Another wonderful surprise on our tour around Argentina: Córdoba. The country’s second largest city is full of rich colonial heritage, monumental ‘fin de secle’ architecture and lush green parks. However, what struck us the most were the city’s fascinating open spaces: an ex convent converted into a cultural center, a huge concrete ramp built for sliding and picnic and an ex industrial neighborhood rebuilt for arts and crafts with stylish bars and designer shops. Not to mention that gorgeous mountains, rivers and lakes surround the city. As you can see there are plenty of cool things to do in Córdoba, the heart of Argentina!
This post will help you organize 2 days in Córdoba, Argentina
Things to Do in Córdoba Argentina
- 1 Things to Do in Córdoba Argentina
- 2 Day 1 Colonial Córdoba and City Center
- 3 Day 2 Córdoba Contemporary Architecture and Parks
- 4 Where to Stay in Córdoba
- 5 Weekends in Córdoba: Paseo de los Artes
- 6 Going Out
- 7 How to Get to Córdoba
- 8 How Many Days in Córdoba?
Day 1 Colonial Córdoba and City Center
Founded in 1553, Córdoba is one of Argentina’s oldest cities and one of Spain’s first colonial capitals in the Americas. The majority of Cordoba’s landmarks are located inside the large city center. The area is roughly limited by River Cañada on the west, River Suquía on the north and east and Av. Pueyrredón and Sarmiento Park on the south. It is full of beautiful architecture and lively pedestrian streets. The most distinguished colonial buildings include the 17th century Jesuit Block, the Cathedral and the Cabildo (seat of the colonial government). The nicest neoclassical buildings are the Provincial Government and the Courthouse.
The wonderfully restored Jesuit Block, world heritage site, is home to the Domestic Chapel, the National College of Montserrat, the Library Mayor, the Jesus Company Church and the Residence. The original headquarters of the University of Cordoba, one of the oldest universities in America, are here too. The first Jesuits arrived in Córdoba in 1589, although they officially established their base in 1599. There was no Argentina at the time, but a largely unpopulated area. Actually, Córdoba was part of the Jesuit province of Paraguay. They believed Córdoba was the best place to spread Christianity in the region.
Cathedral of Córdoba
The temple dominates the main square (San Martin), the geographical center of the city. Córdoba’s main church is the Our Lady of the Assumption Church or the Cathedral of Córdoba. Construction of the temple began in 1582, but in 1677 most of the original structure collapsed. As you will see, the majestic Baroque façade matches perfectly the richly decorated interior. Go inside and prepare to be dazzled: the silver altar crafted in Peru and the decorated dome are exquisite. As you can imagine, the tombs of several prominent Argentineans are inside the Cathedral.
The Cabildos were municipal corporations initially created in the Canary Islands and later also in America and the Philippines. They used to serve as local administration offices. The Córdoba Cabildo is one of the last built in Argentina. The first building on the site appeared in the late 16th century, but it was a wooden structure. The current look is largely the result of the reconstruction from the late 18th century. The Cabildo is known for its two patios, a chapel, and the covered arcade along the façade. Apart from being the seat of the local administration, it was also a prison, police headquarters, auditorium, tourist information, and a museum.
The Palace of Justice of Córdoba (also known as the Courthouse), is another landmark building in downtown Córdoba. The square is lovely, perfect to rest and people watch. It is the typical building of its time. Thus, its style reflects the European architecture of the beginning of the 20th century. The large tympanum with a frieze above four pillars of Ionic order is the centerpiece of the clearly neoclassical main facade. The highlight of the Courthouse is the so-called Hall of Lost Steps and its four characteristic motifs: history, belief, liberty, and justice.
Day 2 Córdoba Contemporary Architecture and Parks
As much as we loved walking about Cordoba’s beautiful city center we were overwhelmed by the amount of cool new sites. We loved the interesting architecture of the Centro Cívico del Bicentenario, Emilio Caraffa Museum and the usability of the fabulous Giant Slide – Cordoba Cultural Centre. Yes, architectural works should be pretty, but above all useful! Additionally Córdoba houses several brilliantly executed Urban Rehabilitation Projects. Our favorites are the Paseo de Los Artes in the bohemian Güemes neighborhood (ex factory) and cultural center Paseo del Buen Pastor (ex convent). Of course you should not miss Córdoba’s green lungs, the Sarmiento Park.
Centro Cívico del Bicentenario
The Centro Cívico del Bicentenario is the new seat of Córdoba’s Provincial Government. The previous regional government was at the so-called Casa de las Tejas. The city demolished the uninteresting building to make room for a large park and a new civic center. This center has two buildings. The local administration is in the perforated tower, while the governor, public prosecutor, and registry offices are in the lower building. Abstract drawings by famous Hungarian artist Vasarely inspired the quirky tower. It is a tall prism made of triangles that play well with light and shadow.
Córdoba Cultural Center
Without a doubt, our favorite sight is the spectacular Córdoba Cultural Center. The large concrete structure houses the city’s historic archive and an auditorium. What caught our eye was the giant slide on the roof and the elegant twisting tower. In a wise move, the city government chose the design following an architectural contest. The winning proposal incorporated the surrounding area into a simple shape. The result? A nice elegant building that is at the same time a very popular playground. When we visited, the entire place was booming with activity, kids were sliding, and families were having lunch. Of course, we couldn’t resist and down we came sliding.
Paseo del Buen Pastor
Opened in 2007, the fabulous Paseo del Buen Pastor is a cultural, recreational, and commercial center. The center occupies the place of a former woman prison from 1906 abandoned in the 70s. Unfortunately, and due to its condition, the building had to go, but the attached chapel survived and incorporated into the new project. Pop in to check the original frescoes painted by renowned artists like Emilio Caraffa. The new shopping arcade has an exhibition center, an event hall, restaurants, bars, shops, a dancing fountain, and a large open-air area. The imposing neo-gothic Church of the Sacred Heart is next to the center. Visiting it is one of the mandatory things to do in Córdoba and Argentina.
While Córdoba Province boasts some outstanding hills and mountains, inside the city there only a handful of small parks and river promenades. On the other hand, south of the center lays Cordoba’s green epicenter: the enormous Sarmiento Park. We liked it so much, that we stayed there for hours. It was wonderful to just stroll around and people watch; it seems that the locals use it as an open air living room! We had lunch in a small kiosk right in the middle of the park. And then we walked by the gorgeous Hipólito Yrigoyen Avenue to get back to our hotel.
Where to Stay in Córdoba
The city is big and doesn’t have metro, though there is an efficient bus system. However, the historical core, downtown, is the best place to stay. Therefore, we stayed at the strategically located NH Panorama in the center, by the River Cañada. It offers great service, comfy rooms, and views over the river. The weather was superb so we walked almost everywhere. There are tones of coffee houses, restaurants and bars to chill and grab a bite too. Other great hotels in the area are the Caseros 248 Hotel, the Windsor Hotel and Tower and the Azur Real Hotel Boutique.
Weekends in Córdoba: Paseo de los Artes
Right in the center Güemes, where the nightlife is, you’ll find one of Córdoba’s coolest places. The Paseo de las Artes is where local handcraft artists have been showcasing their works for over 25 years. You’ll love the trees that line the Cañada River and the Art deco buildings of the 30s. Tiny Pasaje Revol is the epicenter of the Paseo. Antiques and recycled products are sold here on weekends and holidays. The following street, Achaval Rodriguez, is for thematic events. You’ll find flowers, plants, food, and kids fair here. There is also a shopping arcade (Paseo Colonial), a museum (Iberoamericano), and a gallery (Casa Tomada).
Cordoba’s nightlife happens pretty much everywhere. As we were telling you, it’s a student city thus very lively. The area around Güemes neighborhood and Marcelo T. de Alvear Avenue is packed with bars. Remember that Argentineans party late. It all begins with dinner, followed by drinks and at 2AM dancing. We went out to dinner at one of the restaurants on Dr. T. Achával Rodríguez Street in Güemes. Then we went partying to Zen, Cordoba’s best gay disco. We danced the night away! The disco has a nice open lounge, two dance floors, and a restaurant.
How to Get to Córdoba
Córdoba has connections to the rest of the country. As much as we love trains, they are not the best way of traveling around Argentina. The country is way too big and scarcely populated. However, trains still run from Córdoba to Buenos Aires, but the journey is too long. Therefore we recommend taking the bus. They are frequent, inexpensive, and quite comfortable. For us, the best option is the night bus with fully reclining seats. That’s the best way to survive Argentina’s extra-long distances. There are also buses to La Rioja, which is a great starting point for Talampaya and Ischigualasto. Likewise, there are buses to Mendoza to the west and Salta to the north. If you rather travel by plane, Córdoba’s International Airport Ingeniero Taravella is only 10km away. Take note that most flights to Cordoba leave from Buenos Aires’s downtown airport.
How Many Days in Córdoba?
Unfortunately, we only spent 2 days in Córdoba. Thus we feel we barely scratched the surface. If you have just one day, you should explore the historical center and visit one or two contemporary museums/districts. If you have at least an extra day in Córdoba, maybe you can go on a day excursion. Apparently, La Cumbrecita and Punilla Valley are fabulous. We will have to go some other time!
We took an overnight bus from San Juan Province and could see how green the province is. It is our one recurrent problem: time. No matter how long we stay in a place, there’s never enough time! Guess we will have to go back.