Day 4 – Atocha Railway station > Lunch at Cervecería El Trébol > Guided tour at the gates & the city wall (Puertas y Murallas) > Toledo Trainvision (sight seeing train) > Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo (Catedral de Toledo) > Dinner at Restaurante La Catedral
One of the most popular day trips from Madrid is to visit Toledo. It is an old town located in the Central of Madrid, also known as the ‘City of Three Cultures’ for the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims & Jews. Definitely well worth a day trip, even if you just have two days in Madrid.
We tried to take it easy and left it late and only bought our train ticket to Toledo on the spot. The train from Atocha station departs every hour and the journey is only 30mins. We arrived at the station around 9ish and planned to catch the 10:20am train but it was fully booked, hence, we needed to wait for about 1 hour and took the 11:20am train instead. To avoid making the same mistake as we did, I would recommend you to book the ticket online. In the end we needed to kill about 1 hour at the station. Even though the station itself is quite unique with it’s tropical garden along with some restaurants and shops, there isn’t much to do for a full hour. We also booked our return ticket at the same time as we were afraid to get stuck in Toledo.
Alternatively, you can take the bus to get to Toledo as cheaper but slower option.
You can take metro line 1 from Gran Via to Atocha Renfe directly.
Once you get off from Toledo train station, it will take about 10mins walk to get to Alcantara Bridge. From there, you can walk towards the old town. Don’t worry if you can’t read a map, or even if you don’t have one. You’ll quickly notice the long line of tourists also heading to the town, and follow the line of people. Alternatively, there are a lot of taxis outside the station if you don’t want to walk.
We walked past a small travel agent and bought the Toledo pass which includes 3 admission tickets & 2 guided tours.
Below are the places that we visited in Toledo.
As soon as we got the pass, we went to a nearby restaurant for quick lunch. After inspecting some online recommendations, we made the decision to try Cervecería El Trébol as it has good rating.
We just ordered the mini sandwiches as we needed to make it to the guided tour of the gates & the city wall. Mr Map wanted to order a beer as well (sitting outside in the sun is perfect beer o’clock he says), but decided against it at the last minute. The sandwiches are good but not spectacular, though better than average. No complaints, though possibly would’ve tried something else if we had a second chance.
Tripadvisor ranking: #37 of 398 Restaurants in Toledo
Address: Calle de Santa Fe, 1, 45001 Toledo, Spain
As the guided tour for the gates & the city wall started at 13:30pm, we were rushing there after our lunch. Without the pass, you can’t get inside the building or reach the top, as the gate at the bottom is locked. In typical Spanish fashion, our guide was slightly late, so much for stuffing our mouths with the rest of the sandwiches and rushing to the starting point!
We were waiting for the tour guide under this arch.
The direct sunlight doesn’t make it great for photo taking during our noon visit, making it hard to adjust the exposure to both the background and the shaded facade of the building.
In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have bought the pass, or should have looked at another one instead. The view from the top of the city gate is nice, but not spectacular – yet funnily enough when I look back at this photo – it really looks fantastic
Guided tour: Gates & city wall
Time table for tour: Mon to Sat: 13:30; Everyday at 17:30
The nearby area around the city wall is quite photogenic.
As soon as we finished the city wall, we immediately walked to the main part of Toledo up the hill, to the Trainvision station to hop on the tourist train as our Toledo pass also includes the train ticket. It leaves every 30mins from Plaza Zocodover. The ride is quite bumpy as part of the roads are cobbled. The train is quite cute and the best part is it will take you to the hill top that overlooks Toledo for the postcard shot! By far our favourite photo from the trip, also the train driver gives you plenty of time to take enough selfies and family photos before calling time for everyone to board the train and return to the starting point.
We found out that Toledo steel is famous for it’s hardness and the craftsmanship of their swords. You can find those souvenirs shops selling swords around the town.
Our next stop is Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo as our Toledo pass includes the entry ticket and the guided tour. This is also the main attraction in Toledo and one of the Top 10 cathedrals in Spain. The guided tour took about 1 hour and the guide gave us a very detailed introduction of each signature features of the cathedral. It is good for tourists who are really into history and art. However, we have to admit that we are not a big fan of history and the tour had some coma-like effects on me.
If you just want to walk around and take photos, you can skip the tour. The architecture itself is quite impressive and you can see the attention to detail that they put into building the cathedral.
Guided tour: Catedral de Toledo
Time table for tour: Mon to Sat: 11:10; 12:10; 14:10; 16:10; Sun: 14:10 & 16:10
There are more historical sights such as Alcazar other than this main cathedral but we didn’t get into any of them. If you are interested to visit more attractions in Toledo, you can consider to buy the Toledo pass that includes more entrance tickets. Personally, we think that it is enough to spend half a day here. There wasn’t a lot of tourists during our visit (in late June) and it is good for photo taking, a sleepy old town close to Madrid, yet also enough to choose from in terms of restaurants and definitely a few worthwhile sites.
We just took some photos around the town before heading to the train station to catch our train back to Madrid for dinner.
That is the Toledo train station.
When we got back to Madrid, I picked a restaurant called Restaurante La Catedral that I read about on a Chinese guide book. It wrote something about it’s nice decor and being close to Puerta del Sol it is in an enviable location. We read the menu outside the restaurant and thought the set dinner was quite reasonably priced and we went in without any hesitation.
We ordered the grilled prawns and the scramble egg with truffle oil for starter. I can tell you that the grilled prawns was the only dish that was good from our dinner set. People always say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but then they also say, you eat with your eyes first. Apart from the grilled prawns, it was simply horrendous, and whilst Spanish is one of my favourite cuisines, this restaurant has to be avoided. The egg was very salty as I remembered and Mr Map commented that even my homemade scrambled egg with truffle oil taste a lot better – I am a very amateur chef even at a stretch.
We ordered beef and pork for the main. The pork was very oily and salty and when Mr Map can’t finish any sort of pure meat dish, you know that something has to be wrong.
We had the rice pudding and the cream caramel for dessert and both were quite bad.
What made it even worse is that whilst the food was bad, in comparison, the service is even worse. The waitress who served our table was quite rude, barely smiling nor even seeming to have any qualities I would expect from basic customer service. It was an overall bad dining experience and I would strongly recommend you to skip this restaurant. When we checked tripadvisor’s review, there are quite a lot of negative comments. (I have no clue how some people have said it’s excellent. I can verify all those negative comments and relate to them!)
Tripadvisor ranking: #1,289 of 10,332 Restaurants in Madrid
Address: Carrera San Jeronimo 16, Madrid, Spain
It is interesting that Spanish dinner time starts around 8:30pm, some restaurants wouldn’t open until then. If you go to have dinner at 7pm, you won’t see much diners around you. On the bright side, it made it quite easy to get tables at most restaurants, even walking in.
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