Welcome to Montserrat, the most important mountain range in Catalonia which has been a popular pilgrimage site for centuries. But don’t worry! This beautiful area offers unforgettable experiences for everyone. Pilgrims, nature lovers, hikers, climbers, art and food lovers… They all come to Montserrat to look for what they need, whether it’s a spiritual moment, tranquility, a good climbing route, striking views, mesmerizing music, or tasty food. Why will you visit? That’s totally up to you! In this post, we’ll do our best to show you great options for things to do during your day trip to Montserrat, Spain near Barcelona. Ready? Let’s go!
Interesting fact. In Catalan, Montserrat translates to “Saw Mountain”. Just look at the peaks that resemble the jagged teeth of a saw! Isn’t it a very accurate description? Also, if you want to train your imagination and find what creatures the nearest peaks resemble most, just look around. We found a cat, a monkey, a mummy, and an elephant!
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One day trip to Montserrat, Spain FAQ
Montserrat is a mountain range in Catalonia, near Barcelona. The highest summit has 1236m a.s.l and is called Sant Jeroni. The area is known for being the site of the Santa Maria de Montserrat abbey, which hosts the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat.
Montserrat is located in Catalonia in the Province of Barcelona on Costa Dorada in Spain. It lies in the heart of Catalonia which makes it a great day trip from places like Barcelona, Tarragona, or Girona.
Montserrat is most famous for being home to a Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which is a popular pilgrimage site for people from all over the world. This is because within its walls it hosts the ancient wooden statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, La Moreneta. And it all takes place in beautiful scenery high in the mountains, with spectacular views at every step.
Montserrat Monastery is definitely a place worth visiting, no matter if you’re a religious person or not. Even if you’re not up for visiting the basilica or museums, just come for pleasant walks among beautiful scenery, fresh mountain air, and for peaceful moments far away from the bustling cities.
Montserrat Monastery is a perfect destination for a one-day trip. If you start exploring in the morning hours you’ll be able to see everything you want and you’ll still have some time left.
There are a few ticket options available for visiting the Montserrat Monastery. The most basic and popular one, which includes visiting the Basilica and a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, costs €8 (November 2023). You can buy tickets online in advance at tickets.montserratvisita.com website.
Yes, it is possible to stay in Montserrat overnight. There are two places you can choose from – Hotel Abat Cisneros or Alberg Abat Oliba.
Getting to the top… Aeri de Montserrat Cable Car & Rack Railway
Before your day trip to Montserrat begins, you need to choose how you wish to get to the top. Believe us, with a large number of visitors it’s good to know how to skip long queues! Ok, so after arriving at Monistrol de Montserrat town, which lies at the foot of the mountain, you can choose between the Aeri de Montserrat cable car and the Rack Railway. If you travel by car, your third option is to drive all the way to the top but it’s not as spectacular as the other two.
Aeri de Montserrat
Aeri de Montserrat is a cable car that offers just a 5-minute ride over the valley, up to the top. At the lower station, there are plenty of free parking spots available. If you plan to arrive by train, get off at the stop ‘Aeri de Montserrat’. You can buy tickets online in advance on aeridemontserrat.com website (recommended!). Round trip general ticket costs €13 and €10.5 reduced. One-way general ticket costs €8.6 and €7.5 reduced (November 2023).
Rack Railway (es. Cremallera de Montserrat) is a train that will take you on a 15-minute journey on the slopes of Montserrat Hill. At the lower station, there are plenty of free parking spots available. If you plan to arrive by train, get off at the stop ‘Monistrol de Montserrat’. You can buy tickets online in advance on turistren.cat website. Round trip general ticket costs €13.5 and €6.75 reduced. One-way general ticket costs €8.1 and €4.05 reduced (November 2023).
For our visit, we chose a round trip by Aeri de Montserrat, but we didn’t find it too spectacular or exciting. Now, with the knowledge we have, we’d choose to go up by Rack Railway and go down by the cable car to get to experience both.
Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery & La Moreneta
Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery
Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey (es. Abadia de Montserrat) was founded in the early 11th century and it quickly became a popular Christian pilgrimage destination thanks to reports of miracles performed by the Virgin of Montserrat. Unfortunately, most of the monastery was destroyed during the Napoleonic wars and the building that we can see today was built between the 19th and 20th centuries. Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey operates to this day and is home to around 80 Benedictine Monks.
Interesting fact. Montserrat was linked to the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian legend (many believed that Mont-Salvat was Montserrat). This motivated many to seek this precious treasure, including Nazis. Heinrich Himmler, on command of Adolf Hitler, came to Montserrat in 1940 to find the Holy Grail. Why? Well… They tried to get the Force emanating from the Grail to become invincible. Thankfully, they weren’t able to find it!
But it’s not the abbey itself the reason why thousands of pilgrims visit Montserrat. Seeing, touching, and feeling the miracle-working powers of the wooden statue of the Virgin of Montserrat is. It dates back to the 12th century and thanks to its appearance (dark skin tone) it also goes by different names like La Moreneta (meaning The Dark One), Black Virgin, or Black Madonna. She is one of two Patron Saints of Catalonia, together with Sant Jordi (Saint George).
To visit La Moreneta you need to enter the Basilica of Montserrat. Remember that the earlier you arrive, the fewer chances of standing in a long queue. Many believe if you touch or kiss (better not!) the orb she’s holding in right hand and then make a wish, your wish will come true.
Escolania – Montserrat Boys’ Choir
One more thing you can do in the Basilica of Montserrat is to listen to a performance of Escolania, one of Europe’s oldest boys’ choirs, dating back to the 14th century. It consists of more than 50 boys, from 9-14 years old. The choir performs from Monday to Friday from 1-1.30 PM.
Abbey of Montserrat Tickets
Many claim that a day trip to Montserrat isn’t complete without seeing La Moreneta. Unfortunately as of May 2023, everyone except Catalan residents must pay to see the Basilica and experience the Black Madonna miracle. Is the price worth it? That we’ll leave up to you.
As for the tickets, there are a few variations to choose from. You can for example choose to visit Basilica + Throne of Our Lady, only Basilica, Throne of Our Lady + the Boys’ Choir, or only Boys’ Choir. There are even pack tickets including round trip by cable car or a train.
The most basic and popular one, which includes visiting the Basilica and a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, costs €8 (November 2023). To learn more about the tickets, prices, and opening hours please visit tickets.montserratvisita.com website. There you’ll also be able to book tickets in advance.
Montserrat funiculars – Sant Joan & Santa Cova
There are two funiculars running in Montserrat, Funicular de Sant Joan and Funicular de Santa Cova. Both are great options if you want to save some time or energy for moving in the area.
Sant Joan funicular
Sant Joan will take you higher up to the mountains, to the observation deck from which you’ll be able to admire panoramic views or start a hike to Sant Jeroni summit.
Santa Cova funicular
Santa Cova on the other hand goes downhill, to the point from which you can start your walk towards Santa Cova de Montserrat, where according to the legends the Virgin of Montserrat was discovered.
You can buy a ticket (one way or return) for each funicular in the ticket office or online on the vol.cremallerademontserrat.cat website.
Hiking in Montserrat
Hike to Saint Michael Cross
If you’re looking for the best views over the abbey and the surrounding areas be sure to direct your steps to Saint Michael Cross viewpoint (es. Creu de Sant Miquel). It’s also a great place to escape busy and crowded monastery grounds and spend some time quietly. We also found it as a picturesque spot for a short lunch break.
To get to Saint Michael Cross, from monastery grounds direct your steps to the lower station of the Sant Joan funicular and then just follow the signs. The walk takes only around 20 minutes each way and is fairly easy, suitable for most people. Believe us, you don’t want to miss the hike to Saint Michael Cross during your day trip to Montserrat. The views are absolutely fantastic!
Also, just a few steps from Saint Michael Cross, you’ll find a small, 19th century Hermitage of Saint Michael (es. Ermita de Sant Miquel).
Hike to Santa Cova
Santa Cova is a small chapel built between the 17th and 18th centuries. According to the legend, this is the place where the image of the Virgin of Montserrat was found for the first time.
To get to Santa Cova you need to take a paved path downhill that starts near the Aeri de Montserrat cable car. After descending it, there is only a fairly even path left that you need to continue until you reach the chapel of the Santa Cova. Along the way, you can admire sculptures and altars created by local artists like Antoni Gaudi, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, or Josep Llimona.
The hike takes around 30 minutes each way and can be quite exhausting, especially climbing back up to the abbey grounds. But don’t worry if you’re not up for the climb (down, up, or both) – you can help yourself using the already mentioned Santa Cova funicular.
Hike to Sant Jeroni summit
This hike will take you to the top of the highest mountain of the Montserrat range, to Sant Jeroni at 1237m a.s.l. To start a hike you can take a Sant Joan funicular which will take you higher in the mountains, to Pla de les Tarantulas. But if you’re not in a hurry, you can also hike there, which should take around 1h from the monastery grounds. Whichever option you choose, after leaving the upper station you need to follow the signs towards Sant Jeroni summit. The hike should take you around 2.5-3 hours, there and back.
We haven’t done this hike, but we’ve heard that the panoramic views from the trail and the top are incredible. So don’t miss this one if you have more time, or hiking is your main reason to visit.
Other things to do in Montserrat, Spain
Apostols viewpoint & Stairway to Heaven sculpture
If you wish to get another great view over the Montserrat monastery, head to Apostol’s viewpoint (es. Mirador dels Apòstols). To get there you need to continue straight through the market, and pass a bridge and restaurant. Then, right before the parking lot you’ll find it. We recommend going down from the main viewing platform, first to admire the Stairway to Heaven sculpture, and then for a great view of the surroundings from an even lower platform.
Museum of Montserrat
Right across the Basilica, you’ll find the Museum of Montserrat (es. Museu de Montserrat). It’s home to a large collection of art and artifacts, including works by renowned artists like El Greco, Picasso, Monet, Dali and Caravaggio, as well as sculptures, archaeological finds, and liturgical items. Exhibits also provide a deep insight into the rich history and religious significance of Montserrat. Great thing to do during one day in Montserrat for art lovers!
Entrance to the Museum of Montserrat costs €8 for a general ticket, and €6.5 for a reduced one (November 2023). For current prices, opening hours, and online tickets visit museudemontserrat.com website.
Montserrat daily local market
Every food lover should head to Montserrat’s local market to taste some delicious local and Catalan products. We think that out of all of them, a dessert called Mel i Mato (fresh goat cheese drizzled with honey and nuts) just cannot be missed. It’s sooo good, like heaven on earth! The market is located behind the monastery, on the way to the parking lot and Apostol’s viewpoint.
Rock-climbing at Montserrat
If you’re a rock-climbing enthusiast, you might also visit the area only to climb one of its mighty peaks. Montserrat offers some of the best multi-pitch sports climbing in Spain and provides a fantastic playground for rock climbers. Many of the routes are between 200m and 300m long, and characterized by hanging belays. In total, there are more than 1000 routes in the area! For more information about climbing in Montserrat please visit thecrag.com website.
How to get to Montserrat, Spain?
Where to park in Montserrat?
It all depends on how you wish to get to the top, but whenever you choose Aeri de Montserrat cable car or a Rack Railway you’ll find free parking lots at their lower stations. Your other option is to drive up to the top, but it’s not a recommended option due to the preservation of the environment of Montserrat.
Airports near Montserrat
The closest airport to Montserrat is located in Barcelona (60km away). The next ones are located in Reus (115km) and Girona (120km away). All airports offer train or train+bus connections to Monistrol de Montserrat, a town located at Montserrat’s foot. From it, you need to take a cable car or a train to the top. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Montserrat by train
From many places like Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona, or Sitges you can easily get to Montserrat (Monistrol de Montserrat station) by train. You can check out a map of available train connections on the acprail.com or rome2rio.com website.
To Montserrat by bus
Unfortunately, you can’t get directly to Montserrat by bus, nor to Monistrol de Montserrat. From public transport, the train is your only option.
To Montserrat by taxi
The most expensive option, but also the fastest one if you care about time. For example, a trip from Barcelona will take only about 50min (€85-110) and 1h from Sitges (€120-150). To learn more about taxi connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
If you’re traveling by camper, Camping Montserrat might come in handy to you. It’s located only 25km from Montserrat.
Montserrat guided tours from Barcelona
You can also choose to visit Montserrat with a guided tour from Barcelona. The choice is very wide and varies by price and trip length. To choose the best guided tour for your needs please visit Viator or Get Your Guide website.
One day trip to Montserrat, Spain near Barcelona – Summing up
As you can see now, a day trip to Montserrat might mean different things to different people. When most visit to experience some kind of miracle, others might visit to admire stunning views during one of many hikes or rock climbing. Whether you are a religious person or not, a day trip to Montserrat in Spain is worth the effort. Hope you’ll have a great time there and all your trip needs will be met there.
Our opinion about Montserrat, Spain
For us, a visit to Montserrat was a one-day trip from Salou near Tarragona where we lived for a few weeks. We visited it in early May. We arrived first thing in the morning, at the first possible cable car trip. At first, the place was very quiet and empty, but it wasn’t long before the huge crowds showed up.
For us, a trip wasn’t at all about visiting Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery and touching La Moreneta. Sure, we wanted to see what all the fuss with a statue is all about but in the end we didn’t as they started to charge money literally 7 days earlier (and we never pay for visiting churches as they aren’t really that interesting for us). Our main goal was to spend some time in the mountains, admire nice views, and walk on trails.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit and we got what we wanted from it. We loved walking along Montserrat trails and enjoying the views. Most people focus on the monastery, so the trails are very peaceful. What we’d change is the way of getting to Montserrat – now we’d choose a mixed way (up by train, down by cable car) instead of the round cable car.
As for the monastery grounds itself, we didn’t find it impressive. Until today we think that it looks… more like a prison than a popular pilgrimage destination, especially from afar (sorry!). Oh, and we really liked the local market – delicious Mel i Mato will stay in our memories for a long time. Yum!
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Montserrat?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Montserrat:
Where to sleep in Montserrat?
Hotel Abat Cisneros Montserrat
Hotel Abat Cisneros Montserrat offers a unique and spiritual retreat nestled in the stunning Montserrat mountain range. This historic hotel provides comfortable rooms with picturesque views of the surrounding landscape, creating a serene atmosphere for guests. Its proximity to the Montserrat Monastery and natural beauty makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful and culturally rich experience.
Alberg Abat Oliba
Alberg Abat Oliba is a charming accommodation situated in the awe-inspiring Montserrat mountain range, offering guests a tranquil retreat with breathtaking views. The hostel provides comfortable and affordable lodging, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers and pilgrims exploring the region.
Barceló Apartaments in Monistrol offers a delightful stay with its well-appointed and modern accommodations. Nestled in the picturesque surroundings of Montserrat, guests can enjoy both comfort and scenic beauty. The apartments provide a convenient and stylish base for those exploring the cultural and natural wonders of the region, making it an ideal choice for a memorable stay.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com