Tips for visitors
You can travel to Cordoba during the summer low season if you plan for the heat, establish reasonable expectations and imitate Andalusian habits during your stay. The Iberians, the Romans and the Moors dealt with the climate by developing appropriate customs, and you should, too. In addition to getting a first-hand feel for the climate, you'll have the chance to experience the benefits of gazpacho , siestas , Spanish nightlife and swimming pools. If you're here in the summer, you'll also have the opportunity to choose from concerts in the International Guitar Festival and take part in other cultural events that take place after 10:30pm , when temperatures start to drop and a breeze blows down from the Sierra.
Whether you are in Cordoba , Las Vegas , Cairo , Phoenix or Rome , the following tips will keep you in shape for sightseeing. And remember: think cool!
Thermometer shock: does it really say that?
If you're used to mild summer weather in the northern latitudes, with partially cloudy skies, temperatures between 60-80ºF and occasional showers, inland Andalusia can be a shock. Temperature readings at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on the big, black clock-thermometers surrounded by traffic and hot cement have been spotted showing nearly 50ºC during the worst heat waves.
If you're wondering how much that is in Fahrenheit , my answer is that it's better not to know, but that you should get in tune with southern Spain 's summer schedule as quickly as possible if you happen to coincide with a heat wave.
Are Cordoba and Seville Just Too Hot in July and August?
What one cannot deny is that inland, southern Spain is not a popular tourist destination in July and August, when locals and tens of thousands of foreign tourists are rushing down to the Costa del Sol and its beaches. The Malaga coast is cooler, but it is also humid and crowded; and the bargain destinations are overbuilt and noisy. People who were very excited about coming to visit Cordoba and see its attractions need not be dissuaded by the temperatures if they are ready to follow a few guidelines. In fact, if you plan right, you can have the best of both worlds: time for sightseeing and time for a relaxing poolside holiday.
So if you're interested in coming to Cordoba in the summer, by all means do, but first get informed about how Andalusians get through these hot months.
How to deal with the Andalusian heat like a pro:
- Dress adequately . At over 90ºF, jeans, thick t-shirts and closed shoes become uncomfortable. Try to bring loose, light, cotton or linen clothing. Good walking sandals are ideal, or summer shoes with thin, low-cut socks.
- Start early . Have a good breakfast and get your sightseeing in from 9am and about 1pm--do your walking itineraries earlier (especially in more open areas), and leave the Mosque and museums for later.
- Taxi! If you have been exploring a long way from where you want to finish at mid-day, and you aren't looking forward to a long walk back when shade is getting scarce, treat yourself to an air-conditioned taxi to squeeze more out of your daylight sightseeing hours.
- Don't dehydrate . Carry a bottle of water with you and drink regularly. Locals insist on the danger of drinking ice-cold liquids when you're hot.
- Keep to the shade . Stay out of the direct sun whenever possible while sightseeing. Do like the locals and take advantage of the narrow, twisty streets and walk on the shady side. If there are porticos or awnings, walk under them. Think of the sun in terms of total daily exposure, and be conservative about the doses you take. If you overheat, splash yourself with water from a fountain.
- Lunch late . Have lunch at 2:30 or 3:00pm with everyone else. If you can't wait that long, have a tapa to hold you over so that you can make the most of the morning hours. Be careful with excessive alcohol, which throws off your body's thermostat.
- Swimming PooI tans . If you want to get a tan, use a good sun block and cool off frequently in a swimming pool in the afternoon and early evening, once your sightseeing is finished. Don't spoil your evening fun and the next day's activities with a throbbing headache or a searing sunburn.
- Get inside . At 4pm nobody is walking along those narrow, whitewashed streets, and neither should you. It's siesta time and after lunch there's nothing better to recharge your batteries and forget the worries you left at home than to get in a good nap, with the blinds drawn. Specialists say that the light 10-15 minute variety are the best, but in the summer people tend to sleep longer to make up for late nights and early starts.
- Enjoy the Sierra . The foothills just above Cordoba are several degrees cooler than the city center because of the difference in altitude and the relative absence of cement. At night a cool breeze blows. A ten-minute taxi ride from the RENFE station or Colon Park area will get you to cooler elevations. If you want to spend the hottest hours lounging in the shade near a pool, the Rusafa Parador is a high-class operation with daily pool passes for non-guests at €10. Abundant grass, shade and lounge chairs, along with a large pool make it a pleasant experience. There is a snack bar at the poolside. You may even want to get a hotel in the Sierra and take a taxi to the city center for sightseeing. In the evening, many people drive up to the sierra neighborhood to dine or have a drink.
- Go for an evening promenade . Traditionally, after 8pm is the time for socializing by taking a stroll in circles around the village squares. Things have changed in the past 100 years, but once it cools off, it's time to get out and stretch your legs. People are out until 2am taking the air. A good place to take walks is the RENFE park promenade, with its abundant fountains, and the Ribera river walk, on the north bank of the river.
- Go to an outdoor concert . Take in evening concerts and activities out of doors. If you're here in July, go to concerts in the Alcazar gardens or check with tourist information for other events.
- Take in the nightlife . Enjoy a drink out of doors. Remember that you can have a siesta to make up for the sleep you're losing.
20 June 2005