Toledo is one of the oldest cities in Spain, and one of my favorite Spanish destinations to visit. Whether it’s the nuns’ cookies or the gorgeous old streets, here’s how you should spend your time in Toledo, Spain.
Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightfully so: Its time-passed ancient streets catapult you way back to the Middle Ages.
Set above the forceful Rio Tajo, Toledo is a maze of Wanderlost adventures. Walk one block and you’ve stumbled upon an old museum. Walk another and you’re at the base of a small but enchanting church. Walk a couple more streets and you’re ringing a nondescript doorbell to purchase Toledo’s famous pastries from the local nuns.
And that’s just the beginning. Toledo’s twists, turns and adventures go on for miles, so put those comfortable shoes on and get ready for some exploring!
The colossal Toledo Cathedral can be seen from miles and miles away. Standing 150-feet high and almost 400-feet wide, the cathedral dominates much of old town Toledo. The exterior boasts intricate sculptures and detailing, and the cathedral’s interior is equally captivating.
Its tall, stained glass ceilings flood the floors in vibrant, colorful hues, and the idyllic altar is covered floor to ceiling in dazzling golden artwork.
If time allows, you can climb up to the Toledo Cathedral Bell Tower for stunning views of the city and an up-close-and-personal look at Toledo’s version of the Liberty Bell, crack and all! You can sign up for the Bell Tower in addition to your Toledo Cathedral admission for a total of about 11 euro.
The Nuns’ Cookies
The second I read about Toledo’s “secret nun cookies” I knew how I’d be spending my day in Toledo — on a cookie hunt!
For background, in many cities across Spain, the local nuns run an almost secret, underground operation baking cookies and pastries from ancient Roman recipes. But these sweets aren’t sold in your everyday store. Nuns secretly sell these coveted cookies and pastries behind nondescript, side street doors. That makes finding them a major(ly fun!) challenge that we were all to excited to take.
Given the total randomness of it, the nun cookie hunt isn’t something you can really plan for. You have to be on the right side street at the right time to stumble into it.
Fortunately, we were. Wandering down the side street of Travesia Gaitanas, we found ourselves in front of a little sign with cookie photos and a down arrow.
So we followed the arrow, rang the buzzer, expressed our interest in cookies, and took the stairs to a small little shop window where a cheery nun behind a window greeted us for cookie time.
Given our excitement, we bought pretty much one of everything (the easiest way to do it when you don’t know what’s what), said our thank yous, and exited with not only a bag full of pastries, but a swelling of pride: We were now part of Toledo’s underground sweets secret, and that felt pretty cool.
Walk along the city exterior
The historic city interior is tough to beat, but once you’ve wandered up, down and all around Toledo, go for a walk along the outside of the city. For us, this was the perfect, scenic way to exit the city and head back to the train station.
Catch the exterior trail below the Toledo Alcazar, and follow it as it winds along the city perimeter for views of the Rio Tajo, the Toledo bridges and the Spanish countryside. The path drops you off near the Puente de Azarquiel, one of Toledo’s picturesque bridges, and from there, you can cross the bridge and follow that road to the station.
While walking away from the city, don’t forget to turn around, because the view from the Puente de Azarquiel up into Toledo is definitely worth a moment (or more) of silent adoration.
Know before you go
If you’re taking the train into Toledo, you have a few options for getting into the city. You can walk, you can cab or you can grab one of the Toledo sightseeing buses for a scenic drive right into town.
While I’m not usually one for scenic bus tours, the Toledo City Tour bus is actually a good deal — and you’re not stuck sitting on it all day. For about 10 euro, Toledo City Tour takes you to three photo points on the opposite side of Rio Tajo, providing a sweeping view of Toledo you’d otherwise miss.
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