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.
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.
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.
Getting to Montserrat
Getting from Barcelona to Montserrat is quick and easy. You have numerous options…train, bus, rental car, or tour. But first, here is a map of Barcelona and Montserrat. There are two different train stations that you can use to get to Montserrat and it will help to see them on a map.
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the transportation options). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
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 hour and costs €5.25 one way.
From Aeri de Montserrat, take the cable car to the top. This costs €7.50 one way, €11.50 for a return ticket. The cable car typically runs every 15 minutes but can run as frequently as every 5 minutes depending on number of passengers.
Riding the train and cable car round trip costs €23.00. Combined tickets can be purchased at the Plaça Espanya station in Barcelona.
Get updated prices and check the cable car timetable here.
Get the timetable of the train here.
Train and Rack Railway
This option is slightly longer than taking the cable car, since you go ride the train from Barcelona one station farther than Aeri de Montserrat. From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take the R5 line to Monistrol de Montserrat. The journey by train takes approximately one hour and five minutes and costs €5.25 one way.
Change to the Cremallera, a green railway that runs to the top of the mountain. This costs €7.50 one-way or €12.50 for a return ticket (these are high season prices, which includes the summer months, some holidays, and some weekends; get the full list of hours on the Cremallara website).
Riding the train and cable car round trip costs €23.00. Combined tickets can be purchased at Plaça Espanya.
For timetables and ticket prices, visit the Cremallara de Montserrat website.
Important Note: It is the same price to take the cable car or the Cremellara rack railway to Montserrat. When you purchase your round trip ticket from the Plaça Espanya station in Barcelona, make sure you specify whether you plan to take the cable car or the rack railway. These tickets are not interchangeable.
The ToT Ticket is a combination ticket that includes your round trip transportation from Barcelona, lunch, and free admission into the Montserrat Monastery Museum. Ride the train from Barcelona and take your pick between riding the cable car or the rack railway to the monastery. While at Montserrat, you get unlimited rides on the Sant Joan funicular, admission into the Montserrat Museum, and one meal at the self-service restaurant. To return to Barcelona, take the cable car or the rack railway, and then ride the train back to Barcelona. Ticket prices start at €52.90. Click here to learn more.
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.
Take a Tour
Join a half to full day tour of Montserrat. You also have the option to add on a visit to a winery.
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.
This is the most expensive option. Taxis and private drivers can be used to get to Montserrat.
Best Things to do at Montserrat
Enjoy the View
From the mountain top, the views are stunning!
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.
Pro Travel Tip: Midday, lines can be long to enter the monastery and see the Black Madonna. To avoid waiting in a long, plan to arrive to the monastery at or near opening time. For hours of the monastery, click here.
Depending on the time of your visit, there can be two lines to enter the church: one to get up close to the Black Madonna and touch the sphere that she is holding, and one to enter the church. If you have no desire for a close up view of the Black Madonna, make sure that you are in the correct line. The queue to see the Black Madonna moves very slowly and you can literally wait hours in line.
The Famous Boys Choir at Montserrat
L’Esconia Montserrat, the Boys Choir, is famous for their world-renowned performance. The first performances date back to 1223. There are now 50 boys in the choir, and they perform here on a daily basis, and around the world.
There are two daily performances, at 1:00 pm and 6:45 pm. They perform in the Basilica of Montserrat. You can learn more about the Boys Choir on the official website.
In 1811 and 1812, the monastery was attacked and burned down twice by Napolean’s troops. All of the artifact and historical treasures were lost in this attack. After a long restoration process, the monastery reopened in the mid-19th century.
In the early 1900’s, this museum opened. It contains artifacts from Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia, as well as artwork by Catalan artists and French Impressionists such as Renoir, Monet, and Degas.
Since it does not contain any historical artifacts from the monastery, a visit to this museum may not be worth it for most people.
Hours: 10 am to 5:45 pm, longer hours in the summer months
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.
If you look closely, you can see the trail to the Santa Cova Chapel snaking its way along the mountainside.
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 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
The view back to the Monastery
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 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 Cisernos. 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.
Bring your own picnic. The best option may be to assemble a picnic lunch at Boqueria Mercado before making the journey out to Montserrat.
How Much Time 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!
More Information for Your Trip to Spain:
- 3 Days in Barcelona: The Perfect Itinerary for Your First Visit
- Where to Stay in Barcelona: Best Hotels and Neighborhoods for Your Budget
- Best Things to do in Barcelona
- 9 Reasons Why You Should Visit Girona
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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