All you can see in Toledo in one day: what t do in Toledo Spain for a day

One day in Toledo: Toledo city center castle

Day trip Madrid to Toledo: how to plan it, best things to see in Toledo, why we recommend it.

What to do in Toledo Spain for a day?

What is the best Toledo day trip itinerary? In this post, I answer this questions with a Toledo day trip itinerary including the top things to see in Toledo  and tips and advice for cultural travellers of all ages.

One of the most pleasant and easy day trips from Madrid is a visit to the stunning city of Toledo.

Madrid – Toledo day trip itinerary

This is the itinerary that we followed for our Madrid to Toledo day trip.

The itinerary takes an full day but not an overly long one: we arrived in Toledo mid morning and we left before dark, which made it a great day trip from Madrid as it allowed us to enjoy an easy evening back in town.

Since this was our fist visit, we focussed on the most famous Toledo attractions usually recommended as the best things to see in Toledo.

What is Toledo best known for?

Toledo is a historical city in the centre of Spain famous for its important past and now famous as one of the mos visites UNESCO World Heritage sites in the whole of Spain.

Toledo has a long history that saw this small roman town first become the capital of the Visigoths Kingdom, then a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the capital of the Spanish Empire.

Its long history dotted its cobbled lanes with architectural jewels and strolling through it makes for a pleasant an interesting day of historical discovery that will bring you from Roman times to the dawn of the Modern era.

The main attractions in Toledo are its impressive Alcazar, its many churches and its old streets.

They are a treat for history lovers but also a great day out for food lovers and for anyone interested in leaving behind the busy streets of Madrid for a day.

How many hours for a Madrid – Toledo day trip?

With SegoviaToledo is usually described as one of the best day trips from Madrid.

Indeed, while additional time would allow you a more in depth visit, I believe a full day here will be enough to see most of the city and get a good sense of the place.

I recommend you plan a full day here,morning to evening if you intend to visit some of the attractions such as the Alcazar or some of the churches inside. 

Please be advised that Toledo is very popular and especially in the good season, the crowds can be overwhelming.

Especially for meals, I recommend to plan stops either early or late so you don’t have to content with the other tourists for a table!

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How to get to Toledo from Madrid?

The best way to get to Toledo from Madrid is by train.

The two cities are connected by frequent and efficient trains departing from Madrid Puerta de Atocha station.  Tickets can be bought on the day from the main ticket office inside the station and seat reservation is compulsory.

Booking tip: especially at the weekends, Toledo is very popular with day-trippers and trains fill up fast. Tourists tend to leave the city in the late afternoon with the 5 pm train, so if you book a slightly later one you see a calmer, more authentic side of the city.

Madrid to Toledo by train

To get from Madrid to Toledo by train is easy:frequent trains connect Madrid Puerta de Atocha to Toledo and tickets can be bough both online on the renfe website or at the station. The trip takes about 35-40 minutes and the trains are clean and well kept.

Toledo is perched on a hill and the train station is right at its bottom.

The walk to the town centre is not long (about ten minutes) but it gets steep and it is better avoided with your children or if carrying luggage. A better option is a short bus ride up (from in front of the train station) or a taxi: it will only set you back about 5 Euro and will leave you right beside the Alcazar, the buzzing town centre.

Madrid to Toledo by car

Toledo’s hilltop location means that car access is strictly regulated and, overall, hard. Parking places are located outside the city centre and tend to fill up fast: if you can, try to reach the city early in the morning to claim your spot.

Madrid to Toledo day trips with guides / organised tours

Several companies organise transfer or fully fledged guided day trips from Madrid to Toledo.

These are some of the tours on offer, selected by the number of positive reviews received on the specialized site GetYourGuide.

Toledo Full-day Tour from Madrid (8h)

Toledo Half day tour from Madrid (5h)

From Madrid: Full-Day Toledo Tour with Entry to 8 Monuments (9h)

Toledo Full-Day All Inclusive Tour from Madrid with Lunch (9h)

Madrid to Toledo day trip: guided vs self-guided

Many companies offer organised day trips from Madrid to Toledo, but if you prefer ta visit at your own pace, I found independent travel between the two cities easy.

You can get detailed maps of Toledo in the train station on arrival (2 Euro per map) and all attractions are well signposted and have good information panels in Spanish and English.

If you want to understand better the art and history of the city, joining a local tour is, I believe, the best option

Day trip Madrid to Toledo: What to see in Toledo Spain in one day?

Size-wise, Toledo is small and it is possible to walk from one side of the town to the other in a  matter of minutes. Despite this, the concentration of buildings and attractions is so high, one full day in the city will be just about enough to feel you have explored the town and it is likely to leave you wanting for more.

Among the many things to do in Toledo, these are my Toledo must-see attractions

Toledo Alcazar

The first building you see on arrival and the one that dominates the surrounding countryside is the Toledo Alcazar (the fortress), a stunning building, with a peculiar architecture mixing Moorish and Christian motives.

It dates back to Roman times (III century A.D.) but was subsequently rebuilt and extended until in the XVI century acquired its current facade.

Over the course of the centuries, the Alcazar worked as a palace and a fortress and was at the centre historically significant sieges: latest and most famous is the one that happened in 1936, during the Spanish civil war, when the Nationalists manage to keep hold of it for over two months, despite the attacks of the republican artillery.

Nowadays it works as an interesting museum of the armed forces.

Things to see in Toledo: the Alcazar, with two of the four corner towers
Toledo’s Alcazar: the fortress dominates the surrounding countryside and has a peculiar architecture that mixes Moorish and Christian elements.

Santa Maria la Blanca

This is possibly the building in Toledo that made the strongest impression on me, because of its peculiar aesthetics and history.

It is allegedly the oldest Synagogues in Spain, where the Jews are believed to have arrived in the I century A.D. right after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Roman army. It was built by Islamic architects for the use of the Jewish community under the Christian Kingdom of Castilla in 1880.

It is an incredible example of the cooperation that existed between the three communities during the Middle Ages and nowadays it is owned and preserved by the Catholic church.

Santa Maria la Blanca is a beautiful building, with an unmistakable Moorish flair in terms of architecture. Its most distinctive trait is the colour of its inside, echoed in the name of the building. Its many columns and arches are entirely white, with only golden coloured decorations on the capitals.

The Synagogue, during the course of its history, was converted into a church and the Christian cross can be seen dominating the central nave

Santa Maria la Blanca Toledo, side nave
Santa maria la Blanca, Toledo and its distinctive whitewashed columns and walls. A site I highly recommend you include in your Toledo day trip itinerary

Sinagoga del Transito

Another incredible building located in the Jewish part of Toledo town is the Sinagoga del Transito, nowadays  a museum.

The Synagogue was built in 1356 and it is one of those buildings that seem designed to surprise the visitor. Its outside is severe and not overly ornate (except great detailing around the window frames) while the inside has intricate stucco artwork that will leave you in awe.

The Synagogue has a main prayer hall and, beside it, the Sefardi museum, telling the story of the Jewish community in Spain. Access to both the Synagogue and the museum is free and a visit is not to be missed.

Sinagoga del transito, Toledo, Spain. Detail of the stucco work inside the main prayer hall
My photo doesn’t do justice to the intricate and beautiful stucco work inside the main hall of the Sinagoga del Transito in Toledo

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo has a wonderful, grand cathedral, built in the Gothic style and considered one of the greatest Gothic structures in the whole of Europe.

Its facade is impressive, but it is its interior that really steals the show with an incredible baroque altar and two paintings by El Greco.

Make sure you enter from the main door to access the area of the building open to tourists.

The construction of Toledo’s cathedral happened over the course of many centuries. The building originally erected in this location, in the VI century, was a Visigoth church then turned into a Mosque and took the shape we now see only in 1227.

The cathedral is surrounded by narrow streets and despite its size and importance is not immediately visible to the passers- by: small street and building somehow obscure its facade, but this only adds to the jaw-dropping effect the visitor experiences once stepping in.

Toledo’s cathedral is 120 m long, 60 m wide; it contains 5 naves supported by 88 pillars and counts 72 vaults as well as being home to one of the most elaborate choirs in Europe!

The inside of the Toledo cathedral with its elaborate Gothic arches and decor
The inside of the Toledo cathedral with its elaborate Gothic arches and decor

The Alcantara bridge

Originally built by the Romans, the Alcantara bridge is one of the entrances to the city of Toledo.

It crosses the river Tejo (incidentally, the longest river in the Hiberica peninsula, it goes all the way to Lisbon!) and it is in a really impressive location, crossing the gorge of Toledo’s hill.

The bridge and the river can be reached on foot from the city centre, following the ancient steps climbing down the hill slope and it is a vantage point for a view of the city.

From it, you get a beautiful view over the Alcazar from the bottom up: standing on the far end of the bridge, you get a full understanding of how powerful the Alcazar must have been as a fortress to defend the city!

Top tip: considering how steep Toledo’s hill is, I recommend to leave the bridge as the final stop of your day.  From here, the train station can be easily reached with a short walk (about 5 to 10 minutes)

The famous Alcantara bridge in Toledo, one of the most scenic spots on this Toledo itinerary
We got to the Alcantara bridge towards the end of our itinerary before heading back to the station

Other sights worth seeing inToledo Spain

The ones outlined so far are only a small selections of things to see in Toledo as this small medieval town has architectural treasures at almost every corner.

Churches, belvedere terraces, courtyards and museums (including the famous El Greco museum) are everywhere and the compact size of the city means that with a long walk you will be able to touch on all its main sights.

The imposing entrance to one of Toledo's main churches (sorry, i forgot the name!
Toledo has fabulously ornate churches at every corner!

One day in Toledo for kids: is Toledo kid-friendly?

Toledo is a lovely city but it is not the easiest to navigate with small children. Here some practical advice and ideas about what to do in Toledo Spain for a day

  • Buggies and strollers: I noticed many buggies and strollers in the city, but the cobbled streets, the many steps and the crowds are a recipe for parents’ exhaustion! If you have a baby or a toddler, a carrier is a better option.
  • While I did notice a small playground, the city is very much a cultural stop. If your children are not yet at an age when they can get interested in the history of sieges, war and art, you might find boredom will set in quickly.
  • Slightly older children, on the other hand, might really enjoy the army museums and the many shops selling knick-knacks and Spanish costumes.
  • When in the city, pay particular attentions to the cars. Despite the small streets, not all the city is pedestrianised and it’s easy to feel a false sense of safety: cars abound!
A rare moment of quite in the otherwise crowded street of Toledo
The narrow, medieval streets of Toledo make for a bumpy ride on a buggy!

Final considerations: is a trip to Toledo worth it?

So, is Toledo worth a day trip from Madrid? In my opinion, absolutely yes!

Toledo is stunning and very particular as it mixes a type of Christian medieval architecture  with some Moorish motives that are peculiar of Spain and not usually found in other parts of Europe.

If you go to Toledo, be aware that there will be many tourists following the same itinerary and schedule as you, so prepare yourself for visiting as part of a crowd but don’t let it ruin your experience.

As it is often the case, Toledo is popular for a reason and this reason, I believe, shines through even the most crowded day.

Will you add one day in Toledo to your Spain travel plan?

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26 thoughts on “All you can see in Toledo in one day: what t do in Toledo Spain for a day

  1. Tami says:

    We made this daytrip with our family of six in 2010. Absolutely loved it! This is also where my son bought his dagger of “Don’t Buy a Dagger!” fame (an article I wrote on my blog). We had such a great trip to Toledo!

  2. Emma says:

    looks beautiful! when we were in Lanzarote, we had similar issues with cobbles and the pram! nightmare haha. my boy is nearly 3 and def not at the right age for anything of interest to adults at the mo lol! #citytripping

  3. Laura @ Grassroots Nomad says:

    I’ve been on a day trip to Toledo from Madrid as well and it is the perfect way to spend a day! Great article 🙂

  4. Shobha says:

    We went to Toledo years ago (before the kids). I remember loving it. I’d love to take the kids back one day.

  5. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    You have certainly sold Toledo to me. It looks a fantastic pace for a day trip with so much history and amazing buildings to admire. Great advice for going with children too. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      It really is a beautiful town but it does take a bif of planning with kids! Mine are just about too old for the buggy now but i always notice how accessible or not a place is, even when on my own!

  6. Sarah says:

    What a beautiful city! I’m hoping to get to Spain with my little guy soon, so I’ll definitely keep Toledo in mind. I loved all of your tips on taking kiddos. Great to know that a stroller is not the way to go!

  7. Ruth says:

    Toledo is so beautiful and full of history. I have been twice and wouldn’t mind going again. It is also nice to do the panoramic tour (if you do not have a car) around the city. The view from afar is stunning.

  8. Cathy (MummyTravels) says:

    Toledo is very definitely on my list now – I haven’t visited too many Spanish cities, but I love the Moorish history in this part of the world. The Jewish history here is fascinating too though, and I love the story about the three religions working together: sad that that’s not still the case. #citytripping

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      I was surprised to see how much Moorish influence there is, in Toledo: I know it is strong in the South of Spain, but it hadn’t occurred to me it would be found as far North as here. The story of Santa Maria la Blanca is truly inspiring, it’s the one thing that stayed with me after we left – if only we could learn from that time…

  9. Ami says:

    The Toledo cathedral and the bridge look amazing. Would love to check those out. The carvings in the cathedral are quite pretty. Nicely captured through your pictures.

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      Thank you so much! They are both alone worth a visit to Toledo: the cathedral can get quite busy but fewer people seemed to go to the bridge: I guess they were put off by the long trek back up, that hill is steep!

  10. Our Seaside Baby says:

    I’ve been to Spain quite a few times but have never been to Madrid or surrounding towns. Toledo sounds like a great day trip with such a diverse history. If I ever make it to Madrid I will definitely give it a go. Thanks for joining in with #MyFavouriteTrip Polly x

  11. Cece says:

    We were just here in May and after spending a month in Spain, Toledo was my favorite city we visited.

  12. Elaine says:

    Thank you for this article! I am printing it and bringing it with me on our already planned day trip to Toledo from Madrid. Leaving in 12 days!! This is known as the birthplace of the Sephardi Jews, and since my husband and I are both Sephardi Jews, this will be like “going home”. Can’t wait to experience such an integral part of our heritage.

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