When you visit Spain on a backpacking trip, you’ll find plenty of places to visit. One of the best spots to stop at while you’re visiting Spain is the city of Toledo. No, that’s not in Ohio, but rather Toledo, Spain. When you come to the city on your trip, you’ll find that there’s more to see than you can do in just a few days. But really, that’s just an excuse to plan another trip to the city of Toledo.
When you’re in Toledo, there are a variety of architectural gems that you can visit, as well as museums to learn more about the world around you. Don’t forget to make time to taste some authentic Spanish cuisine, such as jamon and tapas. You can wash them down with a bottle of Spanish wine. Toledo is a great day trip from Madrid, and you can cross through it readily when you’re traveling from Madrid to Andalusia.
Toledo is situated on a gorge that overlooks the Rio Tajo, and its history is largely defined by religious cultures. In fact, the city was known in the Middle Ages as the “city of three cultures.” The reason being Christianity peacefully coexisted with Muslim and Jewish communities. You’ll find mosques, Catholic cathedrals, and synagogues within the city’s historic center. Going back even further, the city has Roman and Visigoth roots, which adds to Toledo’s rich history. Make plans to spend more than just a few hours here while you’re backpacking through Europe to enjoy the city’s haunting beauty.
Getting Around The City Of Toledo
You can travel around the city of Toledo by car, bus, or by train. The train station in Toledo is pretty nice, so you shouldn’t have any worries about a dark, dingy station. The only downside to traveling by train in Spain is the expense. It tends to be a little pricier than traveling by the road. If you’re traveling by bus, it’s only a few euros and a ride that takes less than an hour to get to Toledo from Madrid.
Dine Like A Local
The hallmark of a Spanish meal when you’re visiting Spain is to have tapas and drinks. There are plenty of cafés in Toledo that you can enjoy. One of them is Enebro, which is a bar located near the Plaza de Zocodover.
The fun thing about this dining establishment is that the tapas come with your meals for free. That’s great for those on a backpackers’ budget. Unfortunately, you don’t get to chose your tapas, but if you order enough drinks, you’re bound to get something you enjoy.
The great thing about the city of Toledo is, like much of Europe, it features a melting pot of different cuisines. If you’ve had tapas for a couple of meals and aren’t interested in them again, why not find a nice Middle Eastern cafe? You can also find Castillean-oriented restaurants to dine at for another native taste of Spain.
Museo de Santa Cruz
One of the interesting Toledo attractions is the Museo de Santa Cruz, which is a fascinating museum. It covers a variety of different archaeological aspects of Spain, as well as Spanish art. It is closely connected with the Prado Museum in Madrid. You can periodically find some of the collections featured there in the Museo de Santa Cruz. The museum is only about 5 Euros per person. It tends to be open seven days per week, except on national holidays.
The Alcazar of Toledo is an impressive and historic structure. It is a stone fortification that is located in the highest point of the city of Toledo. Now home to the Spanish Army Museum, the building contains a great deal of history about the army and war. It also has exciting new installations that open periodically. Because of that, you may find new things to see if you’ve already been once.
If you’re in Toledo on a Sunday, it’s a great time to visit the museum because it’s free for guests. The area has a good deal of history, with part of it being used as a Roman palace during the third century. Most of the Alcazar has been rebuilt since the Spanish Civil War, with much of it dating between 1939 and 1957.
The Catedral Primada
This cathedral is a wonderful place to visit but tends to be a little pricier. Something to consider when you’re visiting as a backpacker in Toledo, Spain. The Toledo cathedral features 13th-century architecture. It’s a place worthy of more than just an Instagram photo. The outside tends to be more ornate than the inside, but it’s certainly worth a visit. Built from white limestone quarried from near Toledo, the structure was built to cover a prior mosque in the area.
The Catedral Primada is largely representative of the Gothic style of architecture in Spain. It is also known as the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo. Centrally located in Toledo’s old town, it features high-arching ceilings and impressive stained glass. The Cathedral of Toledo is the largest in the city and provides an impressive look at the Catholic faith in Spain.
The Sinagoga del Transito
There is a decidedly worldly aspect to Toledo, with many influences from the east. The Sinagoga del Transito was a Jewish synagogue. It now also has a museum that provides information on the Jewish faith and history, particularly of the Sephardic Jews.
The building itself dates back to the 14th century, so it’s a spectacular piece of Toledo history. The museum is also pretty affordable for backpackers, costing in the neighborhood of 2.50 euros.
The Sinagoga Santa Maria la Blanca
Another interesting look at Jewish culture while in Toledo is the Sinagoga Santa Maria la Blanca. This synagogue is also an affordable stop on your tour of Toledo, costing 2.50 euros to enter. The synagogue features heavy Arabian influences and feels almost like an Islamic temple when you tour it. It’s a fascinating look and is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe, although it was converted to a church in the early 1400s.
The Iglesia de Ildelfonso
If you’re looking for an impressive view of Toledo, you must visit the Iglesia de Ildelfonso. This church has a tower where you can go up, and it offers an impressive panoramic view of Toledo. You can even see the back of the Catedral Primada.
While the church is nice to visit, most visitors climb its 138 steps to see the amazing view of the city of Toledo; between the Catedral and Alcazar.
The Fortification Wall
You can visit the city’s old fortification wall when you visit Toledo, Spain. You can travel around and look at the different gates, sometimes referred to as a route of the gates, which starts near the Juderia at the Puerta el Cabron.
El Museo del Greco
The Museo del Greco is a medium-sized museum and features the work of El Greco. The rooms are quite beautiful and feature some of El Greco’s most famous paintings. In addition to Spanish Renaissance paintings, the museum discusses the influence that El Greco had on the entire city of Toledo, which is an interesting part of the city’s history.
After you’ve visited El Museo del Greco, you can enjoy one of Toledo’s nearby parks. Sit down on a bench and people-watch while you sip on a beverage.
Casa del Judio
The Jewish House is located in the heart of Toledo’s Jewish Quarter. It is supposedly the home of Ishaq, who was one of the people who provided a fund to Queen Isabel the Catholic. Doing so helped fund the voyage of Columbus, where he eventually came to the New World. This 14th-century house is only open on Saturdays, and you must have reservations, so plan in advance if this is something that you would like to see.
Puente de San Martin
If you’re looking for a little more excitement when you’re in Toledo, you must visit the Puente de San Martin. This is a medieval bridge, which probably doesn’t sound too exciting unless you’re a history buff, but the site has a zipline where you can cross the river.
The cost is around 10 euros, so it’s a little pricier. It’s well worth it, though, if you want to do something a little more exciting while you’re in the city of Toledo.
Plaza de Zocodover
The Plaza de Zocodover is Toledo’s most famous plaza. You will definitely want to spend some time here, as it is a center for Toledo’s tourism industry. You can find something to eat and drink here. You’ll definitely want to spend a little (or a lot of) time shopping in the myriad of shops in the area. This plaza is located in an old town, so it’s definitely an area you’ll encounter if you spend a little time touring the city of Toledo.
Toledo is a remarkable city, filled with history and a meshing of cultures. It’s no wonder the city was nicknamed the “city of three cultures,” something you can reflect on while you’re wandering its peaceful streets. Many of the city’s attractions are possible to see even on a backpacker’s budget. Also, you’ll want to stay overnight to get the most out of your visit, a prospect which is often cheaper than staying in nearby Madrid.