Aranjuez, a Perfect Day Trip from Madrid

Our first day in Spain. It was hot, dry, and my mom and I were experiencing severe jet-lag. I felt like I was walking through a fog, and people and shapes were blurring before me.

Needless to say, we weren’t up for any intense sightseeing or travelling after spending a restless and sleepless night on the plane.

So first things first, we beat the Spanish summer heat by taking a dip in my mom’s friend’s pool, who graciously allowed us to stay at her house for a couple of nights.

She lives 45 minutes south of Madrid, in a little neighbourhood called Los Vallejos that’s close to both Aranjuez and Chinchon. She has a stunning location, on a hill overlooking rows of olive trees and the Spanish countryside.

After a long dip in her pool and a delicious traditional Spanish meal of gazpacho soup and salad, we drove 15 minutes to Aranjuez to take a little stroll around the city.

Aranjuez is famous for being the spring residence of the Spanish Royalty, so checking out the Royal Palace, even from the outside, was a must.

There are beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding the palace, which we enjoyed walking through as well. 

However, due to our late start to the day, by the time we got there, the security guards were already kicking people off the grounds. I don’t think this happens every night, but this particular weekend was special because…

Aranjuez was having a fiesta (and they didn’t want any drunk people in the royal gardens haha.) The Spanish love to party, so much so that every city/town/region has a series of yearly fiestas. There’s the patio festival in Cordoba, the tomato throwing festival in Pamplona, and smaller more general festivals throughout the whole country.

Aranjuez's "Mutiny Fiesta” in early September is what we were in town for. Apparently, this particular fiesta is recommended by the tourism board internationally. We weren’t awake for the festivities (they start at midnight!) but we managed to check out the handicraft and food stalls that were open earlier in the evening.

Last time I was in Spain, I was 11 years old and literally only ate bread, butter, and McDonald’s. In an effort to right my past wrongs, this time around, I wasn’t saying no to at least trying everything once. Which meant that when Mom wanted to ordered pulpo, we ordered pulpo. Pulpo = Octopus, and although it looked weird and sketchy raw, it tasted absolutely delicious, full of flavour and melted in your mouth.

It only takes 45-55 minutes by train to get to Aranjuez, and it’s worth at least a day trip to walk around the gardens, visit the royal palace, or rent a bike and ride through one of the city parks. It’s also refreshing to experience “small-town” Spanish life and enjoy the stunning countryside.