The city of Toledo has an incredible history.
The same city that the Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, Jewish, and Christian people all called home at some point was also the one time capital of Spain. With it’s many museums, churches & cathedrals, attractions, art collections, and restaurants there is no shortage of things to do during your visit here.
Living here as a full time resident has allowed me the opportunity, as well as the time, to explore the city and get to know it on granular level.
Everyone of course has different opinions as to what they would like to see and do, based on their own personal preferences, available time, and to some extent their physical condition.
Here is my opinion about maximizing your experience in Toledo. These are the same things that I tell my friends and family about when they plan to visit.
Begin your trip by walking through the Puerta de Bisagra
For me, this is the only way to experience what entering the city of Toledo must have been like centuries ago.
The Puerta de Bisagra is located on the north side of the city, and it is probably the most famous of all the gates of Toledo.
It is also probably the most photographed gate as well.
But oddly enough, it can also be one of the most overlooked sights as well.
When most tourists arrive, either by train or by tourist bus, they most often take Toledo’s public escalators to into the Casco Historico thus bypassing some of the most impressive sights that the city has to offer.
How to get to the Puerta de Bisagra
As mentioned above, most people who visit Toledo will arrive by either train or by bus.
If you are up to it an have the time, you can easily walk to the Puerta de Bisagra from the train station or the tour bus drop off point.
The walk is uphill though, so if you have any kind of health issues or you don’t have a lot of spare time, then you could consider using public transportation to get to the gate.
There is a bus stop conveniently located inside the entry and the exit sides on the gate.
You can catch the bus outside the train station, and it will take you to one of several bus stops near the gate.
The buses that run from the train station during the week are 5, 62, 92, and 94.
For more information about getting around the city, see my guide to using public transportation in Toledo.
Once you pass thru the gate, actually through a courtyard and a second gate as well, you can glance up and see the city on the top of the hill. The view is pretty impressive.
The time that it takes to walk uphill from the Puerta de Bisagra to Plaza de Zocodover will be different for everyone.
Not everyone likes to walk fast, and there are many things to see in the area and along the road leading up the hill.
There several bars just inside the gate, souvenir, gift and sword shops, as well as restaurants and hotels.
Grab something to drink before you walk up the hill to Plaza de Zocodover
Staying cool and hydrated is going to make your time visiting Toledo much more pleasurable and safe.
After stopping to take photographs of the Puerta de Bisagra, be sure to grab some liquid refreshments before continuing uphill towards Plaza de Zocodover.
Whether you want water, soda, or beer, you can find it all in the shops along the street.
If you have time to sit down and enjoy a quick bite to eat or even a local craft beer at El Tirador, even better!
Check out three more of the oldest city gates
Also located at the bottom of the hill from the Plaza de Zocodover, and often missed by people who take the public escalators into the Casco Historico, are three of the oldest gates in Toledo.
Puerta de Valmardón, Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Alarcones
The Puerta de Valmardón, Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Alarcones
are the next things that you will see as you walk uphill from the Puerta de Bisagra towards the Plaza de Zocodover.
Puerta de Valmardón was built in the 1oth century and had many functions, but it was eventually replaced by the Puerta del Sol, which is located to the left and further up the hill.
While you are exploring the Puerta de Valmardón, be sure to walk through the gate and visit the Cristo de Luz and the Roman road.
The Cristo de Luz and the Roman road
The Cristo de Luz was originally built as a mosque in the year 999 and is the oldest surviving mosque in Toledo.
Be sure check out the original Roman road too! It was discovered during an excavation in 2006 and since has been preserved as it was when Toledo was a Roman city.
After you check out the Cristo de Luz and the Roman road, continue up the hill and pass through the Puerta del Sol, and the defensive gate Puerta de Alarcones as you continue to walk towards Plaza de Zocodover.
The Puerta del Sol has a lot of interesting and intricate features and makes a fantastic backdrop for taking pictures.
It is also on the list of best scenic viewpoints of Toledo, so be sure to grab a selfie with the gate!
Visit a museum
While you are preparing for your trip to Toledo and researching things to do, you will undoubtedly want to visit a few museums.
Toledo also has a very rich art history, as it was also home to the 16th century artist Doménikos Theotokópoulos, otherwise known as El Greco.
From the history of Manchego cheese to the Sephardic Jewish culture to El Greco, there is long list of impressive and interesting museums to visit in Toledo.
Churches & Cathedrals
Holy Toledo! There are more than 40 churches, synagogues, and mosques in Toledo’s historic city center.
Here you can find the Catedral Primada, (The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo) is one of the most impressive 13th century cathedrals in Spain, and is always on everyone’s things to do while in Toledo list.
One of the worlds most famous religious paintings (The Disrobing of Christ) by El Greco is also located in the Catedral Primada.
The oldest building in Toledo, the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, was built in the year 999 and looks much the same today as when it was constructed during the Moorish era.
It is definitely a must see.
Go sightseeing the easy way
Take a tour on the Tourist Train
Known as “El Trenecito” (the little train) is not really a train per se, but it looks like one. Operated by a company called Trainvision, it it is one of the best ways to get a view of the historic city center from the outside.
Where to purchase tickets for the tourist train
You can purchase tickets for the Trenecito in Plaza de Zocodover.
However, in the past you also got on and off the tourist train in Plaza de Zocodover as well. But now the tourist train departs from the road next to the Alcazar, Carlos V.
It travels down the hill and exits thru the Puerta de Bisagra Nueva (New Bisagra Gate).
From there it crosses the Tagus River and makes a right turn and will follow the Ronda de Toledo with the Puente de Alcantara (Alcantara Bridge) on the right , and travels counterclockwise around Toledo.
It will stop once to allow everyone time to take photographs of the city. From this perspective, the Alcazar will be on the right and the Catedral Primada will be to the left of it. (This location is one of the most popular places to take a picture of Toledo)
Once back on the tourist train it will continue thru the area know as Los Cigarrales, with the Puente de San Martín (St. Martin Bridge) on the right, until the tourist train enters the Puerta de Bisagra Nueva again and then travels back to unload at Plaza de Zocodover.
If you are travelling with children and you are looking for things to do with your kids, this is a great option.
It is also a great option if you are tired, hot and just don’t feel like walking anymore.
Special note: Remember, the tourist train travels counterclockwise around the city. So this means the “picture taking” side of the train is going to be on the right side as you are looking forward. And the back seat is always the best for taking pictures.