Córdoba is the 2nd largest city in Argentina, so many people believe it to be a smaller version of Buenos Aires but that line of thought couldn’t be more wrong.
While Córdoba is dauntingly large, it’s in not set up in the same way as Buenos Aires at all. It has very separate areas that have to be visited at the right time with the right goal. It’s also not a city for simple strolls that end up in great discoveries.
Many people go to Córdoba, walk around the area they are staying in and think “What do people do here?”
We are so accustomed to the idea of a city just throwing options in our face that a city like Córdoba is a little disorienting. There are a lot more places to see than things to do and you really need to know where to go and when.
During the day you’ll want to be in the city center.
There you will find several peatonales (pedestrian only streets) full of shops, cafes, street food and tons of people. You can do a little shopping or simply people watch.
Interestingly enough, each peatonal seems to have a different atmosphere.
- The Deán Funes Peatonal is centered more about shopping and a whole lot of soft serve ice cream for cheap.
- The 9 de Julio and Obispo Trejo peatonales also have lots of shops but hold a lot of the better restaurants as well.
- The San Martin peatonal is definitely the most distinct with it’s incredibly chaotic feel. The streets are flooded with street merchants selling cheap goods of varying levels of quality. You’ll also find fresh produce and plenty of street food.
The city center is also home to the seemingly endless museums, plazas and parks. These are all great places to hang out during the day, but again, not exactly action-packed.
Once the sun goes down, the city center basically becomes useless to you.
In fact, the peatonales switch from being a social hotspot to being a shady area that is relatively unsafe for locals and tourists alike. You’ll want to shift your focus to Nueva Córdoba, which is the University and student area of the city.
This area is absolutely packed with bars and restaurants. The students are practically a separate community, young partiers who throw back beers while they study or even in between classes. You don’t have to wait for the weekend for this area to get lively, the students are out and about every day of the week.
Another thing that adds to the strange feel of Córdoba is the life in the hills, or Las Sierras.
Córdoba is surrounded by beautiful green mountainous areas with rivers weaving through them. Some areas are only an hour away by bus while others take upwards of 5 hours to get there.
True Cordobeses spend their weeks in the city and their weekends in Las Sierras. These towns can be kind of a trek to get to from the city but you can’t really say you have experienced Córdoba without spending a little bit of time checking out the nature outside of the city.
I totally agree. Córdoba can be rather confusing. You think to yourself that the city will be set up much like Buenos Aires, but when you arrive you couldn’t be more wrong. I liked the city alright, but found that outside the city was where the real heart and soul of Córdoba resided. Before leaving the states a well-traveled friend of mine told me, “You must go to Córdoba”, and after my week-long excursion through the province I fully understood why. This is one of the provinces that can’t be done justice just by taking a bus, but can only truly be discovered by renting a car (1980’s Peugeot anyone? yes please!). Driving through the rolling hills, looking over vast, shining lakes, and stumbling upon No-No were the highlights of my journey through Córdoba. “No-no” was a small town, merely a tiny dirt road turn off of the small highway running throughout the Provence. Here, I found one of the most beautiful reading areas I had ever come across. First, you walk up these rocks and find yourself in a beach covered in my favorite mineral, Micah. If you do not know what Micah is, it is a flaky mineral that shines very brightly in the light, so in the sun light it looked as if there were natural glitter every where. Then you look to the rather large stream running as far as the eye can see and there is Micah in the crystal clear water sparkling everywhere around you. Being a girl, I happen to love things that sparkle and the was just breathtaking. After taking a dip in the stream I found the most perfect boulder that had been smoothed down over time into somewhat of a lounge chair that fit my body perfectly! It may have been me, the beautiful day, or the marijuana, but this was it. The most perfect place that I was looking for to read Siddhartha, my favorite book. Another perfect day in Argentina. A breathtaking province with more to be seen and discovered than I could have in those 7 days.
I felt much the same about Antigua, Guatemala on my first stop. I was confused. It didn’t make sense. But I had to spend a few days there on my way back through the country and that’s when I started understanding the charm of the city. Thanks for shining light on Cordoba!