Few small cities can claim to be as beautiful or as historically fascinating as Toledo–and as it is located less than an hour away from Madrid, is it any surprise that taking a Madrid to Toledo day trip is a fabulous way to spend a day in Spain?
More than 2000 years old and standing proudly on a hill overlooking the surrounding region, Toledo is a postcard-worthy example of a preserved medieval city, with a history that involves contributions from the Visigoths, Moors, and of course, Spaniards, among others.
Toledo was briefly an independent state, briefly the capital of Spain, and is always a city where many cultures come to meld and clash, earning it the nickname “The City of Three Cultures” for the prominent participation of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths in the making of modern Toledo.
Want to take a day trip to Toledo from Madrid to explore this fascinating city?
We definitely recommend it. We adore Toledo and have visited multiple times–with more visits to come in the future!
Here’s how to spend one day in Toledo–and how to get there.
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Do you need a tour to visit Toledo from Madrid?
One of the most common questions about planning a day trip to Toledo from Madrid is whether or not it’s better to book a tour or travel independently.
The answer is simple: you don’t need a tour, but depending on your travel style, you may want one!
For independent travelers, booking an organized Toledo day trip is definitely not necessary.
Toledo lies a mere 35 minutes (plus a steep climb once you arrive) from Madrid by train, or an hour by bus, making it a logistically simple day trip to pull off on your own (we’ll cover this in more detail below).
If, however, you’d like to enjoy a guided tour of Toledo during your visit, this popular day trip is a great option that will keep your travel easy, allowing you to relax and enjoy the city.
One other reason to book a tour?
The Best Things to Do on a Toledo Day Trip
Step inside some of Toledo’s stunning houses of worship.
From the opulence of the gothic Toledo Cathedral to the Synagogue of El Tránsito to the baroque Church of San Ildefonso to the Mosque of Christ of the Light to so many more–seriously, Toledo has an overwhelming number of religious buildings for a city of its size–there are plenty of historical masterpieces to seek out during your one day in Toledo.
If you have to choose only a single structure to step inside as part of your one day Toledo itinerary, definitely make it the Toledo Cathedral.
Like many Spanish cathedrals, the interior is coated in a magnificent explosion of gold, making it visually striking, and it’s absolutely gigantic–you’ll need to spend much longer here than you do visiting the average European church!
As one of the most famous and beautiful cathedrals in Spain (which is, as you can imagine, an extremely tough competition), its interior is–if anything–more incredible than its exterior.
Snap photos from the viewpoints outside of town.
Seeking out viewpoints is one of our personal favorite things to do in Toledo, and it’s a must-do on a day trip to Toledo!
Between the beautiful medieval town center located high on a hill and the Tagus River curving gently around it at the base, Toledo is absolutely one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
It takes a bit of extra effort to get across the river during your Toledo day trip, but it is absolutely worth prioritizing.
If you’re planning to visit Toledo independently as opposed to booking a guided day trip like this, the easiest way to ensure you get the best views of the city is to sign up for a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour.
We rarely recommend buying these tours, but we personally used one on our first trip to Toledo and thought the views alone more than justified the price!
Check out the Puente de San Martín and the Puente de Alcántara.
These two beautiful footbridges are perfect for admiring views of the Tagus River (which incidentally continues all the way down the Iberian peninsula to our former home city of Lisbon).
Both are definitely worth stopping by during your Toledo day trip!
Though the Puente de San Martín dates to the Middle Ages and the Puente de Alcántara technically dates to the Roman times, they’ve naturally both been repaired and rebuilt a few times along the way.
Visit the Monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes.
Built in the 15th century, this beautiful monastery is best known today for its stunning cloisters.
In addition to beauty, it has an impressive history!
The Monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes was built by the Spanish monarchs for two purposes, the first being sentimental (in honor of the birth of their son), and the second military-focused (in honor of winning a major battle).
Walk through the Puerta de Bisagra.
Toledo’s grand entrance gate is the perfect place to enter the historic center of the city!
With its medieval towers and imposing stone gate, it’s an unmissable sight during one day in Toledo.
Wander the tiny, medieval streets of Toledo.
Whether you want to seek out a cozy cafe, find an offbeat museum, or simply enjoy the walk, there’s no doubt that spending a couple of hours wandering around the historic center semi-aimlessly is an excellent way to spend part of your day trip to Toledo.
Looking for a memorable Toledo souvenir?
Toledo has been known for its armor production for centuries–so if you’ve ever dreamed of splurging on a sword, this is the place to do so!
Admire the Alcázar of Toledo.
Dating to the 10th century as a fortress (or if you want to reach back even further in history, the site itself was relevant as early as the 3rd), the Alcázar remains one of the best things to see in Toledo.
Over the centuries, the Alcázar‘s purpose has shifted along with its walls: a brief home of Spanish monarchs, the home of widowed Spanish queens, and a military outpost are just a few of the iterations of the Alcázar of Toledo.
Today, the Alcázar of Toledo houses the city’s Army Museum, which features historic weaponry along with other exhibits focused on Spain’s military history.
How to Travel from Madrid to Toledo
The high-speed train, AKA fast train, is arguably the simplest (and is definitely the fastest) way to travel from Madrid to Toledo independently.
The journey takes around 35 minutes and costs a little under 15 Euro each way.
Note that with this option, you will have a bit of a steep climb (and/or taxi ride) to contend with to travel from the Toledo train station to the historic center!
Bus journeys are also available for your day trip from Madrid to Toledo, and take a bit under an hour.
However, the bus is a bit cheaper than the train, and as an added bonus, the bus station is a bit closer to Toledo’s historic center than the train station (so requires less uphill walking and/or a cheaper taxi ride once you arrive).
This is how we chose to visit Toledo for the first time, way back at the beginning of our round-the-world trip!
Don’t want to worry about the hassle of getting to and from Toledo, and want to ensure you can easily visit the beautiful viewpoints outside of town without dealing with logistics, or even combine a day trip to Toledo with a visit to Segovia?
Toledo day trips from Madrid are an excellent value–this one is popular and gets great reviews–and are an excellent way to enjoy all the benefits of one day in Toledo without any of the stress.
Book your day trip to Toledo today!
Most people traveling from Madrid to Toledo won’t have a rental car with them, but on the off chance you do, driving to Toledo is a solid option as well.
There are several places to park outside the historic center of Toledo, and having a car with you will allow you to visit the viewpoints outside of town independently.
This option works best if you’re visiting Toledo as part of a larger road trip in Spain, as you won’t need a car in either Madrid or Toledo.
Shop rental cars in Spain today!
Tips for Spending One Day in Toledo
Arrive as early as possible!
Our biggest regret from our own first day trip to Toledo is that we got too late of a start.
Had we forced ourselves awake and onto the bus a bit earlier, we would have loved to spend another few hours in town (admittedly, we had a good excuse–we were quite jetlagged at the time!).
Since Toledo is among the most popular day trips from Madrid, it understandably gets crowded in the middle of the day.
Wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared to walk uphill.
This is especially true if you arrive via bus or train and don’t want to pay for either a taxi or a Hop On/Hop Off bus ticket to reach the center of town.
You won’t be able to see it all, so go slow and savor it.
Despite its small size, Toledo has dozens of tourist attractions that would theoretically be worth checking out given enough time.
From houses of worship to small museums to plenty of restaurants and shops worth checking out, one day in Toledo certainly isn’t enough time to see it all… but it’s definitely enough to enjoy every second.
On a Madrid to Toledo day trip, we recommend picking out 3-4 things to do in Toledo that you absolutely want to see, and other than that, kicking back and seeing where the day takes you.
Try to see the city from across the Tagus–it’s worth the effort.
The views of Toledo from across the Tagus, looking every part of the stunning medieval city that it is, are truly not to be missed.
It’s a bit of a hassle to get out there unless you happen to drive yourself to Toledo, but it’s 100% worth the hassle.
We enjoyed the view on our first visit by taking a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour that included the view as one of the stops (we snapped these photos with Ranger on a later trip where we had a car).
We very rarely purchase those tours, but this was the perfect time to do so and we were completely satisfied with the choice!
Read More About Visiting Spain
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