Lucky for me, right outside of Madrid, are many attractive destinations begging to be discovered.
One I’ve had on my list for a long time now is El Escorial.
Just forty-five miles outside of Madrid’s center, this nice and easy day trip is the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air, explore a new pueblo and check just one more sight off your bucket list.
Most people venture to San Lorenzo de El Escorial for one reason- to see The Royal Monastery. It’s no secret that ‘El Real Monasterio del Escorial’ is the main attraction of this small city- I mean, it is a significant part of its name.
This magnificent quad shaped Spanish Renaissance structure has served as a museum, a church, a royal palace and even a school. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Spain’s most popular and visited sites.
Caught your interest? You can read more about it here.
For me, the most impressive part of the Monastery was the Royal Pantheon. Towards the end of the monastery tour, we descended into a basement chamber containing the remains of several past Spanish kings and queens. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures, but the tomb was absolutely incredible! I’m not a huge museum person (sorry I’m not sorry), so most of the regally displayed artwork went right over by head, but the tomb, this left an impression. I was truly in awe! Twenty-six polished marble crypts majestically adorned with gold, right there in front of me, inches away from my fingertips. Technically (without the guards breathing down our necks), we could have reached out and touched them! Stacked in a bookshelf-like fashion these great men and women were on display, for thousands to gawk at.
The basic price to enter the monastery is only 10€, but many different discounts are available. I used my very expired student card, which scored me a half price ticket!
More info on hours and prices here. **Closed on Mondays
WHEN TO GO
Fall– El Escorial is stunning during the fall! The leaves were changing colors, there weren’t a lot of tourists crowding the streets and the air was cool, thin and crisp!
Christmas Holidays (December and January)- San Lorenzo de El Escorial is known throughout Spain for its monumental life-sized Nativity Scene. This immense display covers 5,000 square meters of the city center!
You can always count on a suggestion of where to eat when reading my blog! 😀
Plaza Jacinto Benavente, 5
Menú del día- 12€
As El Escorial is a very touristy city, and so most of the restaurants are expensive and catered to foreigners (menús from 18-25€). After a bit of searching we found a restaurant tucked away in a cute little plaza that seemed pretty homey and without a touristy gimmick in sight! It may not have been the fanciest restaurant in the center, but it was filled with El Escorial locals, and the owner of the restaurant even came to check in on us (not at all common in Spain). Also, the three course menu, including bread, a drink and dessert or coffee, was only 12€! Just the right quality to price ratio for budget conscious explorers!
GET THERE FROM MADRID
Take a bus from Moncloa (metro lines 3 & 6) that goes right into the center of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The monastery is a short 5-10 minute walk from the bus station and the journey is just under an hour!
Line C-8 of Cercanías will bring you to ‘El Escorial’, but BE CAREFUL, the Monastery of ‘San Lorenzo de El Escorial’ is a 30 minute walk from the ‘El Escorial’ train station. There is a bus that will bring you from the train station to the center, but it seems easier to just take the one bus!
Linkin’ up today with
What’s your favorite day trip from Madrid?