Visiting the Montserrat Monastery is one of the excursions from Barcelona most famous. It is easy to reach (even by public transport) and gives you the opportunity to see the Spanish countryside.
The views from the monastery are breathtaking, it is worth dedicating a day of your time to it while you are in Barcelona.
- What is Montserrat and why go there?
- How to get to Montserrat
- 1 - Train and cable car (Aeri de Montserrat)
- 2 - Train and rack railway (Monistrol de Montserrat)
- 3 - ToT Ticket
- 4 - By bus
- 5 - Take part in a tour
- 6 - By rental car
- What to do and see in Montserrat
- 1 - The Benedictine abbey and the basilica
- 2 - The famous boys' choir in Montserrat
- 3 - Montserrat Museum
- 4 - Chapel of Santa Cova
- 5 - The cross of Sant Miquel
- 6 - Sant Joan funicular
- 7 - St. Jerome
- 8 – Stairway to Heaven
- Where to eat
- How long do you need to visit Montserrat?
- Useful Tips
What is Montserrat and why go there?
Di Inu /
La Montserrat mountain range is a mountain range about 50 km northwest of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain.
If you look at it from a distance, its shape looks a bit like a handsaw, hence the name MontSerrat. Its literal translation means something like "jagged mountain" or "saw mountain".
From some angles the mountain looks like a mass of organ pipes (slightly flattened) carved in clay. In other places the rock looks like that of a cartoon, the Flintstones version of a sacred mountain. Some say they look like God's fingers reaching out. One thing is certain. Mount Montserrat is a tourist destination not to be underestimated and is one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona.
"Perched" at the top of the mountain range it is located Santa Maria de Montserrat, for an Benedictine monastery. Inside the monastery there is a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the few black madonnas in Europe.
Montserrat Monastery is undoubtedly the most important religious site in Catalonia, as well as a famous and popular pilgrimage destination for the faithful.
For others it is also a visit to a unique mountain range that offers unparalleled views over Catalonia. For me, who have a degree in geology, it is also absolutely interesting for its orogeny.
How to get to Montserrat
Di Pajor Pawel /
Go from Barcelona to Montserrat it's quick and easy. You have numerous options for both getting there and tickets (there are combined ones that are affordable).
You can choose between train, bus, rental car or tour.
If you decide to go by train from Barcelona (the best option) then you have two choices to get to the monastery:
- the cable car (Aeri de Montserrat stop)
- the rack railway (Monistrol de Montserrat stop)
Beware that the train stops for one or the other are DIFFERENT.
-: whether you decide to take the rack railway or gondola, the price is the same. When purchasing combination tickets, be sure to specify whether you plan to take the gondola or the cog railway. These tickets are not interchangeable.
1 - Train and cable car (Aeri de Montserrat)
Di SARYMSAKOV ANDREY /
This is thefaster and more scenic option. From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take line R5 to Aerial of Montserrat. The train journey takes approximately one hour and costs € 5,25 each way.
From Aeri de Montserrat, take the cable car to the top. This costs € 7,50 each way, € 11,50 for a return ticket. The cable car generally leaves every 15 minutes but can run every 5 minutes depending on the number of passengers.
The return trip by train and cable car costs € 23,00. Combined tickets can be purchased at Barcelona's Plaça Espanya station.
If you decide to go autonomously by train, I suggest you buy the TRANS MONTSERRAT combined ticket (€ 33,45, is also valid for the return journey). which includes:
- Round trip to Plaza España by metro.
- Round trip by train from Barcelona to Monistrol de Montserrat.
- Round trip in "Cremallera" or "Aéreo" to Montserrat.
- Unlimited use of the San Juan funiculars.
- Entrance to the audiovisual space “Montserrat puertas adentro”.
See updated prices and check the timetables of the Aeri cable car here.
2 - Train and rack railway (Monistrol de Montserrat)
By cornfield /
This option is slightly longer than the cable car, as you go by train from Barcelona one station farther than Aeri de Montserrat.
From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take line R5 to Monistrol de Montserrat. The train journey takes approximately one hour and five minutes and costs € 5,25 one way.
At this point you have to take the Rack, 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 include the summer months, some holidays and some weekends)
Check the updated prices and times of the rack here (although it is usually timed with the train)
The rack has a less spectacular view than the gondola, but it has the advantage of being able to sit and above all it is wheelchair accessible)
THEBarcelona tourist board sells the MONTSERRAT EXPRES, a very advantageous package (from € 36) that includes transport by train and cog train, a backpack with the guide and audio guide with earphones in 8 languages!
3 - ToT Ticket
At Markus Mainka /
Il ToT ticket (which would stand for Todo Montserrat) is a combo ticket that includes round-trip transport from Barcelona, lunch andfree admission to the Montserrat Monastery Museum.
Take the train from Barcelona and make your choice between the cable car or the cog railway to the monastery.
THE TOTAL TICKET INCLUDES:
- Round trip from Plaza Espanya by metro.
- Round trip by train from Barcelona - plaza España to Monistrol de Montserrat.
- Round trip in Cremallera or Aeri to Montserrat.
- Unlimited use of the Sant Joan funiculars.
- Entrance to the Audiovisual Space, "Montserrat puertas adentro".
- Entrance to the Museo de Montserrat.
- Lunch in the Montserrat self-service restaurant.
To return to Barcelona, take the cable car or cog railway, then hop on the train back to Barcelona. Ticket prices start at € 52,90. Click here to find out more.
4 - By bus
Di mehdi33300 / shutterstock
This is a less popular option, as most people make the train journey.
However, there is Autocars Julia which runs from Barcelona to Montserrat. Here you can find more information.
A very valid alternative is THIS TOUR with bus transport only with air conditioning: it is only half a day, it only includes transport, for the rest you have free time to explore the Monastery independently. Perfect for those who have little time in Barcelona but don't want to give up visiting Montserrat.
5 - Take part in a tour
There is a truly huge choice of tours that you can take part in.
One of the choices I recommend you take a look at is the half day tour to Montserrat: this will allow you to visit the Monastery (it's worth it I assure you) even if you don't have a lot of time in the city.
One of the best-selling tours and one that I personally can't help but recommend is THIS TOUR with visit to the Monastery, wine tasting and tapas (with more than 420 reviews and a very high score)
⇒ See many other tours to Montserrat Monastery here
6 - By rental car
At Ekaterina Polischuk /
Given the ease with which it can be reached by public transport I would not recommend renting a car. In case, however, you want to do it (I am very happy booking with Rentalcars) or maybe you were doing a motorbike tour of Spain, you can get to the "cremallera" and leave your car in the free and guarded parking of the Monistrol-Vila station.
This car park is also perfect if you have walking difficulties as you can take the rack. Pay attention that to get off the Monastery you don't have to miss the last ride.
There is also a paid parking lot right next to the Monastery, but it is not suitable for people with reduced mobility as to get there you have to go uphill.
What to do and see in Montserrat
1 - The Benedictine abbey and the basilica
At Natalia Kempin /
The Benedictine abbey dates back to the XNUMXth century and legend has it that it was once the home of the Holy Grail and today is primarily a pilgrimage site to see the Black Virgin.
La Black Virgin of Montserrat, called and known as the "Moreneta" is located inside the basilica. The visit is free and the statue of the Virgin Mary and her newborn son are said to have healing powers.
The Black Virgin is a wooden statue found in a cave as far back as 880 AD and is said to have been sculpted by Saint Luke himself.
(Mysteriously, the statue of the Black Madonna dates back to the Romanesque era of the 300th century, making it XNUMX years younger than the date attributed to it, but it doesn't matter: this is how miracles work)
PRO TIP: queues to enter can be long at midday and in high season. To avoid waiting, plan to arrive at the monastery at or near opening hours. For the monastery hours click here.
Please note: that depending on the time you go you may not have a single queue, but two: one to enter the Cambril de la Mare de Deu to get close to the Black Madonna and touch the sphere in his hand, and one to enter the church. The queue to see the Black Madonna moves very slowly and you can literally wait hours in line. If you don't want to wait in line, you can just look at the statue from the center of the church.
Curiosity: on the right side, just before entering a small internal square in front of the monastery church of Montserrat, you can see an impressive and somewhat "special" door: it could in fact be the one depicted on the 10 euro banknotes!
2 - The famous boys' choir in Montserrat
THEEscolania Montserrat, the Boys' Choir, is famous for their world-famous performance. The first performances date back to 1223. There are now 50 boys in the choir, who perform here on a daily basis and around the world.
There are two shows daily, at 13pm and 00:18 pm. They perform in the Basilica of Montserrat. You can learn more about the Boys' Choir on the official website.
PRO TIP: If you want to see and hear the Montserrat boys' choir at 13pm, make sure you arrive at the church at least half an hour early. You will probably need to be here an hour early if you want to be able to sit down.
3 - Montserrat Museum
Di cornfield / shutterstock
In 1811 and 1812, the monastery was attacked and burned twice by Neapolitan troops. All historical artifacts and treasures were lost in this attack. After a long restoration process, the monastery was reopened in the mid XNUMXth century.
In the early 1900s, the Montserrat museum. Contains artifacts from theEgypt, from Cyprus and Mesopotamia, as well as works of art by Catalan and French Impressionist artists such as Renoir, Monet and Degas.
Note that while the basilica is free, there is an 8 euro ticket to enter the museum.
4 - Chapel of Santa Cova
Di Askolds Berowski /
La holy cave of Montserrat it once housed the Virgin of Montserrat. A chapel was built on this spot three hundred years ago.
To get there from the monastery, you have to take the Santa Cova funicular up to the path.
It `s important to note that there are two funiculars at Montserrat. While there Sant Joan funicular (I'll talk about it later) climbs high up the mountain, the funicular of Santa Cova instead it takes you further down to the starting point of the walk to the Santa Cova cave.
This cave is a place where the Virgin Mary, according to the legend of the 13th century, appeared several times to the shepherds. At the end of the 17th century, a chapel was built here.
Inside the cave, you can see a reproduction of the statue of Our Lady of Montserrat. Found in this cave, the original statue is now kept in the Montserrat Monastery Basilica, as mentioned above.
Estimate an hour for the whole walk.
5 - The cross of Sant Miquel
By Lerner Vadim /
One of the most beautiful excursions you can do anyway is that of Cross of San Miquel, Creu de Sant Miquel, a short trek (1-1,2km) that takes only 15-20 minutes each way and takes you to the most scenic spot in Montserrat.
The trail is relatively easy, with only a small climb and since the road is gravel, you don't need hiking boots. However, consider wearing comfortable walking shoes.
This hike begins by following the wide gravel path on the way to the Sant Joan funicular (do not turn off the funicular but go straight, following the mountain crest, however there are signs).
6 - Sant Joan funicular
Di Valery Bareta /
If you're visiting Montserrat for a day and have plenty of time to explore the area, you can also take the Sant Joan funicular further up the mountain. This funicular takes you to a very high vantage point. From here, you can start the excursion to St. Jerome.
However, I don't know if I recommend it, unless you have plenty of time. It is definitely worth going if you can also hike to the Sant Jeroni peak (the highest peak in the Montserrat area).
The views on this hike are incredible. However, keep in mind that it is a serious excursion that will take you at least 2,5-3 hours (total round trip time).
7 - St. Jerome
St. Jerome it is the highest peak in Montserrat and if you still haven't had enough of views or you like to walk, consider taking this 3-hour round trip hike.
8 – Stairway to Heaven
Di Mariia Kan /
No, it's not the Led Zeppelin song! The Stairway to Heaven is a stack of nine large concrete blocks arranged in a helical pattern.
This was once a popular area for climbers. People used to go to Montserrat just to take a photo at the top of the Stairway to Heaven. Now a fence surrounds it, both for security reasons and because it is a work of art.
Numerous people visit Montserrat just to see the Stairway to Heaven.
In my opinion, this is a little overrated. There are many better things to see in Montserrat, such as the Monastery, the views from various viewpoints and the Santa Cova Chapel.
If you are planning 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 east of the Mirador restaurant. On Google Maps, Stairway to Heaven is called Scale of understanding.
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.
There is a coffee shop which offers a buffet lunch. There is a wide variety of food… all quite mediocre, but good for filling your belly.
Bring your own picnic. The best option may be to organize a packed lunch by shopping at the Mercado della Boqueria before leaving for Montserrat.
How long do you need to visit Montserrat?
A visit to Montserrat lasts a good part of the day. The travel time takes approximately 1,5 hours each way (approximately one hour for the train and 30 minutes for the cable car or cog railway).
Once in 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 for lunch or dinner.
Although it is easy to visit the Montserrat Monastery from Barcelona, I have some tips to give you to make your visit better.
1 - try to get there early: especially in high season you might find what, plus finding the right train platform is not that easy, the station is large.
2 - buy tickets online, so you don't waste time buying them on the spot and you don't risk missing the train! The next one could start even after an hour!
3 - If you have walking difficulties, or with you there is someone who is struggling take the rack and not the cable car, in fact you can sit in the first, in the second you have to stand!
4 - bring your own packed lunch to save money. It is true that there are shops and restaurants at the Monastery, but they are much more expensive.
5 - wear comfortable shoes, trekking is very nice!
6 - the Monastery is located at about 720 meters above sea level, but if you decide to go trekking on the mountain, climb up to 1200 meters. Bring a jacket even in summer. You can visit the monastery all year round but don't underestimate the temperatures in winter.
7 - I have already said it but I repeat it: even if it is not compulsory to buy tickets first it is convenient to do so. Among the combined tickets you can choose:
- TOT ticket (All Montserrat) - € 52,90
- TRANS MONSERRAT (for me the best choice) - € 33,45€
- Montserrat EXPRES – € 36,85
Have you ever been to Montserrat Monastery? How was your experience? Share it with me and other travelers in the comments!