no alt text

Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 10 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

This vast royal palace and monastery, 40km outside of Madrid in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, was commissioned as a royal residence by King Philip II during the 16th century.

A rich collection of art includes works by Titian, El Greco, Velazquez and Bosch; the library is 55m long and contains more than 40,000 books and documents, while the octagonal pantheon contains the tombs of nearly every Spanish monarch.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, for many the highlight of this vast complex is the lavish library, with ceiling frescoes by Pellegrino Tibaldi, Michelangelo’s disciple. Its collection of ancient and rare books includes the famous ‘Golden Gospel’, the Codex Aureus.

While you’re there

Stop by the Valley of the Fallen, the Catholic basilica built by General Franco to commemorate those who died in the Civil War.

Logistics

Price from: £13
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

It’s fairly easy to get to the site independently: take train C-8 from Atocha or Chamartín stations, or bus 661 or 664 from Moncloa station. By car, take the A-6, then M-600.

There are also plenty of organised tours that go to the palace, and usually include a visit to the Valley of the Fallen. Tours have the advantage of expert-led guides that give you more insights and stories that bring the sites to life, plus they arrange all logistics.

The Madrid tourist office can supply more information and book tours. In warm weather, pack a picnic to eat while exploring the palace’s extensive gardens. In colder weather, pack an extra layer – it’s quite a bit colder up here than in central Madrid.

When to do it

El Escorial is usually open all year round, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Monday. It’s usually quietest at lunchtime, around 2pm-4pm. In the winter months, it can feel dark and oppressive – so spring and early summer are best.

Who to go with: organised tours

4

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Escorial Monastery and the Valley of the Fallen Tour from Madrid

Madrid

Escorial Monastery and the Valley of the Fallen Tour from Madrid
On this excursion we will visit the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, an architectural heritage site of the Humanity, and the Basilica of the Valle de los Caídos, a monument that stands out for its gigantic size. 5 hour direct tour to the Valle de los Caídos with its basilica excavated in the Sierra de Madrid and discover the grandeur of the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, a World Heritage Site and symbol of Spanish supremacy of the sixteenth century.

Price: €59

Min age: 0

Rating 4.72 / 5 [1115 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Madrid to Escorial, Valle de los Caídos & Segovia: Optional Lunch

Madrid

Madrid to Escorial, Valle de los Caídos & Segovia: Optional Lunch
Discover the evolution of the Spanish empire from its historic roots through to the modern era. Start your journey in Segovia, where you can bask in the city's beauty and its medieval ambiance. Here, you have the option to upgrade and sample one of the most traditional dishes of Spanish gastronomy - the "Cochinillo" (suckling pig) while enjoying the full menu. Continuing on, your exploration leads you to the Monastery of El Escorial, offering insights into the unique Spanish traditions and history. Finally, conclude your tour at the "Valle de los Caídos" (Valley of the Fallen), where you can uncover the Spain of the 20th century. Travel to each location in the comfort of our luxury vans, accompanied by our expert guide. Immerse yourself in the fun and uniqueness of your experience on this Premium Small Group tour. Have fun and feel unique in your experience on a Premium Small Group tour!

Price: €140

Min age: 0

Rating 4.95 / 5 [22 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Private Tour El Escorial and The Valley of the Fallen from Madrid

Madrid

Private Tour El Escorial and The Valley of the Fallen from Madrid
Enjoy on this private tour of two special places in the mountains near Madrid city. They are 'El Escorial' and 'El Valle de los Caídos' (the Valley of the Fallen). Don’t miss the opportunity to have a fascinating time with lots of things to see and experience.

Price: €825

Min age: 0

Rating 4.5 / 5 [8 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

El Escorial and Valley of the Fallen Private Tour

Madrid

El Escorial and Valley of the Fallen Private Tour
During your stay in Madrid, you can not miss the opportunity of visiting two of the most important monuments located on the outskirts of Madrid. You will go to the Valley of the Fallen and the Monastery of El Escorial and get all the secrets behind them from your private guide. Take the chance of knowing more about the recent and the old history of Spain with this complete tour, at the same time that you enjoy the surrounding countryside

Price: €543

Min age: 0

Rating 4.5 / 5 [6 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Madrid

Madrid Region, Spain

Exterior of La Almudena Cathedral in the late afternoon.

Spain’s sunny capital offers up world-class art, super shopping, renowned tapas and late, late nights.