Wheelchair Accessibility in Toledo: What You Must Know
The Spanish town of Toledo is one of the most popular day trips from Madrid, and for good reason. Being perched on a hill with the Tagus River wrapped around it, Toledo has a fairytale-esque allure. Unfortunately, the hill, along with cobblestone, make wheelchair accessibility in Toledo challenging. In this post, we’ll offer advice on how you can get the most out of a day trip to Toledo, Spain as a wheelchair user.
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Wheelchair accessibility in Toledo: An overview
Before getting into specific accessible things to do in Toledo, let’s first paint the picture of general wheelchair accessibility.
There’s no way around it- arriving to Toledo involves going up a steep hill. There are three ways you can go up the hill; below is the order of what we recommend from most to least:
- Taking the elevator
- Rolling by wheelchair
Driving is by far the most comfortable way to get around Toledo. Most streets in Toledo are narrow and few have wide sidewalks. Many streets don’t have any sidewalks at all.
Additionally, brick cobblestone is rampant in Toledo. By driving, you’ll save yourself the discomfort of rolling over more cobblestone than you have to when traveling between sites.
If you won’t be arriving to Toledo by car, the next best option for getting up the hill is by taking the elevator.
Your best option is taking the elevator at Paseo de Recaredo, which will drop you off near the Zocodover Plaza. You shouldn’t have to worry about many, if any, people in line for the elevator, as there are free public escalators beside it.
Finally, you can technically roll by wheelchair up to Toledo. If this is something you’re set on doing, it’s a better option for power wheelchair users than manual wheelchair users, due to the steep incline.
However, regardless of your situation, we don’t recommend it. The sidewalks leading to the top are narrow, can change from one side to the other, and the incline is pretty steep and constant.
Plus, by taking the elevator or rolling to the top of Toledo, you’ll be in the same position- needing to travel over lots of cobblestone, more (but smaller) hills, and narrow or non-existent sidewalks to get from one place to the next.
Wheelchair accessibility in Toledo: Parking
We hope you’re driving to Toledo at this point.
And given that, you’re surely wondering what the parking situation is like.
Being a compact and old city, parking is limited in Toledo. Nonetheless, finding wheelchair accessible parking isn’t impossible.
When you arrive to Toledo, we recommend heading to a tourism office to grab a map. They’ve done an excellent job pointing out wheelchair accessible parking spaces in Toledo via wheelchair symbols on their maps.
Better yet, feel free to print out this photo we took of our map:
Remember, the wheelchair symbols on the map indicate accessible parking spaces.
Therefore, the accessible parking spaces don’t necessarily imply that the buildings they’re near are wheelchair accessible.
Wheelchair accessible tours in Toledo
An advantage of Toledo being such a tourist hot spot is that there are companies that run accessible Toledo tours.
Accessible Madrid is a company that specializes in offering wheelchair accessible tours in Toledo. They have their own adapted vans and guides who are knowledgeable about all things accessible in Toledo.
We highly recommend Accessible Madrid if you’re looking for a guided tour.
If you enjoy a more independent travel style, the Hop-On Hop-Off buses in Toledo are an excellent option, as they are wheelchair accessible.
In this case, we recommend taking the train from Madrid to Toledo. Both train stations are accessible and once you arrive in Toledo, there’s a Hop-On Hop-Off bus stop right in front of the train station.
You can easily purchase your Hop-On Hop-Off bus in person, but if you’d like to support our blog, we’d appreciate it if you purchase your tickets using the link below.
Wheelchair accessible things to do in Toledo
Of the five day trips we took from Madrid, Toledo was by far our favorite one in terms of nature and viewpoints. In fact, if you only do one thing on this list, make it the first one. In our opinion, the others are just icing on the cake.
1. Hike the Route of Don Quijote
Lovers of literature and the outdoors alike are bound to swoon over this opportunity. A portion of the Route of Don Quijote, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ book Don Quijote de la Mancha, runs through Toledo.
We recommend exploring the portion of the Route of Don Quijote that runs through the Mirador del Valle. This is the mountainous area across the river from the historical center of Toledo.
We’ve got a lot of tips to share about this hike.
Getting to the start point of the hike
If you’re a manual wheelchair user, we recommend driving from the San Martín Bridge up near the Mirador del Valle. If you can, sit on the driver’s side of the vehicle for views of Toledo and the river.
As you approach the top of the hill, find a parking spot.
Whatever you do, do NOT go all the way to the Mirador del Valle.
Parking is a nightmare there. Plus, you’d be getting out of the van around literally busloads of tourists.
Speaking of parking, we didn’t see any accessible parking spaces. In fact, there were plenty of cars parked in unusual ways, presumably due to a lack of clear parking lines…
Travel Tip: Make the Don Quijote hike the first thing you do in the morning. It’ll be easier to find, and make your own, parking space.
Once you’re out of the vehicle, your hike begins!
The hiking route
Head in the direction that the vehicle was driving in, towards the Alcántara Bridge.
You’ll know when you’re approaching the Mirador del Valle viewpoint because the area will be filled with tourists. The views before and after the Mirador del Valle are just as beautiful, so don’t feel like you’re missing out if you want to bypass the crowds.
Shortly after passing the Mirador del Valle, you’ll begin the gentle, but near-constant, descent to the Alcántara Bridge. Have your camera out, or even better, GoPro, because in our opinion this route is the most beautiful in Toledo.
Terrain on the hike
The entire hike is on a sidewalk with squares that have little stones embedded in them. They’re nowhere near the point of needing to be called cobblestone, but they also don’t make for a completely smooth rolling experience, especially due to wide grooves between the squares.
Ideally, we would have liked to have seen the sidewalk a foot or two wider since some portions got narrow in spots. Even so, passersby were still able to walk past without having to step into the road.
Speaking of the passersby and the road, we only encountered a few people on our hike and there weren’t many cars around on a Sunday morning.
It was peaceful bliss.
Travel Tip: There isn’t any shade on this hike, so prepare accordingly if you’re traveling on a sunny day.
Arriving at the end of the hike
Here’s where things get tricky.
Depending on your pace and how many stops you make, it’ll take you around 25 – 40 minutes to roll down to the Alcántara Bridge.
Unlike at the top of the hill, there isn’t any parking in the vicinity of the bridge. There is, however, a spot for a vehicle to pull over.
This is why doing the Don Quijote hike first thing in the morning is so important. Your driver is going to need to snatch that spot in order for you to get back in the vehicle.
Before you get in the vehicle, you must visit one of Toledo’s biggest architectural highlights, the Alcántara Bridge. We’ll talk about this bridge shortly.
An alternative for power wheelchair users
If you’ll be exploring Toledo with a power wheelchair, you have the option to roll from the San Martín Bridge to the Alcántara Bridge (or vice versa).
In either case, you’ll encounter a long climb one of the ways, which is why we’re not recommending this for the typical manual wheelchair user (of course, manual wheelchair users, you know your own abilities and may find it a breeze- who are we to say!).
Another important point to note here is that the portion of the hike between the San Martín Bridge and the Mirador del Valle has a few sections where drop curbs hardly drop (around a 3″ gap) and the sidewalk gets a little uneven.
Therefore, you’d need to assess the situation as you go to see what your comfort level is.
We could turn the Don Quijote hike into a post all of its own, but alas, there are so many other beautiful places to see in Toledo.
2. Alcántara Bridge
Although wheelchair accessibility in Toledo isn’t ideal overall, the bridges leading into the city are some of the most accessible places to visit.
For starters, they’re flat.
The Alcántara Bridge is a great place to start your bridge exploration since the hike we just covered will end there.
From the bridge, you’ll be able to soak in views of Toledo and take in the architectural skill of how they built the city on such a steep hill.
The Alcántara Bridge is made up of stone that’s almost entirely flush with the ground.
3. San Martín Bridge
The San Martín Bridge is the other must-visit bridge in Toledo. We recommend visiting this bridge before you begin the Don Quijote hike to avoid extra back and forth driving.
A big advantage of the San Martín Bridge compared to the Alcántara Bridge is that the San Martín Bridge has parking spaces nearby.
As with the Mirador del Valle, we didn’t see any accessible parking spaces, so once again you’ll have to get creative making your own. Yet another reason why visiting the San Martín Bridge in the morning is such a good idea.
While we loved the San Martín Bridge, if you’re short on time and can only visit one bridge, we recommend Alcántara Bridge since it offers the more iconic views of Toledo.
4. Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes
While wheelchair accessibility in the older buildings of Toledo is mediocre to non-existent, the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes potrayed among the most genuine efforts to make their building accessible.
For starters, wheelchair users don’t have to roll around the building trying to find a separate, accessible entrance. It’s a one entry for all kind of deal, thanks to an elevator to the right when you enter the main door.
The elevator will take you down to the ticket booth area, where you’ll be quickly ushered on, as wheelchair users have free entry to the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes.
From there, you’ll be able to explore the first floor, including the impressive outdoor patio, mausoleum, and the church. There’s a ramp in the church so you’ll have full access to explore it.
It’s important to note that while the monastery has two floors, only the first floor is accessible.
5. Toledo Cathedral
Commonly referred to as the Toledo Cathedral but technically named the “Primada” Cathedral, regardless of what you call it, the cathedral is a sight to see.
Much of the cathedral is accessible, thanks to a flat ground floor. The accessible entrance is via the “Culto” area for churchgoers to pray and attend service.
The most inaccessible part of the cathedral isn’t the inside, but the outside. The cathedral drapes down a steep portion of a hill and most sections have abundant cobblestone around.
The good news is that there’s accessible parking nearby…it’s just a matter of whether or not you’ll get lucky enough to snag a spot.
As expected from a tourist attraction in Spain, entrance to the cathedral in Toledo is free for wheelchair users.
6. Zocodover Plaza
Zocodover Plaza is the main plaza in Toledo. It buzzes with people selling city tours and waiters ushering you into their restaurants.
However, aside from a restroom break at trusty Mc Donald’s, Zocodover Plaza underwhelmed us. It felt a bit too gimmicky and far less authentic than just about any plaza we’ve seen in Spain thus far.
Nevertheless, Zocodover Plaza offers excellent wheelchair accessibility. Here, you’ll be freed from the wrath of cobblestone and won’t have to battle with inclines.
The Alcázar was built during the Roman times and, along with the cathedral, dominates Toledo’s old fashioned “skyline”.
Once a fortress, the Alcázar has been repurposed as an Army Museum.
We won’t beat around the bush here- between museums not being our favorite (please don’t hate us, history buffs!), and the long line to get into the museum, we decided to skip this visit.
However, our understanding is that Toledo’s Alcázar is wheelchair accessible.
We can vouch for the modern ramp leading to the entrance. Their website also states that wheelchair users have free entry, plus a companion, for those needing assistance.
8. Mirador del Alcázar
We may have skipped visiting the inside of the Alcázar, but we couldn’t resist a visit to the Mirador del Alcázar.
The Mirador del Alcázar is a park beneath the outdoor patio of the Alcázar and is free for the public to enter. The accessible entrance is conveniently located by the parking lot.
Wheelchair users only have access to a portion of the Mirador del Alcázar. Even so, you’ll get amazing views of the river and mountains.
You already know how much we loved our Don Quijote hike, so we were tickled pink that we could see a portion of the path we took.
9. Calle Comercio
Calle Comercio is a pedestrian street that leads to Plaza Zocodover. A popular area for tourist shops, Calle Comercio is the epitome of what makes wheelchair accessibility in Toledo so difficult.
Cobblestone with gaps wide enough to get small wheels caught in. Shops with steps. And, of course, an incline.
However, if you’re feeling up for it, there’s no doubt about it- Calle Comercio is a fun place to people watch and to soak in all things touristy.
If you’ve been eyeing the Iberico ham sandwiches that everyone walks around with, Viandas de Salamanca is your silver lining since it has an accessible entrance.
There’s also a Starbucks nearby with an accessible restroom, although you’ll have to pop over a small step before getting to the part of the entrance that has a ramp…
10. Café de las Monjas
Café de las Monjas, which translates to the “The Cafe of Nuns” is an accessible coffee shop by the Jewish Quarter of Toledo.
This coffee shop has quite a reputation, so it can get crowded, but if you manage to snag a table it’s a great place to take a little break during your Toledo explorations.
The biggest draw to the Café de las Monjas is their marzipan sweets, which is traditional to the region. They sell a variety of styles and flavors, both to eat in and gift boxes to take home as a souvenir.
Toledo isn’t a wheelchair user’s paradise, but it’s worthy of a visit. We hope this post has motivated you to visit Toledo and shown you the wheelchair accessible things to do there.
Do you have questions about wheelchair accessibility in Toledo? Leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you. If you’ve already traveled to Toledo as a wheelchair user, we’d love to hear about your experience, tips, and favorite accessible places.
P.S.- Looking for other day trip options from Madrid? Head on over to our post on five accessible day trips from Madrid. Also, don’t forget to check out our guide on eleven accessible things to do in Madrid and the best markets in Madrid.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.