Toledo Day Trip From Madrid
Planning a trip to Spain? Spending part of your time in Madrid? If you're looking for additions to your family vacation itinerary, look no further. A Toledo day trip from Madrid is only a short car or train ride, taking you to one of Spain's most charming and cultural medieval cities. I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Madrid.
This post, part eight in a series on how to plan the perfect European family vacation, shares tips for enjoying a Toledo day trip from Madrid. Check out the other posts in this series for information including a packing list, lodging recommendations, car rental benefits and the top 10 things to know before renting a car, enjoying your family vacation on a budget, creating the perfect travel itinerary based on a mix of Europe tours, and 10 things to do with kids in Madrid.
Reasons Why You Should Consider Taking a Toledo Day Trip from Madrid
Our family's decision to visit Madrid, and subsequently Toledo, was an easy one. We were traveling to Europe on Delta Frequent Flyer Miles and had just enough points to get our family of four to and from Salt Lake City, Utah and one of three Delta hubs in Europe: Amsterdam, Madrid, or Paris. Since Spain was top on our list of places to visit, we opted to fly into Madrid. This bustling capitol city of Spain had more than enough to offer for our short 3-day stay there. But, no matter who we asked for travel tips, even Rick Steves, everyone's top suggestion was to take a Toledo day trip from Madrid. And after one glance at this city on a hill, we knew why.
Our Toledo day trip from Madrid started early with an hour-long drive in our rental car. If you don't have a rental car, you can also take the express train, which drops you at the train station right at the bottom and outside the city walls of Toledo.
If you are driving, you have two options for parking: 1) The free public parking lots outside the city walls, or 2) Parking garages closer to the historic city center at the top. If you take the train or opt to park in the free parking lots, from either location you'd need to hop on a bus or walk up the winding, steep roads through the city gates to get inside the walls and up to the top.
Since we took our Toledo day trip from Madrid in the off-peak season (in April), we didn't experience the traffic tourists would see in the summer months. We weaved through the city's narrow streets, allowing ourselves to get lost in the maze-like layout of the city. From there, we drove outside the city walls and around the town's river up and down beautiful mountainsides, overlooking the ancient city of Toledo.
Once we got the lay of the land, we drove back up into the city and parked in a parking garage at the top, near the historic city center. From there, we let curiosity be our guides and wandered through the streets, taking in the culture and visiting some of the sights.
10 Must Visit Places on a Toledo Day Trip From Madrid
If you prefer tours and tour guides, you'll want to check out recommendations from sites like Rick Steves and the Lonely Planet. Our family prefers to do most toursity things sans tour guide, so our recommendations are based on that. (See my list of pros and cons to private, group, and self-guided tours here.)
For a Toledo day trip from Madrid, I recommend doing and seeing the following:
- Walk across the bridge to the river trails outside of Toledo's city walls.
- Hike, bike, and/or do a photo walk along the river trail.
- Drive, hike, or bike to the scenic overlooks directly across from Toledo in the mountains outside the city walls. The view is absolutely breathtaking. We packed our lunches, sat on a bench, and enjoyed the view while we ate. You could also purchase food and drink at kiosks or restaurants in that area if you don't want to pack your lunch.
- Let your kids play in the Alcazar Fortress.
- Take the self-guided audio tour of the cathedral.
Tip! You can buy tickets, self-guided audio tours, and souvenirs and use the restrooms right across the way from the Cathedral on Calle Carenal Cisneros. Admission is free on Sunday afternoons. Crowds die down after 2 p.m., so consider visiting after that time if you are after a less crowded experience.
- Wander through the maze-like city's cobblestone streets. Allow yourself to get lost. Visit sword shops. Take in the Moorish, Spanish, and Roman influences on the architecture. Enjoy the city's culture and art, especially El Greco's talent.
- Visit the Museo El Greco.
Tip! Entrance is free on Saturday after 2 p.m. and all day on Sunday.
- If you're within the city walls in the evening, enjoy tapas.
Tip! Remember that in Spain, dinner is late—9-11 p.m.
- People watch in the Plaza Zocodover.
- Visit the Santa Cruz Museum next to the Plaza Zocodover. This convent and hospital was converted into a cultural center and hosts art exhibits. The visit is worth it if only to see the refurbished buildings and views.
Whether you choose to drive or take a train to Toledo; bike, drive, hike, and/or walk into and around the city; stay overnight or take a Toledo day trip from Madrid; just make sure to go! Toledo is one of the most charming and cultural cities we visited in Spain and one your family will love.
Have you visited Toledo, Spain? What tips do you recommend for those taking a Toledo day trip from Madrid?
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