Toledo is a small town, full of history, 47 miles south of Madrid. It balances Arab, Christian, and Jewish heritage perfectly, hence the nickname ‘the city of three cultures’. When you find yourself in Madrid, be sure to schedule a 1 or 2 day trip to Toledo. There are lots of things to see and experience. But, first, here are a few interesting facts about Toledo:
- Toledo has contributed to Hollywood cinema. Artisans of Toledo created swords for the films Gladiator, Alexander the Great and the amazing Lord of the Rings.
- Toledo is home to the World’s smallest window, it’s on Silleria Street. See if you can spot it.
- Legends dictate that the sugary almond sweet, Maripan, hails from Toledo and was created by the nuns of the San Clemente Convent. Have you tried it?
How to get to Toledo
There are multiple ways to travel to Toledo, the most popular choice being on a bus tour from Madrid. There are lots of half-day and one day tours available that include the major tourist spots. But if, you don’t want to spend your day getting on and off a bus with a group of strangers then opt to hire a car or take the train.
Every day of the week there are multiple trains departing from Madrid Atocha Station to Toledo. The speedy 33 minutes journey will cost you €24 for a return. Please note that trains are extremely limited and often don’t run on public holidays.
If you prefer to have your own private experience, hire a car in Madrid and drive south for 70 minutes along the A-42.
Where to Stay
If you choose to stay overnight in Toledo consider staying at the excellently located and beautiful Hacienda Del Cardenal,and charges around €90 a night. For a cheaper option, check out Hotel Real de Toledo, for €60/night. You can’t miss its gorgeous 19th-century stone and iron façade.
There are plenty of tasty bars and restaurants offering affordable, great food. A couple of good restaurants for a sit down meal are Taberna El Botero – Try the black or risotto and Lo Nuestro - Taperia&Restaurante– order the pork cheeks and oxtail.
However, become a true Spaniard and bar hop by indulging yourself with a different tapa at each place. If you are really hungry visit a restaurant that offers a ‘menu del dia’. This is a 2/3 course meal with a choice of mains, and usually only costs around €10.
Do arrive as early as possible in the day, as it becomes quite crowded by lunchtime. Toledo is a major tourist attraction as it is a UNESCO World Heritage protected city.
Do pack a few snacks and a bottle of water, there is lots to see and you don’t want to waste any time waiting to purchase refreshments.
Do wear comfy shoes. You will be walking all day and Toledo is a hilly place.
Do visit these major attractions:
- The Fort of Alcazar, you’ll want to spend most time in the gorgeous courtyards.
- The Great Cathedral, look up, down and around to be mesmerized by its detail. (The best time to visit the Great Cathedral is from 2pm, as there are usually fewer people. Also, if you want to listen to the cathedral organ visit on Sunday during High Mass.)
- Step inside a town synagogue
- Take the trek to Mirador del Valle, for an epic city view
- Explore the old town
Don’t visit Toledo, without a fully charged phone or camera. You will be trigger happy!
Don’t miss the Santa Cruz neighbourhood, home to the Santa Cruz museum, the old hospital and the Santa Fe Convent. Convents are closed to the public except during the week of Easter, or Semana Santa in Spanish.