Published on April 14th, 2019
Toledo is an ancient city that sits on a hill above the Castilla La Mancha plains of Spain. Toledo was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, and has steadily been drawing tourists since then.
It’s known as “the holiest city in Spain” thanks to its blend of three cultures and religions; Namely, Judaism, Christian, and Islam weaved into the city. Toledo boasts of rich history, thanks to the fact that it was the capital of the Spanish empire up until the 1500s.
There’s a reason why the seemingly quiet and quaint city of Toledo always makes it into the itineraries of people travelling to Spain. Whether you’re travelling with your family, or backpacking alone, we’ve prepared a list of the best sites to see in the holiest city in Spain!
Read on for the must-see sites in Toledo:
1. Toledo Cathedral
Known to be one of Spain’s most famous cathedrals, the Toledo Cathedral takes first place on our list.
This Gothic Cathedral’s construction began in 1227, and the slow yet steady history of this cathedral show in its facade. The Toledo Cathedral is the 2nd largest one in Spain but is considered the most important one thanks to its history.
It seems impossible, but the Toledo Cathedral’s inside is even better than its exterior. It features a 110m long interior, overflowing with Spain’s finest art.
Apart from its grandiose Capilia Mayor, or main chapel, that was designed by Burgundy, Flanders, and Spain, the cathedral also features 750 stained glass windows that were created by the finest artists of that time.
Even if you aren’t Catholic, taking a trip to Toledo Cathedral will surely be an experience. Its sheer beauty and grandiose designs will surely take your breath away.
2. Museo de Santa Cruz
Museums are a must to any trip, especially in a city with such a rich history like Toledo. To get a feel of the local culture, try visiting Museo de Santa Cruz!
The Museo de Santa Cruz is housed in a 16th century building which was formerly a hospital. It is also known for being one of the earliest architectural beauties of Spain, designed by no less than figures such as Anton and Enrique Egas and Alonso de Covarrubias, etc.
Museo de Santa Cruz may have been once a hospital, but its current state shows no signs of it. It is now one of the most elegantly designed museums in Spain, and is home to some of the finest arts and ceramics the world has to offer. Perhaps one of the most interesting features here is the way its piece de resistance is laid out as a cross on the ground-floor.
The museum features pieces from Neolithic to Renaissance, all backed by explanation cards to help you contextualize the art pieces. There are English translations, but we recommend that you brush up with Spanish language courses to be more in touch with the city!
For those who have a knack for art or you just want to get a taste of Toledo’s culture, Museo de Santa Cruz should definitely be one of the places you visit.
3. Europe’s longest urban zip line
You probably didn’t expect to find a zip line activity on this list, especially given the religious preface. However, Toledo is home to Europe’s longest zip line, and we think it’s well worth your visit.
Imagine flying over the beauty of Toledo’s city, culture, and architecture. This zip line is 180m long, and lasts 20 seconds. It ensures a rush that isn’t just pure adrenaline, as all your senses will be engaged as you take a once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing Toledo from a bird’s eye view.
Just because Toledo is a classic city, doesn’t mean there are no opportunities for you to stay active! A quick energy boost may be just what you need for the rest of your trip. This zipline ride will take you over a river, with a view of San Martin on the side.
Be sure to lace up and check out a thrill-seeking experience that’s well worth 20 seconds of your day. Who knows, you might even want to go at it for longer!
4. El Greco Museum
We’re adding another museum to this list because not including El Greco Museum feels like a cardinal sin, and that we’re depriving you of one of the best visits you can make in Toledo.
The El Greco Museum houses the “most modern” works of one of the most critically-acclaimed innovators of painting. It houses a myriad of artworks dating back from the 16th to the 17th century.
This museum is actually where the great painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos was born. Through time, the house was severely worn down but the Ministry of Culture was able to restore it to its current state.
It’s best to visit this in the morning or the afternoon, for a laid-back day of lounging among some of Spain’s finest pieces of art. Right next to the museum, there is a lounging area along with a cafeteria.
This place is the perfect place to unwind as you can dine underneath the shade of old trees after walking around the museum.
5. Caves of Hercules
The fanciful, enchanting legend that surrounds this cave is that it was built by Hercules as a place to practice magic and necromancy.
While the back story may just be a legend, the Caves of Hercules is every bit just as magical. One of the most captivating moments is hearing the sound of the Atlantic Ocean as it pours in the cave.
The Caves of Hercules is every bit just about the journey and the destination, as the coastal views before entering the cave is just as breathtaking. You can stay for a couple of says by the sea, and make the surrounding beaches your base.
We recommend that you visit this place with a tour guide for a more enriching experience. There’s a lot to be discovered about the history and legends behind this half natural, half man-made wonder.
We won’t spoil the fun for you—Discover this gem in Toledo for yourself!
6. Hot air balloon flight over Toledo
If you’re someone who’d much rather sit back and enjoy a place’s beauty rather than engaging in physical activities, then we’ve got the perfect idea for you.
A hot air balloon flight over Toledo is available for tourists and locals alike to see the city from a different perspective. You’ll see the sprawling nature and city of Toledo from a bird’s eye view, from the river flowing around Old Town, the square stone-fortress protruding from the city, the top of the most beautiful cathedrals, and everything else that this beautiful city has to offer.
To make the experience even more enthralling, try to book it around sunset for an amped up magical experience.
7. Castle of San Servando
The Castle of San Servando was previously a monastery then occupied by the Knights Templar.
In 1874, it was named a national monument and its fortress was even portrayed in one of El Greco’s art works.
If you’re a backpacker and you’re looking for unique accommodation, this might be the one for you. The building is currently being utilised as a hostel for travellers. This is a unique experience as you’ll be able to stay in one of Toledo’s oldest, most historical castles!
8. Plaza de Zocodover
Plaza de Zocodover has quite a dark history, as it was initially a market place where animals were being sold during the Moor occupation.
At present, it’s a melting pot of the region’s best choices of wine and cheese, among other delicious food. If you need a breather from all the history of Toledo’s quaint city, then make your way here.
This place features many restaurants and pubs around the square, leaving you with a variety of options. The Plaza de Zocodover is the main town square of Toledo in which most of the city’s events and festivals are held.
Apart from the rich selections for food, this place also has tourist trains for visitors to help them navigate the city.
While Toledo may have a quiet, low-key appearance due to its historical backing, it has something for every kind of traveller. From thrillseekers, art aficionados, wine connoisseurs, to just the regular backpacker, Toledo is a must see in Spain.
There are plenty of places to see and restaurants (and tapas bars!) to indulge in in Toledo. Think we missed some of this city’s best spots? Let us know in the comments!