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Royal Palace in Aranjuez, Madrid

Travel to Aranjuez from Madrid

Madrid

A day among the gardens


During your stay in Madrid, we suggest an excursion to the town of Aranjuez, to the south of the capital. It’s quite close and easy to get to, and you’ll love exploring the site, a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape with spectacular gardens and magnificent heritage buildings like the Royal Palace evoking 500 years of history. It’s definitely worth the trip.

MORNING

Dedicate the first part of the day to discovering the great symbol of the city, its Royal Palace and its nearby gardens, and then go for a stroll through the Aranjuez old town.

Arrival from Madrid, and a tour of the Royal Palace

If you set off early you will have more time in Aranjuez and you can tour the Royal Palace at your own pace. The easiest option is the train. The railway station is 10 minutes’ walk from the Palace. Just follow Calle de la Estación, turn left and continue along Avenida del Palacio, a pretty tree-lined road, to the palace. You will come out onto Plaza Elíptica, with a spectacular view of the building. There is also a tourist information point just there, where you can get all the information you need.

After taking a few stunning photos of the palace façade from the large parade ground, you can go inside to see why so many kings and queens of Spain chose this place for their parties and their spring residence. You can go around by yourself, or take a guided tour.

Jardín del Parterre and Jardín de la Isla. Strolling among sculptures

 As you leave, head west of the Palace to the small entrance to the formal garden, the Jardín del Parterre. As soon as you go in, you’ll see a different perspective of the eastern façade of the palace, and a carefully manicured garden with mythological sculptures, including a particularly impression Hercules. Continue over the small and very charming bridge leading to the Jardín de la Isla, or island garden, surrounded by the Tagus.

Left: Jardines de Parterre / Right: Jardines de la Isla in Aranjuez, Madrid

This green space is larger than the last one. To your right, there is a lovely waterfall known as “the castanets” for the shape of its basins. Pause next to it to enjoy the peaceful sound of the water.As you venture further into the garden, you’ll encounter many mythological statues to remind you you’re in an almost magical place. The best way to go is along the central avenue where you can read the descriptions of the sculptures, sit in the pretty little square of the “Boy with a Thorn” to listen to the murmur of the fountains and the birds singing, and then return via the terrace with views of the river.

Historic quarter and the Bullring. Experience the national fiesta

Now it’s time for an easy walk to explore the old town centre. Go along Calle de San Antonio to the corner where it meets Calle Capitán Angosto Gómez Castrillón, a perfect spot for shopping. Behind you there is a magnificent view of a church, the Real Iglesia de San Antonio. As you continue along this street, you’ll see important buildings like the Isabel de Farnesio Cultural Centre, Medinaceli Palace, and the former Hospital de San Carlos. In this area, some of the façades conceal a surprise: the fascinating traditional corralas or tenements around a central courtyard.

 Left: Church of San Antonio / Centre: Strawberries / Right: Bullring in Aranjuez, Madrid

In summer, you’re likely to find some of the locals selling fruit on their doorsteps (especially on Calle Eras). If not, you can always go to the Mercado de Abastos or food market to buy local strawberries or asparagus, or to Calle Almíbar for artisanal jams. A relaxed walk brings you to the 18th century bullring, one of the few surviving from that period. Although its exterior is austere, inside it offers an entertaining guided tour of the arena, the chapel, the bullpens, the alley, the stands, the barrier and an engaging Bullfighting Museum. You can take part in a mock parade and wave a cape around.

Gastronomy

After showing what you can do with a cape, back in the area around the Jardín del Parterre and all along Calle de la Reina there are plenty of places to eat, from traditional grills and inns to innovative cuisine. Some of them, such as the iconic “El Rana Verde” (opposite the Royal Palace and next to the gardens) are located alongside the river Tagus. This means you can enjoy unbeatable views and delicious local specialities like huntsman-style pheasant and locally-grown vegetables.In spring and summer you’ll also find stands around here selling strawberries. In summer, you can experience eating in the traditional Aranjuez picnic areas and terraces, which extend all along the Calle de la Reina (having dinner there is the best option, to enjoy the cooling breeze from the river). If you need a refreshment, at the beginning of Calle del Príncipe y de las Infantas there are lots of kiosks where you can savour a slush or take the chance to buy a souvenir.

AFTERNOON

Now it's time to stop by the largest park in Aranjuez: Jardín del Príncipe. You can explore it on foot or by choosing one of the ideas we have explained below.

Exploring Jardín del Príncipe. Chiquitrén and tourist boat

Next to the Royal Palace tourist information point is a stall selling tickets for the Chiquitrén, a sightseeing “train” offering a tour with commentary of part of the old town and the huge and stunning Jardín del Príncipe, the largest park you’ll be visiting and undoubtedly the one that will most impress you. If you’re travelling with children or you’re tired of walking, this is a fun and comfortable way to see this garden, which is about three kilometres long.On your tour of the park, you'll see fountains with figures of Narcissus or Apollo, ancient trees over 30 metres tall from different parts of the world, fairytale scenes like the Chinescos pond… And you'll almost certainly see colourful pheasants, squirrels and peacocks. No wonder that all this natural beauty inspired the famous “Concierto de Aranjuez”.

Jardín del Príncipe in Aranjuez, Madrid

There are two must-sees in the Jardín del Príncipe. One is the Museum of Royal Barges, where you can see the pleasure boats the monarchs used for trips on the river Tagus. The other is the Casa del Labrador or Labourer’s Cottage, which is approached along a stunning avenue of magnolias. After this pleasant trip, your best bet is to cross the river via the Puente de Barcos (at the end of the Jardín del Parterre) to Glorieta de Fernando VI, where you can get a delicious ice cream. In the afternoon, you can also go on the city’s tourist boat. It is fully glazed, so as you cruise on the Tagus alongside the Jardín del Príncipe, you can see fascinating places like the Royal dock and the Casa del Labrador dock, and imagine the kings and queens sailing just like us. Now it’s time to return to Madrid, and as you go back to the railway station, you’ll already be treasuring the memory of this truly royal city.

Places not to be missed

What to see


Tips and recommendations

Worth knowing

We recommend booking the guided tour of the bullring and the museum in advance by phone on +34 918910427.

How to get there

By bus: departures from Estación Sur de Autobuses de Madrid (Calle Méndez Álvaro). Approximate journey time: 50 minutes.By train: local line C3 from Atocha or Chamartín stations. Approximate journey time: 50 minutes.The Strawberry Train: this train with early 20th-century wooden carriages runs from the Madrid Railway Museum to Aranjuez on several weekends from April to October. On board, hostesses in period costume hand out locally grown strawberries. Includes a visit to the city. By road: 49 kilometres south of the city of Madrid, via the N-IV.

The most important events

Aranjuez Music Festival: normally between May and June.Spring time concerts: normally on Saturdays in June, in different venues, such as the church of San Antonio. Festivities of Motín de Aranjuez: the first weekend of September. Declared a Festivity of National Tourist Interest. Over 200 people wear period costume.Festivities of San Fernando: 30th May, with music and bullfights.