Spain’s one-time capital is shaking off its austere, pious image. Now, with its innovative restaurants and hotels, plus cultural sights, Toledo merits more than a day trip from Madrid
Capital of Spain until 1563 – when the honour passed to the fly-blown village of Madrid, 46 miles away – Toledo, in Castilla-La Mancha, has become a classic day-trip destination (it’s just a half-hour hop from its neighbour by high-speed rail). But with its huge haul of churches and convents, mosques and synagogues, not to mention its food (manchego cheeses, powerful red wines, and marzipan in multiple forms), the city deserves more than a brush-by.
Toledo used to have a reputation for being somewhat pious and austere, but there are signs of change: a new wave of gastro-tapas bars, medieval interiors being overlaid with modern chic. I advise avoiding the heat of high summer – and enjoying a smug smile come evening, as the daytrippers head back to the capital, missing the city’s nocturnal charm.