Toledo is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and the number one recommended day trip from Madrid. But do you know about all the amazing and interesting things to do in Toledo? The options are endless!
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986 the city of Toledo in Spain is today a quiet city of 50,000 inhabitants, a perfect day tour from Madrid that will marvel you as soon as you see it.
Gone are the days when it was not only the capital city of Spain but the capital of the largest empire in the world, one where the sun never set as Emperor Carlos V said in 1556.
Overlooking the longest river in the Iberian peninsula it's easy to realize that since its establishment in the 7th century BC the city has fallen under the influence of different empires and cultures, with a distinct combination of moor and roman religions and thus architecture.
Because of this unique historical background most of Toledo's attractions are cultural, which is perfect as the city can easily be walked.
What is Toledo Special For?
Perched on the banks of the river Tagus, Toledo is well known for being the center of Muslim, Jewish and Christian life (and conflicts) for nearly 3,000 years. The influences of all three religions are still visible to this day.
These cultures have co-existed for centuries and as you lose yourself in Toledo’s narrow cobblestone streets and walkways you’ll see how their legacies are blended together through the captivating architecture of the city.
Behind its walls, Toledo preserves an extensive cultural and artistic heritage in the form of palaces, churches, mosques, synagogues and fortresses, which makes it a fascinating city to explore.
In 1986 Toledo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and over the years it has become the most popular day trip for tourists visiting Madrid. However, there are so many things to do in Toledo Spain that it can be intimidating trying to fit everything into just one or two days of travel.
If you’re wondering what to do in Toledo Spain for a day and don't know where to start you should take a look at the next post. Here we've shared a list of the very best Toledo activities and sights along with some useful travel tips - check them out below!
What to See in Toledo Spain: The City of Three Cultures
The legacy that is enclosed by Toledo’s historic walls depicts an essential part of Spanish culture, and exploring its winding streets is bound to be a very unique experience in life. It is the perfect place to see centuries of ancient European history in one compact city.
These are the top things to do in Toledo Spain and get started.
Toledo Spain Points of Interest
Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo España (Toledo Spain Cathedral)
There are many churches in Toledo, but we can say this is the most important one. Built in the 13th century, the Toledo Cathedral is a massive Gothic structure considered one of the most important Christian landmarks in Spain.
It was built on top of a Muslim mosque next to Jewish quarter, which used to be a Visigoth church in the 6th century.
The construction of this grand monument happened over the course of many centuries – it begun in 1227 under the rule of Ferdinand III and was finished towards the end of the 15th century, about 200 years later.
As a result of the lengthy building period, a mixture of architectural styles can be observed.
Address: Calle Cardenal Cisneros, 1, 45002 Toledo
Museo El Greco (El Greco Museum)
The famous master of Spanish painting, Doménikos Theotokópoulos was born in Crete (Greece's largest island) in 1541. His career saw him move first to Venice and then to Madrid where he was simply called El Greco ("The Greek").
Some time later he finally settled down in Toledo and produced many of his greatest paintings.
The museum aims to introduce El Greco not only as a painter but also as an individual, and it explores the deep influence that he had in the shaping of Toledo’s history during the 17th century. The museum complex was recently renovated, and now has a fresh look perfect for showing off the works of art it guards.
Address: Paseo Tránsito, s/n, 45002 Toledo
Plaza de Zocódover (Zocódover Square)
Plaza Zocodover is the main plaza of Toledo, named after the horse market that was once held there in Moorish times where mules, ponies, mares and stallions were traded. It was basically the city’s nerve center for many centuries, and nowadays is still a meeting place for locals and travelers alike, full of cafes, restaurants and bars.
Address: Plaza Zocodover, s/n, 45001 Toledo
Juderia (Jewish Quarter)
The Juderia district is one of the most beautiful parts of the city, with some excellently preserved buildings. A tour through the Juderia will enable visitors to learn what life was like under Muslim and Christian domination for Jews, as well as to explore their vast culture and beautiful architecture.
The Jewish quarter also includes several historic synagogues, one of which, El Transito, houses a Sephardic museum that illuminates the rich Jewish life in Toledo before the Inquisition.
While exploring the old city you can find remnants of Toledo's Roman past at the Roman Baths, and the Cuevas de Hercules, where the Romans kept their water reserves.
Mirador del Valle Toledo Spain (Classic Viewpoint)
On the Carretera de Circunvalacion (ring road) is this fantastic viewpoint from which the entire city of Toledo can be observed. It offers some of the finest views anywhere in Spain, with the city majestically laid out along the Tagus.
The walk to get to the top is also a sight in itself, as it passes numerous important buildings such as the Cathedral, the Santa Cruz Museum, San Roman Church and the city walls.
The panorama at night is especially picturesque, when all the main monuments are awash with orange light – definitely one of the most amazing things to see in Toledo Spain.
Address: Ctra. Circunvalacion, s/n, 45004 Toledo
Puente de San Martin (Bridge of San Martin)
The Bridge of San Martin is located to the west of the old city of Toledo and it is considered one of the most important historical and monumental bridges in Spain.
Built in the early 14th century with defensive towers at each side, it crosses the Tagus River and is part of Toledo’s medieval heritage.
From this bridge there’s an excellent panorama of the city, and is a very romantic place to go for an evening walk.
If you’re traveling with a tight budget and want to find great but free things to do in Toledo, the Bridge of San Martin should be on the very top of your list.
Address: Bajada San Martín, 45004 Toledo
Iglesia de San Ildefonso (Church of San Ildefonso)
Near the cathedral in a charming square is the church of Saint Ildefonso, one of Toledo’s baroque masterpieces. Construction began in 1629, and the church took a century to complete, formed of more than a 100,000 bricks. Saint Ildefonso has an imposing twin-towered facade and an awe-inspiring bright interior with two paintings by El Greco. Tourists can visit the church and climb the tower for a stunning view of Toledo.
Address: Plaza Padre Juan de Mariana, 45002 Toledo
Museo de Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Museum)
This exceptional museum is housed in the 16th-century Santa Cruz Hospital - an elegant building with an exquisite Plateresque facade. The Santa Cruz Museum includes three collections: Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, and Archaeology.
In the Fine Arts collection, the paintings of the 16th and 17th century School of Toledo are the main attraction, especially the works by El Greco and Luis Tristán. The Decorative Arts section includes Flemish tapestries of the 15th and 16th centuries and a tapestry illustrating the signs of the Zodiac. Finally, the Archeology section contains prehistoric, Roman, Visigothic antiquities, and exhibits of Moorish decorative objects and ceramics.
Address: Miguel de Cervantes, 3, 45001 Toledo
Sinagoga de Santa Maria La Blanca (Synagogue of Saint Mary the White)
The Synagogue of Saint Mary the White (the oldest intact synagogue building in Europe) is a museum and former synagogue with one of the most beautiful wooden Moorish ceilings anywhere. This magnificent 12th-century Mudéjar synagogue is in the Jewish quarter (Judería) of Toledo.
There hasn’t been a Jewish community in Spain since the 15th-century Expulsion. So in the 1400's the Mudéjar-style building became a church, although no major renovations were ever made. Nowadays it is owned and preserved by the Catholic Church. The monument is no longer used as a house of worship but is open to the public for visits.
Address: Calle de los Reyes Católicos, 4, 45002 Toledo
Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes (Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes)
The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes is a 15th-century Franciscan church founded in 1476 which was built on Royal demand during the reign of Isabella I of Castile (one of Spain’s most powerful queens) and Ferdinand II of Aragon.
The building is a breathtaking example of the Elizabethan-Gothic style that was predominant in Spain under the monarch’s reign. It was meant to celebrate the birth of Prince John (King’s sun), to serve as their royal mausoleum and to commemorate their victory at the Battle of Toro against Alfonso V’s Portuguese Army.
The monastery is northwest of Toledo's cathedral and remains open to the public daily year-round.
Address: Calle de los Reyes Católicos, 17, 45002 Toledo
Iglesia de Santo Tome (Church of Santo Tome)
This little 12th-century chapel, situated on a narrow street in the old Jewish Quarter, is another Toledo's monument that was originally a mosque.
In the 14th century, the church was renovated by the Count of Orgaz in Gothic style with an exquisite Mudéjar tower, which uses stonework from the original minaret and has beautiful scalloped arches.
Inside there’s an eye-catching blend of gothic and Moorish design, with two baroque altars and a baptismal font that dates to the 1300's. What many visitors come to see though is the majestic renaissance painting 'Burial of the Count of Orgaz' by El Greco, which was commissioned for the church in 1586 and is displayed in a special room.
Address: Plaza del Conde, 4, 45002 Toledo
Castillo de San Servando (San Servando Castle)
High above the left bank of the river Tagus, opposite the Alcantara Bridge, is the San Servando Castle. This monument was begun as a monastery, but also served military purposes because of its strategic location.
The castle is an exceptional example of a Mudéjar-style fortress in Spain. With its formidable towers, crenellated defense walls, and Arabic-style entrance gateway, it has an imposing presence.
Unfortunately, this monument is not currently open to the public. Tourists can only visit the exterior and the grounds. But you'll still have the chance of taking amazing photos from outside.
Address: Subida Castillo San Servando, 45006 Toledo
Other Toledo Spain Attractions
- Alcazar of Toledo
- Alcantara Bridge
- Mosque of Christ of the Light
- Synagogue of El Transito
- Church of Santiago del Arrabal
- La Muralla (Town Wall)
- Puerta de Bisagra
- Puerta del Sol
What to Do in Toledo Spain
Have you had enough of Toledo’s ancient history? Well, there are some other fun things to do in Toledo Spain you might want to try:
Enjoy the Culinary Culture
If you’re a food enthusiast, you’ll love Toledo! Even in such a small town, you can found a surprising array of food options, from the little bakeries and marzipan stores on Santo Tome to cozy tapas joints and excellent fine-dining options at reasonable prices.
It’s no surprise that Toledo was selected as Spain’s Capital of Gastronomy in 2016.
Shopping in Toledo Spain
No visit to Toledo is complete without shopping for some of the city’s beautiful handicrafts. You’ll find many antique and craft shops as you stroll around the old town.
Buy one of Toledo’s world-famous swords, pick up a copy of an El Greco painting or get some souvenir pottery or jewelry.
Also look for ceramics, damascene ware and other interesting religious or medieval artifacts.
Get the Most Out of Toledo's Nightlife
Are you wondering what to do in Toledo Spain at night? In modern Toledo, you can find clubs and dance floors to rival those of any major Spanish city, but with the benefit of a local feel and an unpretentious vibe.
Dance away your sins, enjoy amazing views from a chic terrace, or sip specialty cocktails and shots complimented by live jazz or rock music in one of Toledo's fantastic night clubs. We recommend the rooftop bar of Hotel Carlos V to chill out, and head over to Sithons Club if you want to dance all night long.
But if you want to go away from the city’s hustle and bustle, a Toledo walking tour will be perfect for you. There are several guided tours that are available by night, so after visiting the interior of Toledo’s monuments and enjoying its museums, why not learn about the history behind it all whilst taking a breezy walk.
Hotels in Toledo
While most travelers come to Toledo on a day trip from Madrid, those who decide to spend a night will be pleased to know that hotels in Toledo offer great value for money and will also have the chance to see Toledo at night, which some say is even nicer than during the day.
As the city is quite small location is not very important in my opinion, though you may differ. Check Toledo hotel deals or search the map below to find your home away from home!
What and Where to Eat in Toledo Spain
Toledo is also known for its delicious and hearty cuisine which is largely based on hunting and slaughtering: venison, boar, game birds, sausage... Having influences from Jewish, Arabian, and Spanish culture, you can expect to be in a culinary heaven.
These are some of the best restaurants in Toledo Spain where you'll find superb local cuisine at great prices, as well as other international dishes:
Definitely one of the best places to eat in Toledo. It offers authentic Spanish dishes for a very affordable price. Local favorites include the partridge and the veal – so be sure to try those if you want to taste traditional plates from the region.
Taberna El Botero
With guests making special mentions of the black cod, the freshly baked bread and the tasty tapas, we think you need to visit this unique restaurant. Downstairs, you can enjoy tapas while having a drink in the allocated bar area.
Pro tip: book in advance if possible, as this place is quite popular.
Comes is a modern restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine. Although this option isn’t an authentic Spanish experience, it is great to curb the hunger pains (as it serves food all day) and you'll at least know that vegan and vegetarian options are available.
Tulaytula offers something unique if you need a break from Spanish cuisine. Expect to find Moorish food with a lot of Arabian influences. Locals like to feast here, so we'd recommend you try it too.
How to Get to Toledo From Madrid
How far is Toledo from Madrid? It is just 70 km from Madrid and only one hour drive south of Barajas International Airport, which is probably why many people book Toledo tours from Madrid. Getting there is pretty easy and you have several options to do so:
Madrid to Toledo Train
The AVE high-speed train is undoubtedly the easiest way to get to Toledo. Trains leave Puerta de Atocha every hour starting around 7:00 am on weekdays and 9:00 on weekends/holidays. The trip takes about 35-40 minutes and tickets can be bought both online or at the station.
Bear in mind that trains can sell out, so you’ll want to buy tickets in advance on the RENFE website or even better, grab a Toledo Card the includes the high speed train ticket as well as entrances to all the attractions in the city, buses and a traditional menu at a local restaurant.
Madrid to Toledo Bus
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind a longer journey, you can take the ALSA bus from the Plaza Elíptica bus station. The bus usually takes slightly under one hour to travel from Madrid to Toledo.
Day trip to Toledo from Madrid
This way you won't have to arrange the travel yourself, and you'll also be guided while getting the best of Toledo. The price of the tour is usually higher than a round trip by bus or train; however it may be a good investment especially if you want to go from Madrid to Toledo and back on the same day.
Toledo Tour: Guided vs. Self-Guided
Many reliable companies offer organized day trips from Madrid to Toledo, but if you prefer a visit at your own pace, you’ll find an independent travel between the two cities very easy.
You can get a Toledo map in the train station on arrival. Moreover, all attractions are well signposted and have good information panels in Spanish/English. If you want to understand better the art and history, joining a local tour is the best option.
Final Thoughts: Is a Toledo Day Trip Worth While?
Absolutely yes! Toledo’s particular style is unique in Spain and can’t be found in other parts of Europe, and is just an hour away from Madrid. It has the charm of Seville but is much easier to walk, and the medieval feel of Morella. What are you waiting for? Visit Toledo Spain and enjoy some of the most stunning views of the continent.