Montserrat Guide: Everything you can do and see in Montserrat


An oasis of nature near Barcelona

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Montserrat are probably the most unique mountains in Catalunya. Its peculiar shape, make their silhouette unmistakable from a distance.

With an altitude of 720 metres above sea level, in Montserrat one can find a little monastic complex formed by the Monastery of the Lady of Montserrat and the Basilica of Montserrat.

Popular among pilgrims, tourists, hikers and climbers, Montserrat offers a very wide range of trails to access it on foot, and multiple climbing areas.

How to get to Montserrat

By car
Montserrat is 50 km north west of Barcelona. If you hired a car, it’s a short drive, the journey will take you around 1h. You can drive all the way up to Montserrat and park your car for free during the first 2 hours. After that they charge you around 5€/hour. You can also park at the feet of the mountain, either at the Yellow Cable Car free parking or at the Rack Railway free parking and use one of these transports to get to the top.

By train
You can also get to Montserrat by public transport. You need to take a train in Plaça Espanya train station, line R5 (light blue). There are trains every hour starting at 5:16am and the journey takes around 1h 10 minutes. The train has stop at the Yellow Cable Car station (Aeri de Montserrat) and at the Rack Railway station in Monistrol de Montserrat.

By bus
A cheap and comfortable way to get to Montserrat is by bus. The bus company Autocares Julià offers a bus service which leaves Barcelona at 9:15am and pick you up in Montserrat between 17:00h and 18:00h depending on the season. The price is around 5€ one way.

On foot
It’s also very common for pilgrims and for those who wish to practice sport, to go on foot to Montserrat. Later in this post I’m suggesting a few trekkings that I’ve made in Montserrat.

Aeri de Montserrat (Yellow Cable Car)

The Yellow Cable Car is the oldest but fastest way to reach Montserrat. Working since 1930, it covers a distance of 1.350m, and an incline up to 45% within 5 minutes. The views during the short journey are breathtaking, either on a clear day or on a foggy one. You can get here either by train or by car, where you can park for free.

Cremallera de Montserrat (Green rack railway)

I’d say Montserrat Rack Railway is the most expensive option to get to Montserrat but it’s a nice way to reach the top and enjoy the views on the journey. There are zippers every 20 minutes and the journey takes 15 minutes. You can get here either by train or by car, where you can park for free.

The Monastery

Founded in the 11th century and later rebuilt between the 19th and the 20th centuries, the monastery is still active nowadays with a community of over 80 monks that live, pray and provide shelter.

The Basilica

The Basilica of Montserrat dates back from the 16th century. It has a beautiful front facade dating back from the 1901 in a Plateresque Revival style.

House of the Virgin of Montserrat, people wait in line to worship her. A little carved sculpture known as “La Moreneta” (The Little Brunette or The Dark One), due to her brown skin colour, sits at the rear of the chapel in a golden altar.

If you don’t want to wait in line to see “La Moreneta” up close, you can just go inside the chapel and see it from a distance. From Monday to Saturday there’s a daily mass at 11:00h and at 13:00h the Montserrat Boys’ Choir, one of the oldest boys choir in Europe, performs the popular song “Virolai”. On Sundays and holidays there’s still the mass at 11:00h but the choir performs at 12:00h.

Where to eat in Montserrat

Montserrat is quite a small monastic complex, therefore the gastronomic offer is quite limited. However, you have three different choices when it comes to eat:

  • Restaurant Hotel Abat Cisneros
  • Montserrat Restaurant
  • Montserrat self-service

Where to sleep in Montserrat

Montserrat is quite a small monastic complex, therefore the lodging offer is quite limited. However, you have the choice between a 3 star hotel and full-equipped apartments:

  • Hotel Abat Cisneros (3 star): housed in a historic building.
  • Cel·les Abat Mercet: fully-equipped apartments.

Map of Montserrat

Map of Montserrat.pdf (in Catalan).

Trekkings in Montserrat

Montserrat, commonly known as “the magic mountain” hides multiple paths and trails. Some of them lead to the monastery but there are others in which the main goal is not to reach the Montserrat but to enjoy other views, the mountain needles and the nature.

Monistrol - Montserrat (via Drecera dels Tres Quarts)

Distance: 3.5km
Total incline: 550m
Time: 1h 45’ according signs / 50’ my time

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One trek I really like for training is Monistrol to Montserrat via “La Drecera del Tres Quarts”. It’s just 3.8 km with an incline of 524 metres but steep from start to end. The signs mark that it takes 1h and 45’ to complete the climb but with good training we do it in 50 minutes.

Get to Monistrol by car or train. Pass by the town and a few more metres on the left you’ll find a parking area.

In the car park you’ll find a couple of picnic tables and here is where the trail begins:

Very very soon after the picnic tables, you’ll find a fork, go left. You’ll find a quite steep terrain for just 5 minutes until you reach a flat and wide forest track.

This forest track is called “Camí de les Aigües” and it also goes all the way up to Montserrat, but we’re not going to continue on this track all the way.

Keep walking on the forest track for now. You will find another fork with a narrower trail going up on the right side, but you don’t have to take it, keep walking on the forest track until you find the first signs and another trail going up to the right:

This time do take the trail that goes up on the right. It will be rocky and steep for a few minutes.

By the half of the hike there is a forest area, it’s my favourite part. On a sunny day this area will provide you with a nice and recovering shade.

There’s a point on your trek where you’ll find a pipeline on your way. This means the worst part is coming! Keep walking until you find another fork. Here your trail merges with another trail coming also from Monistrol. You need to follow the pipelines all the way up.

Soon and during long 10 minutes (depending on your pace), you will find some high and irregular steps.

Once the steps are finally finished, the trail goes down a little bit to help you recover. When the trail comes to an end, you will find a fork: the left path goes to Santa Cova (20 minutes to get there) and if you continue straight on the paved steps, you’ll reach Montserrat within 5-10 minutes.

Collbató - Montserrat - Collbató

Distance: 15km
Total incline: 1700m
Time: 3h 15’ my time

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Get to Collbató by car and park at the town centre. It is also a 50 km drive, give or take, from the centre of Barcelona.

There is a beautiful view from the back of Montserrat mountains from Collbató. Next to the church you will already find signs that will lead the way.

This is a longer trail than the one explained before, but less demanding. There are 15 km to get to Montserrat and the way back to Collbató, on a not so steep terrain. The views are quite beautiful from this trail.

The Needles Circular trail

Distance: 8km
Total incline: 600m
Time: 1h 40’ my time

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Get to Coll de la Maçana Information Point by car. It is a 55 km drive, give or take, from the centre of Barcelona. Once you get there, you have to pay 3€ to park your car or you can park it on the side of the road, for free, just outside the parking lot.

The trail starts from the parking lot and it’s a circular trekking that can be done either way, clockwise or counterclockwise.

You’ll get a close look to the peculiar needles and shapes of Montserrat mountains and will also have spectacular views.

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About me


Txell

Hi! I’m Txell, a part time traveller and full time foodie who wants to share my experiences with you, through travel guides and restaurant reviews.