The distance between two of Spain’s greatest cities—Valencia and Córdoba—is 261 miles (421 km), traveling from Mediterranean coast of the country to the heart of Andalusia. The easiest way to make the trip is by the direct high-speed train, which takes 3-4 hours. Driving yourself in a rental car is also a possible option, but takes a bit longer (5 hours).
The most luxurious option is to hire a private car service. There are no direct flights to Córdoba, as the airport only supports private planes. But a creative option is to fly to one of the nearby cities of Málaga or Seville (you can make a day trip of it) and take a short train from there.
Buses run from Valencia to Córdoba a couple times every day, but are not recommended due to much longer travel times (8.5 hours) and only slight financial difference.
To get the most of your time in Andalusia, consider this 10-day itinerary: Magic of Southern Spain: History, Beaches, and Culture.
Duration: 3-4 hours
The easiest and quickest option is to take the high speed AVE train, moving directly from Valencia's high-speed train station Valencia Joaquin Sorolla to Córdoba Central, only 20 minutes walking to Cordoba’s main attraction—the Mezquita, a massive mosque dating from 784 CE and one of the world’s greatest examples of Moorish architecture.
Renfe runs only one direct AVE train each day, which takes 3 hours and 10 minutes and normally leaves Valencia in the morning. Two or three other high-speed trains run each day, but these transfer in Madrid so take about 4 hours. Tickets should be booked ahead of time through Renfe’s website, as trains often sell out and schedules vary based off of season and day of the week.
AVE trains, run by Renfe, are comfortable and offer air conditioning, a bar-buffet car, and power outlets. Three tiers of tickets are available including turista (standard), turista plus (comfort), and preferente (premier). Turista plus customers enjoy a spacious reclining seat, while the preferente selection offers food service at your seat and access to business lounges at select stations.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 5 hours, more with stops
Having a car gives you the freedom to explore the route between Valencia and Còrdoba, and perhaps take a few side trips along the way. The fastest route brings you southwest on the A-3 and A-4 highways and past many convenient stops for wine lovers like Requena (don't leave without trying their famous sausages) or Villarrobledo.
Another option is to take the A-3 to the A-43 highway. This route is for nature-lovers, as it brings you right through the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro .
Rental car companies abound in Valencia, with Enterprise, Budget, and Dollar being the highest rated. Remember that non-EU driver’s license holders must obtain an International Driver’s Permit in order to drive in Spain.
Alternately, hire a private transfer. You can request scenic stops along the way, including the city of Bunol, known for its tomato-throwing festival every summer, or Alarcon, a walled medieval town perched on a hilltop.
Duration: 3-4 hours (air and train time)
While there are no direct flights from Valencia to Córdoba, one option is to take a short flight (1 hour and 40 minutes) to Málaga (1 hours and 40 minutes) or Seville (1 hour and 10 minutes), and then from either city take a train (1.5 hours) to Còrdoba.
This route is only recommended if you want to stop for a day or two in either of the two cities, as security times at the airport and transfers to the train station would add up to longer than taking the direct train. Or consider making a longer stop to see both of these Andalusian cities and go on a wine tour in Ronda as proposed in the 4th option in 7 Days in Spain: 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas.
Duration: 8-10 hours
Only one company offers buses from Valencia to Córdoba—Alsa. Buses run twice or thrice daily, but take over double the amount of time as the train. The bus costs only slightly less than the train if you book your train ticket in advance.