Montserrat Day Trip

How to Guide: Day Trip to Montserrat from Barcelona

Julie Spain 52 Comments

Visiting Montserrat is one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona. It’s easy to get to and gives you an opportunity to see the Spanish countryside. The views from the monastery are breathtaking, well worth a day of your time while you are in Barcelona.

Montserrat Day Trip from BarcelonaMontserrat Day Trip from Barcelona

What is Montserrat?

Montserrat is a rocky mountain range in Catalonia, Spain. “Montserrat” translates to “saw mountain” in Catalan, owing to this mountain range’s jagged, sawtooth appearance.

Sitting atop the mountain range is Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine monastery. Located inside of the monastery is a statue of the of the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the few black madonnas of Europe. This is Catalonia’s most important religious retreat, as many people make an overnight hike to watch the sunrise from the peak of Montserrat.

Montserrat Spain

Why You Should take a Day Trip to Montserrat

For some people, a visit to Montserrat is a religious pilgrimage. For others, it’s a visit to a unique mountain range offering views over Catalonia. Be whisked to the top by a scenic cable car ride, take short hikes through the mountain peaks, and take a funicular higher up onto the mountain for even better views. Those who enjoy hiking can walk to Sant Jeroni, the highest peak of Montserrat.

Montserrat Monastery Spain

Getting to Montserrat

Getting to Montserrat from Barcelona is quick and easy. Here are your options.

Train and Cable Car

This is the quickest and most scenic option. From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take the R5 line to Aeri de Montserrat.  The journey by train takes approximately one and a half hours. From Aeri de Montserrat, take the cable car to the top. Combined tickets can be purchased at the Plaça Espanya station.

Train and Rack Railway

This option is slightly longer than taking the cable car but a little bit cheaper. From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take the R5 line one stop farther to Monistrol de Montserrat. Change to the Cremallera, a green railway that runs to the top of the mountain. Combined tickets can be purchased at Plaça Espanya.

For timetables and ticket prices, visit the Cremallara de Montserrat website.

Train and Hiking

This is the healthiest and most cost effective way to the monastery. From Plaça Espanya, take the R5 line to Monistrol de Montserrat. From the train station, walk through the town of Monistrol to trails winding their way up the mountain.

To read our post on how to hike to Montserrat, click here.

By Bus

This is a less popular option, since most people make the journey by train. Buses leave the Estacio Sants train station for Montserrat. For more information, click here.

Private Transportation

This is the most expensive option. Taxis and private drivers can be used to get to Montserrat.

Best Things to do

Enjoy the View

From the mountain top, the views are stunning!

Montserrat Barcelona

The Benedictine Abbey and the Basilica

The Black Virgin of Montserrat is located inside of the basilica. A visit here is free and it is said that the statue of the Virgin Mary and her infant son have healing powers. The Benedictine Abbey dates back to the 9th century and legend has it that this was once was home to the Holy Grail.

Santa Cova Chapel

The Holy Cave of Montserrat once housed the Virgin of Montserrat. Three hundred years ago a chapel was built at this spot.

From the monastery, take the Santa Cova funicular down to the walking trail. Follow a winding, paved trail along the mountain cliffs to the chapel. The views from the chapel are stunning. Allow an hour for the entire walk.

Santa Cova Chapel

If you look closely, you can see the trail to the Santa Cova Chapel snaking its way along the mountainside.

Montserrat Santa Cova Trail

Santa Cova funicular

Santa Cova funicular

Sant Miquel’s Cross

This is another beautiful walk. This walk takes you to a higher point than the Santa Cova Chapel, for more stunning views of the valley and quite an awesome view back to the monastery.

Finding the trailhead can be a little tricky. Here are the GPS coordinates for the start of the trail: 41.592064, 1.835830.

A view of the cross

Sant Miquel's Cross Montserrat

Sant Miquel

The view back to the Monastery

Montserrat Monistir

Funicular de Sant Joan

This funicular takes you to a very high observation point. From here, you can start the hike to Sant Jeroni.

Sant Jeroni

Sant Jeroni is the highest peak on Montserrat. For the best views while at Montserrat, consider doing this 3 hour return hike. This hike gives you the best views over Catalonia.

We did not hike to Sant Jeroni, but I wish we did. Tim was racing Ironman Barcelona in just a few days so we didn’t want to hike too much. Here is a post that does a good job explaining the hike, if you are interested.

Stairway to Heaven

The Stairway to Heaven is a stack of nine large concrete blocks arranged in a helical pattern. At one time, this was a popular object to climb. People would travel to Montserrat just to take a photo on top of the Stairway to Heaven. Now a fence surrounds it, both for safety reasons and because it is a work of art. Its intention was never to be a jungle gym.

Numerous people visit Montserrat just to see the Stairway to Heaven. In our opinion, this is an overrated attraction. There are much better things to see while in Montserrat, such as the Monastery, the views from the various viewpoints, and the Santa Cova Chapel. During our visit, the Stairway of Heaven was protected behind a hastily erected construction fence. It was hardly worth the visit.

If you have plans to visit Montserrat for the sole reason of climbing the Stairway to Heaven, you should know that it is illegal to do so.

The Stairway to Heaven is located just east of the Mirador Restaurant. On Google Maps, the Stairway to Heaven is called Escala de l’enteniment (click here to see the location on Google Maps). Come take look if you are curious but don’t expect to climb it.

Where to Eat

Restaurant Hostal Abat Cisternos. This is the most expensive option. For lunch or dinner you can have a three course meal for €27.50.

Cafeteria. There is a cafeteria that offers a lunch buffet. There is a wide variety of food, all of it is mediocre and nothing special. Included in the price is unlimited wine from a tap…an interesting option for those who are interested.

Bring your own picnic. The best option may be to assemble a picnic lunch at Boqueria Mercado before making the journey out to Montserrat.

Montserrat town

How Long do you need to visit Montserrat?

A visit to Montserrat takes a good part of a day. Travel time takes about 1.5 hours one way (roughly one hour for the train and 30 minutes for the cable car or rack railway). Once on Montserrat, you can visit the main sites and viewpoints in just a few hours. Expect to spend all day here if you want to hike the trails and sit down to lunch or dinner.

Planning to visit Montserrat? If you have any questions, comment below!


Are you planning a trip to Barcelona? Read all of our articles about Barcelona, including more ideas for day trips, on our Spain Travel Guide.

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Comments 52

  1. Hi, when you get out of the cable car, is everything on relatively flat ground. If you choose not to do the hikes, would this still be a good day trip for someone that is a little older?

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      Author

      It’s a bit hilly once you get off the cable car. However, there are funiculars that you can ride to eliminate most of the steep hills. I think it would be a good day trip for someone who is older. They can enjoy the view, see the monastery and main sites, and maybe even walk out to the Santa Cova Church. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie! I am purchasing a HOLABCN! card for my visit to Barcelona and I think it’s good for the R5 train to and from Montserrat. If this is the case, do you recommend that we purchase cable-car and funicular tickets (one way as needed) at the Aeri de Montserrat station? Or at Placa Catalunya in Barcelona? From what I can tell, all of the combination or tour tickets include the train, and we won’t need that component. Any advice? Thanks!

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      Author

      Hello Heidi. We did not use the Hola BCN Card, so I am not familiar with how it works. However, I took a quick look and it does not look like the R5 line is included. The card covers the Rodalies de Catalunya, Zone 1 but on the Rodalies website, the R5 line is not listed. Maybe I’m missing something, but the trip to Montserrat is probably not covered with the card. And Montserrat is so far away from Barcelona I’d be surprised if it was still in Zone 1. Take a look at this, also, a website stating that the card does not cover Montserrat. So you could buy the combination ticket at Placa Espanya in Barcelona. Here is another link with train timetables. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi! Thank you for your guide, it’s very useful 🙂 Last time we were in Barcelona we didn’t have enough time to go there and we regretted it. Now we have another chance, but I’m worrying about the weather, I’ve heard it’s much colder there than in Barcelona. Do you think November is a good time for visiting Montserrat? I’m afraid it will be too windy and unpleasant to stroll around 🙁 Also, is there possibility to get to the Chapel only by funicular (no hiking)? We probably won’t be able to hike but still would like to see it and enjoy the views.
    Thank you!

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      Author

      I don’t think the weather will be too bad. We have only visited Barcelona at the end of September and the weather was warm and sunny the entire time. But I do know that 6 – 7 weeks can make a difference. I found these weather averages for you for Montserrat in November. If it’s accurate, it looks like it could be very nice. The only way to get to the Santa Cova Chapel is by walking the trail to it. It’s really not a hike, just a walk on a paved trail. You can take the Santa Cova funicular up and down from the Monastery to bypass the steep trail down to the Santa Cova walking trail. Cheers, Julie

      1. Thank you for replying and explaining everything Julie! I have to check that trail to Santa Cova Chapel, maybe we’ll be able to get there if it’s not a hike (we’ll be traveling with 3 kiddos) 🙂 I think we have to wait to see if the weather is nice and book all the tickets few days before.

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          Author
  4. Hi Julie – Thanks for this post! I’m thinking of visiting Montserrat in February ’19 en route from Barcelona to Pamplona with my husband and two small girls (they’ll be 4 and 16 months at that time). My husband and I are in good shape and pretty adventurous. Do you have a recommendation for how we should approach Montserrat? We will be arriving by car and would definitely want to take a funicular for the 4 year old, see some of the history, and do a walk that would be workable with the 4 year old walking and 1 year old in a pack. Oh and in winter … Any ideas would be so appreciated! Thank you!

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      Author

      Hello Sara. An easy to moderate walk is to Sant Miquel’s Cross, since it gives nice views back to the monastery. I also liked the walk to the Santa Cova chapel. It’s easy to do with nice views from the trail along the way. By car, you can drive all of the way up to the monastery. Or if you like the idea of taking the cable car, you can park at Aeri de Montserrat and ride the cable car up and down the mountain. Both ways are fine, it’s just whatever you prefer. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

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