El Escorial is one of the most famous buildings in Spain and an icon of the Spanish Renaissance. Decorated by some of the most famous artists of the time like El Greco and Giordano, many people visit to see the crypt in which the majority of the Spanish Kings are buried, from Charles I, who died in 1556 to Alfonso XIII, who died in 1931.
You can also combine your El Escorial visit with a trip to the El Valle de los Caidos, or the Valley of the Fallen. Here, you'll find final resting place of General Franco, who controlled Spain from 1939 to 1975 and is one of the most formidable and controversial figures in Spanish history.
If you'd like to visit either or both of these attractions, it's easy to do from Madrid by train, bus, or guided tour.
By Guided Tour
For the easiest option, you can look for a guided tour that will take you to El Escorial and El Valle de los Caidos from Madrid. This is the best way to learn about both destinations and with a tour guide, you may even be able to fit in other day-trip destinations like Toledo or Segovia for a really full day.
How to Get to El Escorial
There are a number of trains that leave every day from the Madrid Sol train station that will take you to El Escorial. You can take the C3 regional line from Atocha, Chamartin, Nuevos Ministerios, or Recoletos. The journey takes about an hour and the entrance to El Escorial is about a ten minute walk from the train station.
You can also travel by bus on the 687 from the Madrid Moncloa bus station, but you will have to transfer in Villalba and take the train the rest of the way to El Escorial.
How to Get to El Valle de los Caidos
If you are relying on public transport, there's no way to get to El Valle de los Caidos without going through El Escorial.
There is only one bus per day that goes all the way from El Escorial to the monument, so if this is your only option, plan to arrive with plenty of time to spare. It will leave the El Escorial bus station in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial at 3:15 pm and return at 5:30 pm. Your ticket includes your return journey and entrance into the memorial. You'll be dropped off at the Cruce de Cuelgamuros stop and from there, it is a three mile walk uphill to the monument.