From mosques, to synagogues, monasteries and ancient city walls, Toledo, Spain certainly has it all.
To get to Toledo from Madrid, you will need to take a bus from Plaza Eliptica. Round trip will set you back €13.65, although, I do believe the rates change depending on season and demand.
Your tickets will likely have a specific bus time and an, "assigned" seat. However, the specific time and the assigned seat mean nothing. Basically, you arrive to Plaza Eliptica and wait in line for the bus. You get on whatever bus you get on. I ended up leaving 30 minutes later than what was assigned to me and you just get on the bus and sit wherever. It's first come first serve and they have busses that lineup and depart every half an hour. Just show your ticket to the driver on your phone. They don't pay attention to time and seat. They only look at the date.
The same goes for when returning to Madrid from Toledo. You line up in the bus depot downstairs and get on whatever bus you get on based on first come first serve. At this point it worked to my advantage because I was able to take a bus back to Madrid that was earlier than I was assigned as I was very tired.
The busses could be a public Madrid city bus or a coach bus. On my way to Toledo it was a Madrid city bus and on my way back to Madrid it was a coach bus.
For just €10 you can get access to SIX of Toledo's most famous sites. This should be on of the first things you do when arriving in Toledo. You can purchase this bracelet at any of the six sites. It gives you free access to:
Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca
Cristo de la Luz Mesquita
Iglesia de los Jesuitas
El Entierro Del Señor De Orgaz
Iglesia Del Salvador
San Juan de los Reyes Monasterio
There is also a well planned walking route you can take that makes the jumping from site-to-site easier. Each site is within 10 minutes of each other by walking.
Santa Iglesia Cathedral Primada de Toledo
This cathedral is absolutely stunning. It's of Gothic architecture and the construction was started in 1226 under the reign of Ferdinand III. The final touches of this cathedral were added in 1493 under the reign of the Catholic Monarchs.
Almost all of the cathedral is stunning but the most unique feature of the cathedral is what is called the El Transparente, or the transparency in English. The stunning Baroque altarpiece is illuminated by a hole in the ceiling of the cathedral to light up the stucco, paintings, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble.
Plaza de Toros de Toledo
This is only at the top of my list because I found it on the map and it was a short walk from the bus station. From there it's also a short walk to the Puerta de Bisagra which I'll talk about later. If you have opinions on bullfighting, maybe it's best to skip this. This is the main bullfighting stadium in Toledo and when I walked around it, I found an open gate and was able to get inside. Of course I cannot guarantee you'll be able to get inside every time but for me it was neat to see something that is a part of Spanish history and culture.
Cristo de la Luz Mesquita
Accessible with the tourist bracelet! This was once a mosque that dates back to the Moors that occupied and ruled Toledo in the year 1000. It was then converted into a small chapel by the Christians that retook the city and region several hundred years later. This site was one of my favorite sites I saw in Toledo. It's so well preserved and the history is pretty astounding.
Sinagoga de Santa Maria La Blanca
This is one of the six sites you can access with the bracelet. This synagogue is beautiful. Aptly named "white" as the inside architecture and design is a beautiful shade of white. There is only one way through the synagogue so just follow the path. Don't forget to look up at the beautiful designs!
Alcázar - Museo del Ejercito
This is NOT accessible with the bracelet. I highly recommend the Alcázar and the museum that it is attached to. The Museum itself is quite extensive. It has sections on the military history of the Iberian peninsula, and medieval military history of Europe. There's lots of medieval armor and even a big display of military figurines. I must say that if you really go through the museum, it will take some time. Plan ahead by eating before going in and it does close at 5pm on Saturday's while other sites close at 7:30pm. So I recommend not going too late!
Monastery de San Juan de los Reyes
Another site accessible with the bracelet. It's not as large as it appears from the outside. When you enter you'll make your way up a staircase and then you can make your way around the inside of a courtyard. After returning back down the stairs, don't forget to go around the side on the way to the San Martin Bridge and enter the chapel. The Chapel is quite beautiful.
San Martin Bridge
This famous bridge is more or less, "behind" the city. Depending on where you are coming from, it could be a bit of a walk. I recommend checking out this medieval bridge after the El Greco museum, the San Juan de los Reyes Monasterio, and the Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca as they are all located on the hill above the bridge.
Nothing special. Just a specific area of the city that was once occupied by the Jewish population of Toledo.
Puerta de Bisagra
By far the most famous gate in the city of Toledo. It is quite stunning and it really does appear to be the entrance to the city. It is not far from the bus station or the Plaza de Toros de Toledo. It is still connected to the original city walls. To walk along the walls you will need to go down the hill around the roundabout. The amount of wall still left intact is quite remarkable. The only other entrance to the inner part of the city beyond the wall is down the hill and around the corner to the right. Going this route may add some time and milage to your day.
El Greco is a famous painter from Greece who made a life for himself in Toledo. I was able to get into the museum for free so I didn't waste anything on it. However, I'm not much of an art enthusiast. I can appreciate the beauty in a lot of art but it's just not always my thing. If you're an art enthusiast, you'll love El Greco but if you're like me, it's just ok.
It is here where you will get the best views in all of Toledo. If you can find a way to make it there (it's a bit of hike from the city), you'll get complete views of Toledo. The best way to get there might be by the tourist vehicle that's designed to look like a train that crosses the river and goes up the hill in which the Mirador is situated. Another way is if you've rented a car.
View from the Mirador Toledo