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Valley of the Fallen: Day Trips and Tours from Madrid

The Valley of the Fallen is a memorial site that honors the lives of those who died during the Spanish Civil War. Over 40,000 soldiers from both sides of the conflict were buried here, including the notorious General Franco himself.

On a day trip to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid, you’ll visit the basilica and see the world’s largest holy cross. It’s a moving experience, and popular with history enthusiasts.

Here's all you need to know about Valley of the Fallen, one of the most exciting day trips in Madrid.

How to get to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid?

You’ll find the Valley of the Fallen around an hour’s drive northwest of Madrid, in the Sierra de Guadarrama. You can visit independently by car or on a guided tour.

From Madrid to the Valley of the Fallen by car

The valley is located just off the highway that runs between Guadarrama and El Escorial. To get there from Madrid, take the A6 northwest out of the city. Then come off at junction 47 and follow the M600 to your destination.

The journey to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid takes about an hour. There is parking available on site.

Guided tour to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid

The easiest way to visit is by booking a guided day trip to the Valley of the Fallen. It’ll save you the hassle of arranging transport, and most excursions stop at the El Escorial Monastery too. Both half- and full-day tours are available with the latter offering visits to additional attractions along the way.

Hotel pickups and drop-offs are not usually included but there will be a convenient central collection point detailed in your joining instructions. If you’d prefer a transfer, you’ll need to book a private excursion.

How much does the entrance ticket to the Valley of the Fallen cost?

Entrance tickets for the Valley of the Fallen can be purchased online or at the box office on site. If you have booked a day tour from Madrid, the ticket price is usually included in the package rate.

Ticket prices for the Valley of the Fallen are as follows:

  • Adult (aged 17+ years): €9
  • Child (aged 5 – 16 years): €4
  • Senior (aged 65+ years): €4
  • Student (aged up to 25 years): Free
  • Persons with disabilities plus one carer: Free
  • Child (under 5 years): Free

Identification may be required for concessionary tickets, so remember to carry your passport or ID card with you.

What is the typical itinerary?

Day trips to the Valley of the Fallen take in the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial as well as the war monument. Visiting two attractions ensures your experience is both comprehensive and convenient.

Your day begins with a pickup at a pre-agreed meeting point in Madrid, followed by a transfer by luxury bus or minivan. Most vehicles have air conditioning to combat the summer heat.

After a 45-minute scenic drive, you’ll arrive at the first stop – El Escorial. Here, you’ll be treated to a guided tour of the Royal Monastery, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. A visit to the Habsburg’s Palace is also included.

From El Escorial, it takes just a few minutes to drive to the Valley of the Fallen. You will see the towering mountainside cross well before you arrive. On arrival, you’ll tour the basilica and vaults, with a bit of leisure time to wander around the site for photos.

Your entrance tickets to both sites are included in the package which means you won’t have to stand in line at the box offices. It’s one of the benefits of booking a guided tour to the Valley of the Fallen.

If you’re on a half-day excursion, you’ll then return to Madrid. Meanwhile, full-day tours continue to Segovia or Toledo for lunch and sightseeing before heading back to the capital.

What kind of tours are available to go to the Valley of the Fallen?

Guided tour to the Valley of the Fallen plus El Escorial from Madrid

These small group tours are the most popular way to visit the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid. Traveling with other people keeps costs down – there are usually up to 25 passengers on each trip. It’s a fun way to explore, and you’ll likely come away with many new friends.

Your local guide will give you the historical background of the sites, so you’ll be able to fully appreciate what you’re seeing. Feel free to ask questions at any point during your jaunt to the Valley of the Fallen.

Guided day trip to the Valley of the Fallen plus El Escorial and Segovia from Madrid

These full-day trips to the Valley of the Fallen also include visits to El Escorial and Segovia. You’ll be out and about for around 10 hours, with lunch in Segovia to break up the journey.

This small group excursion is full of photo opportunities, packing a lot into just a single day. Group sizes tend to be small, with around eight participants to keep the experience personal.

Some of these trips swap out Segovia for Toledo to give a bit of variety. If you have a preference, check this with your tour provider before booking.

Private tour to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid

This private Valley of the Fallen day tour is the ultimate way to explore. You’ll enjoy a door-to-door VIP service, with luxury vehicle transfers from Madrid hotels provided. The expert guide will be yours for the day, and there will be some flexibility with the schedule if required.

You can linger for longer in key photo spots and avoid the crowds with a bit of strategic planning by your guide. If there’s something in particular you want to see or do, just ask. This is a great option for those who want an exclusive experience or families who prefer exploring without a large group in tow.

How much does a day trip to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid cost?

For a small group day tour to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid, prices start at €60 per person. This is for a half-day guided trip. These excursions also include a visit to the El Escorial Monastery complex.

Full-day excursions to the Valley of the Fallen cost €80 per participant, or €100 if you want lunch included. They cover either Segovia or Toledo as well as the Valley of the Fallen and El Escorial. These trips are also on a small group basis.

Private Valley of the Fallen day trips are more expensive, but you’ll have an exclusive guide and vehicle. Skip-the-line tickets to the monument and the El Escorial Monastery are usually provided too. The per person price starts at €300 for 5 hours, €610 for 8 hours and €800 for a full day out.

What will you see and do?

The Valley of the Fallen is a religious memorial dedicated to those who perished during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. It’s one of the most poignant historic sites in Spain.

While the monument was built by the controversial Francoist regime, the site nonetheless commemorates the lives of all soldiers, regardless of their loyalties.

The Cross

The monumental cross at the Valley of the Fallen sits on top of an underground basilica that has been carved into the mountain. You can see it from several kilometers away – it’s 150 meters high!

Up close the cross is even more impressive and is a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives during the war. You can’t go up to the cross, but there are great views of the valley to be had from nearby vantage points.

The Basilica

The main attraction in the Valley of the Fallen is the Catholic Basilica. This subterranean church features a long nave with several side chapels and a crypt. It’s a somber yet beautiful building and the perfect place to learn more about one of Europe’s darkest periods of history.

Beneath the altar, you’ll see the graves of Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera – two leading figures of the Civil War. After much public discontent at the exaltation of the ruthless dictator, Franco’s body was disinterred in 2019 and reburied elsewhere.

El Escorial Monastery

Most Valley of the Fallen day trips from Madrid also make a stop in El Escorial to visit the famous monastery and palace. This sprawling religious center in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama is home to royal tombs and intricate artworks. It’s often considered to be the eighth wonder of the world.

Constructed in the 16th century, the Monastery of El Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Historically a residence of the King of Spain, today the complex is one of Spain’s greatest cultural hotspots.

During a guided tour, you’ll visit the Royal Mausoleum and admire the Renaissance architecture. Visits to the opulent Habsburg’s Palace, the Basilica and the Chapter House are all part of the experience too.

What are the opening times?

The Valley of the Fallen can be visited throughout the year. Here are the opening times:

  • Summer (April – September): Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM – 7 PM
  • Winter (October – March): Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM – 6 PM

The last entry of the day is one hour before closing time. Note that the Valley of the Fallen is shut on Mondays and the main public holidays.

When is the best time to visit the Valley of the Fallen?

Day trips to the Valley of the Fallen are splendid at any time of year, but of course, it’s warmer during the summer. Spring and fall offer the best weather with pleasant temperatures that are ideal for exploring. The crowds will be smaller at this time too.

If you visit during July and August, try to avoid the heat of the afternoon as there is little shade in the valley. Come in the early morning or late afternoon for a quieter experience.

What are the other day trips from Madrid?

Travel tips

  • Day tours to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid are popular so don’t leave your booking until the last minute. By reserving online you’ll be able to search for the cheapest prices.
  • There will be a fair amount of walking involved so comfortable shoes and clothing are advised.
  • Most people spend up to an hour exploring the Valley of the Fallen, and a couple of hours at El Escorial.
  • Lunch is often included on full-day trips, but on shorter excursions, you may wish to take some snacks and drinks with you.