Montserrat Day Trip

How to Guide: Day Trip to Montserrat from Barcelona

Julie Spain 65 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.

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!

Comments 65

    1. Post
      Author

      We bought our train tickets the morning of our trip out to Montserrat. I think, in general, it is OK to buy them the same day, unless you are visiting Barcelona during the peak of tourist season. Cheers, Julie

  1. Hello Julie,

    Very nice to read your experiences!
    We are traveling to Barcelona next week and are going to visit Montserrat. Is it doable to walk up to the monarchy , listen to the boy’s choir, take the funicular to the start of the hiking trail to Sant jeroni and maybe hiking to Sant Miquel’s Cross in 1 day?
    Thanks in advance!

    Marit

    1. Post
      Author

      The Boys’ Choir has two daily performances: 13:00 and 18:45. If you get an early start from Barcelona (a 9 am train will get you to Monistrol at 10:30) you can hike up to Montserrat. You will probably have some time to get a bite to eat. See the Boys’ Choir at 13:00. You have enough time to also ride the funicular and walk to Sant Miquel’s cross. Unless you are a speedy hiker, I don’t think you will have enough time to hike all of Sant Jeroni. But this will still be a great day! Have fun, Julie

    1. Post
      Author

      The hiking trail from Monistrol up to Montserrat is not stroller friendly. The trail is rocky and uneven in many spots. I would recommend taking the cable car up to Montserrat. Once on top, you can use your stroller. The paths to the Santa Cova Chapel, Saint Miquel’s Cross, and other sites are all paved. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi, we are planning on doing a trip to Montserrat tomorrow. Which way is the cheapest way to get there? Are the Stairs of Heaven also in Montserrat? We want to visit that as well.

    Thanks for your Help!

    1. Post
      Author

      The cheapest way to get to Montserrat is probably by bus. However, the train is very convenient and also budget-friendly (we recommend taking the train).

      Yes, the Stairs of Heaven are located in Montserrat, near the restaurant and bus parking lot. On Google Maps, it is called Escala de l’enteninement. I heard that the Stairs of Heaven are fenced off to prevent people from taking selfies here. Do you mind commenting again after your visit, to let us and other readers know what your experience was like?

      Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julia

    We would like to go to Stairs of Heavan tomorrow. We are driving and leaving very early in order to be there for the sunrise. Could you let us know how long do we have to walk to the stairs from the car park please ?

    1. Post
      Author

      If you are referring to the car park near the monastery, it should only take you 2 to 3 minutes to walk to the Stairs of Heaven.

    1. Post
      Author
  4. Hi there,

    I am planning on visiting Montserrat in August and am really keen to hike up to Sant Jeroni. Is it possible to do this without taking the funicular to Sant Joan, or at least only taking the funicular up and walking back down? Do you think doing this hike leaves enough time to explore the rest of the mountain including the monastery and other walks?

    Thanks, Harriet

    1. Post
      Author

      You can hike to Sant Jeroni without taking the funicular, but the funicular saves you from making a long climb up to the start of the trail. It’s not a bad idea to take the funicular up and walk down, just to save your legs. If you get to Montserrat early enough (around 9 or 10 am), you can hike to Sant Jeroni and explore the rest of Montserrat. For more information on the hike to Sant Jeroni, check out this link. Cheers, Julie

  5. Hello! I’m visiting Montserrat in a few weeks and want to hike to Sant Miquel’s Cross. Would I need to take the Santa Cova funicular down to the walking trail? Or does the trail start at the monastery? I love your blog! I’ve added a few of your hikes to my bucket list 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Monica. You do not need to take the Santa Cova funicular to get to Sant Miquel’s Cross. There is a paved path to the Cross that starts next to the lower station of the Sant Joan funicular. If you look at the satellite view on Google Maps, put in Creu de Sant Miquel to see where it sits in relation to the Monastery. Google shows you the route between the Cross and the Monastery. It takes about an hour (or less) round trip to get to the Cross from the collection of buildings on top of Montserrat. Cheers, Julie

  6. Hi,
    I’m planning on doing a day trip dedicated to hiking Monserrat; alone. Would you say it’s a safe environment to hike alone? (I’ve never hiked alone before)

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes, absolutely. No issues with crime (that I know of) and the trail is very easy to follow (once you find the start of the trail). – Julie

  7. Hi, I’m planning a half day trip to Monserrat in June. I’m mostly interested in going to see the Starway to Heaven. How come you guys didn’t visit it/picture it? Any tips for finding it?

    1. Post
      Author

      The Stairway to Heaven is fenced off so you will not be able to climb it. I’m not even exactly sure where it is located (it is somewhere near the monastery). We never visited it because it did not sound that interesting to us. Sorry I can’t give you more information. – Julie

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