“Would you like to hold the guitar?” Rafael asked me as I had wandered onto the hotel rooftop with a glass of Verdejo in hand to watch the sun set over the medieval hill town of Toledo, Spain.
The guitar belonged to Paco de Lucía, a renowned composer and flamenco guitarist in Spain who had once owned the house turned hotel I was staying in that night. Rafael, the hotel manager, was on the rooftop with a Spanish musician taking photos with Paco’s guitar and he insisted I hold it for a photo. The lighting was perfect as the sky filled with a rainbow colored backdrop. I then sat down to listen to the musician serenade us with flamenco. It was a perfect moment in an already magical little Spanish city, a half-hour outside Madrid and resting above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha, in the central part of the country.
I traveled there on a short weekend trip during my stay in Madrid, Spain. A beautiful medieval hill top city with the Tajo river wrapping around it. A city where during the Middle Ages, three religions all coexisted; Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Known for its masterpiece works by painter El Greco, traditional metalwork (knives and swords), and sweet marzipan (almond candy I looked at only), I found Toledo to be an exceptional weekend trip.
Getting to Toledo, Spain:
I took the high speed train from Atocha station in Madrid. It only takes about 30 minutes by train and cost about $17 USD one-way. Once I arrived at the train station in Toledo, I took a taxi to the historic area of the city.
Once in the historic area, I found it easily walkable and only used transportation to and from the train station. There are also hop on/hop off tour busses available.
Where To Stay in Toledo, Spain:
I tend to choose off-the-beaten path options more often because the experience tends to be more authentic. The small boutique hotel, Entre Dos Aguas Hotel Boutique, that I stayed in is located in a less touristy area, which is quieter and calmer than outside the main square. The rest of the city is close and it’s an easy walk to other restaurants, shops and museums. The hotel is only a few years old and is beautifully designed and executed. I found it originally on Booking.com and feel so lucky I did. The owners Rafael Carmena Bravo and Gabriela Otel are lovely and so hospitable. They gave me a tour of the hotel and explained the history throughout it. Staying here only added to a city that already felt like magic.
For more on the hotel, view my YouTube video here.
What To Eat in Toledo, Spain:
I arrived in Toledo in the afternoon on a Saturday and then had to leave the following day to go back to Madrid. I had time for two meals while I was there, however I did see plenty of other places I would have liked to try if I had more time.
This restaurant, Embrujo, was right around the corner from the hotel that I stayed at and was recommended to me by them. It worked out perfectly since I was traveling on my own and liked that the hotel was so close by. They were wonderful with checking ingredients and making sure my meal was safe.
I ate the Iberian Pork Loin with tomatoes and Manchego cheese from the La Mancha region (where Toledo is located). Of course I also had a glass of Spanish Rioja wine with dinner.
The hotel offered breakfast downstairs in the sitting area on the first floor. Since they weren’t sure if the bread was safe, they made a plate of fruit. I also had Nespresso coffee and orange juice. I always pack plenty of snacks since breakfast is usually questionable when I travel. It was still nice to have fresh fruit, juice and coffee. I supplemented with a granola bar.
What To See & Do in Toledo, Spain:
Wandering the cobbled streets is one of the most delightful parts of visiting Toledo. I spent my first afternoon roaming around and taking in the surroundings. In the short time I was there, I did also visit some of the main sites and attractions.
- Cistercian Convent Santo Domingo De Silos– This convent was founded in 1085, making it the oldest convent in Toledo. It includes works by famous El Greco inside.
- Santa Maria la Blanca Antigua Sinagoga– This was likely the main synagogue of the Toledo Jewish Quarter, built at the end of the 11th century. Starting in the 15th Century it was no longer used as a synagogue and was converted into a church. It is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
- Santa Inglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo– This Roman Catholic church is from the 13th century and is an excellent example of Gothic architecture.
- Biblioteca de Castilla-La Mancha– If you are looking for a great view of the city, got to the library and take the elevator to the top floor. There is a little cafe at the top with an impressive view of Toledo!
- The Alcázar– Strategically built at the highest point in the city, the views from this fortress are incredible. I didn’t have a chance to go inside the actual museum but I would have liked to go in to learn more about the history of Toledo.