Aranjuez is a city in the southern part of Madrid, Spain. It was founded as a royal pleasure retreat by the Crown of Spain in 1560, and until 1752 only the nobility could visit it. Since 2001 it is considered a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Nowadays it is the typical day trip from Madrid, to escape the city and enjoy a bit of nature and culture. Most tourists visit Aranjuez to see its opulent palace, but madrileños (Madrid's inhabitants) go for the huge gardens and fresh air.
If it's the first time visiting the city we totally recommend visiting the Royal Palace. It is a beautiful building, inspired in the Versailles Palace in France. In the 18th century it had more than 300 luxurious rooms. We did the guided tour (approximately 1.5 hours) and learnt a bit about Filipe II' and his family's life at this summer palace.
After the guided tour and close to the palace it is also possible to visit the Falúas Museum (royal traditional cars) and Casa de Labrador (Carlos IV royal house). Since it was a very warm day we decided to skip these visits and walk around another famous place in Aranjuez: Jardín del Príncipe (Prince's gardens).
Jardín del Príncipe was created by Carlos IV between 1789 and 1808. It follows the English and French fashion of the 18th century and it's huge. The first gardens are very popular but the ones a bit far away are almost empty so we could enjoy a couple of hours quite in peace. There are several fountains dedicated to the gods (Apolo, Narciso), Los Chinescos (beautiful architectonic small buildings in the middle of the water) and awesome trees and flowers.
We had lunch in one of the many restaurants nearby but the best ones were all full, so maybe it makes sense to make a reservation if going on a weekend.
This is an easy and relaxing day trip from Madrid, and it's not huge so if you organize yourself you can plan half a day to visit the palace and a quick walk around the gardens. Enjoy!
Interested in other day trips from Madrid? Check this article about Ávila!
- Main costs: Palace entrance (9€/person)
- Aranjuez official website here (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian)
- Different kind of activities to do in Aranjuez (carriage rides, strawberry train, wine tourism, balloon rides, segway routes) can be seen here
- Buy tickets online here (we recommend to do it specially in the Summer, when the ticket offices are usually very crowded)