To the northwest from Barcelona, shortly after leaving the city behind, the Montserrat massif comes into view. Hidden among the gigantic rocks and their abrupt relief is one of the most important places of worship in the region, the Monastery of Montserrat.
1. The best excursions
Taking a trip to Montserrat from Barcelona is a perfect way to leave the tourist hustle and bustle of the city and I assure you that the monastery has a setting worth visiting.
- Transfer to Montserrat with optional guided tour - From $ 39
- Half day excursion to Montserrat from Barcelona - From $ 52
- Excursion to the monastery of Montserrat with rack railway ascension - From $ 0
- Montserrat hiking tour and visit to the monastery in small group - From $ 59
- Barcelona and Montjuïc tour with excursion to Montserrat - From $ 119
- Private excursion to Montserrat with rack railway and lunch - From $ 159
2. Transfer to Montserrat
In case you like to organize an excursion by yourself and explore on your own, you can choose this transfer to Montserrat from Barcelona, which will leave early in the morning and pick you up approximately five hours later.
This is the most basic option to visit Montserrat, but if you want you can add an entrance to the museum or join a small group tour. Either way, it's a good option for visiting Montserrat without having to worry about organizing transportation, which can be difficult without a rental car if you're visiting Barcelona on vacation.
Duration: 5 hours
Recommended: If you prefer to organize the excursion to Montserrat on your own and do not want to be part of a group tour.
3. Half-day excursion to Montserrat with rack railway ascent
For a more complete visit to Montserrat, I recommend you to do the guided excursion to Montserrat from Barcelona. In this experience, you go by air-conditioned bus to the foot of the mountain, where you take the rack railway to the top of the mountain, with spectacular views along the way. Upon arrival, your specialized guide tells you the history of Montserrat and you see how erosion has created the unique rock formations of the site while enjoying the views of Barcelona from the top.
Afterward, you are taken to discover the Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat, next to the monastery, where the famous Moreneta, a wooden carving of the Virgin of Montserrat, is located. You will be able to explore the area at your leisure and you will be offered liquors of the region to taste.
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes.
Recommended: If you want to enjoy the full Montserrat experience with a guide who will tell you the history of everything you see on the excursion.
Option without rack railway
In case you prefer to go directly to Montserrat by bus from Barcelona, you can choose this excursion that does not take the rack railway. The price is the same, and the duration is similar, so it depends entirely on your preference. My recommendation is to take the excursion with the rack railway ascent because the views are amazing and you can take pictures while you go up, but you know: to each, his own.
4. Hiking excursion to Montserrat and visit to the monastery in small group
This experience is more focused on walking a part of the Montserrat Natural Park, which extends beyond the monastery and the mountain. You start the day visiting the Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat to see the Moreneta, and then you go up in the funicular of San Juan to the route where the hiking begins in the company of an expert guide while you discover the fauna and flora of the area.
I recommend you do this Montserrat excursion if you are interested in a combination of sightseeing and hiking. Although the route will be quite soft if you are an experienced hiker, it is a good way to explore Montserrat away from the more touristy area.
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes.
Recommended: If you can't resist a walk in the mountains or you want to do an excursion to Montserrat in a small group.
5. Tour of Barcelona and Montjuïc with an excursion to Montserrat
This comprehensive excursion to Montserrat with a tour of Barcelona and Montjuïc has all included: a tour of Barcelona's main points of interest, a cable car excursion to Montjuïc, Barcelona's mountain, and a complete excursion to Montserrat with a visit to the Moreneta.
The great advantage of this experience is that you will see almost everything that Barcelona and its surroundings have to offer in a single day, for a price that will definitely be worth it if you were planning to do each visit separately. These types of tours are usually ideal for when you have just arrived in the city as they give you a complete overview of everything you can visit, and you can explore on your own the places you liked the most at another time during your trip.
Duration: 10 hours 45 minutes.
Recommended: If you will be in Barcelona for a short time or you were planning to do each tour included in the experience separately.
6. Private excursion to Montserrat with rack railway ride and lunch
Finally, you have the option of taking a private excursion to Montserrat in which you and your group will visit the mountain in the company of a professional guide. The advantage of this excursion compared to the group option is that you can customize it to your liking, being able to enjoy each stop at your own pace.
The itinerary includes a visit to the monastery and the church of Santa Maria de Montserrat, a visit to the Moreneta, and a hiking route to the viewpoint of the Cross of Sant Miquel. It includes tickets for the rack railway, a sandwich, and a bottle of water per person, and I would say that this excursion is very worthwhile if your group is somewhat large, around 10 or 15 people, as you will have the personalized attention of a guide.
Duration: 6 hours
Recommended: If you are visiting Barcelona with a large group or if you don't like to do excursions with other tourists.
Alex's Traveller Tip
Try to visit the Monastery of Montserrat during the week and after 12:30 pm, as you will be able to see the Moreneta and the choir of the Escolania live.
7. What to see in Montserrat in one day
Take note of all there is to see in Montserrat, because of its historical and religious importance it is more than just a mountain and worth exploring in depth.
The Benedictine Abbey located at the top of Montserrat was built in the 11th century using an old hermitage as a base. Dedicated to the Cult of the Virgin of Montserrat since its earliest days, following the legend of her apparition in the Holy Cave located on the same mountain, the Monastery of Montserrat is today one of the few churches in Spain where the choir, one of the oldest children's choirs in Europe, performs.
If you are lucky, during your visit you will be able to hear the chorus during the singing and attend a show that gives a unique aura to the monastery and the mountain.
Museum of Montserrat
This is the museum of the Monastery of Montserrat, which houses works of art by Caravaggio, El Greco, Brueghel the Elder, and Pedro Berruguete, as well as a collection of art from the 19th and 20th centuries with paintings by Dalí, Picasso, Olga Sacharoff, Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, and Fortuny.
Taking advantage of your visit to Montserrat, if you are passionate about art I recommend that you do not miss the museum as its collection is quite interesting and will undoubtedly enrich your trip.
The Virgin of Montserrat is popularly known as La Moreneta, and is a carving made in the 12th century in dark-colored wood (hence its name). According to legend, the Virgin appeared to some shepherds in the year 880 and as a result, the cult of the Virgin of Montserrat began in the hermitage before the construction of the monastery.
Cross of Sant Miquel
The Cross of Sant Miquel is located in a viewpoint at the end of a path that starts near the Monastery of Montserrat. From there, there are very nice views of the Pyrenees, the Llobregat delta and in my opinion, the most impressive thing is to see all the religious buildings of Montserrat in its surroundings.
8. Plan your visit to Montserrat
Here are some tips to make the most of your trip to Montserrat:
One day or several days?
It is possible to visit everything worth seeing in Montserrat in one day, in fact, most excursions to the mountain last half a day, around 4 or 5 hours. If you don't do any hiking and only visit the Monastery, I would even say that 2 or 3 hours is enough.
Montserrat rack railway train
All excursions to Montserrat include tickets for the rack railway train that goes up to the top of Montserrat (unless specifically indicated that they are not included). The train takes 15 minutes to travel up the mountainside and as you know the views along the way are spectacular, making the experience highly recommended.
The timetable of the rack railway varies according to the time of the year. The first trains leave around 8:30 am, and the last trains down are between 6:15 pm and 8:45 pm. If you are visiting Montserrat on your own, check the timetables on the official website to make sure.
Timetables of La Moreneta
The Monastery of Montserrat is open every day from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm, and you can visit La Moreneta from 8:00 am to 10:30 am and from 12:00 pm to 6:15 pm. Keep this in mind to get organized and visit the Monastery early in the morning or from noon onwards.
9. Best day of the week to visit Montserrat
Montserrat Monastery is open every day of the week, so the only thing that might make you want to visit the mountain one day and not another is the fact that the children of the School of Montserrat sing Monday through Friday at 1:00 pm. Also, from Monday to Thursday they sing the Salve Montserratina at 6:45 pm.
For this reason, and to avoid crowds on weekends, I recommend that you go up to Montserrat from Monday to Friday.
10. Best time of the year to visit Montserrat
From January to December, Montserrat's weather is pleasant and it rains the least. It is usually about 46 or 48 degrees in Montserrat, and if you are lucky to climb on a sunny day you will have spectacular views and a very pleasant temperate climate, between the coolness of the mountain and the warmth of the sun.
11. Where to eat in Montserrat
None of the excursions to Montserrat usually include food (if anything, a sandwich), so if you want to eat at Montserrat your options are to carry food in your backpack or book at one of the two restaurants near the monastery. Both the Abat Cisneros Restaurant and the Montserrat Restaurant have spectacular views from the top of the mountain, and the food, especially at the Hostal Abat Cisneros is amazing, although the menus are not exactly cheap (around $ 35 per person).
In any case, keep in mind that most excursions end before lunchtime, so you can be back in Barcelona by lunchtime.
12. What should I take with me on the excursion to Montserrat?
I would tell you that the only thing you really need is sun cream, as there are few shady spots at the top of the mountain and you'll be grateful not to burn your face for the rest of your trip to Barcelona. I would also take a camera (especially if you are going to visit the Cruz de Sant Miquel viewpoint) and comfortable shoes for walking in the mountains.
13. Other excursions that may interest you
If you are thinking of doing an excursion from Barcelona, besides this excursion to Montserrat there are several other places worth visiting from Barcelona. Here you have a guide about Day Trips and Excursions from Barcelona, where you can spend a day out of the city and discover other places in Catalonia.
I also recommend you to find out about the excursion to the Dali Museum from Barcelona, as Figueras is one of the places that are really worth visiting since it is so close. Especially if you are visiting the city with children or if you are passionate about the art of the Catalan genius, this experience will be something you will remember. Here's everything you should know: Figueres and Salvador Dalí Museum Day Trips from Barcelona.
Frequently asked questions
What's so important about Montserrat?
Montserrat's importance stems from a number of things for many Catalonians. In terms of religion, the mountainous area's Abbey and Basilica are impressive sights, while the Holy Grotto is reported to have had visitations from the Virgin Mary. Geographically the area is notable for its unusual rock formations, and features stunning views of Catalonia.
How far away from Barcelona is Montserrat?
Montserrat lies roughly 55 km (35 mi) north-west of Barcelona, and takes roughly 1 hr 10 mins drive from Barcelona.
What is there to see at Montserrat?
Aside from Santa Cova (Holy Grotto), the chapel famed for its connection with the Virgin Mary, there is also the Rack Railway, the funicular cable cars, the Virgin of Montserrat (found at the Basilica) and the Montserrat Boy Choir Performances. The area itself is also great for hiking, for some truly breathtaking views.