If you are looking for an easy day trip from Barcelona, look no further than Montserrat. With excellent views and a rich history, this mountain monastery was one of the highlights of our Spain trip. We chose to book with Castle Experience, a company that pairs a morning visit to Montserrat with afternoon wine tasting in a 10th century castle. Good views and wine, what more could you ask for. Keep reading to discover what to expect on a tour with Castlexperience.
THE CASTLEXPERIENCE MONTSERRAT ITINERARY
Castlexperience specializes in small group tours with a maximum of 16 people per group. Our group had about 12 people.
Their Montserrat tour is a full day and you will be getting back to Barcelona around 7-7:30pm. This is their most recent itinerary, please note that some aspects slightly differ from our experience below, as we visited a few years ago.
9:45 am Meet at Plaza Catalunya near the Hard Rock Café
10:00 am Leave for Montserrat
11:15 am Cogwheel train ride
11:30 am Guided visit through Montserrat Monastery
12:20 pm Free time at Montserrat (around 1 hour)
1:20 pm Meet your tour guide
1:45 pm Departure for the winery
2:15 pm Multi-course lunch with wine at a local restaurant
4:00 pm Guided visit through the vineyards and the winery
5:00 pm Wine tasting (3 local wines)
6:00 pm Head back to Barcelona
7:00 – 7:30 pm Arrival to Plaza Catalunya
WHAT TO EXPECT ON A TOUR
BARCELONA TO MONTSERRAT
The tour begins in Barcelona at 8:30 am when you will meet your guide and the rest of the group at Plaza Catalunya. Montserrat is only an hour drive from Barcelona making this an easy day trip option for most travelers. Along the way our guide Clara, taught us some Spanish history and told us all about Catalan culture.
When you reach the base of Montserrat mountain the bus starts its climb of 4,000 feet (1.2km), and the drive gets a lot more interesting. On the way up, I recommend sitting on the left side of the bus for the best views.
A MORNING IN MONTSERRAT
Castlexperience begins their tour in Montserrat, a Benedictine monk mountain retreat. Montserrat is considered to be one of the most sacred places in the world and it is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Spain. Millions of people visit Montserrat each year to lay their eyes upon the famous Black Madonna that resides in the Montserrat Monastery.
It is a gorgeous destination with jaw dropping views. You can even see Barcelona and Mediterranean Sea from the top of the mountain.
When you first arrive, you will take a guided tour of Montserrat and learn all about the stories which make this sacred place so famous. You will also explore the monastery where you will view the famous Black Madonna.
After the guided tour, your guide will set you off on your own, giving you about 2 hours of free time. During this time there are tons of things to do from riding the funiculars to the holy cave to visiting the museum which has paintings by Caravaggio, Dalí and Picasso.
Initially 2 hours seemed like a lot, but by the time we were being called back to the bus, I was wishing for a little more time. We didn’t get a chance to ride the funiculars, which was something I was really hoping to do.
3 COURSE MEAL AT OLLER DEL MAS
After your free time in Montserrat is up, you will get back on the bus and drive about 30 minutes to Oller del Mas for a family-style lunch. Lunch is a three-course, traditional Catalan meal… although it felt more like 6 courses. There was so much food.
The table is given bread, salad, an eggplant dish and flaky spinach pastries to share. For the main entree, each person can choose from 4 different dishes, and lastly a dessert at the end of the meal. In addition to the endless food, 3 bottles of Oller del Mas’ organic wines were also passed around freely amongst the group.
The food was really good, we definitely had more memorable meals during our trip but we were still very happy. They also cater to dietary restrictions or allergies, just make sure to contact them ahead of time so they can prep accordingly.
WINE TASTING AT OLLER DEL MAS CASTLE
After everyone is full and a little buzzed, you will walk through the grape vineyards and over to the Oller del Mas’ 10th century castle for the wine tasting portion of the tour.
Clara gave us a tour of the castle and explained the entire wine making process. After the tour, we sampled 3 of Oller del Mas’ red wines, which were all very good. Not that you should take my word for it – I drink Trader Joe’s boxed wine. The rest of our group seemed to like it a lot though as more than half took home bottles.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE TOUR
Guided tours are sometimes a gamble because you never know what the overall vibe of your group is going to be. Unfortunately our group seemed a little reserved and there were long periods silence during the day, especially during the group lunch. Luckily, our guide Clara was fantastic and she was able to cut through the silence, keeping everyone entertained.
Clara was the highlight of the trip for me. She was hilarious and super knowledgeable about everything. Nick and I have done a number of wine tasting tours in the past but Clara still taught us stuff we’ve never heard before. At the end of the day she also gave us local suggestions for places to eat in Barcelona, as well as a really cool cocktail bar that ended up being one of our favorites during our trip. Overall, she made the day really fun and entertaining. If you decide to book with Castlexperience, I highly recommend requesting her as your guide.
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A day trip to Montserrat is very easy to do on your own but letting a tour company take the lead is perfect for those wanting an easy and fun experience without the extra planning. Tours allow you to switch to auto pilot and not worry about anything. We loved our trip with Castlexperience and I would highly recommend them for those looking for a guided tour to Montserrat.
If you would prefer to visit Montserrat without a tour, check out my post: MONTSERRAT MONASTERY & MOUNTAIN: AN EASY DAY TRIP FROM BARCELONA
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Disclaimer: Thank you Castlexperience for this complimentary tour. Of course, all opinions are my own.