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El Escorial is easily reached by car, train, bus, or organized tour from Madrid. If you plan on taking public transportation, the bus is probably the best option. Herranz's line Nos. 661 (through Galapagar) and 664 (through Guadarrama) depart a few times every hour (less frequently on the weekends) from Bay 30 at the intercambiador (station) at Moncloa. The 50-minute ride leaves you within a five-minute walk of the monastery. You can also take the cercanía C8a from either Atocha or Chamartín, but it runs less frequently than the buses and stops at the town of El Escorial, from which you must either take Bus No. L4 (also run by Herranz) to San Lorenzo de El Escorial (where the monastery is) or a long, strenuous walk uphill.

Local tourist office. To get to the local tourist office, cross the arch that's across from the visitors' entrance to the monastery. Calle Grimaldi 4, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 28200. 91/890–5313; www.sanlorenzoturismo.org.