With 5 full days in Barcelona, we decided to do a day trip and head out of the city into the countryside. The mountains of Montserrat are not only a sacred place for Spanish locals, but for thousands of people making their pilgrimage here each year. The Montserrat Monastery is the most popular reason to visit, with people vying for their chance to be in the presence of the Black Madonna.
A Bit of History
Montserrat is considered to be one of the most sacred places in the world because of the famous Black Madonna that resides in the Montserrat Monastery. According to Catholic tradition, The Black Madonna was carved in Jerusalem by St. Luke around 50 AD. It was brought to Spain and later hidden in a cave to protect it from Moorish invaders. The Black Madonna was discovered many years later in 880 AD by shepherd’s children who spotted a bright light coming from the cave where the Madonna was hidden. Today it is one of the most famous Black Madonna statues in the world, and is said to bring miracles and healing to those who visit her.
Things To Do in Montserrat
Visiting the Montserrat Monastery is what most people come here to do. This Benedictine Abbey houses the Black Madonna, and wait times to view her can get pretty long. We arrived early in the morning and walked right in but by 11am, the line was out the door.
If you want to avoid the line, visiting later in the afternoon is also a good time as most tours busses arrive in the morning and leave after lunch. Photos of the Black Madonna are not allowed but I saw just about everyone ignoring that rule.
Listen to the Choir Boys Sing
The Escolania de Montserrat (boy’s choir) is one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1223. They sing at 1pm each day from the Basilica and the performance is free to watch.
Ride the Funiculars
There are two funiculars on the top of Montserrat, Santa Cova and Sant Joan.
Funicular Santa Cova will take you down the mountain a little ways to Santa Cova cave, the religious site where the Black Madonna was found in 880AD. There is a chapel here which houses the original grotto.
|ADULT||€3.25 one way||€5 round trip|
|CHILDREN (ages 4-13)||€1.80 one way||€2.75 roundtrip|
|SENIOR||€ 2.90 one way||€ 4.50 round trip|
The Sant Joan Funicular looks terrifying. With a maximum grade of 65%, it goes straight up the mountain and offers a birdseye view of Montserrat Monastery as well as the surrounding landscapes. I wanted to do this one so bad because I love a great view, but we ran out of time.
|ADULT||€8.10 one way||€12.50 round trip|
|CHILDREN (ages 4-13)||€4.45 one way||€6.85 roundtrip|
|SENIOR||€ 7.30 one way||€ 11.25 round trip|
You can purchase a €16 ticket which grants roundtrip access to both funiculars. Or if you have the TOT Montserrat ticket, the funiculars are free (information about the TOT tickets below).
Take in the Views
The views from Montserrat are breathtaking and on a clear day you can even see the Mediterranean Sea. The views from the mountain alone are worth the day trip. With a different vantage point everywhere you turn, it makes finding the best one an enjoyable challenge.
The Montserrat Museum is located near the Basilica and it looks pretty unassuming from the outside. Many are surprised to find work from Picasso, Dali and Caravaggio here. The museum hosts 6 permanent exhibits with over 1,300 pieces.
There are dozens of hiking trails all throughout Montserrat. Some trails are easily walkable and perfectly suitable for day trippers, while others are a little more intense. There is also rock climbing available for more adventurous travelers.
Stairway to Heaven
The stairway to heaven is a sculpture that’s gained a lot of popularity on Instagram and Pinterest. They have recently added a big gate around it to prevent people from climbing up it. It still makes for a good picture if you can strategically crop the gate out.
The stairway to heaven is located near the car park.
How to Get to Montserrat from Barcelona
The most popular way to get to Montserrat from Barcelona is by train. Depart from Plaza Espanya station on the R5 train toward Manresa. The journey time to the bottom of the mountain is 1hr 15 min.
Getting up the Mountain
There are two ways up the mountain from the final train stops. By the Cremallera (rail railway) or by cable car.
If you decide to take the cable car up, exit the train at the stop Aeri de Montserrat. The journey takes only 5 minutes as the cable car moves 16ft per second (5meters per second) at a 45% incline. An adult roundtrip ticket costs 10.30€.
For tickets and more information click here
If you decide to take the Cremallera, exit the train at the stop Monistrol de Montserrat. The journey up the mountain takes 15 minutes. An adult roundtrip ticket costs apprx 10€ roundtrip depending on the season.
For times and ticket information click here
If you have your own car, take the A2 motorway and exit Martorell, then take the National Road N II to the junction Montserrat. You can park at Montserrat Monastery for €6.50 (for the day) or at the Rack Railway station for free.
If you decide to take the bus, make sure to note that there is only 1 bus departure per day in each direction.
The bus departs from the Sants Coach Station in Barcelona at 9:15am and from Montserrat at 5pm (Oct-May) or 6pm (June-Sept). The journey time is 1hr 25min and costs €5.10 each way.
Double Check Departure Times/Info HERE
There are several companies offering daily tours to Montserrat. If you’re looking at taking a tour, I recommend Castle Experience (review here). It includes a 3 course traditional Catalan meal and Spanish wine tasting in a castle, plus your transportation to and from Barcelona.