Montserrat: a mountain, a monastery and a place to escape from it all
Montserrat is an important symbol of Catalan culture. Read on to find out about its many attractions, then visit to enjoy the spectacular views!
The Montserrat mountain range offers a whole host of activities in magnificent scenery. Here are a few ideas for a great day out!
History of Montserrat
The Montserrat range is around 50 million years old. The “fingers” or “teeth” of the range are the result of erosion. In Catalan, mont means mountain, whilst serrat are the teeth of a saw.
Montserrat is an icon of Catalan culture and is devoted to the Virgin of Montserrat, following an apparition in a grotto in the range. Montserrat is a highly spiritual region and there are traces of Christian culture everywhere you look (most notably at the monastery).
Getting to Montserrat
Access to the mountain range is relatively easy, and there are several ways of getting there.
Travelling by car? Easy! From Barcelona, take the A2 motorway before climbing up into the mountain. We recommend planning your route in advance using Google Maps.
- The journey will take around an hour and ten minutes from the centre of Barcelona.
- There’s a carpark in Montserrat which offers two hours’ free parking, after which there’s a charge of around €6/hour.
If you’re planning on taking the train, you’ll need to leave from Plaça Espanya. Lines R5 and R50 will take you to the foot of Montserrat: both lines stop at Monistrol de Montserrat, where you’ll find the Montserrat cremallera, a mountain train which runs on special rails. The cremallera trip lasts around 15 minutes.
The R5 also stops at Aero-Montserrat, a station connected to a cable car which will take you over the valley. The journey lasts around 10 minutes.
A site run by the Generalitat (Catalan government) gives prices for the cremallera and the cable car.
- If you’re leaving from Plaça Espanya, you’ll need to buy a 4 zone ticket.
On foot from the train stations
Once you’ve arrived at one of the train stations, you may want to walk up the hill in order to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. It’s entirely up to you – but just remember that you may want to walk further once you’ve got there!
Things to do in Montserrat
Visit the monastery and the abbey
Good public transport connections will take you to a little village, home to the famous monastery of Montserrat. The monastery is a Catalan icon and a destination for pilgrimages.
Perched on the edge of the mountain, several parts of Montserrat Abbey are open to visitors, including the grounds, the basilica, the Virgin’s Bedroom, etc.
Take in some culture at the museum
Montserrat Abbey houses a museum with 5 different collections and over 1300 exhibits, including 19th and 20th Century Catalan and Spanish art, impressionism, archeology and ancient painting…
For more information on ticket prices and opening times, take a look at the museum website.
Take a hike
What could be better than a hike in beautiful surroundings? Walking in Monteserrat is a unique experience, with magnificent scenery and spectacular views.
There are several walking routes in the Montserrat range, but the main route leads up to the summit of Sant Jeroni. The walk takes around 3 hours and covers 12 km (round trip), up flights of stairs to the top of Montserrat’s highest peak. Once at the top, you’ll be able to enjoy extraordinary 360º views.
Climb the mountain
Montserrat is an ideal destination for climbers. The range includes 5000 routes, making it one of the best areas for climbing in Spain.
- To make the most of your walk, leave early in the morning and try to arrive by 10am. The forest is extremely pleasant at this time of day in full summer, when the dew-soaked plants make everything feel instantly cooler!
- In summer, make sure you’re well kitted out! Take plenty of water and food – it will help you to deal with the heat and the exercise.
- If you choose to go in winter, cover up well – it’s much colder up there!
Combined excursions to Gaudí’s Colònia Güell and Montserrat
We recommended a visit to Gaudí’s Colònia Güell in this article on ideas for day trips from Barcelona.
Why not combine architecture and nature and visit Montserrat at the same time? Gaudì drew much of his inspiration for his many masterpieces from the curves and outlines of Monserrat.
We haven’t had chance to test the combined trip yet, but it looks to be a good deal, and you get to discover two major attractions in one day. Tours are available in Catalan, Spanish or English, and cost €63 (instead of €70 full price) if you book through the link below:
Enjoy your walk!
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About the author
Rémi is a student who has lived in Barcelona from early childhood. Always on the lookout for new discoveries, he is always enthusiastic and ready to talk to anyone. His favourite thing to do in Barcelona? Going out with friends, and enjoying a spot of "time travel" in the historic surroundings of the Gothic Quarter.