Toledo is known as the City of the three cultures, as its heritage is made up of Christian, Muslim and Jewish elements. A trip to Toledo from Madrid is one of the best options to complete your trip.
1. The best excursions to Toledo from Madrid
Toledo has a lot to see and to make the most of the day and soak up all its cultural heritage, I recommend you to book an organised excursion that includes a guided tour. These are the main options:
- Organized excursion to Toledo with guide
- Organised excursion to Toledo with guide and tourist train
- Organised excursion to Toledo with guide + visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen
2. Guided tour of Toledo
This round trip tour to Toledo is the cheapest option to visit the city with a specialised guide, who will explain the cultural highlights and leave you free time to visit Toledo at your own pace. The tour includes transfer from three meeting points in Madrid in an air-conditioned bus. Here are the main stops on the tour.
It is the jewel in the crown of the city and it would be a cultural sin to leave the city without visiting it. Don't hesitate to go inside to visit places such as 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 centre of Toledo is like stepping back several centuries. Cobbled streets and stone buildings form 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
This 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 El Greco's works. 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. Don't be in a hurry to walk through its corridors and admire the contrast between the stone and the green of its interior courtyards.
Please note that
The price of this tour does not include entrance fees to the sights (they tend to have low prices and will give you time to see the inside if you buy your ticket on the spot) 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 suckling pig) 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 tour has three parts: a guided tour of the most important sights in the centre of Toledo, a tour of the city on the tourist train and free time for you to visit the city at your own pace before returning to Madrid.
But Toledo has much more to offer and it is not easy to find it all in a walking tour. For this reason, one of the most relevant attractions in the city is a train that leaves from the centre and goes through the whole city in a guided tour of about 50 minutes; don't see it as a distraction for tourists because, after having ridden it, I can assure you that it's worth it.
The price of the train ticket is included in the price of the tour (about 33 euros). What is not included is food, but you will have no problem eating tapas in any of the bars and restaurants in the city centre.
- 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 viewpoint (a place away from the city centre where you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Toledo).
4. Self-guided tour of Toledo (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 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 rush your visit to get the most out of the tourist card.
What's included in this tour
- Return train tickets
- The Toledo Travel Card, which 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 starter, 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 outskirts of Madrid take advantage of the trip to include other tourist attractions close to the capital that are not easily reached from the centre. This organised excursion to Toledo includes a visit to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen; two places that won't take up too much of your time in Toledo and are very interesting to visit. Their itinerary is summarised 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 places to visit 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 honour of the fallen during the Spanish Civil War. If you don't know anything about this historical period, it's an ideal opportunity to soak up the explanations of your guide; I guarantee you'll find it very interesting to see this place from a different perspective.
Historic centre of Toledo
Once you have finished your visits in Madrid you will head towards Toledo and in about an hour you will be walking through the streets of the city centre. 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 explore places such as the Cathedral in more depth.
Please note that
The tour 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 have to meet the rest of the tour group at a meeting point in the centre 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've decided to visit Toledo on an organised 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 for yourself, these references will help you to avoid leaving the City of Three Cultures without discovering its most emblematic places.
Viewpoint of the Valley
It's not always easy to get to as it's located on the outskirts of the city, but a taxi from the centre of Toledo shouldn't charge too 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 among the most amazing in Europe. Even from the outside, the façade of this Gothic cathedral will captivate you, but don't rule out a visit to the interior: it's well worth it.
The historic quarter
Even if you go on your own, if you have the opportunity to hire a guided tour of the centre of Toledo, I recommend it. They will tell you about the history and secrets hidden in this city and will put the different monuments scattered around it into context.
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 surprised by its interior full of arches and white walls.
San Juan de los Reyes Monastery
A labyrinth of stone walls, gardens and high ceilings, it may 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 Alcázar to admire its façade 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 sights 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's a bit cooler, so you'll need an extra jacket.
There are always tourists in Toledo, but it's not so many that you can't enjoy the city no matter what day of the week you choose to go (there will always be more people on public holidays).
Recommended length of visit
Toledo can be seen in a day, but it's not crazy to spend a night in the city to see it in more depth without having to keep an eye on 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 find yourself on the streets after dark and that wouldn't be pleasant.
What to eat
Excellent quality at affordable prices - what more could you ask for? In Toledo you can go out for tapas in the old quarter or book a good restaurant to treat yourself to some of its most famous dishes, such as stewed partridge, cochifrito manchego, carcamusa (meat and vegetable stew), arroz a la toledana (Toledo-style rice), or mazapán de Toledo (Toledo marzipan).
What to take with you to Toledo
If you're going to be walking a lot, it wouldn't hurt to pack a pair of plasters in your rucksack. Toledo has many hills and you will need, above all, comfortable shoes. Otherwise, you can take the same things you would take on any other excursion, but you can take some of the typical sweets or Manchego cheeses back to Madrid: a delicious souvenir.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Don't forget to take in the views of Toledo from the Mirador del Valle viewpoint; they will leave you in awe.
8. If you are interested in a trip to Toledo, you will also be interested in
After seeing Toledo you'll discover that, beyond the provincial capitals, Spain has some impressive cities that you can visit without spending too much time on the road. Another such city is Segovia; preceded by its famous aqueduct, it is located an hour from Madrid and there are several organised excursions and guided tours available. I have written this guide to Segovia Day Trips from Madrid which may be of interest to 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 every corner of its streets and its history. This article on Madrid Tours gives you all the information you need to organise your guided tour.
Frequently asked questions
How far is Toledo from Madrid?
Toledo is about 70 kilometres 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 cobbled streets, you will have seen the main things Toledo has to offer.