Córdoba's streets are made for walking, and you couldn't even fit a car in the winding thoroughfares of the Jewish quarter, but if you want to explore the province and the nearby towns, you should rent one. Alternatively, hire a GPS-equipped electric buggy from www.blobject.es - they're small enough to squeeze into the tightest spaces.
Seville and Malaga have the closest airports, both about two hours away by car and both hosting regular flights to/from Luton, Gatwick and Stansted. Easyjet is the most prolific airline if you're coming from the UK.
The Renfe's high-speed AVE trains link Córdoba to Madrid (under two hours) and Malaga (under an hour) and to Seville in an amazing 25 minutes. The train station's to the north of the city, just off the Avenida de América - bus number 3 ferries you between there and the historic centre.
+34 for Spain; 857/957 for Córdoba.
The Origin of the Mosque of Córdoba: Secrets of Andalucia by Marvin H Mills; Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Extraordinary Story of El Cordobes by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Córdoba has a heavyweight intellectual heritage; try dabbling in the works of Seneca, Averroes, or Maimonides if ancient philosophy floats your canoe.
Do go / Don't Go
As with the rest of inland Spain - scorchio summer months are to be avoided. Spring months such as May can be the most blissfully balmy.
Córdoba's most characteristic dish is salmorejo, a thick soup made from puréed tomato, garlic, vinegar and bread. Like gazpacho, it's served cold, and the bowl comes flanked with Serrano ham and boiled eggs. Moor-influenced berenjenas con miel (aubergine with honey) is unlikely to become a worldwide culinary craze, but the Córdobese sure like it. Pork dishes occupy the most menu-space, with the leader of the herd being flamenquin - thin slices of pork tenderloin rolled in Serrano ham, dusted in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs then deep-fried.
Petite Córdoba is a very walkable town… but if you must resort to wheels then Radio Taxi has the number to call www.radiotaxiCórdoba.com; (+34 95 776 4444).
Small-change-shaped gestured are always appreciated, but tipping is not common Spanish practice.
In addition to a taste for ham and an eye for a good garden, you'll be best served by the usual southern-Spain staples: sturdy shoes, decent sunglasses, and an airy wardrobe.
The Mezquita Cathedral is the sparkliest jewel in Córdoba's crown; once one of the largest and most impressive mosques in the world, it's now a Roman Catholic cathedral. Seemingly endless rows of red and white brick arches lead you through a wide range of artistic influences from Islamic to Gothic and Baroque. The light beaming through the ornate wooden windows is especially inspiring. Andalucia is the heartland of flamenco, and you can catch energetic daily performances at Tablao et Cardenal (+34 95 748 3320), beside the Mezquita.
For jewellery, silverware and traditional pottery, make a beeline to the labyrinthine lanes of the Judería (Jewish quarter), where you'll find Arte Zoco (+34 95 720 4033), a collective of artisans and craftspeople you can watch in their workshops. Custom-made lather goods are found in Taller Meryan (+34 95 747 5902) on Calleja de las Flores, inside a 250-year-old building. Matilde Cano, (+34 95 749 2247) on Calle Gondomar that's been bringing Andalucian innovation to the international catwalk for more than 30 years. Azzait (+34 95 776 7144) on Avenida Córdoba serves a selection of olive oil and olive oil-inspired products, such as soaps and candles.
Climb the Torre de los Leones and/or the Torre de Homenaje at the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos for knockout panoramas of the gardens, the Guadalquivir river, and the Roman bridge.
Gastronomes should visit the nearby town of Alcolea, home to the enlightening and appetising Museo del Aceite Carbonell (+34 957 320400). It's a grand plantation house that offers three free tours through the history of olive oil production (plus lots of tastings) every weekday. Call in advance to book a place.
January Córdoba's Christmas parade, the Cavalcade of the Three Kings, passes through the city early in the month. The mediaeval market takes over the main square a few weeks later, filling the streets with stalls, acrobats, jesters and peasants. March/April Semana Santa: Holy Week is an moving, incense-scented affair in Córdoba, with a series of street processions remembering the Passion. May is a big month for the Córdobese (especially in terms of horticulture), kicking off with the Battle of the Flowers parade, followed by the Las Cruces de Mayo celebrating the coming of spring, and the Córdoba Patio Festival, polished off by the late-May Feria, marked with fireworks and music. July The Córdoba Guitar Festival brings an international A-list of strummers to the city.