Toledo is known as the City of the three cultures, as its heritage includes Christian, Muslim and Jewish elements. Taking an excursion to Toledo from Madrid is one of the best options to complete your trip.
1. The best tours 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:
- Organized excursion to Toledo with guide
- Organized excursion to Toledo with guide and touristic train
- Organized excursion to Toledo with guide + visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen
Guided tour of Toledo
This round trip excursion to Toledo is the cheapest option to visit the city with a specialized guide, who will explain the cultural highlights and leave you free time to visit Toledo at your leisure. The tour includes the transfer from three meeting points located in Madrid in an air-conditioned bus. Here are the main stops of the tour.
It is the crown jewel 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 stepping 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 slopes 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 Jewish quarter of Toledo and is one of the most beautiful monuments in the area. 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 this church houses 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.
Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes
Isabella I of Castile ordered the construction of this Franciscan monastery. Gothic and Elizabethan in style, the monastery is one of the most beautiful places in Toledo. Do not be in a hurry to walk through its corridors and admire the contrast of the stone with the green of its interior courtyards.
Please note that
The price of this tour does not include entrance fees to the tourist attractions (they usually have low prices and will give you time to see them inside if you buy your ticket there) or food and drink. 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 a 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 tour has three parts: a guided tour of the most important points of the center of Toledo, a tour in 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 the center 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.
The price of the train ticket is included in the price of the tour (about 33 euros). What is not included is the 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 center of the city where you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Toledo.
4. Visit Toledo on your own (with train tickets and tourist card)
If you prefer to visit Toledo at your own pace, the high-speed train is one of the easiest ways to get to the city. It departs from Atocha station and takes about 30 minutes. This tour is designed as a package tour to visit Toledo on your own.
Is it worth it? If you don't want to worry about everything during your visit, yes, considering that half of the price is spent on the 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 with which you can access free for 24 hours to all the museums and monuments of the city.
- The use of the tourist bus and the 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 a guided visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen in Madrid
Many excursions to cities located in the outskirts of Madrid take advantage of the trip to include other tourist attractions near the capital that are not easily reached from the center. This organized excursion to Toledo includes a visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen; these 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.
El Escorial Monastery
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 opportunity 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 the visits in Madrid you will head to Toledo and in about an hour you will be walking through the streets of the center. 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 such as the Cathedral.
Please note that
The excursion includes entrance tickets 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 meet the rest of the tour group at a meeting point in the center of Madrid and arrive at 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.
Viewpoint of the Valley
It is not always easy to get there as it is located on the outskirts of the city, but a cab from downtown Toledo should not charge you much for a round trip. The views from there are so breathtaking that for me it deserves to be at 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 visitedcathedrals in Spain and is among the most amazing in Europe. Already from the outside the facade of this Gothic cathedral will captivate you, but don't rule out a visit to the interior: it is well worth it.
The historic 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 hidden in this city and will contextualize the different monuments scattered throughout the city.
The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca
Do not be fooled by appearances; this Mudejar synagogue located in the Jewish quarter may not catch your attention from the outside, but you will be surprised by its interior full of arches and white walls.
The San Juan de los Reyes Monastery
A labyrinth 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 you to read 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 influx of tourists, in Toledo there are always tourists, but it is not such a large volume that you can not 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 for tapas in the old town or book in a good restaurant to treat yourself to some of its most famous dishes such as stewed partridge, cochifrito manchego, carcamusa (meat and vegetable stew), rice toledana, or marzipan from Toledo.
What to take with you to Toledo
If you are going to walk a lot it wouldn't hurt to pack a couple of band-aids in your backpack. Toledo has many hills and you will need, above all, comfortable shoes. Otherwise, you can take the same as on any other excursion, but you can take back to Madrid some of its typical sweets or cheeses from La Mancha: 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 one 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 that you consider taking a guided tour of the city: it will help you to better understand all the corners of its streets and its history. I leave you in this article on 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 kilometers southeast of Madrid. It can take approximately 1 hour to get there from the capital.
What is Toledo known for?
Toledo is known for its medieval architecture and historical monuments, its makers of swords, marzipan and other sweets, and the magnificent views of the Tagus River.
Is it possible to visit Toledo in one day?
One day in Toledo is enough to see the main attractions, but there is much more to see than that. However, as long as you visit the Puerta del Sol, the Catedral Primada, cross the bridge over the Tagus River and stroll through the city's cobblestone streets, you will have seen the main things Toledo has to offer.