7 must-do things to do in Toledo

Visiter Tolède

Visiting Toledo: what are the best things to see and do in this town in central Spain, 70 km southwest of Madrid?

Toledo was the capital of Spain until 1563. Close to Madrid, it is known as the city of three cultures, or the « Jerusalem of the West », for the peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians and Muslims for several centuries.

Toledo has benefited from a wide range of influences, each of which has left its own unique mark on the town. To visit Toledo is to immerse yourself in a wealth of history and culture concentrated in a small space.

What to do in Toledo? The choice is yours! Here are a few suggestions for your first visit to the capital of the Castilla-La Mancha region.

1. A visit to Toledo’s Cathedral of Santa Maria is a must.

Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Tolède

Photo credit: Flickr – Son of Groucho

Toledo’s Cathedral of St. Mary is a Gothic building whose construction began in 1226 and was completed in the 15th century. It contains magnificent masterpieces, including paintings by Goya, Caravaggio, Velázquez and El Greco. The Gothic façade of this symbol of the power of Catholic Spain is a must-see.

2. Toledo’s Alcázar, a witness to history

Alcázar de Tolède

Photo credit: Flickr – leo_ceibe

The Alcázar is an imposing Arab fortress converted into a residence during the reign of Emperor Charles V. It stands on the highest hill in the city, which it dominates. The Alcázar is steeped in history, having witnessed numerous military confrontations over the centuries, from the Middle Ages to the Spanish Civil War. Today, it houses the Army Museum and the Castilla-La Mancha Library.

3. Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

Monastère de San Juan de los Reyes, Tolède

Photo credit: Flickr – Marina Garcia

This beautiful monument was built in memory of the Battle of Toro in 1476 and in honor of Prince John by the Catholic Monarchs during the reign of Isabel I of Castile. It was also intended as a royal mausoleum. It is a sumptuous example of the so-called Isabelline Gothic style. Its two-level square cloister is absolutely magnificent and not to be missed.

4. Discover Toledo’s Jewish heritage

El Transito, Tolède

El Tránsito – Photo credit: Flickr – Antonio Marín Segovia

Toledo boasts one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in the country. The Sephardic Museum gives you an insight into the richness of Jewish civilization. It is housed in the El Tránsito monument, one of the city’s two synagogues. Santa María la Blanca, the second, is nearby. Built in the 12th century, it was converted into a church in the 15th century. A fine example of Mudejar style.

5. Santo Tomé Church holds a wonderful secret

Église Santo Tomé, Tolède

Photo credit: Flickr – Harvey Barrison

A must-see if only to admire one of El Greco’s major works, the Burial of the Count of Orgaz, in the purest Mannerist style. This Mudejar monument was built in the 12th century and features a beautiful bell tower.

6. Also in Toledo

Mosquée Cristo de la Luz, Tolède

Photo credit: Flickr – Antonio Marín Segovia

Visiting Toledo is also about these few attractions that we suggest to complete your tour of the city:

  • Cristo de la Luz Mosque, a fine example of Islamic art
  • Zocodover Square and the Mercado de San Agustín
  • The Convent of San Clemente
  • Mirador del Valle
  • The Bisagra Gate
  • El Greco House Museum

7. Things to do in the Toledo area

Château de Guadamur, Tolède

Photo credit: Flickr – Antonio Soler

Would you like to explore the surrounding area? Find out what to do near Toledo in this list:

  • Aranjuez and its royal palace
  • Guadamur Castle
  • Cabañeros National Park for nature lovers
  • The windmills of Consuegra, scene of Don Quixote’s adventures!
  • Madrid, 30 minutes by train, several departures a day

How do I get to Toledo?

Toledo can usually be visited in a day from Madrid, but as you can see, it’s worth spending a little more than a day. You can get there by train from Atocha station, from where a train leaves every hour, at a reasonable price (between €10 and €15 return). To find a cheap flight to Madrid, you can search on our partner website Skyscanner.

Where to stay in Toledo?

You won’t have any trouble finding accommodation in Toledo, as it’s not a large city and has several neighborhoods to choose from. However, if you’re looking for authenticity, you’ll find it in the old town center. You can find a cheap hotel in Toledo by searching on this hotel comparator.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Toledo,es