Right after the massive lockdown in Europe in 2020, I got to travel to Toledo for a day. At the time, my brother was studying there so I got to drive with him to pick up some of his stuff. Spending one day in Toledo was the perfect getaway albeit a bit far from Cadiz, where I am from. However, this one-day trip is one of the many things you can do if you are visiting Madrid since it’s only a 30-minute train ride or a 1.5 hour bus ride.

I didn’t do much planning which I regret because I lost some precious time. That’s why after my not-so-perfect day in Toledo, I decided I would put together the itinerary I would have loved to follow. This is what I ideally would have done, had I had a better grasp of things during my visit to Toledo.

Before you visit Toledo…

These are some things to consider before you spend one day in Toledo or in any place for that matter. Just a reminder to do some research before embarking on your adventure.

You will not have time to see everything

That’s a fact. The historic city of Toledo has been declared Unesco heritage and it has innumerable historical sites that exude history… And one day in Toledo is not enough. Think about the places that you absolutely cannot miss and build your itinerary on that.

I have put together a map with a suggested route, main attractions and other places of interest around the area so that you can visualise where everything stands. If there is anything you would like to visit and is not there, just add it to the map.

Research lesser-known things to do

Do some research to learn what other activities that line up with your hobbies you can do. For example, I knew I wanted to go to a lookout to out of the city to take awesome photos, visit the Jewish museum and do a guided city tour because I love learning a little about history. So before I started my day I made sure I had all that arranged and planned. 

Think about things that you enjoy when you travel. History? Architecture? Photography? Food? Nature? Adventure sports? There is plenty to do in Toledo but if you do not research it you will miss out. 

These are some cool things off the beaten path you can do in Toledo during the day:
– City zip line over the river
– Self-guided city tour through a city escape
– Join a food tour
– Nature hike along the Tagus river and up the Valley

Budget

You can totally have a fulfilling day in Toledo for free, minus food and beverages, of course. Here are a few choices on how you can spend your money wisely if you decide to do so and how to save a few euros.

Tourist bracelet

You can buy a tourist bracelet for 10 Euros, totally worth it if you are going to visit 4 or more of the monuments. Otherwise, each monument costs 3 euros each. The bracelet is valid for as long as you have it in your wrist so you can use it multiple days and you can totally reenter all the monuments. I think it is also worth it even if you are just staying one day in Toledo, because some spots don’t take very long to visit. Check here what monuments are included in the deal. 

Free visits

Some museums, galleries and buildings will be free or at a reduced price on certain days of the week, especially during this “new normality”. Below, you will find more detailed information, but if you want an easy list of free monuments put together by a local tour operator click on this link (sorry, only in Spanish).

Free tours

Well, they are not exactly free since you are expected to tip the guide. It is still cheaper than your average tour and quite informative. A few companies offer these services and you can make a reservation through here or show up in Plaza Zocodover and ask if you can join them.

Toledo is the perfect day trip if you are travelling to Madrid. There are so many things to do in Toledo that you might miss out on some cool things if you don't plan ahead. With this comprehensive itinerary you will be able to see all the tourist highlights in Toledo. It includes a few budget tips and a free map so that you don't waste any time.  #spaintravelguide #traveltips #toledoitinerary
Toledo is the perfect day trip if you are travelling to Madrid. There are so many things to do in Toledo that you might miss out on some cool things if you don't plan ahead. With this comprehensive itinerary you will be able to see all the tourist highlights in Toledo. It includes a few budget tips and a free map so that you don't waste any time.  #spaintravelguide #traveltips #toledoitinerary

Perfect one day itinerary

Let me be clear before we start, there is no perfect itinerary. This is my version of a perfect day in Toledo here and now. Next year I may feel different about it and you now may feel different, too. Everybody likes different things to do, travels at different paces, have different budgets… There is no one size fits all. (By the way, I hate it when I see that label on clothing. It clearly doesn’t fit people my hight, how absurd!! Just say I didn’t want to bother making smaller sizes…)

Having said that, remember, this is just a guideline so that you don’t feel lost as I did.

Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo

  • How to get there: It depends on where you are staying
  • Why you should visit: The jewel of the crown in Toledo
  • Duration: 15 mins (outside), 1.5 – 2 hours (full visit)
  • Price: 10.50 Euros / 12.50 including bell tower and tapestry museum
  • Included in tourist bracelet: no
  • Discount: Sundays from 14 to 18.30h. free for Toledo locals, 2.50 euros for Spanish citizens and normal price for non-citizens.
  • Other points of interest in the area: Museum of Manchego cheese, Alcázar and Military Museum
  • Tips:
    • Go to Mass at 9 am to listen to the service in the Hispanic-Mozarabic rite (as opposed to the Roman rite). 
    • If you are interested in the Military Museum it’s better to visit it in the morning since this self walking tour will only lead you further from it.
  • Pro tip: I have recently read that visits to the Cathedral will soon be free Monday to Friday 8 to 9.30 am. The reason is that Unesco Heritage buildings should be free at least 4 times a month, someone pointed that out and they are studying the case. You can read the news in Spanish here.
  • Website: https://www.catedralprimada.es/en
Start your day in Toledo with a visit to the Cathedral
Toledo’s cathedral

Santo Tomé Church

  • Distance from previous stop: 3 min. walk
  • How to get there: walk up on Cardenal Cisneros road following Camino el Salvador and Santo Tome road.
  • Why you should visit: This church from the 1400s holds the most important painting from El Greco, El Entierro del Señor de Orgaz.
  • Duration: 5 mins (outside), 20 – 30 mins (full visit)
  • Price: 3 euros
  • Included in tourist bracelet: yes
  • Discount: free for Toledo locals (so this is probably a no for you)
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • El Salvador Church on Plaza de El Salvador (3 euros or free entry with tourist bracelet);
    • the narrowest street in Toledo, Callejón de la Soledad, a bit further up Santo Tomé street.
    • follow Paseo del Conde towards Mirador de San Cristóbal for a nice view of the most expensive cottages in Toledo, the Cigarrales.
  • Tip: if you don’t have the tourist bracelet and you are not interested in seeing the most famous painting by El Greco, you can either skip this spot if swap if for El Salvador Church.
  • Website: http://santotome.org/la-iglesia (Spanish only)

Transito Synagogue and Jewish museum

  • Distance from previous stop: 4 min. walk
  • How to get there: walk down the stairs and follow Reyes Católicos road.
  • Why you should visit:
  • Duration: 5 mins (outside), 45 mins (full visit)
  • Price: 3 euros
  • Included in tourist bracelet: no
  • Discount: 5 Euros including El Greco Museum, free on weekends from Saturdays at 14h and on the following dates: April 8th, May 18th, October 12th and December 6th. All of June and July 2020 is free, too.
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • Santa María la Blanca Synagogue, free with tourist bracelet
  • Tip: If you don’t want to pay extra, pick the Synagogue that makes the most sense to you. Both of them are very pretty inside, but the Transit Synagogue has a very interesting museum on Jewish history in Spain. Closed on Mondays.
  • Website: http://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/msefardi/en/museo.html
Transito Sinagogue in Toledo
view of the praying room at the Transito Signagogue

Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

  • Distance from previous stop: 5 min. walk
  • How to get there: continue on Reyes Católicos road
  • Why you should visit: It is one of the most beautiful Gothic-style temples in Spain.
  • Duration: 10 mins (outside), 20 – 30 mins (full visit)
  • Price: 3 euros
  • Included in tourist bracelet: yes
  • Discount: no
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • Palace of Cava (Dukes of Maqueda)
    • you can walk through the narrow streets of Jewish Quarters on your way to the Royal School of Noble Girls (included in tourist bracelet)
  • Tip: closed 14 -15h.
  • Website: https://toledomonumental.com/san-juan (Spanish only)

San Román Square

  • Distance from previous stop: 5 min. walk
  • How to get there: continue on Reyes Católicos road
  • Why you should visit: San Román church, Museum of Councils and Visigothic culture and statue of Garcilaso de la Vega
  • Duration: 15 mins (outside), 30 mins (full visit including Museum)
  • Price: square stroll is free, Museum inside church 2 euros.
  • Included in tourist bracelet: no, but nearby attraction does
  • Discount: n/a
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • Museum of Councils and Visigothic culture inside San Román Church (cost of 2 euros, free on Wednesday afternoons, Sundays and on May 18th and 31st.)
    • follow one of the robbed alleys down to Padre Juan de Mariana square to visit the Jesuit Church. It’s free with the tourist bracelet and there is a nice viewpoint of Toledo Old Town from its tower.
A perfect day in Toledo walking along its narrow streets in the old town
San Roman Square with statue of Garcilaso de la Vega in foreground and San Roman Church in the background

San Vicente Square

  • Distance from previous stop: 2 min. walk
  • How to get there: follow the narrow street behind Garcilaso’s statue and turn right onto Esteban Illán road.
  • Why you should visit: San Vicente church is a repurposed church that serves as an exhibition hall in the present. If it is open you can check it out.
  • Duration: 10 mins (outside look)
  • Price: free
  • Included in tourist bracelet: no
  • Discount: n/a
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • robbed alley with a gate
    • Alfileritos road, plenty of tapas bars
    • Our Sorrowful Mother (aka Our Lady of the Little Pins) shrine, with a very cool legend you can read here
  • Tip: If interested in the current exhibit at San Vicente, come right after the visit to the Cathedral and continue your self-guided tour counterclockwise. They are only open 10 to 14h.
  • Website: https://cultura.castillalamancha.es/patrimonio/catalogo-patrimonio-cultural/iglesia-de-san-vicente-de-toledo (Spanish only) Scroll all the way to the bottom and you will find current and future events on the bottom left corner.
All “robbed alleys” have the same name “This street belongs to Toledo”

Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

  • Distance from previous stop: 4 min. walk
  • How to get there: follow the narrow street behind Garcilaso’s statue and turn right onto Esteban Illán road.
  • Why you should visit: San Vicente church is a repurposed church that serves as an exhibition hall in the present. If it is open you can check it out.
  • Duration: 5 mins. (outside), 15 mins max (full visit)
  • Price: 3 euros
  • Included in tourist bracelet: yes
  • Discount: no
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • Gate of Valmadrón (cool photos with Mosque in the background and beautiful viewpoint)
    • Gate del Sol go there on your way to the next stop
  • Tip: closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Website: https://toledomonumental.com/cristo-luz
During your one day itinerary in Toledo don't forget to visit the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, a unique mix of religions

Puerta nueva de Bisagra (Bisagra Gate)

  • Distance from previous stop: 3 min. walk
  • How to get there: go through Valmadrón Gate, and turn right whenever possible, then turn left on Real del Arrabal road and continue straight ahead.
  • Why you should visit: the biggest entrance gate to the old city of Toledo. Very impressive
  • Duration: 10 mins
  • Price: free
  • Included in tourist bracelet: n/a
  • Discount: n/a
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • tourist information office nearby
    • bus stop
  • Tip: if you feel like you can walk more, you can walk towards San Martín bridge on Paseo de Recaredo, a very pleasant walk if you are not too tired. Cross the bridge and find the bus stop that takes you to the Valley lookout.

Mirador del Valle

  • Distance by bus: around 15 minutes
  • How to get there: bus line L71, bus stop “Alfonso VI (Junto a Fuente)” on Paseo Merchán, near the tourist information office. Click here for timetables.
  • Why you should visit: greatest view of Toledo Old Town
  • Duration 15 mins or longer
  • Price: free/bus ticket 1.40 euros one way
  • Included in tourist bracelet: n/a
  • Discount: n/a
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
  • Tips:
    • you can hike up to the lookout if you feel energetic.
    • For best shots go in the early morning or before sunset
    • Have a drink at the nearby bar while you wait for the golden hour to take your perfect shot
    • Bus passes by every hour, for more accurate information, ask the bus driver
    • Buy a bus card for 5 euros at the bus station (Unauto office) with 7 trips automatically added. One way trip costs 0.64 cents if you do that.
    • When you get back, remember you can stop at San Martin Bridge, Puerta de la Bisagra and Plaza Zocodover, so that you don’t have to walk that much after such a long day.
View of the Alcazar from Mirador del Valle lookout

San Martín Bridge or Alcázar

  • Distance from previous stop: 10 to 20 minutes
  • How to get there: hop on the bus on the same stop it left you at the lookout, stop either at San Martín Bridge stop to cross the bridge or Plaza Zocodover to see the Alcazar lit up at night.
  • Why you should visit: both are iconic spots in the city
  • Duration: 10 mins, just enough to cross the bridge or walk around the Alcázar
  • Price: free
  • Included in tourist bracelet: no
  • Discount: Military museum in Alcázar is currently free
  • Other points of interest in the area: 
    • Santa Cruz art gallery near Zocodover square
    • city outdoor escalator near Zocodover square
  • Tips:
    • if you absolutely want to visit the Military Museum, head towards the Alcázar right after your visit to the Cathedral.
    • You can hop off the bus at the bridge ad then walk towards the Alcázar (30 mins)

Final thoughts

It takes a little over 2 hours to do the walking part of this itinerary excluding lunch stop, bus ride to the lookout and time inside premises. Your time at the lookout would add 1.5 hours to the itinerary, and if you decide to visit all the monuments and museums mentioned it would take between 3 and 4 hours. Altogether, the full itinerary would take over 8 hours to complete, which is a very dense and satisfying visit. In my opinion, this is a perfect itinerary to spend one day in Toledo.

Disclaimers:

This post has been written in July 2020 during what we commonly call ¨the new normality¨during the COVID crisis. Travel experiences during this period of time are very different from normal circumstances therefore:

  • some businesses, museums and other tourist attractions may not be open when you visit and opening times and rest days may change.
  • current free activities during the ¨new normality¨ may not be free in the future
  • Availability to enter certain places may vary depending on demand
  • websites attached are mostly in Spanish, but I think they are useful for you to check out the pictures and give you an idea of what the place looks like and if you are interested in going inside. Hopefully, google translate will help you out too.
  • You can check this Castilla La Mancha tourism website for extra info in English, but I have noticed that the prices are outdated.

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37 Comments

  1. You are so right in that you can’t see it all. I had allocated a day but needed a lot more. I wish I had your itinerary as it is a good route to take and the timings are helpful. My favourite parts of Toledo were visiting the Transito Signagogue and some of the museums.

    1. I wish i had done my homework before my trip :). Transito synagogue was one of my favourites too, Spanish Jewish history would be hardly known if it weren’t for places like Toledo or Córdoba.

  2. I spent a short day only in Toledo and didn’t get to see half of the things on your itinerary. It is such a gorgeous city. I hope to go back and spend more time there. The tourist bracelet is such a good idea and well worth the 10 euros.

  3. Toledo sounds so interesting to me. I would love to visit. I especially would love to see the El Greco paintings in the churches and museum. I agree that one day sounds to short on time. Thanks for all the great info!

  4. What a gorgeous spot. I’m dying to go to Spain, I cannot wait for the pandemic to be over so I can go.

  5. Wow, so many great stuff to do and see! I´ve never been in Toledo and have no idea what to expect! But it looks like a great place to stay for a couple of days and explore! Would love to do so one day!

  6. I didn’t know much about Toledo before. I’ll need to take a drive there some time!

  7. We had a three night stay in Madrid I decided to take a day trip on the train to Toledo. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we had a great day exploring the little couple the back streets. We found a fabulous little place for lunch away from the main tourist squares that served delicious Spanish food. We didn’t go in to any of the buildings because the architecture I’m just wondering around The street was enough for us I loved our day there

  8. Love how organized this article is! I have never been to Spain, but definitely do want to do in the future. Great content! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Sounds like an amazing experience! This is a great location for a day trip and find less touristy things to do. Thanks so much for sharing

  10. I have seen some lovely pictures of Teledo on Instagram and it looks like a gem place to visit. I like how you provided all the information for a day’s visit. I’m interested in the Architecture and like you said, planning ahead will save time on the day.

  11. I have never been to Toledo, but I would love to especially after seeing the photo from the Mirador del Valle viewpoint.

  12. Toledo is a really lovely city worth to visit. I have been there twice and every time I love it even more. So characteristic! Really great itinerary!

  13. It looks like a charming place to visit… Love your article and can’t wait to check it out myself 🙂

  14. Loved reading your post! I studied in abroad in Toledo so it takes me back to my semester there. I loved hiking up to the Mirador del Valle. It does offer a great view of the city.

  15. My biggest problem is that I want to see everything. I make an impossible plan but in the end, it never works 🙁 Your plan is amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  16. Toledo look like a great day trip to take! The view of the city is beautiful, you itinierary and all the details are great to plan a trip there! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Thanks for sharing!! Toledo looks gorgeous. Spain is next on my list! Saving this post for later :)!!

  18. Toledo looks like such a beautiful city to visit. I’d really love to visit the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, it looks amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  19. i spent a day in Toledo years ago and didn’t get to half these places lol. There is so much to see there! I’d love to go back for an overnight trip, especially so I could walk around before all the tourist crowds show up.

  20. I lover Spain! I can’t wait to go back and will defiantly be going to Toledo when I Do!

  21. Toledo looks like such a lovely place! I didn’t know much about it before reading your post! I think the tourist bracelet is a brilliant idea! What a great way to make the most of seeing the some of the wonderful attractions! Thanks for the great guide!

  22. Wow! Such a detailed guide. I didn’t know there’s so much to do in Toledo and I hope to be able to check it out soon.

  23. Adding in the walking tour to this itinerary is super helpful. I always like to have a guide to stick to when you only have a day to see it all. Great post and Toledo looks like a beautiful place to visit x

  24. Toledo is one of the few Spanish cities I still haven’t made it to! It looks like there is loads to do – I’ll def plan to spend more than a day. And what a good deal the bracelet is – I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so cheap!

  25. This post is a timely read as I am going to Spain at the end of May for 3 months and plan to do a day trip to Toledo from Madrid.

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