Many people visit Barcelona without planning a side trip, and that’s perfectly fine. Barcelona itself offers plenty of exciting things to do and see. However, I must admit that a day trip to Montserrat was a highlight of my trip to Barcelona. After spending four days in the city, visiting this stunning Benedictine mountain was like the icing on the cake, making my trip even more unforgettable.

Taking a day trip to Montserrat is incredibly easy! Just an hour’s drive from Barcelona lies the stunning and sacred mountain of Montserrat. Its unique shape and being home to a monastery for hundreds of years make it a popular destination for visitors.

As you approach the mountain, you’ll be amazed by its unique rock formations. Some people say the mountain looks like human fingers, but I say – it’s all up to your imagination! 🙂

Located at a height of 1200 meters, the national park provides a breathtaking view of nature that will enrich your soul. The view of the distant river, which used to be a lake, and the nearby mountains, are reason enough for anyone to visit Montserrat.

A day trip to Montserrat – things to do

Choose your hiking trail

The breathtaking views make a day trip to Montserrat a must-do when you’re in Barcelona. If you’re a nature lover, the view from the top of the mountain will truly amaze you! There are several hiking trails to choose from, all well-marked and offering different challenges. Of course, you could take a cable car, but hiking is the way to go! It lets you take your time and enjoy the stunning surroundings.

If you’re wondering when the best time to hike here is, early spring is the answer. You can still visit during the winter, but the cable car might be closed due to weather conditions. If you only have time for one walk, I recommend the St. Michael’s Path. It’s about a 20-minute walk each way and offers the best views of the monastery/basilica and the valley below. The elevation is around 2500 feet, so be prepared for a bit of an uphill climb.

Visit Abadia de Montserrat

Santa Maria de Montserrat could be a perfect choice if you’re looking for a spiritual retreat in Catalonia. This beautiful abbey, belonging to the Order of Saint Benedict, is a popular location here. Pilgrims from Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia often take overnight hikes to watch the sunrise from the mountaintop.

The sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Montserrat, located adjacent to the Benedictine monastery, houses the Virgin of Montserrat, who is the patron saint of Catalonia. Although the monastery attracts a lot of visitors, it can be a peaceful experience to visit in the quiet of the evening once they have all left.

See the Basilica

The Basilica was built in the 16th century. The monastery, on the other hand, was established in the 11th century and reconstructed between the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Basilica is an exceptional place to visit, if you ask me! You can see the stunning Black Madonna, the crypt, the magnificent courtyard, and the side passage that contains hundreds of lighted candles. The outside of the basilica has a lovely facade, with a beautiful huge square in front of it.

The courtyard is equally resplendent, with huge entrance doors and numerous wonderfully carved figurines above its archway. The altar is amazing in the basilica, with the Black Madonna taking center stage high up in the distance. The altar is hugged with numerous mosaics, lots of gold leaf, and a lovely dome ceiling. This place is not to be missed!

See the black Madonna

When planning a day trip to Montserrat, you won’t want to miss the Black Madonna, the beloved patron saint of Catalonia. This unique wooden statue is completely black, and one of the most famous Madonna statues in the world. It’s believed to have been created in Jerusalem in the 12th century, and over time. Although there are people who believe that Madonna’s statue originates from Africa, it has simply darkened over time.

When you visit the monastery’s basilica, you’ll find the Black Madonna enthroned above the high altar. As a special honor, around 50 choirboys from the “Escolania de Montserrat” boarding school sing church songs in her honor.

You need to count on queues here! On the other hand, this allows you to take in your surroundings and appreciate the ornate stairway leading to the statue, as well as the room and altar in which it sits. These areas are adorned with gold, paying homage to the beauty and wonder of the Virgin herself.

Enjoy the painting collection at the Museum of Montserrat

Did you know about the Museum of Montserrat in Barcelona? It’s a fantastic art museum that showcases some of the most outstanding artistic and archaeological heritage from the thousand-year-old Abbey of Montserrat. The museum has a great collection of Catalan paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, arranged by collections such as Picasso, Degas, Renoir, and Monet, to name a few. It’s a hidden gem of museums in Barcelona that you wouldn’t want to miss.

The museum contains six collections, with more than 1300 pieces exhibited, embracing a vast chronological period. Plus, temporary exhibitions are continuously presented, ensuring that there is always something new to discover for repeat visitors.

The Museum of Montserrat is open daily from 10:00 to 15:45, and with a ticket that costs only 8 euros, you’ll have access to some great pieces!

Admire the art and architecture

If you’re planning a trip to Montserrat, you might be surprised to learn about the rich artistic heritage of this region.

Just like Barcelona, Montserrat is home to several works of art by the renowned architect Gaudí. One such example is the magnificent Sculpture of St. George, located at the entrance of the monastery. This statue was crafted in 3D and modeled precisely after the original. It was created by Josep Maria Subirachs, a celebrated Catalan sculptor and painter of the late 20th century. Although it may seem like an ordinary statue at first glance, if you take your time and observe it closely, you’ll be able to appreciate the intricate 3D shape.

When is the best time to visit Montserrat?

If you want to avoid crowds, traveling in winter is a good option. However, there might be fog, which could hinder your views of the mountain. Additionally, the zipline and cable car might be closed during this time.

Generally, the period from April to June (spring) and September to November (autumn) offers pleasant weather with fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season. However, if you enjoy hiking, late spring and early autumn might be ideal since you can avoid the summer heat while still enjoying good weather.

How to get to Monserrat from Barcelona?

There are several convenient ways to get there. Whether you prefer to drive, take the train or even a cable car, Montserrat is easily accessible from many locations.

By train.

If you’re starting your journey from Barcelona, taking the train from España rail station is a great option. The station is located on the green and red metro lines, making it easy to access from anywhere in the city center. Just look for Line R5, which will take you to Manresa.

To make sure you find the right track, it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to navigate the large station. While the signage isn’t always the clearest, the journey to Montserrat is worth the effort. Tickets can be bought directly at the rail station for around 14 EUR per single journey.

Once you arrive at the foot of Montserrat mountain, you’ll have two options for reaching the Monastery: either a cable car or Cremallera Funicular. Be sure to purchase the appropriate ticket for your chosen mode of transportation. Tickets can be bought directly at the rail station for around 14 EUR per single journey.

The Aeri de Montserrat is the starting point of the Cable Car ride which is a 5-minute journey. The Cable Car provides excellent views of the beautiful scenery, but you will need to stand during the ride. On the other hand, the Rack Train or “zipper train” can be taken from Monistrol station, which is one stop after Aeri de Montserrat. The Rack Train takes around 15 minutes to reach the Monastery and offers a more comfortable ride than the Cable Car. Another advantage of taking the Rack Train is that you can sit during the journey, and it is also suitable for those with wheelchairs.

By bus.

While most people prefer to take the train, if you enjoy traveling by bus, there’s a bus service that runs from Estació Sants bus station to Montserrat Monastery that you might enjoy. The bus departs once a day from Barcelona in the morning and returns in the evening, giving you plenty of time to explore the stunning destination.

Just keep in mind that bus times may change, so it’s best to check the Julia Bus website for the latest schedule. The journey time from Barcelona to Montserrat by bus is approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes. You can catch the bus from the coach station located right next to Estació Sants train station in Barcelona.

By taxi.

Taxi is always an option, but it is usually the most expensive option. The journey by car takes around 50 minutes, and the price is typically around 200 EUR.

While you can find a taxi on the street without booking in advance, you may not know the driver or the company. Instead, it may be a better idea to use a taxi app like BCNTaxi, which only employs legal drivers and is a Spanish company. Other reliable taxi apps in Barcelona include Free Now and Cabify.

By booking a tour.

Are you one of those who hate the hassle of buying tickets or planning things? If so, I highly recommend booking a tour to Montserrat instead. These tours typically include a private van transfer, a professional guide who will provide fascinating information, and other extras based on your interests. You can easily find many affordable options on the Get Your Guide site (not sponsored), with prices at around 50 EUR (or cheaper) per person.

I recently went on a tour to Montserrat and it was an amazing experience. Our guide was a knowledgeable local who shared interesting insights and even introduced us to some local bites. We lucked out and ended up having a private tour as we were the only ones that day. The fact that someone else took care of all things, just made our day trip to Montserrat phenomenal!

Day trip to Montserrat: where to stay?

As you might expect, Montserrat is always crowded with tourists. Thus it might be a good idea to stay overnight. If you decide to do so, you can enjoy some peaceful moments with quiet meditation, prayer, or a leisurely walk.

The sunrise at Montserrat is breathtaking! You can catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea and the snow-covered Pyrenees with just a turn of your head. It’s truly a spectacular sight!

However, it’s important to know that accommodation options are limited, so you might want to plan. The Hotel Abat Cisneros is the only hotel located at Montserrat Monastery, and it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Basilica. It’s a cozy hotel with 82 rooms that can accommodate up to 153 guests. But because of its size, it can be tricky to get a room, so it’s best to book in advance.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can opt to stay in one of the apartments at Montserrat. They offer 92 rooms and are a great alternative to the hotel.

Finally, you can always find accommodation in one of the small towns surrounding Montserrat Monastery.

Where to eat at Montserrat?

There are four dining options available at the location. Two of them are sit-down, formal restaurants, namely Restaurant Montserrat and Restaurant Abat Cisneros. However, they may not always be available, and they are relatively expensive. On the other hand, La Cafeteria and the Self-Service Restaurant are more affordable, canteen-style options. La Cafeteria is an open-plan eatery that serves hot and cold fast food dishes, sandwiches, pastries, and drinks. It’s located opposite the monastery entrance.

If you are looking to organize your picnic, a small supermarket and some market stalls are selling local produce.

Extra tip: You may come across a small market where locals offer fresh, local products like dairy products, honey, teas, etc. It is worth trying the mato – fresh cheese that resembles quark and has no taste by itself, but in combination with honey, it is an extraordinary discovery!

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