A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Aranjuez, Spain
Aranjuez is one of the closest day trips from Madrid. Home to Spanish royals for centuries, its palace and gardens are now enjoyed by locals and foreigners alike. Aranjuez is among the best places near Madrid for wheelchair accessibility. In this post, I’ll give you tips for making the most of your accessible trip there.
General wheelchair accessibility in Aranjuez
Aranjuez offers fairly good wheelchair accessibility for Spain, thanks to mostly flat terrain and the relative ease of being able to avoid cobblestone. However, drop curbs don’t always drop all the way, or at all.
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is by far Aranjuez’s biggest attraction and offers good accessibility. That being said, there’s some cobblestone around the outside of the Palace itself. You’ll also come across some dirt terrain, particularly at the Plaza de Parejas.
Below are some photos of the terrain you can expect to encounter around the Palace of Aranjuez.
Getting to Aranjuez
It’s best for wheelchair users to arrive in Aranjuez by vehicle.
The train station is only about a ten minute walk from the palace, but the “sidewalk” is an informal dirt path running along the road. Plus, it could be muddy if it’s been raining.
Parking in Aranjuez
Since you’ll likely be driving to Aranjuez, let’s talk about parking.
Although overall Aranjuez offers good wheelchair accessibility, there’s room for improvement when it comes to parking.
I recommend using the underground parking lot near the entrance of the palace. There’ll be a person manning the parking lot in a little informational booth when you drive underground.
There are only a couple of accessible parking spots in the underground parking lot and they’re located on the far side of the entrance. You’ll need to ask the staff member to unlock the elevator so you can get back up to town.
Accessible parking in the town of Aranjuez tends to be even more difficult.
Street parking is the most common but accessible parking spaces are few and far between. Furthermore, there’s often a curb, so you’d need to roll in the road to get up to the nearest intersection with a drop curb.
Wheelchair accessible restrooms in Aranjuez
There’s an accessible restroom at the Aranjuez Palace, which is the only accessible restroom I encountered in Aranjuez.
The restroom is located on the first floor of the Palace. You’ll need to cross a small, outdoor courtyard with cobblestone to get to it.
Wheelchair Accessibility at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez
Visiting the Royal Palace of Aranjuez is by far the primary reason that people visit Aranjuez.
Wheelchair accessibility at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez is good, thanks to ramps and an elevator.
The entrance to the Aranjuez Palace is around the lefthand side, when facing the front of the building. There’s a separate accessible entrance for wheelchair users since the main entrance has a step.
The fee for the Aranjuez Palace is waived for wheelchair users and one companion.
If you’ll be traveling with more than one able-bodied person, I recommend that they purchase their tickets online before arrival. This way, they’ll avoid the line at the ticket machine.
Getting around the Palace
Once inside the palace, there’ll be signs pointing you along the tour route. You have the option to hire a guide, rent an audio headset, or explore the palace on your own.
The first floor of the palace is stone. It isn’t perfectly flat, but it isn’t cobblestone either. The second story is a combination of a smooth floor and tightly woven carpet, depending on where you are.
The elevator is tucked away on one side of the palace and is only available for wheelchair users and one companion.
There are employees in just about every corner of the palace making sure people don’t touch things, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding someone to operate the elevator.
Travel Tip: Photos aren’t allowed in the second story rooms, so make sure to get your fill of photos in the beautiful foyer.
Visiting the gardens
Aside from the palace, the gardens are the other main attraction in Aranjuez. The gardens are divided into different sections with separate names, but for the most part, they run into one another.
The Jardín del Parterre (Parterre Garden) is located directly behind the Royal Palace. It’s accessible via the farthest end of the palace, by the Hercules Fountain.
This is a nice place to enjoy views of the backside of the palace, along with the Tagus River.
Another popular garden to visit is Jardín del Príncipe (Prince’s Garden). This is a large “garden” that feels more like a forest with walking trails. Like Jardín del Parterre, Jardín del Príncipe is free to the public.
Jardín del Príncipe is wheelchair accessible, although you should be prepared to encounter a combination of dirt trails and some buckling pavement. The Casa del Labrador, a smaller palace at the far end of Jardín del Príncipe, isn’t wheelchair accessible.
Other wheelchair accessible things to do in Aranjuez
Aside from visiting the Royal Palace and gardens, there are a few other accessible activities you can do in the area. Let’s take a look at them.
Plaza de Parejas
This plaza borders the Aranjuez Palace and is free for the public to enjoy. In reality, it doesn’t offer many activities, due to it being a huge space without trees, benches, or, well, anything. Nevertheless, the empty space at Plaza de Parejas is what makes it so impressive, along with the beautiful arched walls bordering two sides of it.
The historic quarter is an easy stroll from the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Plaza de La Constitución sits in the center of the historic district, with its pretty pink building setting the backdrop.
Overall, the historic quarter doesn’t have much of an incline and is made up of mostly newer, smooth sidewalks.
Mercado de Abastos
The indoor Abastos Market is located right on the Plaza de La Constitución. It sells produce, meat, cheese, desserts, and ready-to-eat meals. It’s fully wheelchair accessible.
The Aranjuez Bullring is located at the far end of the historical center. From the outside, it’s a large, circular brick building. The Aranjuez Bullring was closed the day I visited so I can’t speak on behalf of its wheelchair accessibility (not that I would have entered anyway…).
However, getting to the Arajuez Bullring involves strolling through the historical center along a gentle incline.
The best time of year to visit Aranjuez
As you may have guessed from my photos, I visited Aranjuez in the winter.
Personally, I only recommend taking the time to visit Aranjuez if you’ll be traveling in the spring, summer, or fall.
One of the best parts about Aranjuez is meandering through the gardens, so I felt that by visiting in the winter, I missed out on seeing Aranjuez at its best.
If you’ll be traveling to Spain in the winter and are itching to see a royal palace, I recommend staying in Madrid and visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid instead, since it’s also wheelchair accessible.
The restaurant conundrum
Since I visited in the winter, Aranjuez didn’t feel very crowded. Therefore, I was taken aback when 1:00pm came around and I couldn’t find a restaurant with an available table, since they said that they were all reserved.
Given that essentially no one was dining at the time, I assumed that it was because I was traveling alone and they wanted to make more money with larger groups.
Long story short, the tables were genuinely reserved and I was at an awkward cusp of wanting a table shortly before the late (normal for them) Spanish lunch rush would be arriving.
As I followed a waiter around, he was reading off the various reservation times, trying to find a table that could work for me. “2:30pm”, he said, and continued walking.
“2:30pm?” I asked, standing by the table and looking down at my phone that read 1:26pm.
“Yes,” he said, and continued on.
It took a little pushing, but I managed to convince him that me and my American ways could easily eat lunch in one hour.
If it was that hard to find a table in the middle of winter, I can’t even imagine what summer would be like. So, the moral of the story is before you travel, or as soon as you arrive in Aranjuez, I recommend making a beeline to one of the many restaurants around to make a reservation.
The good news is that, like so many places in Spain, outdoor seating is offered year-round. Therefore, wheelchair accessibility at restaurants in Aranjuez is decent.
With its gardens and small-town feel, Aranjuez is a great option for taking a small day trip from Madrid. I hope this post helps you with planning your accessible day trip to Aranjuez.
Do you have questions about wheelchair accessibility in Aranjuez? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. If you already have experience with traveling to Aranjuez as a wheelchair user, I’d love to hear about your experience, tips, and advice.
P.S.- Looking for other day trip options from Madrid? Head on over to our post on five accessible day trips from Madrid. Also, don’t forget to check out our guide on eleven accessible things to do in Madrid.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.