Since we were in Madrid and my hubby is a history buff, visiting Toledo was a natural addition to our already packed schedule. Toledo is a short train ride from Madrid and should be in everyone’s “to see” list when in Madrid whether you are a history buff obsessed with medieval architecture, a backpacker trying to get that perfect shot for your facebook cover photo or, like us, a family of four seeking adventure with little ones in tow. The first time I visited Toledo about 8 years ago when I was studying in France I was impressed by its medieval vibe, its impeccable stacked cobble stones and above all its intact and well-preserved architecture.
As we planned for our day trip we decided to purchase tickets in advance and we went to the beautiful Puerta de Antocha train station. We purchased two adult tickets and the boys rode for free. We were offered cheap kid seats and took them since we didn’t feel like holding the toddler on our lap.
So on a beautiful morning in August we headed to the train station again and got ready to depart on a short train ride that would take us back in history. Of course none of this could happen before we had a delicious coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice that we were able to find without a glitch at the train station.
As we arrived in Toledo my hubby was surprised to see that it looked like every other modern city in Spain. He was thought we were going to see a real fortified city and our arrival venue didn’t look anything like that. I told him we needed to get there and mentioned how years ago I walked up the hill to the fortified city. We looked at the heavy bundles of joy, looked at each other and decided we were going to go the tourist route and take the tour bus instead. A few euros and a few minutes later we were on top of the hill enjoying incredible views of the city.
The boys weren’t too impressed but we were and the kids were happy to see us enjoy this trip so much. We loved hopping off the bus and being able to see the city from different angles. The boys just loved riding on the bus.
As the tour of the outskirts came to an end we were ready to see the inside of this fortified city. I had some memories of my last visit there but didn’t remember that much and I was willing to explore. Map in hand we headed to the main tourist spots in the city not without stopping every so often at a tapas place to have a bocadillo and a sangria or two.
One of our favorite parts of our visit was the Army Museum. We weren’t allowed to take pictures there but the place was just fantastic. The building itself is a piece of art and the ruins within the building are impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that the architect who build it was able to build atop ancient ruins without compromising them. The boys loved looking at the swords and at the carriages, the hubby was particularly interested in the uniforms and I just enjoyed my boys who are as boyish as can be.
As we continued to peruse thru Toledo we kept finding interesting architectural details. Since we were not on shopping mode we didn’t really stop at any of the souvenir stores but trust me, there are dozens of them scattered throughout the winding roads of Toledo.
We spent approximately 7 hours in Toledo. We had a great time and really enjoyed walking around the city. We missed out on several of the museums as we got a bit lost and got there too late to go in. Nonetheless we didn’t regret visiting this prominent historical city.
Toledo is a fabulous city for your little knights and princesses. Some of the streets are deserted and you really feel like you have gone back in time. The architecture is just gorgeous and the people are very kind. This was definitely another hit in our trip to Spain and we can’t wait to visit again.
- There is barely any spots with shade in Toledo, come prepared! Bring a hat, an umbrella, a big sombrero, whatever works. Make sure you stay hydrated and don’t exert yourself. You will get sunburned within minutes under the Spanish sun.
- Although most of the streets have cobblestones you will very likely be able to use your stroller. Trust me, you want to bring it along. The inclines look friendly at first sight but can be painful to climb with monkeys on your back.
- Use the “tour bus” to get to the city. You will enjoy the amazing views and be grateful to be able to stop for a few minutes on one of the viewpoints outside the city. Use the public bus to go back. You will appreciate the low price, the kind drivers and the fast ride back to the train station.
- If you want to see the Escorial, consider going on a tour bus from Madrid which includes both stops. If you don’t the train is fantastic and it is fast!
- If you want to buy some fantastic tile souvenirs or medieval weapons, be ready to spend some dinero. The crafts available in Toledo are mostly hand-made and truly works of art so you will have to pay for them. If you want a hand-made sword or knife make sure you check your airline restrictions and that you are able to take them home on the plane. You won’t want to lose your precious souvenir. Most shops will ship internationally; for a price.
- There are several playgrounds around the city but unfortunately no convenience stores or toilets near them so make sure you plan ahead and make the necessary pit stops before you stop at the playground.
- Toledo is a city meant to be walked in. You will be exhausted at the end of the day but so happy you visited it. Let the kids roam free as there are very few cars in the small streets.