The following list of things to do in Toledo is brought to you by Sydney from Alone and Abroad, an American living in Spain! Read on for some of her top tips on fun must-dos in Toledo.
In central Spain, less than a 40-minute train ride from Madrid lies the old medieval city of Toledo (not to be confused with Toledo, Ohio — different country, different pronunciation, and vastly different histories).
Often called “the city of three cultures” for the large Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities that live there, Toledo has such a fascinating history that the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Throughout the years, it has been part of the Roman empire, the Visigoth Kingdom, and the capital of Spain until 1561, when Madrid became the new capital city.
Today, anyone visiting Madrid should make time to come experience all Toledo has to offer for themselves. While all of the major Toledo tourist attractions can be seen in one — albeit busy — day, if you have time, Toledo has enough things to do to keep visitors entranced for 3-5 days!
In this post, you’ll find the best things to do in Toledo, Spain.
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1. Walk Through the Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate)
One of the first sights of Toledo you encounter as you enter the city is the Puerta del Sol. Though the gate itself no longer remains, you can still step through the pedestrian entrance as you enter the medieval city.
This massive, imposing entrance to the old town sets the tone for what’s in store for the rest of the trip, and is a fantastic place for a photo shoot!
2. Explore the Alcazar
If you’ve seen postcards from Toledo, you’ve probably seen the Alcazar. Toledo’s most recognizable building dates back to Roman times, when it was a palace and a fortress.
The building was severely damaged during the Siege of the Alcazar in the Spanish Civil War, but has since been rebuilt and turned into the Spanish army museum.
Also, tucked away on the top floor of the Alcazar is a little cafe. It’s a great place to enjoy a cafe con leche with must see panoramic views from the highest point of the city.
3. Tour the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes (Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes)
No trip to Toledo would be complete without a visit to this stunning monastery in the heart of Toledo’s Jewish quarter. This gothic monastery was built in the 15th century to celebrate the Catholic’s victory in the Battle of Toros.
The outside of the monastery is covered with statues of saints, griffins, and gargoyles, with empty chains hanging off the side of the building that were actually once worn by Christians imprisoned in Granada.
4. Go wine and cheese tasting at the cheese museum
Near the city center is the Museo del Queso Manchego, a museum dedicated to all things related to manchego cheese! Equal parts museum, tasting room, and store, this lesser-known tourist attraction in Toledo is a love letter to Spanish foods.
First, start in the museum, which shows the history and the production process of manchego cheese. Then in the tasting room, they pair five different locally made cheeses with wines, bread, and fruits. Finally, grab some souvenirs in the store to remember your time in Toledo!
5. Take in the Views at the Mirador del Valle
One of the best things to see in Toledo is the views! The Mirador del Valle on the opposite side of the Tagus river is the viewpoint that’s featured on nearly every postcard out of Toledo, and is single handedly fueling Toledo’s tourism industry.
… I’m joking, of course. But the view is seriously breathtaking.
From here, you can see the Alcazar, the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo, the Iglesia de Santo Tomé, and so many other famous landmarks.
Be warned, it’s a long walk from everything else on this list so be prepared to hike or take a taxi to the lookout.
6. Relax with Sangria and a View
For sweeping views, delicious sangria, and shockingly affordable prices, head to Terraza Restaurante Bu! Their terrace offers views of the whole valley, and is a quiet place to take a break from exploring Toledo.
They’ll often host local musicians on weekend afternoons, so you might even be able to catch a free show!
7. Travel Back in Time at the Roman Thermal Baths
Once upon a time (193 BCE to be exact), Toledo was part of the Roman empire. During that time, they built a Roman theater, aqueduct, circus, and baths to mimic the ones that already existed in Rome. The baths were buried under the city and forgotten about, until the 1980s, when a homeowner found them during a renovation.
Today, the ruins of the baths are connected to the city’s water supply, and can be toured for free!
8. Learn about the Spanish Renaissance at the Greco Museum
The Greco Museum showcases the life and works of one of Toledo’s most prolific artists. El Greco was a Greek painter, sculptor, and architect who lived much of his life in Toledo and was an impressive figure in the Spanish renaissance.
The museum takes up two buildings – one is a recreation of his house and shows about his life. The second is dedicated to his later works and impact on the Spanish renaissance.
Even if you don’t have the time to make it to the museum, his work can be seen around Toledo. He painted altars in the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo, and the Chapel of San José.
9. People watch in the Plaza de Zocodover
Plaza de Zocodover is the main square, and one of the most lively places to visit in Toledo.
It’s the heart of the city’s social life, and home to so much history.
Bullfights, street markets, and even inquisition executions have been held here at some point in time. Fret not – none of these occur in the square today, and it is instead a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee from a cafe and people-watch!
10. Eat in a Michelin Star Restaurant
In the heart of Toledo’s historic Jewish Quarter lies La Orza, a Michelin-starred restaurant. They’re best known for modernizing traditional Spanish dishes and making them into works of art. Everything on their menu is fresh, colorful, and locally produced!
So, if you’re looking for foodie-friendly things to do in Toledo, be sure to add this one to your list.
11. Stroll Across the Puente de San Martin (St. Martin’s Bridge)
The Puente de San Martin is a medieval bridge that spans across the Tagus river, and a beautiful place to relax and watch as the sun sets over Toledo.
There’s a legend that says that the bridge’s architect realized on the day before the big inauguration that he had made a miscalculation when building the bridge. Once the scaffolding was removed, it wouldn’t be able to support itself and collapse.
He went home and told his wife about his error, horrified that his career was over. After he fell asleep, his wife snuck out and lit the bridge on fire. It was called a terrible accident, but her husband’s reputation was saved, and the bridge was rebuilt (correctly this time).
12. Go Ziplining Across the River
Ziplining probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of things to do in Toledo, but is there a more unforgettable way to end your time in this epic Spanish city?
Right next to the Puente de San Martin is FlyToledo, one of Toledo’s more memorable attractions, where you can zipline across the river. It’s extremely affordable, and they take professional photos of you to keep as a souvenir!
Fun fact: When you ride the zipline, you’re actually traveling across the Tagus river, the largest river in the Iberian Peninsula that connects Spain to Portugal. It goes all the way from Catalonia to Lisbon!
13. Get Lost in the Narrow Historic Streets
When I visited Toledo, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have an itinerary. I didn’t know about most of the history. When my friend who I was traveling with asked what I wanted to do, I said “I don’t know. See the big castle?” And we had a fantastic time just wandering, and bumping into the historic sites as we went along.
Toledo is a small town. Everything is within walking distance, and there’s always a reason to stop and marvel at something interesting you find. By far, my favorite thing to do in Toledo was get lost and see where the winding streets took me.
Did I miss any of your favorite things to do in Toledo?
Leave a comment letting us know!