What can I visit, do, eat or buy in one day in Toledo ? If you don’t have time to sleep in this city, I’m going to leave you a few guidelines to make it a little easier to visit Toledo in one day, arriving early and leaving when the city lights up. Ideal for escapes from Madrid on any day… Let’s get to it.
Yeah, just an hour for lunch. We don’t have time, we’re only going to spend a few hours in Toledo… If you go with children, you know this will be complicated…
Shed of Santo Domingo el Real
I begin this article with a statement that goes against the title: It’s not a good idea to visit Toledo in a day.
If you have no other option, if it’s a stop on your way to another place, or if you travel a few hours from Madrid by AVE train (20 minutes of nothing, sometimes it takes less to get to Toledo than to certain neighborhoods of Madrid by Metro), then we provide a series of guidelines, monuments and essential things to do in this wonderful city.
The route we propose is designed for a first visit, to get to know “the most important things“, as time permits, although I insist, we will leave a lot of things for a more leisurely visit…
A word of warning: if you try to do this tour on a Sunday, or on a holiday, it is likely that some museums and monuments have other opening and closing times (or even some monuments are free!). It will also depend on the time of year…
For example in Easter the processions invade many corners or in Corpus Christi they open numerous patios, which makes it difficult to visit Toledo in one day. Every season of the year has its charm.
If you spend a day in Toledo, you will surely come back for at least one night.
Here we are. Visit Toledo in one day
It’s 9 in the morning. Sometimes it’s a good idea to start the day with an introductory “Free Tour of Toledo” that will help you clear up many doubts and get to know the city a little.
Car: If you have traveled to our city by car, our recommendation is that you park in an area that is free. If you prefer, there is a “blue zone” (ORA) in many neighborhoods of the city (what is painted in green is only for residents, although Saturday afternoon, Sundays and holidays you can park without paying).
First recommendation: do not use GPS to drive into the old part of Toledo. You could easily get lost and end up stuck in a narrow alley.
Today we recommend parking in the area known in Toledo as “Safont”, in front of the bus station. It is only a few minutes away from the new escalators that take you directly to El Miradero (new congress palace) and a few metres away is the Plaza de Zocodover, the starting point for any visit to Toledo.
An alternative way is to take a pleasant walk from the car park to Puerta de Bisagra, facing for the first time one of Toledo’s slopes, which will make you sleep wonderfully well at home tonight.
Bus: departing from the bus station you will arrive in a few minutes at the escalators mentioned above and from there to Zocodover.
AVE train from Madrid: you can take the city bus with a stop outside the train station (on the right there is a marquee), take a taxi or walk up the river Tagus to the escalators and Zocodover (about 30 minutes walk).
As we have little time and do not want to get tired as soon as we arrive, we recommend the city bus or a taxi.
Whatever your choice, we will start at the Plaza de Zocodover, as you can also get there directly from the Bisagra gate.
It’s 9:30. Shall we have some coffee?
The neuralgic centre of Toledo, the Arab “market of beasts”, modified by Juan Herrera in the times of Felipe II…
We are not going to stop at the history of each point, although in our pages or in any guide that prides itself you will discover that every corner of Toledo houses a piece of the History of Spain.
Not in vain were we the capital of the Empire until Philip II decided to take it to Madrid… An obligatory stop to visit Toledo in one day.
Before starting a tour of the city, tell you that Toledo is something “complicated” to visit. What do we mean? That walking around this city with a guide on your mobile or on paper and trying to get to know the city in about 8-10 hours is a very complicated task.
Toledo conserves hundreds of corners, monuments, viewpoints, secrets, which cannot be visited in just a few hours. Perhaps a good option is to book one of the guided tours that during the day, in the afternoon and even at night are carried out by companies such as “Toledo Guided Tours“.
They will show you aspects and places of the city that are complicated to visit by oneself, bearing in mind that at around 18 hours practically all the monuments of the city close…
Toledo is a labyrinth of narrow alleys, slopes and descents. If you are not careful, you will end up doing the same route again and again…
If it’s early, you can have breakfast or a coffee in Zocodover, in its surroundings there are numerous cafes.
It’s 10 o’clock. We take the Calle Comercio (Calle Ancha we call it in Toledo) and walk without stopping much in the shops (there will be time later) to get to the Puerta Llana of the Cathedral, where we will buy tickets (up to 11 €, depending on the visit, from 10 to 18 hours).
In this great temple, we could be hours, days, to know all its treasures and secrets. A “quick” visit could take up to an entire hour…
The Cathedral, if it is your first time in Toledo, is essential. And if you’re lucky enough to join one of the groups that climb the tower, you can visit one of the world’s largest bells, “La Campana Gorda“.
Inside the Cathedral, engraved with a drone on the occasion of the IV Centenary of the Second Part of the publication of El Quijote, from CRFP CLM on Vimeo.
We go out and find ourselves in another “great” square, the Town Hall square (if you live in a city, you will see that the concept of square in Toledo is something smaller than usual).
Underneath the Town Hall we can access the tourist information office (there is another one in Zocodover) where we can get a map so as not to get lost too much in the streets (sometimes complicated, Toledo is a labyrinth).
Views from the Alcázar de Toledo
A View from heights
It’s 11 o’clock. And from the Cathedral we have two options to contemplate a wonderful view of Toledo from the top. It’s your choice:
Library of Castilla-La Mancha in the Alcázar of Toledo. Of free access (Saturday afternoons and Sundays closed), in the last floors of the bastion toledano par excellence.
A building worth visiting inside, either in its Army Museum or in this library with wonderful views from the windows. You can also have another coffee or an aperitif in the cafeteria at the top of one of the towers.
The views are incredible.
Church of San Ildefonso (known as “the Jesuits”) The entrance to this monument includes a visit to a magnificent church and its two towers, from which we will get a wonderful view of the rooftops of the city.
Here you can buy a tourist bracelet that for 9 € allows you to visit seven monuments of the city, saving some money, and that we will visit on this tour: San Juan de los Reyes, Church of San Ildefonso, Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, Santo Tomé (and the famous picture of El Greco), Church of El Salvador, College of Noble Maidens and the Synagogue of Santa María La Blanca.
In either case, it will take us a while to climb (in the Alcázar less because there is an elevator) to the heights and get a beautiful picture of Toledo.
The sunsets are especially beautiful in these places but…, as you don’t stay to sleep, in another occasion it will be.
To the Mosque
It’s about 12:00. We arrive at one of the ten mosques that Toledo had, built in 999. With our bracelet we enter and make a visit to this small but important monument.
Look inside upwards, the nine small vaults are a wonder. This building houses, like so many others in Toledo, some very curious legends.
From there we go up the hill again (I’m sorry) and we reach Alfileritos street where we find a small niche that houses an image of the Virgin and a curious legend (Virgen de Alfileritos).
Shall we eat soon?
It’s 13 hours. In Toledo it is a good idea to eat at an early hour, around 1 pm approximately. If we visit the city in a day of a lot of tourism (holidays, bridges, etc.) we will find that at 14-15 hours to all Spaniards we get hungry… And full restaurants.
If we have not booked before (sometimes it is a good idea to call ahead if we are looking for something special), it will be advisable to go looking for some place.
In this case we are not going to recommend anything, the possibilities are many and excellent.
In any case, Toledo is full of restaurants within the area of the wall (also in the outer districts, but we will not have time to arrive) and a few minutes from the place where we are.
Toledo has been selected as “Gastronomic Capital of Spain 2016“.
If you eat soon, you will have more time to visit monuments or walk.
To the Sheds
It’s 2 p.m. Yes, only one hour to eat. We don’t have time, we’re only going to spend a few hours in Toledo… If you go with children, you know this will be complicated…
The sheds preserve the charm of the oldest, most mysterious Toledo… Yes, a pity about the traffic light.
If we have eaten in the area where we were (Alfileritos street), going straight on we will arrive at a small square where there is a well-known nightclub (Círculo del Arte) -we won’t insist that if you don’t spend the night here you’ll miss it- and that it used to be the church of San Vicente (are you surprised that a church is now a discotheque? Behind this Church-Disco or concert hall and walking a few minutes we reach one of the most charming areas of Toledo: the shed of Santo Domingo el Real and its square.
A secluded corner, silent, surrounded by high walls and at night envelops us with numerous mysteries.
There we could read some legend of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer or if we are lucky and the Convent of Santo Domingo el Real is open, access to one of the many secrets that this city preserves.
Also in the same square we find a new monument, one of the facilities of Cristina Iglesias that the city incorporated to its heritage on the occasion of the commemoration “El Greco 2014”.
It is a small fountain inside a room of the Convent of Santa Clara, which is accessed at a door present in this little square.
Also in another door located right in the shed we will be able to acquire sweets and marzipan that the nuns of the convent sell there.
Between Bécquer and El Greco.
15 hours: Taking advantage of the beginning of the afternoon and leaving behind this shed on Aljibes street we can take a pleasant walk to our next destination.
We stroll to the back of the building of San Pedro Mártir, one of the headquarters of the University of Castilla-La Mancha in the city to find the hidden plateresque portal of the Convent of San Clemente, designed by Covarrubias.
At a certain height, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer wrote his signature on this façade. It is difficult to see it but with this link, if you carry it on your mobile, you will surely get it.
A real jewel of heritage that combines a beautiful cover with the wake left by an important Spanish writer, around 1857.
The alleys that house this treasure take us back to another era, with great charm, and are usually far from the usual tourist routes.
In the same square just before entering the alley where the cover is mentioned we find the access to the Museum of Councils and Visigoth Culture, in the church of San Roman.
A museum that has interesting archaeological remains of the Visigoths and reproductions of the votive crowns of the kings Suintila and Recesvinto found in Guadamur in the nineteenth century and belonging to the Treasury of Guarrazar.
(Access costs few euros, usually change every few years, we recommend consulting)
If we go down this street where we find the front page and take a little stroll, we will reach the street of Santo Tomé, an artery with much more tourism and full of gift shops, cafeterias… And also an important monument in Toledo: the church of Santo Tomé, which houses the most recognised painting by El Greco “The Burial of the Lord of Orgaz”.
The Burial of the Lord of Orgaz (El Greco)
If there is not much tail we will enter quite quickly with our tourist bracelet and in few minutes we will have contemplated a great masterpiece.
Also, if there is opportunity, we can visit this small church, which is located in the Plaza del Conde, also place of the Palacio de Fuensalida, headquarters of the Presidency of Castilla-La Mancha and a monumental building that can also be visited, with a great historical load.
Sephardic Museum: the Jewish Quarter
Sixteen hours. It is one of the most visited museums in Spain (Web of the Sephardic Museum, 3€ entrance fee). Its large prayer room is impressive, as it is located in the Transit Synagogue and contains elements related to Jewish religion and culture in Toledo and around the world.
It won’t take us long to visit their estancias but it’s worth stopping for a while and getting to know the history of one of the famous “Three Cultures” that played an outstanding role in the history of Toledo and were explained in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs.
It is said that today some Jewish families keep the keys that in the 15th century opened the doors of their houses in Toledo…
Do you want to hear reminiscences of Sephardic music? Listen to Ana Alcaide, sometimes you can even find her playing her music in the streets of Toledo, next to the Cathedral.
Very close to this museum is another synagogue, “Santa María la Blanca“, which we can access with our Toledo tourist bracelet. Synagogue for 211 years, it was expropriated and transformed into a church as a consequence of the pogrom of 1391.
What we are now contemplating is a Mudejar building with five naves separated by pillars on which rest horseshoe arches of Arab origin.
The influence of these “Three Cultures” can be felt in this great monument.
Very close to the previous Synagogue is the museum dedicated to the brilliant sculptor Victorio Macho. It is the headquarters of the Royal Foundation of Toledo. In addition, the views from the terraces overlooking the Tagus River are impressive.
San Juan de los Reyes (Cloister of San Juan de los Reyes)
It’s 5:30. If we have gone fast in the previous monuments, or we have skipped some, we will arrive in time to access with our bracelet to (in my opinion) the most impressive church and monastery of the city.
It closes at 17:45 in winter and at 18:45 in summer.
Queen Isabel I “the Catholic” intended this space as a royal pantheon, hence the curious shape of the large sarcophagus church covered by an enormous crown that would be the dome.
The conserved cloister (of the two that there were) is a magnificent Gothic example in which we should make a stop in the route and recreate ourselves with the different forms and figures that adorn the large windows.
Towards the bridge of San Martín
From 18:30… We could end this “tour” through Toledo going down to the door of Cambrón and then to the great bridge of San Martín, but then we would have to go back up to the car or train…
We have to do all the way back, but following the axis Santo Tomé – Plaza del Ayuntamiento – Zocodover would not take more than an hour to return to the initial parking area… It is an option.
Another is to have dinner in the area, or return to the area of Zocodover and about 20 hours, quietly, dinner in a restaurant that at that time will be quite crowded.