In this guide you will learn about everything you can do and see in Montserrat. Montserrat is one of the most unique mountains in Catalunya, and its peculiar shape makes its silhouette unmistakable from a distance.
It is a very popular destination among pilgrims, tourists, hikers, cyclists and climbers, since “the magic mountain” offers a very wide range of activities for all kinds of people. 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, a not very well known museum, dozens of trekking routes and much more.
How to get to Montserrat
Montserrat is located 50 km north west of Barcelona. If you hire 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.
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.
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.
It’s also very common for pilgrims and for those who wish to practice sport, to go on foot to Montserrat. The mountain is filled with trails, later in this post I’m suggesting a few trekkings that I’ve taken.
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.
- Working hours:
- high season from 9:40h-19:00h.
- low season from 10:10h-17:45h (weekdays) and from 9:40h-18:15h (weekends and holidays).
- Ticket price:
- Adults: 7,50€ (one way), 11,50€ (round trip).
- Children: 4€ (one way), 6€ (round trip).
Cremallera de Montserrat (Green rack railway)
Montserrat Rack Railway is perhaps the most expensive way to get to the mountain, but at the same time it’s a nice way to reach the top and enjoy the views along 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.
- Working hours:
- high season from 8:35h-19:15h.
- Ticket price:
- Adults: 6,90€ (one way) | 11,50€ (round trip).
- Children (4-13 years): 3,80€ (one way) | 6,30€ (round trip).
- Retirees and Carnet Jove: 6,20€ (one way) | 10,30€ (round trip).
- Combined ticket: 33,45€ (incluye billete sencillo de metro en Barcelona + ida y vuelta en tren a Monistrol desde Barcelona + ida y vuelta en Cremallera + ida y vuelta Funicular Sant Joan y Santa Cova).
For more information on working hours and ticket options, please visit the official website.
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 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 Black Madonna), 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.
Museum of Montserrat
The Museum of Montserrat is one of the most important museums in Catalunya, yet one of the less known, overlooked by many pilgrims that focus on visiting “The Black Madonna”. The museum is officially working since 1963 and was initially showing arqueological material (acquired by one the community monks on his travels) and painting of Renaissance and Baroque which were inside the Monastery.
Later on and thanks mostly to donations, the museum has been growing and acquiring more renowned works. Today the museum houses five different collections and some 1,600 pieces. It has a young but growing collection of avant-garde and contemporary art, where you will be surprised to see works by Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Le Corbusier, Claude Monet or Santiago Rusiñol.
- Working hours: opens all year around from 10:00h to 17:45h.
- Ticket price:
- Adults: 8€.
- Students and retired: 6,50€.
- Children (8-16 years): 4€.
- Audio guide: 2,20€.
- Free on the 27th of April, holiday of the Lady of Montserrat.
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 Abat Cisneros: the restaurant of the hotel by the same name.
- Bufet de Montserrat: with a self-service buffet.
- La Cafetería: with a self-service buffet.
- Picnic: a good and economic option is to bring your own food and have a picnic with views.
Where to sleep in Montserrat
Montserrat is quite a small monastic complex, therefore the lodging offer is quite limited. However, you have the choice among 3 options:
- Hotel Abat Cisneros Montserrat (3*): housed in a historic building.
- Apartamentos Montserrat Abat Mercet: fully-equipped apartments.
- Alberg Abat Oliba: hostel.
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 Montserrat but to enjoy other views, the mountain needles and the nature.
Monistrol – Montserrat (via Drecera dels Tres Quarts)
Total incline: 550m
Time: 1h 45’ according signs / 50’ my time
Powered by Wikiloc
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
Total incline: 1700m
Time: 3h 15’ my time
Powered by Wikiloc
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
Total incline: 600m
Time: 1h 40’ my time
Powered by Wikiloc
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.