Depart from Plaza Ramales in central Madrid in a comfortable, air-conditioned coach and look out on the Spanish countryside as you travel 28 miles (45 km) northwest to the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Get acquainted with the history of the regal structure along the way as your guide offers commentary on a striking symbol of 16th-century Spanish power.
Begin your tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed wonder at the monastery, the final resting place of Charles I and Isabella of Portugal. See the religious relics of the basilica and the Baroque dome.
Next, venture to the grand palace known as the Pantheon of Kings. Pay your respects to the marble tomb of Charles V and browse the collection of building equipment in the Architects Room for insight into construction processes of the 16th century. See vicious arms in the Weapons Room, and the frescoes in the library.
Continue to the Valley of the Fallen to visit a vast basilica carved into the side of a mountain. Capture a photograph of the colossal granite cross that tops the structure and learn its origins from your guide. Head inside to tour the vaulted crypt replete with sculpted angels and then check out the views of the surrounding countryside from the arches.
Return to your vehicle and take in more gorgeous scenery on the return journey to Madrid. Opt to include a 2.5-hour sightseeing walking tour on arrival.