According to 800Zipcodes, Toro is a wine-growing region in northwestern Spain near the border with Portugal, as well as the city of the same name. Translated from Spanish, toro means “bull”. There are many versions about the origin of the name, but today it is jokingly associated with “strong and powerful” red wines. One of the legends is connected with the name of King Alfonso IX of León, who had a bull and a trained lion in his courtyard. The king spoke of them: “Tengo un Toro que me da vino y un León que me lo bebe” – “I have a bull that gives wine and a lion that drinks it.” It is difficult to say what exactly the monarch had in mind, but it is obvious that Toro wine was a success in the 13th century.
However, Toro is not only wine. The city is interesting for its ancient architecture: churches, monasteries, palaces and ancient towers. As a rule, tourists come here as part of a tour of the cities of Castile-Leon, and you can easily get around it, including numerous bodegas, in just one day.
How to get to Toro
Toro is included in the popular tourist route around the cities of Castile-Leon (similar to the Golden Ring in Russia), but it is also available for independent travelers. The most convenient way to get to Toro is from Madrid or Bilbao.
- From Madrid: Trains from Madrid to Toro depart from Chamartin station with a change in Zamora. The first one leaves at 7:15, the last one at 19:40, the travel time is a little more than 2 hours, the fare is from 15 EUR. The prices on the page are for September 2021.
- ALSA buses run from Bilbao to Toro once a day. Departure time – 8:15, the journey will take 5 hours 20 minutes, fare – from 30 EUR.
Tourists rarely stay in Toro for a long time, most often they come for one day, so the choice of hotels here is small. But for those who want to bypass all the bodegas, there are about 10 hotels and guest houses, and all of them are located in the city center.
All hotels in Toro are very worthy, including the most inexpensive apartments. They are well equipped, most with a beautiful view of the sights, some combined with bodegas, so you can spend the evenings with wine tasting.
The most popular (it is also the only five-star) hotel in the city is Valbusenda Hotel Resort & Spa 5 *. It is located on the outskirts of the city (9 km from the historic center) on the banks of the Duero River. It has thermal pools with panoramic views, a spa, an outdoor pool and terrace, an excellent Castilian restaurant, and most importantly, its own vineyards and winery. A double room here will cost from 200 EUR per day.
The most budget 3* hotel costs 38 EUR per night for a double room, for this money you will get accommodation in the center, your own bathroom, a Castilian restaurant and a wine cellar with a good selection of local wines (as a rule, one welcome bottle is supposed to be a gift). The average cost of living in the city is 60-85 EUR per night for a double room.
Wine and bodegas
The main gastronomic attraction of Toro is wine. Local grapes are characterized by high sugar content, so the wines from it are quite strong, and for this characteristic taste they are loved not only in Spain, but also abroad. Red wines from Toro are especially popular. White and pink are also produced here, but it is red ones that are considered the most prestigious and have become a real regional brand.
Most wines in Toro are made from tempranillo grapes, locally called tinta de toro. In addition to tempranillo, garnacha is grown in this region (rosé wine is made from it – toro rosado), verdejo grows in small quantities, from which a few white wines are made – toro blanco (“toro blanco”).
Wines from Toro were already popular among professors at the University of Salamanca in the 13th century. Now the choice of drinks is much wider, however, both students and professors are happy to pay tribute to this tradition and prefer wines from Toro.
In Toro, you should definitely visit bodegas – wine cellars where wine is made and stored, as well as talk about production and hold tastings. Some bodegas pair them with dinner to showcase the best food and wine pairings, but most offer only a few wines and tapas at best.
In Toro, the Clara drink is also popular – a cocktail of beer with carbonated water (usually with lemonade or Coca-Cola), which they like to drink in the heat. The taste of sweet beer is quite specific, for an amateur, but worth a try.
There are many tapas bars in Toro, they are concentrated in the city center, where you can try popular Spanish snacks. Specialty snacks include fried shrimp, and the most unusual local dessert is sweets stuffed with foie gras. By the way, it is customary to serve dessert here not with coffee, but with aged, usually sweet dessert wine.
Popular bodegas in Toro
- Bodegas Nondum (“Bodegas Nondum”): a tour of the vineyards and production facilities, plus a tasting, which can be combined with dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. The bodega is open daily, excursions are carried out by prior arrangement, the duration is 2-3 hours.
- Bodegas redajorada (“bodegas redajorada” – translated from Spanish as “gilded lattice”): in addition to a tour and tasting, guests are invited to help with the grape harvest (if the season). Open daily except Saturday and Sunday, guided tours are available in Spanish and English only.
- Bodega Serafín Moya (Bodega “Serafin Moya”): located in the town of San Ramon de Ornija (San Ramon de Hornija), open every day, visit by appointment. Of the interesting – participation in the harvest (in season) and the country’s first machine for pressing grapes.
All wines produced in local bodegas are sold in city supermarkets (the largest selection is in Mercadona). Some wines do not travel outside of Spain, and you can taste and buy them only here (usually they warn you about this).