Montserrat, a stunning mountain range located in the Catalonian region of Spain is one place we strongly recommend to people who visit Barcelona. The unusual-looking peaked mountain range in Catalonia looks so because of the strange rocky formations resembling animals and creatures. Wondering how the mountains got this shape? This is due to the mass movements of wind, rain and frost through the years. With a day trip to Montserrat one can not only embrace the stunning natural beauty but also take in the spiritual and historical importance of this location. Escape to this photographic region, for a visit to beautiful Barcelona is not complete without a trip to Montserrat.
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What Is Montserrat And Where Is It
This popular day trip destination from Barcelona is a mountain range in Catalonia, Spain. The word ‘Montserrat’ in Catalan literally means serrated mountain, or saw mountain. The peaks of the mountains rise almost vertically from the plains giving it an appearance of a jagged saw-like terrain, hence the name. It’s just not the geologically uniqueness of the place but for the fact that there is a monastery 718m up the mountain makes Montserrat worth the visit. The Benedictine monastery perched high up on one of the peaks was founded in the 11th century. With more than 70 monks residing here, the monastery is still buzzing with activities today. The many beautiful hiking trails and scenic views from above makes it an incredible place for a day’s trip.
How To Get To Montserrat Monastery
If you’re wondering how to get to the Montserrat Mountains, do not worry as there are plenty of ways to get up there. From using public transportation to guided tours, from private transfers to driving by yourself there are many options to choose from. To use any of these options one needs to get to the base of the mountains and the best way to do this is by taking a train. The FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat) train leaves every hour starting as early as 8:30 in the morning. Once you are at the bottom of the mountain, here’s how you can get to the top of Montserrat.
Cable Car – Ride up to the mountains by a cable car is one of the easiest and most scenic ways. The ride takes only about 5 minutes to get to the top. There’s no need to rush as there are cable cars that runs every 5-15 minutes.
Rack Railway – Another option is to take the rack railway to the monastery. Take the green train called the Cremallera which is comfortable and a good option for people who are scared of heights. But the view with this ride is not as scenic as the cable car ride.
Car – A car can take one not just to the foot of the mountain but even right up to the sanctuary. Rent a car and drive to Monistrol de Montserrat if you are comfortable navigating the winding roads of the mountain. The first 2 hours are free parking for your car, after that it is chargeable.
Guided Tour – Guided tours are the best way and the most convenient option to reach the top since you don’t have to worry about tickets or mode of transportation. Just sit back and enjoy the scenic drive while your Montserrat tour operator takes care of the rest.
Hiking – After reaching the base of the mountain by train you will find that there are several hiking trails from the village of Monistrol de Montserrat. Though it will take a while, this is the cheapest and healthiest way of getting to the top. Make sure that you are in good health as you have around a 4 kilometer hike ahead of you.
Our final thoughts on the best way to reach the Montserrat Mountains is to take the cable car. The views from the above are breathtaking. You will also have the chance to see other popular places, such as Torre Agbar, Sagrada Familia, Camp Nou, Plaza Espana, Montjuic and the Olympic Park on your way. Hence chuck the rail and road to see the amazing mountain range from the air.
Montserrat Things To Do
Now that you know how to reach Montserrat, here’s a quick overview of the most popular sights and activities to do here. From religious sites, hiking trails to amazing views, this place has it all to easily fill a day for any kind of traveler.
Visit Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey
The Abbey that dates back to the 9th century is an important part of Spain’s history and perhaps the most famous of all the things to see in Montserrat. As the monastery is home to a few monks only some parts of the Abbey are open to the public. But it is the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat that draws people from all over the world to this place. It’s believed that the statue of the Virgin Mary and her son have healing powers. In addition to this visitors can observe the daily activities of the monks and explore its rich cultural heritage, art and architecture. The Abbey also has a museum that showcases many works of art, religious artifacts and the oldest publishing house that’s still running.
Attend The Famous Boys Choir
Watching a performance of the L’Esconia Montserrat Choir will be the highlight of your visit to Montserrat. A group of 50 young boys between the age of 9-14 from across Catalonia and Spain live and study at Montserrat during their time in the choir. This is one of Europe’s oldest boys’ choirs. They have released multiple albums and keep performing at multiple locations around the world. So if you get an opportunity to catch them live, don’t miss the chance. There are two daily performances that take place every day at 01:00 pm and 06:45 pm except during the month of July and Christmas time. Getting to hear the boys perform live in the basilica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Admire Art At The Montserrat Museum
Located just across the plaza from the Basilica is the Museum of Montserrat which is a treasure trove of many biblical and artistic exhibits. Artwork of great artists like Picasso, El Greco, Santiago Rusiñol, Isidre Nonell, Caravaggio, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Pedro Berruguete, and Antoni Tàpies are displayed here. In addition to this the museum also has a good collection of historic artifacts and exhibits that takes one through the history of the Abbey and Montserrat. Artifacts from Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia are also displayed here. Don’t bring out your cameras while at the museum as photography and videography are not allowed inside the museum.
Enjoy The Cable Car Experience
Once you reach the base of Montserrat, there are two ways to reach the monastery. One option is go up in a cable car and the other is by rack railway. As mentioned earlier, the cable car is the best option as the views from here are stunning. Being suspended up in the air enjoying the scenic views of beautiful Catalonia is the best way to start off your day. The bright yellow cable cars are the most fun ways to experience the unique surroundings. The beautiful and breathtaking views on your ride up will just make you wish that the journey lasted a little longer. A ride to the top in a cable car in one of the unforgettable experiences that you just cannot miss while here.
Hike Through The Stunning Landscape
As there are different trail options, hiking through stunning landscapes is one of the best things to do at Montserrat. Many hikers come here as the Montserrat peaks have some unique hiking and climbing options in the whole of Spain. The easiest of them all is the Sant Miquel’s Cross hike which takes about 20 minutes each way. The hardest is the Saint Jeroni Summit Loop which is a 9.3km hike that takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes. These hikes will let you explore the hidden gems and enjoy the incredible nature along the way. Advantage of going on these hikes with professional guides is for visitors to get an in-depth knowledge of the region’s unique culture and history. If you are an experienced climber, a visit to the Tourist Information Office on the mountain will help one decide on the best trials for climbing.
Perfect Day Trip Itinerary From Barcelona To Montserrat
There are many options for a Montserrat day trip Barcelona, however the itinerary below is to help you cover all the attractions in a day:
09:00 am – Catch the train at Barcelona station Plaza Espanya
10:00 am – Arrive at Monistrol de Montserrat for cable train or Aeri de Montserrat for cable car
10:30 am – Arrive at Montserrat
11:00 am – Visit Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey
12:00 pm – Have lunch at La Cafeteria
01:00 pm – Enjoy the famous choir of Montserrat
01:30 pm – Take the funicular de Sant Joan
02:00 pm – Hike to the highest point Sant Jeroni
05:00 pm – After the hike and some rest visit Museum of Montserrat
05:45 pm – Take the cable car back to Monistrol de Montserrat
06:15 pm – Board train back to Barcelona station Plaza Espanya (the last train leaves at 6:30pm)
07:15 pm – Finally disembark at Plaza Espanya
Suggested Reads: A Day Trip To Costa Brava From Barcelona: A Complete Guide
Tips For A Montserrat Day Trip
- Plan how you want to visit Montserrat and make all bookings in advance.
- Avoid visits during weekends, public holidays and religious holidays as people come from all over. The place can get really crowded during this time.
- To avoid wasting time in long queues, suggest visiting the monastery near opening time or staying back and visiting later when its less crowded.
- Make sure to go on a hike to experience the raw beauty of this place. Ensure to come prepared with water, snacks, comfortable walking shoes and a hiking pole.
- Dress appropriately as there are many religious sites around. Anything that’s not revealing is acceptable.
Overall, there is something utterly mystical about the Montserrat Mountains. Be it a leisure trip or a religious one, a day trip experience from Barcelona to Montserrat is simply ethereal. So now that you know it all, it’s time to sit back and enjoy your ride to a completely different world with our Montserrat vacation guide.
FAQ’s On Day Trip To Montserrat In Spain
From affordable hostels to homestays and apartments to camping sites, there are many options available if you are planning to stay back in Montserrat. Hotel Abat Cisneros, Abat Marcet Apartments and Abat Oliba Hostel are the best accommodations that offer great value for money. For people looking for some adventure can opt for campsite locations to spend the night.
Depending on what you want to do, Montserrat visits can last from anywhere between half day to a full day visit. It takes about an hour from Barcelona to Montserrat by train, three hours to see all the important landmarks, a few extra hours if you want to go hiking or indulge in some adventure activities and another hour to get back to Barcelona.
The Monastery of Montserrat can be visited at any time of year as it is open every day of the week. However it’s worth keeping in mind that as Montserrat is located relatively high the weather may not be what you expect from the Mediterranean climate. With good weather and comfortable temperatures, spring or autumn will be the best time. Avoid visits on weekends as the place can get very crowded, especially Sundays.
There is no dress code at Montserrat but keeping in mind that this place is a religious location, it is advisable to dress modestly. On the other hand, this place can get very cold in the early mornings or late evenings as temperature can drop during this time. Pack a few extra layers of clothes to protect from winds and for a comfortable experience.
If you wish to see nature in its purest form, then a visit to Montserrat is the perfect place to visit from Barcelona. Getting whisked away by a scenic cable car ride, taking a hike through the mountain peaks, and an opportunity to see the Spanish countryside, all makes it an unmissable destination.