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If you had 2 days in Madrid, would you spend one of them in Toledo?

If you had 2 days in Madrid, would you spend one of them in Toledo?

Old Apr 20th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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If you had 2 days in Madrid, would you spend one of them in Toledo?

I keep changing my mind about this so I'd appreciate some suggestions. I arrive for the first time (ever) around 8am and leave 9:30am two days later. I can't arrive earlier nor stay later. I will be spending an afternoon and an evening again in Madrid just before I fly back home at the end of my trip.

I'm hoping to have an opportunity to go to Toledo next year instead of visiting it as a day trip this year. (There's a conference next year in Berlin that ends two days before Corpus Christi and there are discount airlines that travel between Berlin and Madrid.)

But then there's always the possibility that things won't go as plan and I won't be visiting Spain again next year.

So what would you do if this were your first trip to Madrid?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 11:14 AM
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If there is a possibility that you won't visit (Spain) again, then I would visit Toledo, it's a quick 20-30 mins train ride from Madrid, and really ideal for a day trip. Although it's really difficult to get a feeling of Madrid in just one day. It was hard for me when I spent 4 full days there. But Toledo is such a lovely town, very charming and different than Madrid.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 11:16 AM
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Madrid is a huge city with world class museums, lovely parks, the Palace , great shopping etc...

If you are not interested in the above( and don't have jet-lag) you can take a tourist bus of some sort, and 'see" the city in one day .

Toledo is a great place for a day trip.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I'd rather see a small amount of Madrid but see it well. If I only spend the first, and jet-lagged, day there, I'll probably walk around a bit, then visit the Prado and botanical gardens.

That's what's so difficult, I can't decide if I want to spend the second days further exploring Madrid or going to Toledo. in either case, I can't spend as much time as I want to.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 11:45 AM
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Shanti, if you are arriving by air, the airport is not close to the city centre, so even if your flight lands at 8 am, you won't be able to start exploring Madrid until late in the morning at best, which really gives you a day and a half, rather than two days for sightseeing. Not sure where you're flying from but it's possible you maybe jetlagged when you arrive.

Madrid is a walkable city. However, Madrid is not one of my favorites. Not sure what you plan on seeing, maybe the Prado, Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, Grand Via, Old Madrid, Cibelis (sp) fountain, Plaza Espana, etc. These sights can be visitd in a day and a half, at a comfortable pace It really depends on your interest level and how long you plan on spending at each place. I don't spend too long in art museums, so I cannot advise you how long to spend there. I'd plan on spending an hour and a half in the Royal Palace, and about two hours strolling the Plaza Mayor area and Old Madrid area. Plaza Espana, Cibelis, Grand Via, won't take long to see.

I know your question is should I visit Toledo? Well, if you are determined to go to Toledo, you'd have to skip some of the sights in Madrid. It really depends on what you want to see, a little of Madrid and Toledo, or the main sights in Madrid without Toledo. I do like Toledo, personally I feel that you won't see Madrid properly if you try to include Toledo.

I think it's irrelevant that you may visit Berlin next year. Maybe there are sights around Berlin you'd be interested in on that trip.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 04:08 PM
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Definitely go to Toledo if you can - it is so amazing. Take the earliest train possible and use Rick Steve's guide to self tour or hire a guide. Take the teeny clanky train that circles around the walls of the city - try to sit up front as it's a rough ride in the back cars; then walk around and see the high points - it's really not a big town; have a lunch someplace with an eye on the train schedule and be back in Madrid well in advance of dinner or a tapas crawl. You can be really efficient with Madrid if you stay centrally, arrive when sites open, plan & research what you want to see and if doing museum(s) preselect what you want to see. For example the Prado website has a page that has links to itineraries for 1, 2 or 3 hrs. http://www.museodelprado.es/en/ingle...ion/whats-see/
Also I would buy any tickets in advance to avoid lines - again the Prado example: https://www.gtp.es/prado/oberonweb_venta/ You get the idea.
IMO you can see "highlights" of Madrid & also go Toledo- we did both last year in almost same time frame and worked well. It also helps that all the bars & restaurants are open late. Have a great trip.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 04:09 PM
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It is so personal, but I would go to Toledo, even just for the cathedral. If you are tired the first day, you can perhaps take a short nap, then go to the Prado or the palace and walk in the park or the Plaza Mayor area. At the end of your trip, you can go to whichever one you missed the first day. Since you will have two evenings at the beginning and one evening at the end of your trip to Madrid, consider an evening walk with British expatriate, Stephen Drake Jones. He takes you for walks, tells stories of Spanish history, and stops in Tapas bars for snacks, etc. or sometimes dinner. His website is www.wellsoc.org, [email protected]. Stephen does enjoy his wine, so if that would be a problem for you, then skip it, but he can really give you a feel for history & for life in Madrid. I've gone on four of his walks and one trip to Segovia with him, and enjoyed every one.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 04:25 PM
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I would go to Toledo.

This is how I deal with this kind of choice. Madrid is a major gateway for international flights. I under-schedule visits to gateway cities because I usually end up having to stop at these cities anyway on subsequent trips. Instead, I concentrate on visiting places requiring special arrangement such as Toledo.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Thanks for the links and the suggestions. Greg, I think you nailed it - it's pretty easy to get a flight to Madrid. Although I won't be able to spend as much time as I would like in either city, I'm planning on spending time in both. At the very least, as Sassafras put it, I can visit the cathedral in Toledo. (Although I'm planning on doing a bit more than that.)
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Shanti, another vote for visiting Toledo, even within your short window in Madrid. The cathedral with its El Grecos is breathtaking as is the approach to the city.

If you need anymore encouragement, check out El Greco's VIEW OF TOLEDO - it hasn't changed. Last year the painting was on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - what a thrill!

Enjoy Spain...
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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Also voting for Toledo....
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 06:59 PM
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So glad you decided to go to Toledo. I am crazy about cathedrals and the one in Toledo is just about my favorite. When you walk under the transparente, you will just be blown away. The hole was cut to allow sunlight in. The sculpture is breathtaking.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 01:50 AM
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Shanti writes: "... So what would you do if this were your first trip to Madrid? ..."

I think I would try to fit in a half day trip to Toledo. If I were of the Jewish persuasion, that would be a mandatory visit. Toledo's Synagogue is a testament to the fact that Sephardic Jews were held in High Esteem before the Inquisition.

There's a high speed train from Madrid's Puerta de Atocha that will get you there in less than an hour, or there are Tour Companies like Trapsatur that do half-day Toledo tours
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 02:26 AM
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Having just returned from an 8 day trip to Madrid, of which one day was devoted to Toledo and another to Segovia, I would say definitely go to Toledo.

As much as I enjoyed my time in Madrid, I agree with retiredinflorida about it not being my favorite city. We did see everything we wanted to see because we had so much time there but our day out of town to Toledo was just magical.

The cathedral there is indeed stunning and awe-inspiring and the buildings which used to be synagogues are worth the visit as well, whether of the Jewish persuasion or not. Don't miss the following if you do decide on Toledo :

1) right across from the El Transito Synagogue Sephardic museum is a small park which if you walk across it (very small) you come to a gorge which is breathtaking and seems to have been El Greco's inspiration for many of his paintings.

2) if you are a lover of marzipan (or mazapan as it is called there) DO NOT MISS Santo Tome store. It is right on the main Plaza Zocodover and you cannot miss it. THE best in the world. Toledo is know for it.

3) Very helpful tourist office right at the above Plaza. Use it because they give you info about what is open on that particular day, what times, etc.

4) Take the fast train from Atocha and it takes LESS THAN half an hour, i.e. 25 minutes. Comfortable, lots of room, CLEAN, and on time.

Go, go go!!!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Hello Shanti!

I have lived in Madrid for the last 5 years and I say that if you only have 2 days there than you should definitly skip Toledo. It is a cute city but not worth the trip if you are on such a tight schedule.

Enjoy the city, the tapas and the sights.

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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 02:27 PM
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I don't remember much about Madrid except the Prado... but I'll always remember staying at the parador in Toledo that overlooks the town. Wonder if it's still there. The view was Goya's painting come to life.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Either option would probably be fine; plenty of interesting things to do no matter what you choose.

I do like Madrid, but it took me many visits to get comfortable with the city; now it is a favorite of mine. Keep in mind that the Prado is big - if there are specific works of art you want to see, look at an online museum map beforehand and plan where to go (since you have limited time). But if you prefer modern art, you could visit the Reina Sofia museum instead (or also, if you are an art nut like me!) and see works by Miro and Picasso, among others. Picasso's Guernica is here. Amazing!

Just my opinion, but unless you really love elaborate palaces, or have not visited many, I would skip the Royal Palace. I like the idea mentioned above to take the night walking/tapas/wine tour. Madrid at night is fabulous!

As for Toledo, it is a charming walled city with fascinating sites, winding streets, and lovely traditional crafts. If you are more in the mood for a smaller city, go there.
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