Toledo was once a beautiful citadel, located on the top of a mountain in central Spain, surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. Toledo is the convergence of three different cultures of the Jews, Romans and Arabs, the city with a history of more than 2,000 years is sometimes called the city of three cultures, along with unique ancient architectures that were formed when it was the capital of Spain until 1560. The city has become a symbol of the ancient beauty in the heart of Spain. So, is Toledo Spain worth visiting, what to do in Toledo and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Toledo Spain for the first-time? Let’s check out our Toledo travel blog (Toledo blog) with the fullest Toledo travel guide (Toledo guide, Toledo Spain guide, Toledo tourist guide) from how to get to Toledo Spain, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Toledo to find out the answer!
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Today, the city of Toledo is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Europe. Visiting Toledo, visitors will be extremely impressed and delighted with the medieval road system with the characteristics of small, narrow, maze-like streets and admire the quaint architecture with stunning palaces, splendid cathedrals and mosques.
Toledo travel blog: Overview Toledo
The city of Toledo, is only about 70 km from Madrid, is famous for its mixture of ancient cultures of the East and the West: Jewish, Roman, Arab… The city was built in different architectural styles that brings an unparalleled look to this city. Along with Segovia and Ávila, there are three historic cities located around the Spanish capital. In 1986, the old town of Toledo was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Up to now, this city has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.
Today, the city of Toledo is a popular destination because of its abundance of historical art and architecture that makes visitors feel like they have gone back to the time of the Roman Empire. The best thing to do in Toledo is to get lost among the medieval streets and admire the old architectures that include beautiful churches, synagogues and mosques as well.
If you do in search of the history of Spain, you will find that Madrid is not the only capital of this country. From 567 to 711, during the reign of the Visigoths, Toledo served as the Capital of Spain.
The city has countless beautiful little bridges running in, connecting the life of the city and the outside world, and making Toledo once a stronghold against invaders because of its strategic geographical position.
The city is also known as the “Imperial City” because it was once the main site of the Court of Charles V, Roman Emperor and is known as the “Three Cultures” because of its influence of Christian, Islam and Judaism are reflected in Toledo’s rich history.
It was also the capital from AD 542 to AD 725 of the ancient Visigothic kingdom, following the fall of the Roman Empire, and was the site of historical events such as the Visigothic Council in Toledo.
When it comes to religion, we need to know that there were three religious communities that existed together for a long time. Toledo had large Muslim and Jewish communities until their expulsion from Spain in 1492 (Jews) and 1502 (Mudéjars). The city today is full of the religious works such as Santa María la Blanca Synagogue, El Transito Synagogue, Cristo de la Luz Mosque and San Sebastián church, which are still maintained in good condition.
Although there are no longer Muslims or Jews living in Toledo, their traces on the city’s architecture are undeniable.
Toledo blog: When to come?
Toledo has a semi-arid climate, the average temperature for the whole year is about 2 degrees Celsius. Winters here are cool while summers are hot and dry. Between autumn and spring, rainfall is the lowest of the year. So, even if you come here in winter, it will not be too cold. The best time to travel to Toledo is in the sunny seasons (June-September).
Toledo travel guide: How to get to Toledo from Madrid?
We recommend you spending at least one night in Toledo, so that you can experience all of its attractions, Toledo would like to recommend to you. If you only have time for a day trip, we recommend booking a day trip from the capital Madrid.
Located in the Castilla La Mancha region, the city of Toledo is about an hour’s drive from Madrid. But if you want to save as much time as possible, take a train. High-speed trains run daily from Madrid Puerta de Atocha station to Toledo and take only 33 minutes with a fare of about 10 euros. Then you will have to go from the station to the city center.
Toledo train station displays picturesque stained-glass windows and an impressive roof built in the 1920s, showing the richness and elegance of the era’s design and reflecting architectural style of Mudejar.
You can also catch the Bus departing from Plaza Eliptica, travel time is about 1 and a half hours, costs 5 euros. Details see here.
In addition, you can choose to buy a day tour operated by the tour agents in Madrid for 20 euros/person which is very convenient, this is a half day tour that is only about 5 hours to Toledo but it is enough to explore the city.
Toledo guide: Getting around Toledo
The public transport in Toledo is diverse and convenient. There are many types of public transport for you to choose from such as bus, bike, etc. The cheapest and most convenient means of transportation chosen by many tourists are buses (tickets from 1-3 EUR/trip). If you take a taxi, it will be quite expensive, so ask the driver in advance how much the trip costs to avoid being overcharge, taxis are only suitable for short distances. Toledo is small city, so you can absolutely getting around by foot.
Toledo travel blog: Where to go, what to do in Toledo and top things to do in Toledo
Toledo’s past seems to appear in every step of visitors on each section of walls and fortresses hay or when lost in the maze of walls, churches, mosques… or small squares full of shade in the old town of Toledo. At present, Toledo still retains the road network from the Middle Ages with the characteristics of small, narrow and interlaced roads like a maze. Surrounding the city are still ancient walls with many towers, gates and unique architectural buildings.
Puerta de Bisagra
Address: C. Real del Arrabal, 26, 45003 Toledo, Spain
Puerta de Bisagra is a gateway to the city of Toledo. The city gate was built in the 16th century with Renaissance architecture, is by far a popular attraction in Toledo. Puerta de Bisagra were fortresses with defensive functions and a symbol of the Emperor’s power. Huge cylindrical towers form of ancient walls with picturesque views always welcome visitors to the historic city of Toledo.
Zocodover Square is the important historical center of Toledo. The square was formerly the place where bullfights, parades… of the city were held. The square is surrounded by Castilian buildings. Visitors come here often for a walk or enjoy delicious food and drinks. At the square there is the famous marzipan shop “La Mancha”, you must try it!
Address: Calle Cardenal Cisneros, 1, 45002 Toledo, Spain
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Sunday: 2–6PM
The church was built in 1226 and took more than 250 years to complete with two large towers and three gates. Most visitors traveling to Toledo visit Toledo Cathedral. This work is considered a masterpiece of the Catholic church in Spain, where you will be overwhelmed by the magnificent and exquisite Gothic architectural style. In addition, from the top of the church tower, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the charming Toledo city. Inside the church, the dome has 88 supporting columns, dividing the nave into two wings decorated with magnificent XV-XVI century glazed windows.
Toledo Cathedral (construction period 1226 – 1496) with impressive details: 90 m high North spire, 17 ton Campana Gorda bell, South tower with unfinished top and Baroque dome, 88 pillars, frescoes depicting Saint Christopher dividing the nave into two wings, magnificent glazed windows from the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries, the pews in the center of the church, are delicately carved, depicting scenes and characters from the Old Testament.
Mirador del Valle
Address: Ctra. Circunvalación, s/n, 45004 Toledo, Spain
Popular place to admire the whole city and watch the sunset. From the city center, or from AVE station, you can take a taxi for 5 Euro to go to this place. Or catch a bus from la Puerta de la Bisagra.
Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes
Address: C. de los Reyes Católicos, 17, 45002 Toledo, Spain
The monastery was built to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Toro, located in Castile-La Mancha. The monastery has a long history, with a unique Isabelline architecture with elaborate and Catholic motifs. In the monastery, the chains of freed prisoners are displayed, impressing foreign tourists and locals. San Juan De Los Reyes is a must-see when visiting the Toledo region.
The place tells interesting historical stories of the city, the church inside the castle is decorated with many ancient sculptures. Built in 1476 by order of the Catholic kings.
Puente de Alcantara
This is an impressive ancient arch bridge spanning the Tagus river and was built in the Roman period in the years 104 – 1046, with a length of 200m under the request of of the Roman emperor Trajan in 98. The bridge used to be one of the entrances into the walled city.
Address: C. de la Union, s/n, 45001 Toledo, Spain
Hours: 11AM–5PM/Wednesday: Closed
Abd-ar-Rahman III built an impressive fortress that is Alcazar. This four-sided fortress is located at the highest point of the city, built in Roman times, square floor, each side has a watchtower. Each side has its own architectural style: The fortress facade follows the Renaissance architecture; the second side of the Plateresque style; the third side follows the medieval architecture and the fourth side follows the Churigueresque style.
The building is known as a military fortress protecting the city of Toledo, the building is rectangular in shape, built under the Roman period, until 1525 when King Carlos I restructured and rebuilt and kept the same current structure.
When the Catholics ruled Toledo, Alcazar became the palace. When King Carlos I moved to Madrid, this fortress became a military training school. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Alcazar fortress was almost completely destroyed. Later, the fortress was rebuilt to serve as a Military Museum.
Museum of Greco
Address: P.º del Tránsito, s/n, 45002 Toledo, Spain
Hours: 9:30AM–7:30PM/Sunday: 10AM–3PM/Monday: Closed
The El Greco Museum is a tribute to the painter El Greco, who spent most of his life in Toledo. The museum opened in 1911 and is located in the city’s Jewish Quarter. The museum has been renovated over the years in many different architectural styles. The Greco Museum with its excavated cellars, beautiful gardens and preserves a huge collection of paintings by El Greco.
El Transito Synagogue
Address: C. Samuel Levi, s / n, 45002 Toledo, Spain
Hours: 9:30AM–7:15PM/Sunday: 10AM–2:45PM
Sinagoga del Traosito is a prominent synagogue in Toledo. The synagogue was built in 1356, typical of Sephardic (Jewish-Spanish) architecture. The building, built in the 14th century, is distinguished by the Mudejar style by intricate geometric and floral motifs, with distinctive Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions. The inside of the synagogue is richly decorated with impressive plaster works with some unique details such as: famous characters King Pedro, Samuel Levi, Rabbi Don Mayr, David, etc. shields of Castile and Leon.
The Sinagoga del Transito Synagogue has experienced many ups and downs in history and has become an attractive tourist attraction, visited by many tourists around the world.
Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz
Address: C. Cristo de la Luz, 22, 45002 Toledo, Spain
This is the church of Christ (a Catholic chapel and former mosque in Toledo), built in 999, is considered the oldest and most complete preserved church under Islam period.
And the journey to explore Toledo will not be complete without visiting the Cathedral of Santa María, one of the largest churches in Spain dating back to the 13th century, as well as the Alcazar fortress palace, where the military museum is located. and library.
There are also two famous synagogues in Toleto: One is Synagogue of El Transito as mentioned above and the second Musea Sefardi. This synagogue is home to the Sefardí museum where you can learn more about Spain’s Jewish history. The main prayer hall has been restored by experts with Mudéjar decorative elements. This building was founded in 1356, you can find archaeological artifacts, a memorial garden, traditional costumes and ceremonial objects.
Church of Santo Tome
Address: Pl. del Conde, 4, 45002 Toledo, Spain
This church was built in the 14th century on the site of an old mosque, and is home to El Greco’s greatest masterpiece: “The Burial of the Count Orgaz” – depicting Orgaz’s burial scene, a pious earl who devoted his life to charity work. This painting has been hanging in the church for 4 centuries and attracts a large number of visitors to admire. The tower of the church of Santo Tome is made of brick and stone, the base is square, with three spires. The church has a total of 20 chapels and is home to many Toledo historical figures.
San Martin’s Bridge
Address: Bajada San Martín, 45004 Toledo, Spain
The San Martin Bridge was built in the late 14th century in the Middle Ages, spanning the Tagus River. Over time, the bridge was completely restored, both ends of the bridge were built solid towers. San Martin Bridge has 5 arches, the middle arch is up to 40m long. In 1921, the bridge received the title of National Monument and became a must-visit spot for many tourists.
Toledo has also been a traditional center of sword and steelmaking since around 500 BC, and came to the attention of Rome when used by Hannibal during the Punic Wars. Soon it became a standard source of weaponry for the Roman legions. Today, just a short walk around Toledo and you will find 5 souvenir shops on the same street selling swords and armors. But the city also exports swords and armor abroad to serve… historical films around the world. It is an interesting business in Toledo that few people think about other than selling souvenirs.
When visiting Toledo old town, in addition to sightseeing, do not forget to admire the famous swords of Toledo region. Swordsmithing in this land has been world famous for 2000 years.
Along the way, you can see many shops selling gold and silver encrusted swords and knives. In addition to knives and swords, you can also buy beautiful paper knives as souvenirs. The busiest street specializing in these items is Called Del Comercio.
Toledo blog: What to eat?
If you only spend a short time here, you are enough to explore many nooks and crannies of the city. I recommend spending 6-8 hours here so you can slowly enter a cafe to see the streets or visit a pastry shop selling Toledo’s very famous Marzipan. The guide also told me you must visit Toledo to eat this pastry because the Marzipan here is the best in Spain. You can find this bakery in the Jewish Quarter.
Some of Toledo’s specialties include roast or stewed lamb, cochifrito, alubias con perdiz (beans with partridge) and perdiz estofoda (partridge stew), carcamusa, migas, gachas manchegas and tortilla a la magra. Two of the city’s most famous food products are Manchego cheese and marzipan.
Toledo travel guide: Where to stay?
Most of Toledo’s attractions are located inside alleys surrounded by medieval walls, so the most convenient hotels are often located on these narrow cobblestone streets. Guests are only a short walk from the main attractions. Below, we recommends you some highly-rated hotels from luxurious to budget ones by travelers in Toledo:
- Hotel Pintor El Greco Sercotel (Agoda, Booking): The hotel is located next to the El Greco museum and close to popular attractions. The rooms are very large, classical style design. Food service is rated 5 stars. Room price fluctuates around 172 USD/night.
- Hacienda del Cardenal (Agoda, Booking): The old hotel built into the Arabian walls from the 11th century is located a few meters from the escalator leading to the city center. The hotel has the most famous restaurant in Toledo, which serves the best restaurants. Traditional local dishes. The hotel is located next to Alfonso VI Gate, the main entrance to Toledo. The hotel rooms are decorated very old and comfortable, in the garden is a beautiful outdoor swimming pool. Room rates here range from 110 USD – 180 USD/night depending on the type of room.
- Eurostars Palacio Buenavista (Agoda, Booking): Located about 2.5km from the center, this 5-star hotel is a splendid palace built in the 16th century. It has a swimming pool, with attractive gardens and terraces. Room rates range from 175 USD – 430 USD/night depending on room type.
- Hotel San Juan de los Reyes (Agoda, Booking): Located in the old Jewish quarter, close to the Transito Synagogue, the Church of Santo Tome, and the El Greco Museum. The luxury hotel is made of elegant bricks, just 500m from the center. Spacious rooms with whirlpool tubs and gourmet restaurants. Room rates range from 90 USD/night.
- Hotel Alfonso VI (Agoda, Booking): The hotel is centrally located, next to the Alcazar fortress in the center of town. The rooms are decorated in a typical Castile style, very large and have a private balcony. The average room price is about 86 USD/night.
- Hotel Santa Isabel (Agoda, Booking): A hotel located on a quiet street near El Greco museum, Church of Santo Tome. Large hotel rooms with balcony and air conditioning, with spacious rooms and terrace with city view. Room rates range from 82 USD/night/double room.
- Hotel Carlos V (Agoda, Booking): The hotel located in the center of the old town, next to Alcázar Fort and Toledo Cathedral. The rooms offer beautiful views of the city. Hotel room rates range from 60 USD/night.
- Tripolis Toledo (Agoda, Booking): The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the center. Small room, elegantly decorated, comfortable, Room price fluctuates around 60 USD/double room.
- Hostal Alfonso XII (Agoda, Booking): Budget hotel, centrally located, just a short walk from the attractions. Most rooms have a private balcony, air conditioning and heating. Room rates from only 45 USD/night.
- Parador de Toledo (Agoda, Booking)
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Toledo you can refer to
- Private Transfer between Madrid and Toledo
- Toledo Complete Walking Tour With Traditional Lunch
- Hot Air Balloon Flight over Toledo
- Half Day Express Tour to Toledo from Madrid
- 10 Days 9 Nights Best of Spain Private Tour
- UNPUBLISH Toledo Day Tour from Madrid
- Toledo Half Day Guided Tour from Madrid
- Madrid and Toledo Highlights Tour
- Madrid and Toledo Day Tour
- Toledo Cathedral Tour
- Toledo City Card: 3 Guided Tours And 2 Admissions To Attractions
- Toledo and Segovia from Madrid
- Toledo Night Walking Tour
- Toledo Half-Day Walking and Bus Tour from Madrid
- Segovia, Ávila, and Toledo Day Tour from Madrid (Small Group)
- From Madrid: Day Tour to Toledo
- Madrid: Toledo and Segovia Guided Tour with Avila Option
- Madrid: Segovia and Toledo Tour, Alcazar, and Cathedral
- Madrid: Full-Day Guided Tour of Toledo with Cathedral Visit
- Toledo: Walking Tour with Tourist Wristband Access Pass
- Madrid: Segovia and Toledo Tour, Alcazar, and Cathedral
Read more Spain guide here.