Toledo is known as the City of the three cultures since in its heritage Christian, Muslim and Jewish elements coexist. Taking an excursion to Toledo from Madrid is one of the best options to complete your trip.
1. The best excursions to Toledo from Madrid
Toledo has many things to see and to make the most of the day and soak up all its cultural heritage, I recommend hiring an organized excursion that includes a guided tour. These are the main options:
2. Guided tour of Toledo
This round-trip excursion to Toledo is the cheapest option to visit the city with specialized guide, who will explain you the most relevant cultural points and will leave you free time to visit Toledo at your own pace.
Catedral Primada de Toledo
It is the jewel in the crown of the city and it would be a cultural sin to leave the city without visiting it. Do not hesitate to go inside to visit places like the Main Chapel, the Chapter House, the Mozarabic Chapel or the Treasury. Gothic in style, this is one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world.
Strolling through the historic center of Toledo is like going back several centuries. Cobblestone streets and stone buildings make up a landscape full of history behind every corner. Be warned: in Toledo there are many hills and the walk can be tiring.
Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca
It is a 12th century Mudejar synagogue converted into a church. It is located in the judería of Toledo and is one of the most beautiful monuments of that environment. Its labyrinth of whitewashed arches stands out.
Church of Santo Tomé
If you have visited the Prado Museum in Madrid you will have seen some of the works of El Greco. This artist was born in Toledo and in this church you will find one of his most famous paintings: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. The guide will tell you about the different and interesting interpretations of the work.
San Juan de los Reyes Monastery
Isabella I of Castile ordered the construction of this Franciscan monastery. In gothic and Elizabethan style, the monastery is one of the most beautiful places in Toledo. Don't be in a hurry to walk through its corridors and admire the contrast of the stone with the green of its interior courtyards.
You can bring your own food, but I recommend that you take the opportunity to eat in one of the restaurants in Toledo; the food is very good (especially the partridge or the cochifrito) and the prices are lower than in Madrid. You can ask your guide for recommendations.
3. Guided tour of Toledo with tourist train
The duration of this excursion to Toledo with tourist train is approximately eight hours. The guide will pick you up in Madrid at a central meeting point that will be indicated when you book online and will transfer you to Toledo by bus.
What this tour consists of
Once in Toledo, the visit has three parts: a guided tour of the most important points in the center of Toledo, a tour on the tourist train of the city and free time for you to visit the city at your own pace before returning to Madrid.
But Toledo has much more and it is not easy to locate it all in a walking tour. For this reason, one of the most relevant attractions of the city is a train that departs from downtown and passes through the whole city in a guided tour of about 50 minutes; do not see it as a distraction for tourists because, after having ridden it, I can assure you that it is worth it.
What is not included is food, but you will have no problem having some tapas in any of the bars and restaurants in the city center.
- Toledo Cathedral
- Church of Santo Tomé and the painting of El Greco
- Old Jewish Quarter
- Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes
- Mirador del Valle (a place away from the city center where you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Toledo.
4. Visit to Toledo on your own (with train ticket and tourist card)
This tour is designed as a package tour to visit Toledo on your own.
Is it worth it? If you want to be worry-free during your visit, yes, taking into account that half of the price is spent on train tickets. However, although the departure from Madrid is early, the return is in the early afternoon (between 17:25 and 18:25) so you will have to hurry your visit to get the most out of the tourist card.
What is included in this tour
- Round-trip train tickets
- The Toledo Travel Card gives you free 24-hour access to all the city's museums and monuments.
- Use of the tourist bus and guided tours
- A menu of first course, main course and dessert to be exchanged in two selected restaurants to enjoy Spanish gastronomy.
5. Excursion to Toledo with guided visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen in Madrid.
Many excursions to cities located in the surroundings of Madrid take advantage of the trip to include other **sightseeing spots close to the capital that are not easily reached from the center. This excursion to Toledo includes a visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen; they are two places that will not take much of your time in Toledo and that are very interesting to visit. I summarize their itinerary below.
Monastery of El Escorial
It was built in the 16th century under the rule of Philip II and during this tour the guide will tell you why it is one of the most popular visits around Madrid. During the tour you will visit the inside of the monastery, but the real beauty is in its gardens and views.
Valley of the Fallen
It is a controversial monument erected in honor of the fallen during the Spanish Civil War. If you know nothing about this historical period it is an ideal occasion to soak up the explanations of your guide; I guarantee that you will find it very interesting to see this place from a different perspective.
Historic center of Toledo
Once you finish your sightseeing in Madrid you will head to Toledo and in about an hour you will be walking through the central streets. During the guided tour you will enter the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca and the Church of Santo Tomé where you can admire the painting of El Greco. Afterwards, you will have free time to stroll around the city or to further explore places like the Cathedral.
It includes entrance fees to the Escorial, the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca in Toledo and the church of Santo Tomé in Toledo.
Hotel pick-up is not available; you will have to meet the rest of the tour group at a meeting point located in the center of Madrid and you will reach the different points of the tour in a comfortable air-conditioned bus.
6. What to see and do in Toledo in one day
If you have decided to visit Toledo on an organized tour you don't have to worry about anything: the guided tour will show you the main points of interest. On the other hand, if you want to discover the city by yourself, these references will help you not to leave the City of the three cultures without knowing its most emblematic places.
Mirador del Valle
It's not always easy to get to since it's located on the outskirts of the city, but a cab from downtown Toledo shouldn't charge you much for a round trip. The views from there are so breathtaking that for me it deserves to be on the Top of the list of things to see in Toledo.
Of course, it is the main attraction as it is one of the most visited cathedrals in Spain and among the most amazing in Europe. Already from the outside the facade of this Gothic cathedral will captivate you, but do not rule out a visit to the interior: it is well worth it.
The historical center
Even if you go on your own, if you have the opportunity to hire a guided tour of downtown Toledo I recommend it. They will tell you the history and secrets that this city hides and will contextualize the different monuments scattered throughout the city.
The synagogue of Santa María la Blanca
Don't be fooled by appearances; this Mudejar synagogue located in the Jewish quarter may not catch your eye from the outside, but you will be amazed by its interior full of arches and white walls.
The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes
A laberinto of stone walls, gardens and high ceilings that may turn out to be one of the most beautiful visits you make in Toledo.
This medieval fortress is located in the highest part of the city and, even if you skip the visit to the interior, it is worth a visit to the Alcazar to contemplate its facade and the views of the city.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you are going to visit the city without a tour guide, I recommend reading about its main places of interest beforehand to learn about its history.
7. Practical tips for your visit to Toledo
When to go
You can visit Toledo at any time of the year, but avoid visiting in summer if you don't want to suffer from the heat. Summer temperatures in Toledo can be hotter than in Madrid. In winter, on the other hand, it is a bit colder so you will need an extra jacket.
As for the tourist influx, there are always tourists in Toledo, but it is not such a large volume that you can't enjoy the city regardless of the day of the week you choose to go (there will always be more people on holidays).
Recommended duration of the visit
Toledo can be seen in one day, but it is not crazy to stay one night in the city to see it more in depth without being aware of the clock. The only thing is that if you intend to sleep in Toledo you should book your accommodation well in advance; otherwise you could be left on the street at nightfall and it would not be pleasant.
What to eat
Excellent quality at affordable prices, what more could you ask for? In Toledo you can go de tapas in the old town or book a good restaurant to enjoy some of its most famous dishes such as perdiz estofada, cochifrito manchego, carcamusa (meat and vegetable stew), arroz a la toledana, or mazapán de Toledo (Toledo marzipan).
What to take to Toledo
If you are going to walk a lot it wouldn't hurt to pack a pair of band-aids in your backpack. Toledo has many slopes and you will need, above all, comfortable shoes. Otherwise, you can take the same as any other excursion, but you can take back to Madrid some of its typical sweets or Manchego cheeses: a delicious souvenir.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Don't forget to contemplate the views of Toledo from the Mirador del Valle; they will leave you impressed.
8. If you are interested in the excursion to Toledo, you will also be interested in...
After seeing Toledo you will discover that, beyond the provincial capitals, Spain has impressive cities that you can visit without spending too much time on the road. Another of these cities is Segovia; preceded by its well known aqueduct, it is located about an hour from Madrid and there are several organized excursions and guided tours available. I have written this guide about Segovia Day Trips from Madrid: that may interest you.
If you prefer to stay in Madrid and enjoy every second in the capital, I recommend you to consider the possibility of taking a guided tour of the city: it will help you better understand every corner of its streets and its history. I leave you in this article about Madrid Tours all the information you need to organize your guided tour.
Frequently asked questions
How far is Toledo from Madrid?
Toledo is about 70 km (43 mi) southeast of Madrid. It will take you about 1 hour to get there from the capital city.
What is Toledo known for?
Toledo is known for its medieval architecture and historic monuments, its sword makers, marzipan and other sweets, and the gorgeous sights of the Tagus river.
Is one day enough for Toledo?
A day in Toledo should be enough to cover the main landmarks, but there's so much more to see than that. However, as long as you visit La Puerta del Sol, la Catedral Primada, cross the bridge over the Tagus river and stroll down the paved streets of the city, you will get a good look at what Toledo has to offer.