Do you need reasons to go to Toledo? Sure:
- It’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site;
- It’s full of history, hence the UNESCO recognition;
- It’s easy to reach from Madrid;
- It’s very quaint and picturesque.
How to get there?
Just take the train, really. The high speed service from Madrid Puerta de Atocha to Toledo is called ‘Avant‘ and only takes forty minutes non-stop.
Book your seat in advance. Don’t queue. Go online on Renfe.com to book, The website is quite easy. If you don’t have Spanish ID, don’t use the app. You need to create an account using your ID card number and that has to be Spanish. So just go to the homepage.
The ride costs 10.30 euros one way or 20.60 euros return.
Keep in mind that there is security in the station. Be on time, allow time through security and then to the platform. As at airports, there’s a check of your ticket before getting on the platform.
You’re not in Belgium, there’s no time for last minute popping up at the station…
Leaving Toledo railway station, the old town is not far on foot. From a distance, it reminded me of San Marino. I haven’t written about my visit to that independent republic yet, bit I will in the future.
Anyway. Toledo is very walkable. Just wandering is the streets already loads of fun and provides many photo opportunities.
What we did?
Tim and I visited the library, as it has a café with a view in the tower.
An obvious activity is a visit of the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo (Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo). Take an extra ticket for a tour of the bell tower. It’s absolutely worth it. The cathedral is an example of High Gothic architecture.
We had lunch at the slightly upscale Taberna El Botero. Go upstairs, to the restaurant, don’t ask for a table downstairs in the tavern.
Toledo has some very old synagogues which survived as they were turned into churches. The Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca is one of the three synagogues that remain in Spain from before the expulsion of the Jews in the 16th century.
Inside though, it’s not that special. The idea is.
Much more worth a visit is the Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes. Commissioned by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castilla to be their thomb. Although they were buried in Granada, the Monastery is still an beautiful piece of architecture. In the Spring sun, it offered an oasis of calm.
After all the walking we decided we deserved a treat: mazapán de Toledo is the local sweet. It’s baked marzipan and it tastes good. We bought a box at Pastelería Santo Tomé on the Plaza Zodocover.
If you’re in Madrid, I highly recommend a day-trip to Toledo. It has much more history than Madrid, it’s quaint, it’s easy.
We were there about six hours, which felt plenty. But obviously, everyone has his or hers own rhythm.