I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this Medieval UNESCO World Heritage city back in January – So much so that it made it into 2nd place for my favourite places in Spain (Ronda taking the top spot).
I stayed for 2 nights at the delightful Alfonso VI hotel and could have happily spent a 3rd night to allow me the time to explore the backstreets a little bit more. Toledo is a popular day trip destination from Madrid but I would not recommend seeing it on a day trip as there’s too much to explore, and you wouldn’t get the benefit of seeing the city lit up at night!
I was thrilled with the city walls, gates and bridges and really enjoyed admiring the city views both from the town and from the other side at the Mirador del Valle. I enjoyed exploring the edge of the city much more than I did the maze of old streets but I think this was because 1. I kept getting annoyed at myself for getting lost because I didn’t have the time to wander as I usually do and 2. getting a bit sick and tired of all the swords in the shops – Too gimmicky/touristy for my liking.
Must See Places in Toledo:
These are the sights and places that thrilled me the most… I’m sure you’ll love them too if you’re planning a trip to Toledo.
Mirador del Valle
To be honest, this wasn’t originally on my radar because I knew it was a long walk but thankfully, because I was traveling with a pro photographer who wanted the iconic shot, I was persuaded to go along! It’s best to admire the view at sunset and into blue hour (or even sunrise if you can manage to roll out of bed early enough).
Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes
Don’t miss out on going to this fantastic monastery if you love architecture and/or photography. I was so lucky because, despite visiting at midday, I had the upper level to myself and in the church there were less than 10 other people – The plus of traveling in the Winter! There’s not really so much to see and do, if you’re not taking a million photos and video’s, but it’s a must-see place and with an entry fee of just €3.50 (as of Jan 2018) there’s no reason not to!
Toledo City Walls / Gates / Bridges
The City Walls are magical and anyone who loves architecture and history is in for a treat! I set off down to Puerta Del Sol first and found myself experiencing a ‘through the keyhole’ moment with the walls blocking my view until I suddenly rounded a corner and found the gate and bridge ahead of me. In my opinion, there are 4 main walled/gate/bridge areas you need to see in order to get all the good photos and a great overview of the city as a whole: Puerta Del Sol, Puerta de Alfonso VI, Puerta De Alcantara, and San Martin’s Bridge, they’re all visible on Google maps so get saving! If you start at Alcantra Bridge you can use the beautiful ecological walkway, which I’ll blog about another time, to circumnavigate three-quarters of the city going past St Martin’s Bridge and finally ending up at Puerta de Alfonso VI where you can then walk up to Puerta De Alcantara. My feet couldn’t complete the route in 1 day so I split it up over 2 days, part of me wishes I’d managed to circle the entire city on foot though!!
Toledo Train Station
The train station isn’t somewhere you’ll find mentioned in the Top 10 things to see and do in Toledo but it’s well worth a look if you’re nearby, have the time, and haven’t visited the Alcazar (whether Toledo Alcazar or any others in Spain). The tiles are Instagram worthy as are the old wooden ticket booths with stained glass… Take a moment to admire all the ornate details.
What Not To Do In Toledo
Despite discovering that cathedrals really aren’t my cup of tea (seen one, seen them all – Blasphemy I know!) there was one thing I was really disappointed with doing and felt I actually wasted a lot of valuable time by doing. What was it?
- Toledo Free Walking Tour – This was the most boring and pointless walking tour that I’ve ever been on – It was the guide’s first time leading the tour in English so perhaps she was shy or nervous but I still wish I could get those 2 hours back! The only interesting thing I learned was that there are 3 miniature tile designs to look out for around the city. Otherwise, there was very little interesting information – Her stopping and saying “that’s the smallest window in Toledo” and “that’s the statue of Samual Levi” left us none the wiser to why they were important! We did get to see some ruins through a glass floor in a fashion shop that I would otherwise not have seen, but apart from that, there was really nothing unique, interesting or engaging. To make it worse, when one girl walked away at the end without tipping, she called her back in front of everyone and demanded to know if she had liked the tour (I guess the girl was too mortified to say no) and demanded money explaining that it wasn’t a ‘free’ walking tour…. despite what it says on the umbrellas! Thankfully I’d ‘donated’ €5 so didn’t face the same humiliated.
Still Left To Explore
I always plan to do too much and then run out of time… Here are some of the things that got missed out but that I’d recommend you look into doing!
- Synagogue of El Transito
- Ruins of convent de San Pablo
- The Alcazar
- Iglesia del Salvador (Climb to church tower)
- Parque de La Vega