can admire the Alhambra), the Albaicín district, the Sacromonte.
Differences between the Mezquita of Córdoba and the Alhambra of Granada
Mosque of Cordoba
- It can be visited in an hour. 2 hours maximum if you are crazy about photography.
- Its extension is 23.000 m2.
- There is no need to book in advance. Admission can be purchased directly on site. You will have to queue up a bit to get to the ticket office, but nothing dramatic.
- You will be able to do the visit in total freedom.
- The ticket price is 10 €.
- La Mezquita has only one outdoor space, the "Courtyard of the Orange trees" (the Orange Courtyard).
Alhambra of Granada
- To visit it you will need 3 hours minimum. Surely you will also need 4 or 5, because it is to stop at every corner to take pictures. By exaggerating, you could even spend the whole day in there, perhaps bringing you a sandwich or eating somewhere in there.
- The extension of the part of the Alhambra which is located between the walls is of 104.697 m2. El Generalife (located outside the wall) is from 117.378 m2 (between the Palace, gardens and vegetable garden). To give an idea you can consult this map of the Alhambra with the recommended itinerary (about 3,5km).
- Need absolutely book your tickets in advance. Indeed, it is normally needed a few months in advance (especially during the summer and Christmas period).
- You must take into account that during the booking you will have to select the time to visit a part of the complex, Los Palacios Nazaríes. This unmissable part of the Alhambra can only be visited at the selected time. So you will need to plan your visit with this time in mind.
- Il official ticket price is 14 €. We say “official” because in case you want to buy it, but there is no more availability on the official website, you could pay it from € 35 upwards, BUT with guide included.
- See also: how to buy tickets for the Alhambra.
- The Alhambra has so many beautiful gardens, where to sit and rest or where to take hundreds of photographs.
Alhambra of Granada Mosque of Cordoba
The style of the city
We want to immediately underline that the affirmations we will make later we obviously do in a very general sense. Both cities have a mind-boggling charm and it makes it difficult to describe them in a few words.
Córdoba and Granada are very different in style of city. Córdoba, for us, is more Andalusian city in features. With low houses all white, flower pots hanging on the walls ... in short, more particular and picturesque (as far as the historic center is concerned).
Granada, on the other hand, is more cosmopolitan. The center is made up of tall, newer buildings. “University life” is also very lively. There are many young people from all over the world who come to Granada for their university studies. For this reason, the youthful atmosphere is breathed in the streets of the city, where you can find more clubs and more "nightlife".
This is not to say that Granada is all in a modern style, rather it is enough to move a little and visit the Albaicín district or the Sacromonte, to feel totally transported to another era with a very fascinating atmosphere.
Situation with respect to the sea
In the province of Granada there is the sea. If you were in the mood for a bit of the beach or maybe a nice walk in the salty air, you could go to Motril in 50 minutes or to Almuñécar in 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Córdoba has no sea. The closest beach is in Málaga, about 2 hours by car.
Cordova it is the largest Andalusian town (its extension is 1.253 km²). The population in 2018 was 328.841 inhabitants. The city of Granada instead it is smaller (88 km²) as its population density is much higher than in Córdoba (232.208 inhabitants).
Is there an airport in Córdoba? and in Granada, is there an airport?
Both cities have theairport, but Granada is the only one to be directly connected with Italy. There is a direct flight Milan - Granada with EasyJet company. Córdoba airport is smaller and only domestic flights operate. So if you want to go to Córdoba by plane you should stop in Barcelona or Madrid.
Period of the year.
The time of year could also be an aspect to consider when choosing to visit Granada or Córdoba.
Speaking of temperatures, it must be said that both cities are hot in summer. But if we had to choose a city that is warmer than the other, that is certainly Córdoba. There is always some degree of difference between the 2 cities. The proximity of Granada to the mountains and the sea means that temperatures are cooler than in the capital of Cordoba. Obviously, even in winter, for the same reasons, it will be colder in Granada. In terms of temperatures, spring and autumn are the seasons with the mildest climate and therefore ideal for exploring and discovering these beautiful cities.
Important events and holidays
In this part we show you which are the most important festivals in Granada and Córdoba. You can take it as an opportunity to get to know the city in its biggest and most festive days. Or seen from another point of view, like the dates to avoid, since they will be full of people and overcrowded. Consider that if you prefer the first option, the accommodations will obviously cost more and the availability of the same is limited, so you will have to book well in advance.
The most important holidays are between the month of May and June.
- Cordoba Fair: fine maggio.
- Festival de los Patios: during the month of May. In 2019 it was from 6 to 19.
- Cruces de Córdoba: early May.
- Feria de Granada: mid-June.
In Córdoba and Granada, as in all of Andalusia, it is very important Semana Santa,. (What would be Easter week in Italy - between March and April). In Andalusia it is a week where the streets of the historic centers are filled with devoted and non-devotees, who take part in the heartfelt processions full of religious images and sentiment.
Distance between Córdoba and Granada
In case you have decided to visit both cities, below we show you how to travel the distance that separates them:
- In the car: 206km (2 hours 14 min). There are no tolls.
- On the train: the AVE (high speed train) arrives in just over 1 hour and a half. Depending on the time of day, you can find tickets from € 24. They can be bought from the Renfe website or directly at the station ticket office (even on the same day).
- In pullman: with the ALSA company, the ticket costs from € 15 each way. Travel time is 2 hours 40 minutes.
- With an organized excursion: From Granada: Córdoba and Mezquita 1 day tour.
We have already said many times in this article that both cities are beautiful. But if we really had to express a preference on the question “Is Córdoba or Granada more beautiful?”, Our totally subjective opinion is: as a city, we like Córdoba more. It is not for nothing that the historic center has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Its Jewish quarter (la Judería), the white houses, flower pots everywhere, narrow streets with many details, particular balconies… we fell in love with it!
However, (there is always a though), if we had to choose between Mezquita or Alhambra, we decide without a doubt the Alhambra. Its beauty, its greatness, its majesty, its power, its… ok enough. So the dilemma goes back to a 50 and 50 choice again!
The decision is obviously yours alone. We hope this information will be useful for you to make your choice. It is really difficult to answer the question of whether Córdoba or Granada is more beautiful. Indeed do you know what we tell you?
Visit them all 2 and hasta luegoooo! 🙂