Standing on the banks of the Tagus river, Toledo is one of the
most picturesque cities in Spain. It's often called the 'city of the
three cultures' as Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities once
gathered here. This cultural and religious diversity comes across in the
city's monuments today, which include churches, mosques and synagogues.
Alongside these, you'll find art museums featuring El Greco paintings
and ancient relics dating back to the Roman era.
While most people
visit Toledo as a day trip, it is worth staying overnight to experience
the city in all its glory. Our two-day itinerary covers the best things
to do in Toledo, including places to eat and iconic festivals.
Puerta de Bisagra was once the main entry point to the old town of
Toledo. Dating back to the Moors, this magnificent structure gets its
name from the Arabic Bab-Shagra, which roughly translates as 'the door
that leads to the field'. On top of it, you can spot the city's coat of
Continue walking towards the old town until you reach this striking
mosque, one of the remaining traces of the Muslim occupation in Toledo.
Established around AD1000, it still features traces of the Moorish
arches and vaulting. If you pay close attention to the facade, you'll
also notice early Arabic inscriptions. Following the Christian
reconquest, the building was converted into a church, adding religious
frescoes to the display.
This lively square was once the site of the Arab souk, where the Moorish
traded livestock. Later, it welcomed a general market, held here every
Tuesday until the 1960s, when it moved to Paseo Merchán. The plaza also
hosted bullfights and public burnings held by the Inquisition. Today
people come here to hang out at the surrounding cafés or attend one of
the more joyful festivities that take over the square every year.
Continue your tour around Toledo by visiting the Iglesia de San
Ildefonso, one of the city's Baroque masterpieces, home to the city's
patron saint. Construction started in 1629 and took nearly a century to
complete. Some call it the Jesuit Church, as this was the religious
order that founded it. Step inside to admire the bright white interior,
the ornate altarpiece and the surrounding artworks and statues. Don't
forget to climb up to the tower to take in the city views.
The Toledo Cathedral is among Spain's most striking Gothic buildings.
Also known as the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo, it was
completed at the end of the 15th century, with its construction lasting
200 years. Today it is one of the city's top landmarks and one of the
most impressive cathedrals in the country. Inside, you can admire the
typical rose windows and flying buttresses. Meanwhile, the sacristy
holds works by famous artists such as Vélazquez, Goya and El Greco. For
an extra fee, you can visit the bell tower and enjoy the panoramic views
At the highest point of the city stands the imposing Alcázar de
Toledo. This site has been occupied since the Roman era when a palace
stood there. In the 10th century, the Moors erected a fortress, which
was later taken over by Spanish royalty. Today it works as a military
museum showcasing a collection of arms, uniforms and medals.
Established during the Roman Empire, the Puente de Alcántara is another
highlight of Toledo. The bridge has been damaged and repaired countless
times over the years. It features two brick arches with a Baroque
triumphal arch and a castle tower standing on each end. From here, you
get magnificent views of the river and the Alcázar up the hill.
For an even wider view, cross over the river and walk to the Mirador del Valle. Locals often gather here to catch the sunset. From here, you can capture the river, the Alcázar, the cathedral and the maze of streets around it.
Begin your second day with a tour of the Convento de Santo Domingo El
Antiguo. This 11th-century monastery features one of El Greco’s first
works in Toledo: The Assumption of the Virgin (1679). Alongside this
iconic piece is the crypt of the painter himself, slightly hidden behind
an iron grating.
Located on the site of a former mosque, this church still features
original elements like the Mudéjar tower and scalloped arches. Inside
there's a mix of styles with Moorish, Gothic and Baroque elements. Most
people come here to capture the iconic masterpiece by El Greco named 'El
entierro del conde de Orgaz' (The Burial of the Count of Orgaz).
A visit to the Museo del Greco is a must if you want to learn more about
the influential Renaissance artist. Besides showcasing some of El
Greco's top pieces, the museum also features works by other artists,
including sculptures, paintings and furniture. Funny story: In the early
20th century, an aristocrat bought this building as he thought it was
El Greco’s former house making an effort to return it to its original
period style. However, El Greco never lived here.
Sitting in the heart of the Jewish quarter is this 14th-century
synagogue, one of the few remaining in Toledo. After the ejection of the
Jews in 1492, the building was used as a church and military barracks.
These days it houses the Museo Sefardí. The museum provides an insight
into the Sephardic culture around Spain with exhibits dedicated to the
history of Jewish culture, including archaeological finds, costumes and
other artefacts. You can also admire classic Mudéjar features, including
Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy, geometric tilling and stucco walls with
Another synagogue worth visiting is the Sinagoga de Santa María de la
Blanca. It features five naves divided by rows of horseshoe arches with
stunning ornate capitals. Women used to stand in the upper rooms to
pray, while men would occupy the ground floor. This is one of the oldest
synagogues in Europe, dating back to the 12th century. When the Jewish
community got chased away, the building was turned into a church, then a
monastery and lastly, a warehouse for a company that made estoques
A few steps away is the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes. This
Franciscan monastery was originally going to be a royal mausoleum and
serve as a memorial for the victory at the Battle of Toro. It was
provocatively inserted into the heart of the Jewish quarter by the
Catholic monarchs Isabel and Fernando in the 15th century. The
architecture is a perfect example of the Isabelline style that spread
through Spain in that period. Step inside and wander through the many
chapels, making sure to look up to admire the Mudéjar-style ceiling.
Another highlight is the cloister which perfectly mixes late Gothic and
End your visit to Toledo with an evening walk along the Puente de San Martín. First erected in the 1200s, the bridge underwent several renovations, with the last change dating to the 17th century during the reign of Charles II. According to a local legend, the day before the bridge's inauguration, the architect who designed it realised he had miscalculated some measures and thought the bridge was at risk of collapsing. To protect her husband, the architect's wife burnt down the bridge at night during a thunderstorm, making it look like it had been struck by lightning. A statue of her now stands in the middle of the bridge.
If you're travelling to
Toledo with kids, make sure to choose a season that isn't too hot, as
this will make it easier to explore the city on foot. Some iconic sights
worth visiting include the Cathedral and the tower of San Ildefonso.
Alternatively, you can explore hidden gems like the Cueva de Hércules,
an underground cave dating back to the Roman era. Older kids will enjoy
sliding down the zip line near the San Martín bridge, organised by Fly
Toledo. Some museums may also organise workshops for the little ones.
diverse cultural background has also influenced its cuisine.
Specialities include game dishes like venison or partridge, plus roasted
pork and lamb, usually served in stews. Within the sweet section is the
famous Toledo marzipan, made with almonds, sugar and egg yolk. Below
are some of the best places to eat in Toledo:
Lo Nuestro: This
cosy tavern offers a mix of traditional Castilian dishes like the
carcamusas (pork stew served in a clay casserole) and red partridge.
There’s also marzipan for dessert and local craft beers.
Clandestina: This contemporary restaurant provides several dining areas,
including a garden, a tavern and a basement. The menu features
locally-sourced ingredients with specialities like the suckling pig and
the deer croquettes.
Restaurante Fábula: Set near the Convento de
Santo Domingo El Antiguo, this tavern is famous for its generous
portions. Highlights include the Galician beef and the roasted lamb.
They also serve tasty desserts like the torrija (similar to French
toast) with ice cream.
Montijo (5 stars): This luxury hotel is only a few steps away from the
old town. Guests can choose between twin or king-size beds, and some
rooms offer city views. Other facilities include a lobby bar, a
restaurant, a fitness centre and a spa.
Hotel Boutique Adolfo (4
stars): Housed in a renovated 20th-century building, this boutique hotel
is located right on Plaza Zocodover. From here, you can access many of
the city's top attractions on foot like the Alcázar. It features 12
rooms, all of which face the square. There’s also a restaurant and a
Hotel Santa Isabel (2 stars): Overlooking the Toledo
Cathedral, this two-star hotel is a budget-friendly alternative. Guests
can climb up to the terrace for panoramic city views. Breakfast is also
Toledo has a changing
climate with very cold winters and hot and dry summers. Indeed, the
daily temperature can reach as high as 40ºC in the summer and below zero
in winter. As such, the best time to visit Toledo is around spring,
early summer or autumn. Avoid July and August, as the heat makes it
unbearable to walk around.
The Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is celebrated all over Spain.
Celebrations begin with Palm Sunday, where statues of saints on floats
parade through the streets of the old town. The festivities end on
Easter Sunday with the cathedral ringing its bells.
Corpus Christi: Taking place on the Sunday of the ninth week after Holy
Week, this is one of the oldest festivals in Toledo, dating back to the
13th century. Preparations begin five weeks ahead, as the city's streets
get decorated with wreaths and lanterns. Closer to the day of the
festival, locals adorn their houses with tapestries, and the ground is
covered with flowers and fragrant herbs. The highlight is the procession
led by the Archbishop that departs from the cathedral.