A visit to Montserrat is one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona. Many people come here to view this unique, jagged, sawtooth mountain range and its views over the stunning countryside. Montserrat truly is a beautiful place to visit. One of the best ways to get to the top are on your own two feet. Keep reading to learn more about hiking Montserrat.
How to Get to Montserrat
Montserrat is easily accessible from Barcelona. The distance between Barcelona and Montserrat is 54 km. Most people take the train out to Montserrat, connecting with either the cable car or rack railway to get to the top. For details on how to do this, read our post How to Guide: Day Trip to Montserrat from Barcelona.
To start the hike, you need to get to Monistrol de Montserrat. From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take the R5 train to Monistrol de Montserrat. It takes just over one hour to get to Monistrol.
Below is a map of Barcelona, the train stations near Montserrat, and things to do on Montserrat. To find the trailhead from Monistrol de Montserrat, keep reading.
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. 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.
How to Hike to Montserrat
Distance: 5 km one-way
Duration: 1.5 hours
Start: Estacio de Monistrol
Finish: Monestir de Montserrat
Finding the Trail
Finding the trailhead can be a little tricky. We found very little information on the internet before attempting this hike, so we were in for all kinds of surprises. After asking for directions from several people in town, we eventually found our way to the start of the hike. Here’s how to get from the Monistrol de Montserrat train station to the trailhead. I also recommend checking the comment section below because a recent traveler just wrote in with a lot of tips about this hiking trail. Thank you Rachel!
Exit the train station and walk downhill towards Monistrol de Montserrat. Cross this bridge to the other side. The mountain range of Montserrat is looming in front of you. Eventually, you will be standing way up there!
Once on the other side of the bridge, cross the street, passing between the two buildings in this photo.
Continue on the wide sidewalk into town.
The sidewalk ends at a small plaza in town. Walk through the plaza, keeping the mountains to your left. You will see a staircase off to the left. Take this to the road above you.
Red, white, and green painted stripes mark the trail all the way up to the monastery. As long as you follow these stripes you are going in the right direction. From the top of the staircase, turn left and walk along the road.
After walking approximately 100 meters on the road you will arrive at the trailhead. In this photo, it is the small, paved trail to the right.
On the concrete wall there is a sign identifying the official trail. From this point it takes about an hour and half to get to the monastery, a little less if you are a fast hiker.
Most of the trail is a rocky, dirt single track trail. Occasionally there will be small sets of stairs when the climb is a little steeper. It may come as no surprise that the trail is a steady, uphill climb all of the way to the top.
Another sign on the way up the mountain.
About a third of the way up to the monastery, the trail will split. Here you have two options. The easier option, staying on the Cami de les Aigues (GR 5), veers off to the left. This wide trail slowly meanders up the mountain. It ascends less quickly, making it easier, but it also takes five to ten minutes longer to get to the top. Or, you could take the Drecera dels Tres Quarts (GR 96). This trail is narrower, steeper, and more direct to the monastery.
We chose the GR 96, preferring the quicker option.
Here’s a view of the trail before the real climbing began.
Just before reaching the monastery, both trails link up again. From here, enjoy the view. You can walk out to the Santa Cova Chapel (you can see it in the photo below, way off in the distance), hoof it up higher to the monastery, or choose to take the Santa Cova funicular if you’re all out of energy.
Best Things to do on Montserrat
For a full list of what there is to do once you’re at the top, check out our post How to Guide: Day Trip to Montserrat from Barcelona.
Getting Back Down
You have three options to get back down the mountain…retrace your steps and hike back down, take the cable car to Aeri de Montserrat (the cable car), or take the Cremallara (the rack railway) to Monistrol de Montserrat. From Aeri de Montserrat and Monistrol, take the R5 train back to Barcelona. Tickets can be purchased in the train station.
Print This Before You Go!
If you are planning on doing this hike, print this out beforehand or cache it on your phone so you can follow the photos to the trailhead.
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
More Information about Spain
BARCELONA, SPAIN: Start with our guide to the best things to do in Barcelona. Plan your visit with our 3 Day Barcelona Itinerary, our guide on Where to Stay in Barcelona, and get recommendations on where to eat in Barcelona.
GIRONA: Here are 9 reasons why Girona makes a great day trip from Barcelona.
IRONMAN BARCELONA: If racing a full distance triathlon is on your bucket list, Ironman Barcelona is one of the best. Read about Tim’s experience racing Ironman Barcelona.
MORE GREAT HIKES IN EUROPE: From thrilling trails in the Alps to easy walks along the coast, read our article 20 Best Hikes in Europe for some beautiful hiking trails to put on your travel wish list.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.
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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At the part of the trail where the steep and more gradual trails join back together, there are three options given. Walk over to the Santa Cova Chapel, continue to hike up the mountain or take the Santa Cova funicular. How close will we be to the funicular or Chapel at that stage of the trek? In the photo, it looks far away.
Great question! From that point, it is about a 10 to 15 minute walk to Santa Cova Chapel, about a 3 to 5 minute walk to the funicular, and 5 to 10 minute walk up to the monastery. Cheers, Julie
This is probably a silly question for more experienced hikers like yourselves, but is it possible to do the slower/easier trail in sneakers? I have no experience hiking though am an active person and I only found this blog today but my trip is in less than a week so I don’t think there will be time to buy hiking boots.
Absolutely! Tim and I both did this hike in sneakers (running shoes) because we did not bring hiking shoes on this trip, not for just one hike. And we had no issues on the trail. Have a great time in Spain! Cheers, Julie
Is this trail easy enough with 6 year old. We are planning in end of October
I think an active 6 year old could do this hike.
I would like to do a 3 day hike (moving from one point to another) starting from Montesserat or Giroda. Any tips?
No, unfortunately I do not know much about this. It’s a great idea, and we have done something like this in other parts of Europe, but I don’t know much about doing that in this area. Cheers, Julie
These tips are extremely helpful, I don’t think I could have made it without it. Thank you!
It is indeed difficult to find the start of the trail, but once you are on it, you can’t get it wrong.
The path is very clear and well indicated. It was my first solo hike ever, and there was hardly nobody else hiking it. I came across about 6 people on my way up, but it felt safe to do, particularly with these instructions. It took me less than 1hr but a part of me is a mountain goat.
Thank you so much guys for the detailed instructions, I traveled to Montserrat with my daughter and we had no trouble at all from finding the train in Espanya till the monastery itself. We chose the steeper trail and it was more fun and also it is less exposed to sun when the day is hot. Thanks once more!
What is the elevation gain on this trail?
We did not have our GPS recorder on this trail so I don’t have our numbers. However, All Trails lists the elevation at 1900 feet (580 meters) for the out and back hike. Most of the elevation gain will be from Monistrol to Montserrat, so it could be around 1800 feet for the one way hike. Cheers, Julie
Just did this hike with my boyfriend and the instructions were SO helpful. This day trip was definitely the highlight of our visit to Barcelona.
A couple notes might be helpful for future travelers:
– For those who choose to take the longer more gradual path up, those flags are only red and white until you rejoin back up again with the steeper path. The red white and green is specifically for the steeper path.
– In one of the first instructions, you depict a staircase from the plaza in Monistrol. That route does indeed work but if you go up those stairs you then backtrack on the road above to get to the trailhead. A local waved us down and pointed to the road to the left of the stairs (just left of what is seen in the photo). This road is a paved slope but not stairs and it’s actually signed for the monastery. It pops you out right below the trailhead unlike the stairs depicted which send you too far right.
– we detoured through Monistrol to pick up coffees and pastries since we caught an early train. The town is really lovely and it was easy to find our way back to the right plaza using the instructions above so highly recommend wandering through it.
– We discovered last minute that the funiculars are closed Jan- March for maintenance so just worth keeping in mind if you plan to hike around up top. But you really don’t need the funiculars to get around and we did the hikes in much less time than was estimated. (And I’m currently quite out of shape due to an injury.)
Thank you for writing in with this info! It’s awesome!!