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. Hi Julie,
    we are planning a trip to Spain for end of September 2018. After reading your blog we are definitely planning on doing the day trip and hike up to Montserrat. I didn’t notice in your blog where the GR 96 trail drops you off at the top?

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      The GR96 drops you off near the bottom of the Santa Cova funicular, next to the trail that leads out to the Santa Cova Chapel. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie! Thanks so much for this amazing blog, it’s a huge help in planning my trip to Barcelona! Do you happen to have any idea how long it takes to hike to Sant Jeroni from the monastary? I’m trying to decide whether we should hike from the bottom to the monastary and explore the area there, or if we should take the railway up to the monastary and hike to Sant Jeroni. So it’s nice to have an idea of the time span of both plans!

    Thanks again!

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      From what I read, it takes about three hours. Read this post for more info. Now I’m bummed we didn’t hike it…so many people ask about it. We did this just a few days before Tim’s Ironman race and didn’t want to do too much. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julie. Fantastic blog about Montserrat. I’ve been there twice and planning to return in september 2018 to hike Sant Jeroni. Can you tell me where to take the funicular Sant Joan ? Thanks. Gilles.

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      The Sant Joan Funicular is lcoated behind the Santa Cova Funicular Railway. From the top of the Sant Joan Funicular, follow the signs to the Sant Jeroni hike. Here is more information about the hike. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi! We are traveling to Barcelona in October with 2 kids in tow… a 4 year old and a 7 year old. Both are adventurous little boys who love climbing and hiking. We are planning a day trip via the train to Montserrat and loved your blog post. Very helpful! Any particular tips or tricks with little ones?

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      Hello Katie. I’d recommend taking the cable car to the monastery (both ways). It’s fun and you will all get a great view. Riding the funicular will be fun for kids, too. Take them on the shorter walking trails and let them burn off some energy. It should be a great place for your family…fun for the kids and great views for the adults. Cheers, Julie

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  5. We are heading up to Monserrat in June and would like to see the Sunrise from Sant Miquel’s Cross. Is this possible? If so, would you suggest to wait for the Cable car so early in the morning or just drive up to the Monastery? I am not sure if the Cable car or Rack railway services open before sunrise. I would like to know if it is allowed to park up near the monastery itself and how much it would cost!

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      I suggest taking a look at the railway website for their timetables (link in this post) to see if it works with your schedule (but I do not think they start before sunrise). You could simply drive up to the Monastery if you had a car. I do not know if it costs anything to park here (we hiked up and took the cable car down) but I know that there is a parking area. Cheers, Julie

      1. In order to take the cable car down do you need to purchase tickets from the railway station in advance or can you get them up top? I plan to hike up and ride the cable car down. Thanks

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          We bought our cable car tickets while on top of the mountain, immediately before we rode the cable car down the mountain.

  6. Do you guys think 7 hours to get there and back is enough time for Montserrat? My plane lands 8:40am, will probably get to my hotel on las ramblas to drop my bag with reception by about 10, go to Montserrat and be back at hotel for a meeting I have by 5pm? I would want to do the quickest way so probably the train/rack railway (since most blogs I’ve seen said the cable car is shorter but you usually end up waiting a really long time in line since it doesn’t carry many people- do you agree?)- then I probably would want to spend more time hiking- I’m more into the nature/views than the religious stuff, I’ll get enough of that in Barcelona. So thinking either the funicular to go up and do the walk to San Miguel’s cross or to Sant Joan to hike to San Jeroni. I will be alone and can move pretty quickly on hikes/walks. Do you think this is doable? and what do you think I can realistically fit in once on Montserrat in that amount of time? thanks!

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      You can do it, but it is going to be a very rushed experience. It takes about two hours (rough estimate) to get from Barcelona up to Montserrat. That gives you about 3 hours on top of the mountain. You wouldn’t have enough time for San Jeroni but you could hike to San Miguel’s cross and enjoy some of the viewpoints. As far as lines waiting for the cable car, it depends on the time of year and day of the week you are visiting. We were here on a weekday in October and didn’t see any lines, but that is just our one day experience here. The cable car has the potential to be quicker, but if you want to be on the safer side, take the rack railway. Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi,
    I really like your blog and have used it on a few occasions to help me plan trips. I am currently planning a day trip to Montserrat in late November and I just want to clarify that Sant Jeroni starts from the monastery with a funicular and then the hike starts, correct? Or is the hike on the way to the monastery connected to Sant Jeroni and the other hikes as well?
    Thank you!

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      Yes, the hike to Sant Jeroni starts at the top of the Sant Joan funicular. Then follow the signs on the trail to Sant Jeroni. We never did this hike but here is a post the provides lots of great information, including a map and lots of photos. Have fun! Julie

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for the amazing tips! This is such an incredible website. I have two quick questions:

    1. First question is about one of the photos you have on this post–the very first one (with EarthTrekkers written in the lower left hand corner, not the title photo). Where was this view from? Did you take this photo from the Santa Cova chapel walk? (you say “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.”) Or did you get this view and take this picture on your hike up to Montserrat (Because you also post it in your other post where you talk about how to hike up there ( I just love that view and was trying to figure out how to get to that lookout point.

    2. How do you do the Sant Miquel’s Cross walk where you get the views back to the monastery? Your post didn’t mention the starting point for that, just that it was about an hour long

    Thanks so much!!

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      The photo that you are referring to was taken at the point where the hiking trail up to Montserrat joins the walking trail to the Santa Cova Chapel. Here are the exact GPS coordinates of where I took the photo: 41°35’35” N 1°50’26” E. Put these coordinates into Google Maps and it will drop a pin right where I stood to take the photo. It’s easier to see the trail to the Santa Cova Chapel and the hiking trail up the mountain on satellite view on Google Maps.

      The “trailhead” for the walking trail to Sant Miquel’s Cross is right next to, almost kind of behind, the Santa Cova funicular. Here are the GPS coordinates for the start of this walk: 41.592064, 1.835830. Again, you can see the walking trail on the satellite view but I do not see it on the street view. Hope this helps!

      Cheers, Julie

  9. Thank you for all the information you gave. I’m planning a trip in October with my mom for her 70th Birthday and I have a few questions if you don’t mind helping to answer them.
    1) My mom is not really a hiker. If we take both the Funicular’s to the top will we have to hike down or can you take it down also?
    2) How strenuous is the hike to the cross? I saw that you said it was all paved but is there steep inclines?
    3) Are there any other spots besides the Cross that would be paved that you think I could take her to see some spectacular views?
    4) I am planning to drive to Montserrat instead of taking the train just because I don’t know if we will be there all day or just half a day since she isn’t able to “hike” the trails. Do you know of any other places along the way that we could visit if we were only there for half a day? I will be picking up the rental car at 8 am and do not have to return it until 9 pm. Is Girona too far to do the same day?
    5) Since we are renting a car would you recommend that we just drive all the way up or stop and take the Rack Railway up the rest of the way?
    6) I assume we would be able to purchase the Funicular tickets when we get there as opposed to having to purchase them before, correct?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

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      Hello Michelle. You can take the funicular both directions. The walk to the cross does have several steep sections and if I remember correctly, these sections come near the beginning of the walk, so you should know right away if your Mom can handle it. Some of the best views are from near the monastery, so you don’t have to do a lot of walking. Girona is too far to go the same day. I do not know of much to see between Barcelona and Montserrat but you might want to look into this yourself; maybe there is a nice, quiet town to visit. You can drive right up to the monastery. I do not know if parking spaces are limited, however. And you can buy funicular tickets the same day. There is no need to purchase them in advance. Cheers, Julie

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