A short break in San Lorenzo de El Escorial

  • General view of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

If you're visiting Madrid, you should definitely make a point of taking part of one day to discover San Lorenzo de El Escorial where you'll find its monastery awarded the World Heritage designation. Its interior conceals some of the secrets of the history of Spain, and you'll also be able to enjoy the natural scenery in the area.

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A short break in San Lorenzo de El Escorial

MORNING (9 AM TO 12:30 PM)

A good way to get to San Lorenzo de El Escorial from Madrid is by taking the number 664 bus that departs from the Moncloa interchange station. As soon as you get there the first thing to do is to visit the 'eighth wonder of the world': the monastery. This imposing building was once the political centre of an empire, and it also houses a pantheon, a palace and a basilica. We recommend a guided tour. As you leave, stop a moment on the great stone esplanade to look at the buildings all around you (Casas de Oficios, Casa de Infantes and Casa de la Reina), and take a walk through the El Fraile gardens. This is a great place to take photographs and let your mind go back in time to the 16th century. And if you're ready for more, we recommend going on until you reach the Casita del Infante house and its gardens. This will take you around 15 minutes, and from this point you'll be rewarded with spectacular views over the forest of La Herrería.

A short break in San Lorenzo de El Escorial

12:30–3:30 PM

We suggest making for the central street of Calle Floridablanca to see historic buildings like the theatre known as the Royal Coliseum of Charles III. In the parallel streets you'll find a whole array of shops where you can pick up a gift or give yourself a treat by buying some delicacies like the typical violet sweets, and 'bizcochelas'. At the end of Calle Juan de Leyva you'll find the Cocheras del Rey Museum (the King's Coach House). It's well worth going in and visiting the bookshop connected to it. After a busy morning, now is the time to stop in any of the bars or restaurants in the historic centre of town to sample some typical dishes such as beef sirloin or T-bone steak. And here's a tip: go on along Calle Patriarca until you get to Floridablanca and have lunch overlooking the monastery.

A short break in San Lorenzo de El Escorial


To return to Madrid we suggest taking the train, as you'll find the Casita del Príncipe, or Prince's house, right beside the station. The gardens are entered along a lovely tree-lined avenue. You can enjoy some refreshments at the outdoor café at the entrance. The railway station is right opposite. However, if you come by car or you feel like doing some hiking, the day doesn't need to end here. It would be a pity to leave without going on an excursion up to the point known as the 'Chair of Philip II'. This is a rock carved out of the hilltop where it is said that Philip II would go to see the progress of the work on the monastery. The views are spectacular.

A short break in San Lorenzo de El Escorial


Tickets for the Casita del Príncipe and the Casita del Infante must be bought at the ticket offices at the monastery.