Located in Plaza de Oriente, the Royal Palace is a building steeped in history and houses works of art and valuable objects in its sumptuous rooms that are well worth a visit.
Buying tickets online in advance allows you to plan your visit for a specific date and time without running the risk of running out and, of course, saves you from queues that can involve several hours of waiting in the sun.
Once you book this tour you will meet your guide on the chosen day at Plaza de Isabel II (near the Opera House in Madrid) so that before entering the Palace you can walk around the outside while listening to the history of the building and those who lived in it from the mouth of an expert. The visit costs $ 33 and lasts an hour and a half, but whether you want to continue exploring the Royal Palace after the guide finishes their tour, is up to you.
When selecting the day of the visit, if you want to avoid crowds, be aware that from Monday to Thursday from 5 pm to 7 pm the entrance is free and therefore there will be more people visiting the palace (although you will not wait in line); therefore, a Friday or Saturday afternoon, depending on the season, may be a better option.
Inside the Palace, you will see the official halls, the royal armor, the Throne Room, and Goya's paintings, among other rooms.
Why I like this option: in a place so full of historical context and symbolism, the help of an expert guide will be essential to get the most out of the visit.
This experience begins with an hour and a half tour inside the Prado Museum, where the guide will take you to contemplate the essential works of the museum and explain what you should know about each of them. After visiting the most relevant works of renowned artists such as Goya or Murillo, you will stroll through the center until you reach the Royal Palace.
There you will access the interior with the guide and tour the main rooms of the Palace, where they will also explain a little of the history of the Spanish royal family and the use of each of the main rooms of the Palace.
In both the Prado and the Royal Palace the entrance tickets are included and will allow you to skip the entrance queues, which makes the visit much more dynamic and easy.
Why I like this option: this is the most practical and comfortable way to visit two of Madrid's main points of interest. An expert guide will make sure you don't miss any detail and get the most out of both places.
Buy tickets for the Royal Palace at the entrance
The box office is open during the opening hours of the palace: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and on Sundays and opening holidays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (the last access is always one hour before closing). The problem with buying tickets at the box office is that you can expect long queues and, once you get to the box office, tickets may be sold out for that day. You can save between 3 and 5 euros compared to online pre-sale.
What to see at the Royal Palace
It is the room that attracts visitors the most in any palace and, specifically in the Royal Palace of Madrid, does not disappoint. The throne room is covered with a sumptuous decoration in red and gold and is one of the few that is preserved practically with the same decoration it had during the reign of Charles III.
The collection of weapons and war objects contained in the Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the most prestigious in Europe. Most of the weapons that you will see in the rooms dedicated to the armory are gala weapons and you will also find diplomatic gifts and trophies that have increased the collection since the time of Philip II.
Hall of Columns
This large room is one of the most luminous rooms in the Palace and its original use was as a ballroom. In addition to its vaulted ceiling and its luxurious crystal chandeliers, do not miss the fresco that can be seen from the entrance in which different deities are represented that, if you take a guided tour, will be explained during the visit.
It is the room where the private audiences took place and is unlike any other in the palace. Its decoration is baroque and ornate and gives the impression of not leaving any free space on the floor or walls. It is well worth recreating in the details and paintings that you will find in it, so do not be in a hurry.
Gala dining room
It is hard to imagine a table like the gala dining room full of delicacies and important dignitaries, but even today it is still used sporadically for state dinners. Especially in this room, it will give you the feeling of being inside a period movie.
Within the luxury for which the palace is characterized, the Royal Chapel is a relatively simple chapel designed by Sacchetti in the 18th century. This is an ideal stop for a guided tour to talk about the importance that religion had in the Spanish monarchy and the relationship of music with all this framework.
Although originally conceived as a ballroom, Charles III used this room as a hall for the guard. Being decorated in a simple way, we must not overlook the paintings found in this room, including one painted in 2014 by Antonio Lopez on the family of Juan Carlos I.
For access to the Royal Kitchen, you will have to pay a small supplement along with the Palace entrance fee. It is located in the basements of the building and you can see how different advances have been incorporated over the years. The layout and fixtures and fittings are designed for the greatest possible comfort of the dozens of workers who spent the day in it.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Access to the gardens surrounding the palace is free and you can see them either the same day of your visit to the palace or any other day.
Organize your visit to the Royal Palace
Some monuments and museums in Madrid have a time of day when it is free to visit them. The Royal Palace is free from Monday to Thursday from 5 pm to 7 pm in the afternoon. Of course, if you are going to take advantage of this time slot go with time because the queues are quite long and when you get to the entrance you may barely have time to tour the palace.
Unemployed, children under five years of age, active teaching staff, members of large families, and disabled people enter free of charge at any time by presenting the corresponding accreditation.
Changing of the Guard
If you want to see the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace you will have the opportunity to do so for free. Every Wednesday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm takes place at the Puerta del Príncipe the changing of the guard in which the Royal Guards on foot coincide with the sentries on horseback.
Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens
The Palace has two gardens nearby and both are free and well worth a stroll. The first is located on one side of the palace and you descend to them by stairs, the second is larger and is in the back. Do not miss them (if possible early in the morning to avoid the heat) even if you do not visit the palace.
Where to eat
If you want to eat before or after visiting the palace you only have to pass the Plaza de Oriente until you get to Plaza de España where the Gran Vía begins and you will have a multitude of options at your disposal. In the gardens behind the Opera of Madrid you can also have a picnic.
The Royal Palace with children
If you are traveling with children, a visit to the Royal Palace can be a good idea. The decoration of the halls, the armor, and other elements will attract the attention of the little ones. What I recommend is that, if you don't take a guided tour, you should do some research before you go so that you can explain some of the rooms you are seeing in their language.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you visit Madrid in summer and want to buy your tickets at the ticket office, be aware that the queue is several meters long and with long stretches in the sun.
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All the stories of Kings and Queens that the Royal Palace holds are also captured in the paintings of the Museo del Prado. Many of the works of art in Spain's most important museum were commissioned by members of royalty or directly portray episodes from their lives.
If you want to learn more about the Habsburg and Bourbon dynasties, don't rule out a guided visit to the Prado Museum, which you can learn more about by reading this article: Prado Tickets.
If on the other hand you feel like enjoying more of the Spanish folklore, you can always attend a flamenco show. There are several 'tablaos' in Madrid with performances almost every day, but I tell you all about them in this article so you can make sure you attend a quality show: Flamenco Shows.
Frequently asked questions
What is so special about the Royal Palace of Madrid?
The Royal Palace stands as the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, while for many architecture buffs, the palace is one of the most important Baroque palaces in Spain.
What else can I see in Madrid?
Excluding the Royal Palace, El Prado and Reina Sofia, there are a number of attractions to see around the bustling city. Gran Via, the city's main tourist and shopping street is a sight in itself, there is also El Rastro (a huge flea market with more than 1,000 street vendors every Sunday), Plaza Mayor (the city's main square) and Puerta del Sol (the very centre of the city).
Anything I should know when touring the city?
While Madrid is a very safe city, tourists especially can fall prey to pickpockets if not careful. So our advice is to make sure to keep your wallet and phone in your front pockets, keep an eye on your belongings at all times and leave your passport at the hotel or somewhere safe.