A last minute holiday to Toledo, Spain will leave you with lasting memories. The city has a rich history and is a UNESCO World Heritage City, earning the designation in 1986. If you’re a history buff and moved to raptures by the mere thought of cobbled streets, cathedrals, museums, and culture, then you can easily spend a couple of days here.
The city serves as the capital of an eponymously named province and Castile La Mancha. I know what you’re thinking – The Man from La Mancha? Yes, a.k.a Don Quixote, the character was based around these parts.
Toledo is at a distance of around 70 km from Madrid, and a train journey from Atocha station, Madrid will bring you to Toledo in 40 minutes. There are no direct flights to Toledo. The nearest airport to Toledo, Spain is the Barajas Airport, Madrid, which is 79 km away. If you’re travelling in a group, you can choose to book a shuttle to your destination in Toledo. This is a door-to-door service.
A bus journey on the A-42 freeway from Barajas to Toledo will take around 60 minutes or a little more. You can catch a bus from the Plaza Elíptica bus station. If you’re planning a day trip from Madrid, consider purchasing a return ticket for the bus, will cost you around €10.
In Toledo, you can either hike up to the city from the bus station, or take a local bus that will drop you at Plaza Zocodover.
Last Minute Holidays to Toledo, Spain – Things to Do
Toledo is a hilly city, and is best discovered on foot. The old city, especially, will willingly reveal its age-old tales and gossip with you if you can understand the dialect spoken by old stone walls, crenelated balconies, fountains in the myriad squares, and great old wooden doors.
Check out the tobacco shops here. They also sell stamps. Estanco Marina Carrasco, on Ronda Buenavista; Tobacconist Cava Tristan on Calle de París; and Estanco 21 Toledo on Calle Río Cascajoso are three Toledo tobacco shops to check out. If you’re seized by the urge to send a postcard to folks back in the U.K or wherever else they are, you can buy stamps and a smoke from these shops.
Internet connectivity in Toledo is good. You can avail free WiFi internet at public squares like Zocodover and Ayuntamiento. The public library is another spot for free internet.
The best way to get the most out of your time in Toledo is to have an itinerary in place. Visit any of the tourist offices in the city and seek their help in drawing a itinerary down to the most favorable routes to take.
The Zocotren is an inexpensive way to take in all the sights of the city. The train service offers a 40-minute ride with stops in between at vantage points for the best views of the city.
The Toledo City Tour is a tourist bus service managed by the city of Toledo. It’s an alternative to the Zocotren and suitable for people with reduced mobility. This Hop On Hop Off bus service has stops at the Plaza de Zocodover, Puerta de Bisagra, AVE train station, Mirador del Valle, in the area known as Los Cigarrales and the San Martín Bridge. The two-storied open bus is a wonderful way to take in the views and learn about the city.
Monuments in Toledo
- Palaces and Castles – Archbishop Palace, Palace of Galiana, Castle of San Servando.
- Bridges – Bridge of San Martin, Bridge of Alcantara.
- Towers – Tower of San Cipriano, Tower of San Cristobal, Iron Tower, Tower of El Salvador, Tower of San Andres.
- Public Buildings – Town Hall, Palace of Lorenzana, Alhondiga, House of Mesa, School of Arts and Crafts.
- Gates and City Walls – Gate Hinge, Alarcones Gate, Alacantara Gate, Twelve Cantos Gate, Cambron Gate, Gate of Sun.
- Hermitages – Hermitage of La Bastida, Hermitage of San Eugenio, Hermitage of Cristo de la Vega.
Museums in Toledo
- Museum of El Greco – Contains famous works that include ” The tears of San Pedro” and “Apostolate”.
- Sephardic Museum – Located in a 14th century synagogue, it details the history of Jews in Spain from Roman times.
- Museum of Victorio Macho – It houses the works of the sculptor, Victorio Macho.
- Museum of Santa Cruz – A beautiful museum with sections on archaeology, fine arts, and industrial art.
- Cathedral Museum – It houses works by Goya, Titian, Rafael, and others. Monstrance by Enrique de Arfe is the highlight.
- Hospital of Tavera – A hospital building from the 16th century, with a well-preserved pharmacy from those times.
Exhibition Halls in Toledo
- San Clemente Cultural Center
- Garcilaso Café
- Cultural Center of Caja Castilla -La Mancha
- Caja de Guadalajara
- Caja Rural de Toledo
- Palace of Benacazón
- Rooms of the Library of Castilla-La Mancha
- Exhibition Hall of San Pedro Mártir
- Mosque of the Turneries
Squares in Toledo
- Plaza de Zocodover – The most popular square, one that has seen it all from bullfights to executions. It has seen the fortunes of Toledo rise and fall from the days of the Romans. It has seen masters come and go, and today it is a vibrant spot in downtown Toledo.
- Plaza de Santa Teresa de Jesús – Located some distance from the Puerta del Cambron, the square goes back more than a few centuries.
- Plaza de Santa Clara – The square located close to Real de Santo Domingo and Santa Clara is the site of the palace of the Marquis de Malpica.
- Plaza de San Cipriano – A small little plaza that offers nice views of the Church of St. Cyprian.
There are other plazas in Toledo that offer space for contemplation, rest, an opportunity to shop and visit historic buildings. These include Plaza de las Capuchinas, Plaza de Santo Domingo el Real, Plaza de Barrio Nuevo, and Plaza del Padre Juan de Mariana.
Free Things to do in Toledo, Spain
If you wish to imbibe the vibes Toledo puts on display for tourists, then head for Plaza Zocodover and the area around the Cathedral. But beyond these spots, you will encounter the real Toledo, a city with its soul ensconced by the River Tagus on three sides and medieval walls on the fourth. You can explore the old parts of the city in less than an hour.
These walks won’t cost you any money. And, will give you a chance to check out the grand architecture that the city has preserved so well. The Town Hall and Fuensalida, a beautiful palace that is nearly 600 years old will catch your attention. Other landmarks that you can gaze at and photograph include the Alcantara Bridge that dates back to Roman times and the magnificent Moorish fortifications of Alcazar, which sits atop the highest hill in Toledo.
If hiking and trekking is your thing, then climb the hill of the Cerro de la Virgen de Gracia for a bird’s eye view of the city and capture the panorama on lens.
Here’s a cool pro tip that can save you money. The many museums and places of worship in Toledo charge an entry fee, but are free to the public on weekends. Sunday mornings and Saturday afternoons are for free entries to the El Transito synagogue, the Military Museum, and the El Greco museum.
Weather Forecast for Toledo, Spain
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Best Restaurants in Toledo, Spain
Eating out in Toledo is a pleasurable experience for the senses. The city offers all kinds of eating options, as befits a popular holiday destination. You will find budget eateries, fine dining restaurants, cafes, tapas bars, and restaurants that serve local cuisine.
Tasting menus from €25 at Kumera attract locals and tourists. Restaurante Adolfo is a landmark institution in Toledo, and its tasting menus from €58 include many modern dishes as well as traditional ones, such as Perdiz – partridge cooked in wine.
La Mar Salá has earned a reputation for the best rice dishes, an excellent wine cellar, and great seafood. It is a short ride from the city centre.
As little as €8.30 will have you tasting the best tapas in town at Bar Trébol.
For friendly service and pocket-friendly delicious Jamon Serrano, you can’t beat Restaurante El Penon, close to the bus station.
El Fogon Del Quijote, located on Carretera Navalpino, offers healthy portions of home-cooked food at a great price.
Shopping in Toledo
Some of the best shopping in Toledo can be had at Santo Tomé and Comercio. The historic city centre is a great place to check out artisan craftwork that includes damascened metalwork, swords, daggers, ceramics, leather, and pottery. Consider buying from shops that manufacture the stuff. Ask questions of them and you’ll learn things…about the history of the product and the process involved. You’ll enjoy. The Jewish Quarter is a great place for purchasing artifacts and souvenirs.
Mariano Zamorano Swords is a swordmaking forge in Toledo that is one of the last of its kind in the world. It continues to carry forward the centuries old tradition of excellent edged blades coming out of Toledo. Toledo steel was in demand from Roman times and even during the medieval era, the Moors and Christians both prized weapons coming out of this city. Visit the workshop at Calle Ciudad 19 to watch master craftsmen at work, handle weapons, learn about the craft, and buy a souvenir that can become a family heirloom.
The souvenir shops in the old quarter of the city sell replicas of work by famous painters such as El Greco, Goya, Picasso, Juan Miro, etc. You can also buy replica guns, replica armour, replica coat of arms, and such stuff. Damascened work is a hit, and you can buy bracelets with beautiful metal inlays.
Damasquinados is a factory that specializes in producing damascened metals. It is located alongside the Paseo Circo Romano. Take advantage of the free tour offered by the establishment to tour operators and take a look at how damascened swords, shields, and daggers are made here.
Head over to the Mall Luz del Tajo in Santa Maria de Benquerencia for some modern-day shopping that you’d expect in a mall. You can catch a movie in this mall and eat at one of the restaurants here.
There’s an ongoing feud between Toledo and Sicily over where the marizpan (mazapán) was first made. That’s not really our business, but if you happen to be in Toledo, then you must taste this delicacy here and carry some home for family. There are many shops here that sell marzipan, but for really tasty and well-made marzipan that is free of artificial flavouring, you must check out Jacinta and Maria Chocolates on Calle de Sta Fe. Another confectionery store that attracts patrons from all over Spain is the Confiteria Santo Tomé. Check it out.
Casa Cuatero is a landmark food shop that is nearly 100 years old. It is close to the cathedral and sells local delicacies such as cured meats, wines, and cheeses. If you wish to savour these aspects of central Spanish cuisine on your last minute Toledo holiday then this shop is a must-visit to take home some very tasty tidbits.
The Best Bars in Toledo, Spain
Toledo is a city in love with history, but it has a lot to offer to those who wish to chill after sundown and a day of museum hopping.
- El Colmadito – This one is a favourite with the locals. You get five beers for three Euros, and the food here is not to be sneezed at. The burgers have tender patties, and the tapas are tasty. Eat, drink, enjoy the company of youth, and be merry. El Colmadito, Plaza Islas Filipinas 3, Toledo, Spain +34 925 281 250
- Cerveceria Boni – It’s a Spanish tavern and it serves a huge tankard of beer with a big Spanish omlette for only 20 euros. The tapas are creative, tasty, and cheap. If you wish to get a feel of what a proper Toledo bar is like, then come here. Cervecería Boni, Calle Rio Alberche 38, Toledo, Spain.
There’s a lot more to Toledo’s nightlife than just a few bars and pubs. Go here to read more.
Last Minute Hotel Deals in Toledo
There is no dearth of quality hotels that you can stay in during your last minute Toledo holiday. Late deals on hotels can get you impressive discounts. From less than €40 to more than € 100 for a night, you can choose from one-star hotels up to luxury five-star hotels. Hotel Carlos V is a 3-star hotel, at Plaza Horno de la Magdalena, and it boasts excellent conference facilities. It offers complimentary breakfasts. Hotel Real de Toledo is a 10-minute walk from the cathedral and located in the old walled section of the city. These are but two of the many excellent accommodation alternatives available in Toledo.