You have a week in Madrid. There’s so much to do and so little time. But just 30 minutes outside of Madrid lies a quaint town, Toledo. What if I told you in six hours, you could be there and back while having a whole afternoon of sights to see? Traveling back in time to the 13th century, you’ll find pieces of your high school history textbook right before your eyes.
To ensure a smooth ride to Toledo, purchasing tickets via the high speed train, Renfe, 24 hours in advance would be your best bet. The Renfe trains are accessible at the Madrid Atocha station, right in front of the Reina Sofía Museum. A round trip ticket will cost you 20.60 euros. Additionally, there is a Renfe app free to download which can be helpful to keep your tickets and check the timetables.
Upon arrive to Toledo, you’ll come across an old fashion looking train station that could be missed in the blink of an eye. Brick buildings surround you and as you take a right out of the station, you’re nothing but a 20-minute walk to the first stop, the Toledo Cathedral. Toledo tends to be much warmer than Madrid so it’s necessary to wear sneakers, bring tons of water and a baseball cap for ultimate comfort on your walk up to the cathedral.
The entry fee to the Toledo Cathedral is 10 euros —which include an audio guide. Don’t forget your student ID which allows you into most museums for free or at a reduced price. The gothic architecture building was built in 1227, but did not open its doors until 1493. Laura Paretius, visiting from New York said the Toledo Cathedral was a sensory overload. “It was almost too much to take in. I didn’t even listen to my audio tour- I just wanted to take it all in”, she said.
The walk up to the cathedral is no easy feat—especially when it’s 97 degrees out. After spending an hour or so at the Cathedral, a break at a hole in the wall restaurant, La Malquerida, might not be a bad idea. Just around the corner from the Cathedral this restaurant is perfect for families. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day as the Toledan heat can be very demanding.
Following lunch is a quick walk downhill to the Jewish Quarter. This area is remembered for a community where Muslims, Christians and Jews all lived together in harmony during the Middle Ages. Here you can visit the Synagogue of el Tránsito, which now serves as a Sephardic Museum where you can explore ancient Jewish artifacts.
Conveniently located right next door to the Synagogue is a replica of the painter el Greco’s home. Showing a student ID will get you in for free. Inside, the walls are filled with his work. Outside lies a scenic courtyard, with gardens and fountains. This is not the typical museum, however. This museum gives you a realistic idea of how el Greco lived his life. El Greco’s house hosts a nice balance of interactive video and audio with his works and the rooms he lived in. This truly brings you back to the times of the Spanish Renaissance.
Around the corner from el Greco Museum lies a souvenir shop with gelato. This stop is essential to the trip because you can pick up something to bring back home and get a sweet treat to enjoy by the park that overlooks Toledo.
The stroll back down to the Toledo train station is the perfect way to finish your day trip to Toledo. Just a short ten-minute walk, you’ll be reflecting on the busy afternoon you just spent roaming through Toledo.