Friday, January 7, 2011

Toledo Tourist Guide: What to Do in Toledo

The former capital of Spain, Toledo is a fortress city with striking gates all around the city. It is one of the three essential day trips from Madrid (along with Segovia and El Escorial).

See also:

Best Time to Visit Toledo:
Semana Santa (Easter). Note that Easter in Spain is a week long, culminating in Easter Sunday (but with no celebrations on Easter Monday). For more on festivals in Spain, see Spain Calendar of Events.

Toledo's patron saint day is Virgen del Sagrario on August 15.

Three Things to Do in Toledo:
  • Buy a Toledo sword! Toledo is famous for its steel and a sword from Toledo (or letter opener if weaponry isn't your thing) is in my Ten Best Souvenirs from Spain.
  • Sample Toledo's three historical religions - Christianity at its Cathedral, the Jewish Sinagoga del Tránsito and the Islamic Mezquita de Cristo de la Luz
  • Visit the Iglesia de Santo Tomé, where El Greco's masterpiece, El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz is kept, before going on to discover more of artwork of El Greco throughout the city.
How to Get to Toledo from Madrid:
Toledo is 74km from Madrid and is easy to get to from the city.
  • By Car Toledo is one hour's drive south from the capital (take the A-42 towards Getafe).
  • By Train The train from Madrid's Atocha station takes just 30 minutes and costs under 9€. Trains leave every hour. Check Spanish Train Times & Prices.
  • By Bus One hour from Mendez Alvaro bus station. Every hour. 5€.
  • Guided Tour Get shown around the city by an expert guide and be whisked to and from the city by air-conditioned bus. Book Guided Tour of Toledo

For more information on traveling to and from Madrid, see Madrid Departure & Arrival

Hotels in Toledo:
For hotels in Toledo, check out the following links:
Where to Next?:
The most obvious answer is back to Madrid - there's always plenty more to do. However, Toledo is a great stop off on your the way to Andalusia, although unless you have your own car, travel south from Toledo can be difficult - you usually have to return to Madrid to get a connection to Granada or Seville.
Car Hire in Toledo:
easyCar, from the people that brought you easyJet, offer car hire throughout Spain and their prices are pretty competitive. Hire a car with easyCar.

Before you book, compare their prices to the other big rental companies on Travelocity.

First Impressions:
Arriving from the bus station or train station, you will have short walk up to the city walls. Entering the city by the Puerta Nueva de Bisagra. Your main reference point for your day in Toledo will be Plaza Zocodover, not far from the Bisagra but no amount of complicated directions on this page will get you through the winding streets! Take a map or ask a local.

Once in the Plaza, in front of you is Spain's most expensive cup of cafeteria coffee and the rudest service in Europe. If you really want a coffee there, check the prices on the wall and consider sitting inside - it is a lot cheaper there than outside. To the left is an archway, through which is a statue of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quijote. Cervantes wrote a part of his most famous book in the vicinity of this statue, although there is nothing else worthy of note here than the statue.

South from Zocodover is the Alcázar. Turn left from here and you will approach the cathedral, once one of the most important in all of Spain. Walk around it and veer off to the left to get to the old Jewish quarter. Also nearby is the Iglesia de Santo Tomé (see above).

On your way out of the city, don't forget to stop off at the Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz, not far from Bisagra, which was where you entered the city.

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