When I think about ancient cities, Rome and Athens come to mind immediately. Rightly so, as the cities are enriched with thousands of years of history, both of which I have had the pleasure of visiting. The great thing about being on the road is that opportunities will arise with new ancient cities unknown to me that I will discover. This happened when I decided to take a trip to Toledo, Spain. 

Travel Magazine recently published an article about the city, when my colleague Melissa Mahoney detailed the city’s history, which you can read here. I’m going to go a little further and give you a take from a Spaniard, Maribel Alfonzo Micó, who gave me further insight into propelling the city. Plus, why you have to go to Toledo just for its marzipan. 

Maribel lives in Valencia, and I asked what made her decide to go to Toledo and whether she knew about the history and culture beforehand. She told me, “Toledo es Ciudad Patrimonial de la Humanidad. One of the most beautiful cities in Europe that hides in its alley secrets, history, and culture of more than 2,000 years. I didn’t know about the past until I read that it was conquered by the Germanic peoples, invaded by the Muslims, and became an important European intellectual centre around the 12th century. This was a significant reason for visiting as I love history.”

“The transfer of the capital to Madrid in 1561 sank Toledo into a period of decline that the church took advantage of to become the city’s economic and ideological driving force. The historic centre of Toledo is also the largest in Spain. I can tell you more and more about its history because this is what makes Toledo magnificent.” 

Whilst Maribel was there; I wanted to know what she experienced in the city that made it so unique. “Each experience depends on how adventurous the person is. If you are adventurous and explore the city, you will find fantastic places that the introductory brochures do not show you. I would not recommend getting to know Toledo in a booklet; you must live and feel this incredible city. There is no time limit to getting to know Toledo. I highly recommend spending as much time as possible to get the best experience.” 

Wherever you go in Spain, the food is always delicious. What sort of local restaurants can people visit in Toledo and perhaps local bars to go with it. “There’s everything from international bars to back-alley bars. They are all great, in my opinion. If you want to go to a good restaurant and try the local food, I recommend Manjares Restaurant (inside Hotel Posada Sillería). You cannot go wrongAnother place is, Clandestina de las Tendillas which is magnificent. Finally, Cervecería La Abadía and Alfileritos 24. Very good, and I highly recommend booking before you go as you won’t get a seat otherwise. I recommend booking an early table as we Spainaird like to eat late.” 

As I’ve mentioned, you can visit Toledo for just its marzipan. Marzipan de Toledo, known as the protected designation of origin, is a name that the European Union recognises. If you want to delve into this delicious dessert as I did, plenty of local pastry, cake, and candy shops sell marzipan all year round. For me, Toledo’s finest hot chocolate goes well with marzipan, which adds so much more to the taste. 

marzipan in toledo
Photo Credit: Shebs Alom

Staying in Toledo is a great option. Many people take a day trip from Madrid, and as Maribel has already said, Toledo deserves more than a day. If you were thinking about a day trip, I would suggest booking in advance; otherwise, on the day, you could be paying around €22 for a return, which was the price I paid in May 2022.

Where is the best place to stay if you decide to stay in Toledo? Maribel told me, “I stayed in Hotel Sercotel, because it was recommended to us. It is centrally located, and the service and attention are excellent. It is a touristic city, and what you pay is rewarded by getting to know a wonderful and magical city.” Prices vary, but on average, unless you decide to stay in the outskirts, you are looking at $100 a night for a decent hotel. 

With so much history in the city, was the overall experience of Toledo worth it for Maribel? “You can’t imagine it until you live it and experience it yourself. Its history, people, and panoramic views make it a photo city to be experienced with intensity. Toledo is a city to visit several times. I am yet to discover more of Toledo. I will go back and never get tired of seeing and experiencing it up close.” 

With Toledo’s historic centre being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986, it’s a city not to be missed when travelling to Spain.