Aranjuez is a beautiful city in the autonomous community of Madrid. It’s well worth visiting if you are into architecture and sightseeing. There are also a surprising amount of entertaining options in Aranjuez, even though it is a somewhat small city.
One or two days are enough in Aranjuez, so we recommend going there as a day trip or weekend trip from Madrid.
Here is a guide to the city where we look into everything you need to know.
Facts about Aranjuez
Aranjuez is a city and a municipality. It’s located within the Las Vegas district of Madrid’s autonomous community. The city of Madrid is about 42 kilometers north, so it only takes an hour to reach Aranjuez from the capital.
The population nearly reaches 60.000 people. Aranjuez is by no means a large city, but it has quite a lot of attractions compared to other smaller cities in Spain. The city has been important ever since Roman times, and it used to be the headquarters of the Knights of Santiago. It has also been one of the royal estates since the 16th century, so it is a city with a lot of history. In 2001, its cultural landscape was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are several nice hotels in Aranjuez, and the city is generally cheap to visit. Living there permanently is also quite affordable – it is by far cheaper than Madrid, although a bit more expensive than other cities of similar size within the region.
What to do and see in Aranjuez
Aranjuez has its fair share of sights and attractions. The main one is the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, a stunning palace with a Baroque style. It is pictured in the beginning of this article.
This palace is amazing to see from the outside, but you can also get into it, and it will be sure to impress you. Just the sheer size of the Aranjuez palace is unbelievable. The opening hours are usually between 10 am and 8 pm all days of the week. It usually costs between 9 and 12 euros to get in, but this is for non-guided tours. If you want a guided tour by an expert, you can book that for 58 euros in advance. You will get to see the palace and everything around it, and you can learn a lot about the history. Entrance to the palace is, of course, included.
Be sure to walk around the royal gardens while you are there. Very beautiful to see, and very relaxing as well.
The old part of the city is wonderful to discover. The streets have a very typical Spanish style, and you will find several great places to take pictures. Aranjuez has plenty of avenues, but it also has many small and narrow streets. There are several comfy sidewalk cafes where you can sit down and relax in the middle of the day.
Casa del Labrador is another highly recommended sight in Aranjuez. It’s a gem and it’s often overlooked since the royal palace usually runs with most of the attention. Casa del Labrador is another palace, this time in neoclassical style. It works as a complimentary place to the royal palace and is also used by the royals. The interior of this palace/house is really impressive and should be seen. It costs money to get in, but you can walk around the gardens for free. These gardens are called Jardíns del Príncipe.
The church of San Antonio is also nice to see. Also, Fuente de la Mariblanca is one of the main sights of the city, so get a picture here.
Take a bus from the centre of Aranjuez and go a bit north. Here you will find one of the best casinos in Spain, where they have a lot of games available. A lot of tourists (mainly Spanish people from other parts of the country, but also foreigners) go here to play poker and other games. Certainly worth a visit if you want some glamour. There is also a really nice hotel here.
How to go from Madrid to Aranjuez
It’s incredibly easy and cheap to go to Aranjuez. You can take the city train from Renfe, the Cercanías C3-line directly from Madrid. It departs from Sol and Atocha a couple of times per hour, and it will cost you less than 10 euros to go there and back again. The trip usually takes 45 minutes from Atocha.
There are also buses that drive to Aranjuez, but it takes a bit longer.
You can book a guided tour to Aranjuez from Madrid. You will likely be part of a group and go by bus, and the trip in Aranjuez will just be for a few hours. But you will have an expert with you, describing the most important sights in detail, and you won’t have to worry about getting lost. Prices for these tours usually start at 25 euros per person at the cheapest, and 40-50 euros is a more normal price to pay. If you only want a few hours in Aranjuez and wish to get the most of it, this is a very good option.
If you drive by car between Madrid and Aranjuez, the trip will take you roughly 50 minutes. It’s easy to find the correct way, as Aranjuez is almost directly south of Madrid.