Complete guide to Montserrat: the best day trip from Barcelona

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One of the most amazing sights in Barcelona is Mount Montserrat. This range of bizarrely shaped rocks is located 50 km from the city. It will take you an hour to get there which makes it a favorite place to go for a day or even a weekend to spend time in nature and to immerse in tranquility.

What is Montserrat

The name Montserrat means “serrated mountain” or “a saw mountain” because the mountain’s peaks look like the teeth of a saw.  

Many centuries ago Montserrat was on the seabed, but today the landscape has changed and we have a wonderful opportunity to admire it. In clear weather you will see the whole mountain, but often the top is hidden in the clouds because the height of the mountain is 1236 meters.

There are almost no trees on the rocky slopes, but from below the rocks are surrounded on all sides by an emerald cushion of the forest.

There is a monastery on one of the ledges of the mountain, almost on top. It was built in the 11th century. Thousands of pilgrims come to this monastery for prayers and answers.

In one of the basilicas of the monastery, you will find a wonderful statue of the Black Madonna, the patroness of Catalonia. It has been there since the Middle Ages. The Virgin Mary and baby Jesus are made of black stone and covered with gold. Some say that they grant wishes, for some people it is a chance to turn to God in their prayers and ask forgiveness for their sins, and for others, it is a work of art. 

Is Montserrat worth visiting from Barcelona

Visiting this peaky mountain is the most popular day-tour. This place is quite easy to get from the center of Barcelona and it is a unique opportunity to explore the beauty of the Catalonia countryside. You may reach the mountain by yourself or buy a tour. There is a wide variety of them.

When is the perfect time to visit Montserrat

Mountain Montserrat is perfect any season. However it is a relatively high mountain so it may be very cold from late autumn till mid-spring. Snow is a very seldom guest here but fog occurs often. The temperature in winter is usually 9-15C.

In spring and summer the temperature may vary from 20C to 30C. 

So if you plan hiking and admiring the landscapes better choose late spring, summer and early autumn. Sundays are the busiest days here, work days are more quiet.

Things to do in Montserrat

Montserrat from Barcelona

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Visit the Santa Maria Abbey

This monastery was built 10 centuries ago and was rebuilt many times. It is still active and is home to 80 monks. You cannot enter each room but a lot of parts are open, among them the basilica and the museum. The main feature of the basilica is the sculpture of Santa Maria which is called The Virgin of Montserrat. It is dated to the 12 century but local legend says it was found in the cave in 880.

There is a tradition to touch the golden orb that Mary holds. Many visitors light the candle here for a modest price. You may do the same and enjoy the shimmering result.

Come here also to listen to the boys' choir, called L’Escolania. Usually, they sing twice a day except during the summer holidays.

The basilica is open every day from 7.30 am to 8 pm.

Explore the Museum of Montserrat

Here you may see more than 1300 pieces of art, including works of Monet, Chagall, Miro, Picasso and Dali. You will admire paintings, drawings, sculptures, and also ancient archeological discoveries.

Learn history in the Espai Audiovisual Museum

This Museum is situated a level below the basilica. Here you will learn the Monastery's history through video and audio. You will follow all the stages of the mountain formation and have a time travel through a monastery life.

The museum is open from 9 am to 8 pm.

Enjoy hiking trails

Hiking routes here vary from short and easy to long and very difficult. Learn the map before going.

You can also find a map in the Tourist information office and there are also a lot of maps on special boards in the mountains so you won’t get lost but be careful anyway.

You may start your route from the monastery entrance or from the funicular station. Whatever you choose, mind the water and comfortable shoes.

Climb the rock

Summit of the Montserrat

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Montserrat is rather a popular place among the rock climbers. If you are one of them, enjoy one of a thousand routes. You will find all the necessary information about the routes in the Tourist information office. 

If you are not an experienced climber but eager to try, book a Full-day Guided Rock Climbing Trip in Montserrat. They offer a Guided Rock Climbing Trip with a certified mountain guide and rock climbing instructor who will organize everything according to your climbing level. You can choose a spot or even choose some other place to climb in the Barcelona area. Or we can go to other spot climbing if you prefer. They provide all the technical gear except climbing shoes but you may rent them.

Enjoy flawless views at St. Michael Cross

20-minute walk uphill from Santa Cova funicular and you are standing near the metal cross and enjoying fantastic Montserrat landscapes, the monastery, and the valley below. It is one of the best points to admire the surroundings.

Try local food

Things to do on Montserrat

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There are several dining options on the mountain. Try local cuisine at Restaurant Abat Cisneros where you may enjoy a delicious lunch right after visiting the Abbey.

You can also enjoy your pre- or after mountain meal at Bar de La Plaça, situated on Placa de L’Abat Oliba. You can come here for coffee, dessert, or something more substantial on your way to or from Basilica.

You will find much more options in Monistrol, a town at the foot of the mountain. You will easily find a wonderful place to rest on your way back to Barcelona.

Walk around Monistrol

Monistrol is a small town located at the foot of Montserrat. Usually, this town is just a point between the train from Barcelona and the funicular to the mountain. But in fact, it is a small but beautiful pearl worth spending an hour or even two. For centuries this city was a place where pilgrims could have some rest on their way to Montserrat Monastery. Just wander along the ancient streets, walk across the bridge over the river Llobregat built in the 14th century and rate a 16th-century aqueduct. Have a stroll along Carrer Sant Joan and Carrer Sant Pere streets which are the oldest in the whole town. Enjoy old houses made of stone, get lost in the narrow tangled backstreets, and listen to the sound of your own steps resounding through the cobbled streets.

How to get from Barcelona to Montserrat

How to get to Montserrat

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By car

If you have a car you may drive to the very top of the mountain - you will find the parking area there. The road is winding but just be careful and you will cope with it. The parking place costs 6.5 euros per day and 10.50 per 3 days.

By train and cable car

Go to Placa d'Espanya and find the station Estació d'España and the platform R5. Follow the signs and if you are coming to the station for the first time, do it beforehand. The station is usually overcrowded and the signs may confuse you. Find your train and it will take you to the foot of Mount Montserrat in an hour. The trains run from about 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, but keep an eye on the schedule.

There is a cable car called Aeri and a funicular called Cremallera at the foot of the mountain. Both will get you to the monastery in about 20-25 minutes. Tell your route to the cashier at the cash desk at Estació d'Espanya and he will give you the appropriate ticket.

Trans Montserrat ticket

You may also buy a ticket called Trans Montserrat. It costs 35 euros and includes a round-trip by train, two rides on the three funiculars (Aeri, which leads to the monastery, and the other two that lead from the monastery to the observation decks), and two rides on the regular Barcelona metro.

Sant Joan Funicular and Santa Cova Funicular

Sant Joan Funicular departs from the Montserrat Monastery and takes you to the viewpoint on the highest point of the mountain, called Sant Jeroni. The height of Sant Jeroni is 1236 m.  The maximum gradient of the cable car is 65% so it is the steepest funicular in Spain. 

The funicular has only two cars, so you won't wait long. The funicular runs every 20 minutes, so it's no problem to get a nice place near the window. The journey time is only 5-7 minutes, during which you will take dozens of perfect photos of the monastery and the unusual rocks of Montserrat. The observation deck will allow you to admire the panorama in fair weather. And if the sky is cloudy try to imagine what hides behind the clouds.

After visiting the observation deck you can hike even higher into the mountains. There you will enjoy magical views and ancient stone chapels where monks come to pray in silence.

A one-way cable car ticket costs 9 euros, and a round trip costs 13 euros. You may purchase the ticket at the station near the monastery. If you want to save money, buy a one-way ticket and go down to the monastery on foot, such a walk will take you 40 minutes and give you an unforgettable experience.

Santa Cova Funicular goes down the mountain and leads to the cave where the image of Virgin Mary was found by a shepherd long long ago in 880. Santa Cova means “the holy cave”. Thos cave was used like a pilgrimage center. It was the place where the pilgrims could rest and continue their way to the monastery. There you will also find a chapel and a lot of sculptures created by Catalan artists including even Gaudi.

Both locations may be reached on foot if you prefer hiking. The walk will take you less than an hour. But funiculars will save precious time and energy.

Best tours to Montserrat from Barcelona

Best tours to montserrat

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Montserrat: Morning or Afternoon Half-Day Trip with Pickup for 85 euro per person

Specialized guide will help you to dive into Catalan culture and make your visit to the mountain of Montserrat special. You will be amazed by the picturesque landscapes in Montserrat National Park, visit the breathetaking Monastery and see the mysterious Black Madonna, enjoy one of the oldest children's choirs in Europe and explore the Holy Cave of Montserrat.

Barcelona: Montserrat Tour, Monastery & Optional Wine/Lunch for 64 euros per person

You may choose a half-day tour or even a full-day trip. Your trip will start with a cogwheel train ride, and continue in a historic monastery on the Montserrat mountain range where you will admire some fantastic views. You will travel through the breathtaking mountain range of Montserrat mountain and monastery, adore perfect views from the train, learn about the long and interesting history of the Montserrat Abbey, and discover more and more beautiful landscapes.

Barcelona: Montserrat Monastery Visit & Lunch at a Farmhouse for 75 euros per person 

This tour allows you to enjoy an unforgettable experience with the Monastery of Montserrat visit with a special bonus - an original menu flavored seasoned with magnificent views over the whole Montserrat area.

On your way to the Monastery, you will admire the rocky mountain range of Montserrat, formed centuries ago. You will visit the ancient Benedictine Monastery where you will learn its history and traditions. And finally, you will visit a cozy farmhouse surrounded by perfect views. There you will enjoy a delicious menu consisting of salad, barbecued food, and dessert. 

From Barcelona: Montserrat Monastery & Natural Park Hike for 63 euros per person

During this tour, you will visit the holy mountain of Montserrat and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Montserrat Natural Park.

First, you will experience outstanding views from the Sant Joan Railway, then discover the calm atmosphere of the mountain village, so nice and pastoral, take not difficult but very impressive hike to the very top of Montserrat mountain, and finally get to the Montserrat Benedictine Monastery and learn about its history and secrets, taste a traditional Catalan dessert made of local cheese and fragrant honey.

Where to stay in Montserrat

Best hotels in Montserrat

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There are a lot of options where to stay in Montserrat if you want to relax in nature admiring scenic views during the day and enjoy your perfect dinner watching the night descending on the peaky slopes.

Most of them are situated a short distance from the main sites in the town called Monistrol.

  • Guilleumes Montserrat Apartments are situated in close proximity to Montserrat mountains. It offers cozy rooms with mountain views and a nice Catalan cuisine restaurant. It will take you 15 minutes to get to the funicular which will get you to Montserrat.
  • Barceló Esteve Apartaments is located 100 m from a funicular that leads to a Montserrat mountain. Each apartment has a well equipped kitchen. And there is everything you may need, shops or restaurants, in close proximity. This option is perfect for a long vacation with the whole family or for a company of friends.
  • Apartamentos Montserrat Abat Marcet offers comfortable rooms with everything one needs for one night stay.

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