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If You Go Anywhere in May, Go to Córdoba, Spain

cordoba spain may

From 2010 to 2011, I was lucky enough to call Córdoba, Spain home. Nestled between Sevilla and Granada, two rockstar Spanish cities in the south, Córdoba often gets overlooked on traditional itineraries. Many times, tour buses just stop there for a day trip to visit the famous Mezquita mosque-cathedral if at all.

But believe me, Cordoba has way more to offer; it is a vibrant, traditional city, full of color. Unfortunately it took me about 6 months to truly fall in love with it.

Between having to commute an absurd amount of time to a job I hated, to a horrible apartment with awful roommates and no heat, to dealing with a long distance breakup, I pretty much was a disaster my first winter there. Grumpy and always frozen, I couldn’t wait until spring. Luckily, all my coworkers and friends repeatedly told me over and over again, just wait til spring, wait until May. May is the best time to visit, they said.

And they were not wrong. Córdoba during most of the year rocks.

But May in Córdoba is PHENOMENAL.

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

The perfect month between rainy, chilly winter and before the scorching summer sun appears, May is the perfect time to visit Spain. Apart from the fact that city literally blossoms and smells like flowers, proving the old adage, April showers bring May flowers true, there is so much to do! Under blue skies, everyone goes outside, enjoying drinks and tapas on the plentiful terraces in the sunshine, and everyone gets excited for the festivals.

In May, there is a festival every week in Cordoba, turning the city into one giant vacation (details here). There is always something going on; it was just remarkable. I don’t think I was sober any weekend (or week day for that matter) from late April to June.

If you like experiencing local culture and events, go to Cordoba in May. All of these festivals are very popular with Spaniards but there are hardly any foreign tourists.

cordoba spain may

Cata del Vino Montilla-Moriles (April 17-21, 2013)

Cata del vino is a wine tasting festival that kicks off a month of holidays. The Cordoba region is well known for its white wine varieties. Since southern Spain is so hot and dry, compared with La Rioja in the north where I lived last year, the grapes grow differently, and chilled, dry white wines are more popular. At the entrance you buy a ticket to get you in with 5 drink “tastings” and a free glass, and you can go from stand to stand and pick out and try hundreds of varieties of white wine. But remember that “tasting” size in Spain is no different from a regular glass size, so be careful.

In fact, the wine sellers are so friendly they don’t usually even look at your ticket to see how many glasses you have left, letting you try as many wines as possible. This means bring food. We were naïve, and had to shell out for food there, which wasn’t too cheap, whereas the seasoned locals, brought little coolers and bags of pre-sliced Spanish ham and full tortillas to share and snack on. Smart thinking.

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

Las Cruces de Mayo (May 1-5, 2013)

In Spanish, cruces means “crosses,” and in this colorful festival, the various catholic brotherhoods around town, cofradías, each place a giant cross made of flowers outside their church in a little square for a few days. These are the same people who walk in the processions during Semana Santa. In the religious paradox so often found in Spain, the brotherhoods also set up bars and stands next to the crosses outside with music blasting to raise money. Bring on the mixed wine drinks!

From the local tourist office you can pick up a map with the crosses’ locations around Cordoba marked out, and it’s great fun to go out with friends and hop from one cross location to another, eating and drinking all day long and all night long. At one of these stands near my apartment, I attempted to dance the famous flamenco sevillanas for the first time, after about a bucket of sangria first.

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

Los Patios (May 8-19, 2013)

This is by far my favorite May event in Córdoba. With spring in full swing, all of the flowers around town come alive. Córdoba is traditional Spain at its finest, with an extensive old quarter filled with winding cobblestone streets and whitwashed walls that keep the houses cool in the hot summers. Many of the old houses and apartments are situated around an interior patio. You walk through the front gate, and the rooms and apartments are off to the sides of a square center.

In the past, these patios were turned into gardens with a well in the center, and were used for just about everything. Families planted beautiful pots of flowers everywhere, from pots hanging on the walls to huge burnt red terracotta vessels on the ground. In May, the flowers are in full bloom and literally cover these patios from head to foot in fragrant flowers. It’s a wonder to behold, really.

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

Since these are private houses still in use today, the patios are closed to the public during the year, and are only opened for two weeks in May when the families compete in a contest for the most beautiful patio in Cordoba. The patios are marked by two little pine trees outside the gate, most are congregated in the old quarter – and they are all free to visit. You can pick up a map from the tourist office that has all the competing patios listed.

When I was in Córdoba, I took the time to visit each and every patio, hoarding thousands and thousands of pictures. It can get crowded, especially on the weekends, since busloads of Spaniards come to town to visit this famous festival, so it’s best to go early or midday, or during the week unless you want a million heads in your photos.

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

La Feria ( May 25-1, 2013)

But like always, Córdoba saves the best for last: the culminating festival in May is the most fun: la feria (fair). Nothing like the skeezy borderline dangerous fairs we have in the US, í are a true part of southern Spain. Each and every village and city in Spain has one or two major holidays during the year, and Córdoba’s main festival is the feria. Ferias are popular in southern Spain, where girls break out their flamenco dresses and boys squeeze into the traditional gypsy costumes of their ancestors to celebrate.

The most famous Spanish feria is in Seville, the major city in Andalucía, but I wholeheartedly disagree that it’s the best. In general, Ferias are set up in certain areas of town and are made up of tents (casetas) where you go inside and order drinks, food, listen to music and of course, dance. In Sevilla, the casetas are private and you can only go inside if you know someone and are invited. Um, where’s the fun in that?

Well in Cordoba, all the casetas are public AND there are hundreds, crisscrossed like streets. Every year the feria is set up across the river underneath a magnificently lit entrance that mimics the famous Mezquita in town. Since Córdoba is smaller than Sevilla, I always run into people I know out and about, making it really fun and familiar. The typical drink ordered in the casetas is called rebujito, which is the dry white wine typical from the region mixed with 7-up and ice. May sound gross but on a hot sunny day, it’s delicious! Just be careful as it goes down like water! Also during feria, the bullfights begin, with many going on at the ring in town, if you are feeling adventurous.

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

How to get there

Córdoba is really well connected to the rest of Spain. It is on the AVE high speed train line to the south, less than 2 hours from Madrid, and an hour from Seville and Málaga on the south coast. Spain’s train company is called Renfe. Córdoba is also really well connected by bus, you can check all the bus times and destinations here. If you want to fly to Spain, I usually would fly into Madrid, take the metro to the AVE train station at Atocha and catch the train to Córdoba, but if you want to fly closer to home, Málaga has a major international airport, and Seville and Granada also have small airports, some serviced by EasyJet, Iberia and the dreaded Ryanair. You can also hire a car in Spain in Malaga or Sevilla and easily drive to Córdoba, getting see some of the spectacular hill towns – but be sure to check the fuel terms and conditions.

Have you ever been to Córdoba, Spain? Would you like to go in May now? Where’s the best to place to visit in spring?

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

cordoba spain may

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60 Responses to If You Go Anywhere in May, Go to Córdoba, Spain

  1. Cassandra April 19, 2013 at 5:33 am #

    Yay for feria! I went to Córdoba for the feria last year and found it fascinating! Walking over the puente romano and wandering into the fair grounds really makes it feel as if you are going back a hundred years. It was also a cool experience in that you can discover two ferias–feria by day, and feria by night!

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      Definitely right, very different from day to night. I went once during the day but it was unbearably hot :/

  2. inigo de montoya April 19, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    good morning, I have one thing clear ….
    if I want to travel and see Spain, I think there is no better way to visit this site, because it really explains everything in detail.
    I’ve been in cordoba many times in my life, but I knew nothing of the crosses.
    interesting ….
    I will continue visiting this web

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      I hope you get to visit during cruces de mayo, it’s really fun!

  3. Trevor Huxham April 19, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    Aaaaaaa I am TOTALLY going to Córdoba for the first weekend of the patios this year! So excited. I’m only staying for 24 hours (Thursday night >> Friday day) but I can’t wait to experience one of my favorite cities in Andalucía in the spring. 🙂

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      It’s magical! I hope you have fun!

  4. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas April 19, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    I have a soft spot in my heart for Cordoba. It’s beautiful at any time of year, and the festivals are ridiculously fun.

    I feel the same way about April in Seville – the azahar is in bloom, the Fiestas de la Primavera arrancan, the terraces start to open up. It’s a festive time of year before the heat rolls in! I do agree about the Fair in Sevilla. I belong to a caseta, but can only get on person in at a time! It’s elitist and a bit overkill, but thanks for my Novio and my connections, I always have a place to go and a horse carriage to ride in!

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      You’re really lucky with those connections xx

  5. Elizabeth Bostick April 19, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I am so, so psyched about going to Córdoba for the Patios. My last trip to the city was a bit of a wash, considering I managed to go on the one day the Mezquita was randomly closed for a funeral. I can’t wait to go back and enjoy the flowers AND the Mezquita…hopefully.

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      It’s so beautiful! Also the Mezquita is free and empty in the early morning while they set up for mass 😀

  6. Christine April 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Definitely agree that May is the best time to visit Spain. I never made it to Cordoba in my 3 years in the south–hopefully someday…especially for Los Patios!

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Patios is amazing in May! I hope you get to see them one year 😀

  7. Captain Miller April 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    “Nestled between Sevilla and Granada” well, as a “jaenero” I’m really hurt 🙂

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      haha forgive me?

      I think 99 times out of 100 if I were to say Jaen, nobody would have a clue where I meant

  8. Lauren @ roamingtheworld April 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    hi Liz,
    came looking for your tips for Logroño but always end up staying a while longer

    Spent a weekend in Cordoba in December and can’t imagine not having heat. eck.
    But love all the flowers in bloom. WOuld definitely be fun to visit in May during all the festivals!

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      It was HORRIBLE!!!

  9. Chris Pollard April 20, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    The colours look fantastic! Reading this actually made me think: I should go to Spain. Funny how it used to an hour away. Now it’s on the other side of the world to me.. Ha. Definitely a trip for the future though.

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

      That’s what I like to hear 😀

  10. Julika April 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    All those flowers and colors are breathtakingly beautiful! I can’t wait to finally go back to the Iberian Penisula someday — especially since I’ve never been in May!

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

      Go in the spring if you can, Spain is so beautiful when all the flowers are in bloom!

  11. Lauren April 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    One of my best friends studied abroad in Córdoba last year and has been begging me to visit it with her in May if we both get accepted to teach in Spain this coming year. This post just gives me another reason why I should! It all looks so beautiful!

    • Liz May 16, 2013 at 1:47 am #

      It really is! I hope you both make it!

  12. Casey @ A Cruising Couple April 26, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Ahhh I just adored Cordoba. I wasn’t there for any of the festivals (I lived in Sevilla at the time, so I just stayed there) but Cordoba is definitely one of those cities I wish I could have delved into a little more. The colors really are phenomenal, aren’t they? Great photos 🙂

    • Liz May 16, 2013 at 1:47 am #

      thanks!

    • Ismail January 27, 2015 at 9:26 am #

      Hi Liz Carlos , I want just say Hi, I didn’t visit anyplace in the world even Tunisia,” it’s near to Algeria ” , well , I want to visit Spain next holiday (inshalah) with friends and we don’t know yet which place more nicely and wonderful ,Can you help and give us an advice about which town could we spend good moments ?

  13. Clare April 28, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    I need to visit Cordoba! I fell in love with Andalucia when my sister lived in Jerez. I’m aching to get back to that part of the world. I loved all her reports of festivals! There seemed to be something going on every week. I loved staying with her!

    • Liz May 16, 2013 at 1:47 am #

      Jerez is great! Love it there

  14. Andrea April 29, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    I went to Malaga, Seville and Granada but missed Cordoba. What a shame! But Spain stole my heart an d I’m planning my return this fall, so perhaps Cordoba will be on my list? Did you ever do the Camino Trail at all? That’s high on my bucket list too!

    • Liz May 16, 2013 at 1:48 am #

      I really want to do the camino one day. I lived in Logroño which is on the trail, I hope you make it to Cordoba one day 🙂

  15. Stef May 5, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Hi! Great post! I’ve been to Córdoba in August 2010 and loved these small lanes and the white houses. It must be so stunning with all the flowers on the walls. Probably I should think of going back there next year in May, seems incredible and I love festivals 😉
    Have a nice weekend and enjoy your travels!
    Stef

    • Liz May 16, 2013 at 1:49 am #

      Thanks Stef!

  16. The Traveling Fool May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Looks like a fantastic place. I have never been in Spain but it is one of the places that is on my list and Cordoba is definitely a place I would like to see.

  17. Endri Hasanaj May 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Woah! I’m really impressed! Reading this was truly enjoyable what not with all the great pictures. you did a great job with this post and it makes me want to read the rest of your articles! I was once in Spain but sadly I did not get to see Cordoba. I went to Granada instead and it was a very fun vacation. I wrote something about it: http://tripandtravelblog.com/almunecar-in-granada-a-real-gem-in-spain/ I know it’s only mediocre compared to yours but I wanted to try, let me know what you think.
    Greetings from Athens

    • Kelly June 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Have you ever visited Priego de Cordoba?!

      • Liz June 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        No I haven’t, why?

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  19. Eric July 9, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Great photos! What an amazingly vibrant place. I’ll put it on my list for the next time I hitchhike to Europe. Love the site, keep it up.

  20. Eric July 9, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Great photos! What an amazingly vibrant place. Now its on my list of places to visit the next time I hitchhike to Europe. Love the site, keep it up.

  21. Home Page October 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    Just had to stress I’m glad I stumbled on the website.

  22. shashank March 28, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    Hi Liz,

    Interesting! 🙂 We are a family of 4 from India encouraged by your article to go to Cordoba in (end) May2014. But dont know anyone there. We very much want to see the feria from close & experience it. Is there any Bed & Breakfast kind of arrangement there? So we pay, yet can experience?

    What are the temperatures in May/June in Cordoba? Bcos what’s hot for us here may not be the same for Europeans. Pl. reply asap since we’re already late in our planning. Tx!!

  23. Aarti April 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi Liz,

    It was lovely going through your blog on Spain. So very informative. My friends and I are planning a trip the first week of June.

    Would appreciate if you could please let me know of any festivals/fun things to do around that time. At the moment we’ve only planned for 3 cities, Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla (like any other tourist would 🙂 )

    Any suggestions/advice would really help. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks!

  24. Jessica of Curiosity Travels May 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    Ek! I really want to make it to the patio festival. It looks like it would be an Instagrammin dream! haha

    FIngers crossed I can make something work this month and make it down there!

  25. Ajah June 12, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Liz, where did you live when you were an auxiliar in Córdoba? I just found out my schools are in Montoro.

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  27. Clinton April 19, 2015 at 2:03 am #

    Hola, deseaba agradecerle por la información que usted brinda.
    He navegado por su dominio y la velocidad de carga es buenísima, agradecido
    por la calidad de navegación para los navegantes

    Estoy impactado de saber que se puede llegar esta clase de información con tanta
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  28. ruby August 22, 2015 at 4:49 am #

    spain my fav place to travel

  29. Joe C April 4, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    Very nice article with lots of amazing photos! Bravo! And thank you very much! Going to the Feria this May for one night!

  30. Roger May 16, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    Hi Liz,

    I just found your great blog. Four of us will be in the area in early to midJune for a week. Any suggestions?

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