If you are planning to visit Aranjuez from Madrid, you are in the right place.
In this post, you will find the best things to do in Aranjuez and all the essential information you need to fully enjoy this amazing one-day trip from Madrid.
Table of contents
- Why visit Aranjuez from Madrid?
- What is Aranjuez known for?
- How to get to Aranjuez?
- What to do in Aranjuez in 1 day
- How long to spend in Aranjuez?
- What is the best time to visit Aranjuez?
- Where to eat in Aranjuez?
Why visit Aranjuez from Madrid?
Madrid’s location in the center of Spain allows visitors to easily explore wonderful nearby places.
Aranjuez is pretty close to Madrid (around 30 miles) and easy to get to but, most important, it is a wonderful place. This historic location was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in December 2001.
History, traditions, architecture, green areas, and gastronomy are just a few of the reasons why you should visit Aranjuez from Madrid.
I personally love Aranjuez, especially in Spring and Fall. In my opinion, this day trip from Madrid is a must for every visitor. And yes, you must enter the Royal Palace, it is beautiful inside.
What is Aranjuez known for?
Aranjuez is mostly known for its spectacular Royal Palace and stunning gardens.
Aranjuez has been one of the Royal Sites of the Spanish monarchy since 1560, during the reign of Philip II. That is why it is known as a Royal Site.
Until the 18th century, only royalty and aristocracy were allowed to reside in the town.
Aranjuez is a site of great historical and monumental wealth, which is why it was declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by UNESCO in 2001.
How to get to Aranjuez?
Obviously, you can get to Aranjuez from Madrid by car. It is the fastest way and it is pretty easy to get there with your GPS.
Besides, there are plenty of free parking spaces close to the Royal Palace and the other main attractions.
Nevertheless, I would recommend you use the excellent Madrid public transport.
In this case, you must take the Renfe-Cercanias train line C-3 in Chamartin, Nuevos Ministerios, Sol, or Atocha stations. Aranjuez is the last stop of the journey and it takes around 45-60 minutes.
The train station in Aranjuez is pretty close to the main attractions in Aranjuez. In fact, the station is the first landmark you will visit in Aranjuez. It is the second oldest railway line in service in Spain.
The Strawberry Train (El Tren de la Fresa)
If you want to enjoy the full experience, the renowned Tren de la Fresa is still active every weekend from May to September.
It is a steam train that is more than a century old. The stewardesses are clothed in costumes and the wooden carriages are perfect replicas of the originals.
The Strawberry Train departs from the old Delicias Station, today the Railway Museum (Paseo de las Delicias, 61).
What to do in Aranjuez in 1 day
I expect this post will help you to spend an awesome day trip in Aranjuez from Madrid.
These are the best things to do in Aranjuez in 1 day:
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is the most famous attraction in Aranjuez.
So if you want to make the most of your visit to Aranjuez on your day trip from Madrid, don´t forget to book your tickets in advance.
I would recommend you book the tickets early in the morning, as soon as you get to Aranjuez.
On the contrary, you will have to pause your itinerary to visit the Palace, and then continue the route, not the most efficient way of visiting Aranjuez.
About the Palace
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez was the place chosen by the Bourbons to establish their residence in spring.
The current building was mainly built during the reign of Philip V, but the façade, the two side wings, and the public chapel were ordered by Ferdinand VI and Charles III. The front side of the building features three stone statues representing them.
The stone from Colmenar de Oreja used in the construction gives the Royal Palace a white appearance, with red bricks providing contrast.
The great Plaza de Armas is located in front of the palace and is reserved for parades and ceremonies held by the Spanish monarchs.
The inside of the Aranjuez Royal Palace is spectacular.
Starting with the Main Staircase you will discover unique works of art and rooms such as the Porcelain Cabinet, the Hall of Mirrors, the Throne Room, the Queen´s bedroom, the Ballroom, and the Smoking Room.
Remember that the entry to the Palace is through the south façade, next to the Plaza de Parejas. There is direct access to this area through the Gardens of the King.
What are the Aranjuez Palace opening hours?
The opening hours of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez are from April to September from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from October to March from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The Palace will remain closed on Mondays.
Is it free to visit the Royal Palace of Aranjuez?
No. The general entrance fee is currently € 9.
But if you are on a day trip from Madrid, consider that visiting the Palace is one of the best things to do in Aranjuez.
However, there is free access on Wednesdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. for European and Latin American citizens.
All nationalities can access the Royal Palace for free on 18 May and 12 October.
The Palace Gardens
Aranjuez is also renowned for its stunning selection of historic gardens surrounding the Royal Palace.
Visiting these green spaces is one of the best things to do in Aranjuez on your day trip from Madrid.
The design of the Royal Palace at Aranjuez included plans for two gardens to be located adjoining the building: one facing north, the Queen’s Garden, and the other facing south, the King’s Garden, which houses several statues and busts.
On the east side of the Palace, you will find the beautiful Parterre garden, which follows the layout of a typical English garden. This garden is especially famous for the three fountains of Hercules and Antaeus, Ceres, and Nereids.
Prince’s Garden (Jardín del Principe)
The Prince´s Garden is the largest green area in Aranjuez, I have no doubt it is one of my favorite parks in Madrid.
It was built in the 18th century with walkways arranged in an orthogonal pattern. It is huge, so it is the perfect place to relax, walk through its broad walkways, and get some fresh air without any disturbance.
In fact, this garden can be described as an outdoor museum and you can admire unique trees over 30 meters tall, peacocks, ducks, and beautiful monuments such as:
– The Chinescos pond. It is one of my favorite Instagram spots.
– The Narcissus and Apollo fountains.
– The Russian Mountain, an artificial mound topped by a shrine.
– And, of course, the Royal Barge Museum and the Casa del Labrador. These two popular attractions deserve a specific section, keep on reading to know more about them.
4. Royal Barge Museum (Museo de las Falúas Reales)
This unique museum is located within the Prince’s Garden and it is one of the most interesting things to do in Aranjuez.
It houses several barges or longboats used by the Royal House for their recreational rides on the Tagus River.
Among them, the one that belonged to Charles IV stands out, built in Cartagena, and decorated by Maella along the entire waterline with the coats of arms of all the Spanish provinces.
The museum is also home to paintings of the Spanish fleet in the 19th century, a set of bronze cannons from the reign of Ferdinand VI, and a range of navigation instruments.
It is a small museum but unique in the world. I fully recommend the visit, taking into account that its visit is included with the entrance to the Royal Palace, without having to pay any supplement.
5. The Farmer House (Casa del Labrador)
Update: La Casa del Labrador is temporarily closed to visitors.
This recreational palace is located on one end of the Prince’s Garden. It can look like it is a little bit far, but it is worth it. Besides, you will enjoy a wonderful stroll throughout Prince´s Park.
This neo-classical style place was built during the reign of Charles IV, who hired the best professionals at that time.
It is beautiful inside, especially the Hall of María Luisa, the Ballroom, the Billiard Room, and the Platinum Cabinet, covered in wood with gold and platinum inlays.
Another fundamental piece is its singular main staircase.
The access is also included with the entrance to the Royal Palace.
6. The Island Garden
Close to the Parterre and the Queen gardens, you will find a bridge leading to the Island Garden, which is surrounded by the Tagus River.
Here you will admire a spectacular Spanish Renaissance garden. It is a beautiful green space in Aranjuez with decorative fountains and mythological statues devoted to Hercules and the Hydra, Apollo, Venus, Diana, and Bacchus.
Additionally, there is this cozy square of the “Child with a Thorn” where you can have a break and relax.
And of course the lovely waterfall close to the bridge known as “the castanets” for the shape of its basins. This is one of my favorite spots in Aranjuez.
If you are visiting Aranjuez from Madrid, don´t miss this beautiful garden.
7. Mariblanca Square
This popular square houses some of the most important things to see in Aranjuez.
I feel grateful when I say I have visited many churches in my life, all over the world.
But I had never seen something similar to St. Anthony of Padua Church. It is a unique temple and the views from the Mariblanca fountain are awesome. I have no doubt this is one of the top-rated things to do in Aranjuez.
The church served as a bastion for French forces during the War of Independence in 1808, and its interior was stolen.
On the east side of the square, you can also find the Los Infantes House, which was erected on the initiative of Charles III in the 18th century, and served as a place of lodging for the Infantes Gabriel and Antonio.
Also, the Garden of Isabel II, where a small bronze statue commemorates Isabel II’s accession to the throne.
8. Other things to do in Aranjuez
If you have properly planned your day trip from Madrid to Aranjuez you could have some extra time to visit other popular attractions such as:
– The Royal Theater
– The Governor´s House
– Nuestra Señora de las Angustias Church
– Casa de Caballeros y Oficios
– The Market
– Queen Mother’s Coach Houses
– The Palace of Medinaceli
– San Carlos Hospital
– The Convent of San Pascual
– The Town Hall
– The Bullring
How long to spend in Aranjuez?
In my opinion, you will probably need a whole day to enjoy Aranjuez to the fullest.
So if you are planning to do a day trip to Aranjuez from Madrid, get up early to catch the train and visit the Royal Palace as soon as you get to Aranjuez.
Later, spend some time discovering the gardens and other attractions close to the Palace such as the St. Anthony of Padua Church until lunchtime.
You can spend the afternoon in the Prince´s garden, the Royal Barge Museum, and the Farmer House.
What is the best time to visit Aranjuez?
When possible, I would try to avoid Summer. It is the peak season and it will probably be scorching outside.
As there are plenty of parks, gardens, and fountains you can cool off frequently, but if you visit Aranjuez in summer don´t forget water and sunscreen.
I love Aranjuez in Spring and Fall, you will have sunny days with mild temperatures to fully enjoy your day trip from Madrid. Besides, the gardens and trees are stunning in Autumn with these incredible golden tones.
Where to eat in Aranjuez?
If you are visiting Aranjuez from Madrid, there is a wide range of restaurants and tapas bars.
If you are searching for tasting some Spanish tapas, Postas Street, close to the Aranjuez Town Hall, is your place.
In my case, I love the restaurants in Aranjuez. I have tried just a few of them but I can say that you will not regret having lunch in the iconic El Rana Verde or in El Corral de la Abuela, close to the Palace Gardens and the Tagus River.
I could probably say that currently El Corral de la Abuela is my favorite. It is not just the excellent quality and taste of the foods at a reasonable price, but also the staff, they are extremely kind and helpful.
Do you recommend any other restaurant? Leave your comments below!