The small and historic city of Toledo, Spain is located just south of the capital, Madrid. The city is well known for its long withstanding heritage and historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures.
Toledo is just a €5 and 45 minute bus ride from Madrid. This makes for the perfect day trip for a more complete Spanish experience. To see the entire historic city of Toledo, it is only an 8km walk, but it can seem like much longer due to the abundance of hills and many museums to walk through.
If you want to get the best price and experience in Toledo, you should get the Toledo Tourist Bracelet. This €9 bracelet gets you into many of the best spots in the city including Royal College Doncellas Nobles, Saint Tome, Jesuits Church, Savior Church, Saint John Of The Kings, Saint Mary The White, Christ Of Light Ancient Mosque.
The bracelet is good as long as you are wearing it, so it works even if you are in Toledo several days.
When walking from the bus station to the city you pass the Circo Romano. These ruins of the Roman Circus now sit in a large park worth walking through.
Also outside the city is the Hospital de Taverna. This hospital now serves as a museum with many paintings and historical furniture and tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Tickets cost €4,50/person and the museum is open from 10:00AM to 1:30PM and 3PM to 7PM.
Puerta de Bisagra Nueva
To get into the old city of Toledo we walked through The New Bisagra Gate, the main moorish entrance gate to the city.. If you are coming from the bus station you have to go through it to get into the old city.
Puerta de Cristo de la Luz/Puerta del Sol
Once we walked through the new gate we went to the beautiful Puerta de Cristo de la Luz/Puerta del Sol. You also must enter through these gates to get to the main part of the city.
Our first stop within the city was the Museum of Santa Cruz. This interesting museum covers both archeology and art. It has a connection with the Prado Museum in Madrid and often features some of its collections.
Tickets cost €5/person and the museum is Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 7PM and on Sunday from 10AM to 2:30PM.
The historic Alcazar of Toledo is now home to the Spanish Army Museum. The building has a great history of war and destruction, but is now has many modern and new installations.
Tickets to the museum cost €5/person and is open daily from 10AM to 5PM. The museum is also free on Sunday, so try to visit then if possible.
Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day and could not go in because it was closed.
We then walked to the Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz. Originally a mosque, it is a small church nowdays. It is beautiful but it is a tiny building. There is not much to see, but it is worth stopping by.
The mosque is open daily from 10AM to 5:45PM. It is included in the bracelet.
Plaza de la Magdadela
In the plaza there is an interesting building with no windows, but they painted the wall to look like it does have windows!
We then walked to Catedral Primada, featuring gorgeous 13th century architecture. We did not go inside as we could see inside from the ticket booth, and it just looked grand, while the outside is much more ornate and beautiful.
Tickets to the cathedral cost €8/person. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 6PM and on Sundays from 2PM to 6PM.
Iglesia de Idelfonso (Jesuitas)
Our next stop was the Iglesia de Idelfonso. You must go up the tower as it has the best panoramic view of the city. You can also see the back of the Cathedral Primada. It is included in the bracelet.
Colegio de Doncellas Nobles
It is a small church but worth going it is pretty. It is included in the bracelet.
Route of the Gates
If you want to do a route of the gates and the old fortification wall you have to go to the R. Recaredo road and walk along it. You can start it from Puerta el Cabrón near the Juderia. This was the Jewish door.
Iglesia de Santo Tome
We then walked to the Iglesia de Santo Tome. This small church is nothing special compared to the others in Toledo, but if you have the pass it is included, and worth visiting to see one of El Greco’s famous paintings.
Iglesia del Salvador is also covered with the pass, but it is not worth going, especially up the tower to a view of a brick wall.
Our next stop was the Museo del Greco. It is a medium sized museum with beautiful rooms and El Greco’s famous paintings. The museum not only focuses on the Spanish Renaissance paintings, it covers El Greco’s influence on the city of Toledo itself.
Across the street from the museum is a small park area, where you can rest your feet and enjoy a nice overlook point.
We then walked to the Synagogue of Transit, home to the Sephardic Museum of Toledo. The museum gives you a look into the life of Spanish Jews were while they lived there and the main Jewish holidays and daily lifestyle.
Tickets cost €3/person and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30AM to 6:00PM, and until 7:30PM over the summer.
The next stop is the Jewish House, a 14th century house at the heart of the Jewish Quarter, presumably the home of Ishaq who provided money to queen Isabel the Catholic to fund Columbus´ voyage to America.
Entry is only allowed on Saturday at 5PM, with a free tour with the city. This tour requires a reservation, so check out the website for more information.
Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca
Our next stop was the Ibn Shushan Synagogue. This building once served as a synagogue in Toledo, before it was turned into a church in the early 1400s. Its distinct Moorish architecture makes for a unique Jewish building. It is one of the oldest standing synagogues in Europe.
Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes
We then went to the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes. This historic monastery has impressive architecture and a beautiful courtyard with a garden.
Puente de San Martin
Our last stop of the day was the Puente de San Martin, a medieval bridge. It is a bit out of the way but it is worth the walk. You can also Zipline across the river there for 10 euros. If it is your first time ziplining it is a must.
There are several historical sites throughout Toledo that are only open to guided tours in Spanish by the city itself. Everyday they offer free tours to different locations, however they require a reservation, so check their website for more information.
La Piedra del Rey Moro
La Piedra del Rey Moro/Mirador del Valle is a beautiful hike, right outside of Toledo. It gives you arguably the best panoramic view of the entire city, including the cathedral, the palace and the Alcazar. It is about a half an hour walk outside the city to the viewpoint, so plan accordingly.