Montserrat is a beautiful mountain 60 Kms (37 Miles) from Barcelona, on top of which sits the gorgeous Montserrat Monastery.
Tourists visit Montserrat for multiple reasons:
– To see the beautiful multi-peaked rock formations of Montserrat
– To visit the Montserrat Monastery & Museum
– To seek the blessings of Our Lady of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia
– To hike on the Montserrat mountain
– To listen to L’Escolania, the boys’ choir at Montserrat
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before visiting Montserrat, Spain.
1. Driving to Montserrat
2. Train to Montserrat
3. Group tour to Montserrat
4. Cable Car
5. Rack Railway
6. Opening hours
7. Tour duration
8. What to see?
9. Montserrat tickets
10. Map of Montserrat
11. Montserrat hiking
How to reach Montserrat
There are three ways to reach Montserrat in Spain, and we explain all of them in detail below.
1. Driving from Barcelona to Montserrat
If you want to get to Montserrat quickly and conveniently, driving is your best option.
While driving from Barcelona get on B-10 from Via Laietana, and after driving 4 Kms (2.5 Miles) take A-2 to Carretera Manresa.
After driving 35 Kms (28 Miles) on A-2, you must get on to C-55 and eventually to BP-1121 to reach Montserrat.
If you are driving to Montserrat, you can park at two places – right at the Monastery or at the bottom of the Montserrat mountain.
Car park at Montserrat Monastery
Since this car park is right next to the Monastery, it is very convenient for most visitors.
However, it is not recommended for the elderly or disabled.
It is on the side of a hill, and the walk up to the Abbey of Montserrat is a bit steep.
Montserrat Monastery’s car park can hold 400 cars and is open 24 hours.
You must pay 6.50 Euros to park your car for a day, and 3.50 Euros for a bike.
Car parking at Rack Railway station
Tourists who prefer to add some excitement to their trip decide to park their car halfway up the Montserrat Mountain – at the Cremallera de Monistrol Vila Rack Railway station.
Parking at this Rack Railway station is free, but you will end up paying for the Rack Railway journey up to Montserrat Monastery.
This is an excellent option because from the station (and on your way up) you get to see amazing views of the Monastery.
However, since this is the station’s car park, it closes after the last Rack Railway service from Montserrat Monastery reaches Monistrol de Vila station.
This means you must be back before the last Rack Railway service if you want to take your car out.
To know the latest timings, check the official Rack Railway website.
2. Train from Barcelona to Montserrat
Trains are an affordable, fast, and convenient option to get to Montserrat from Barcelona.
If you prefer to travel from Montserrat by train, you must first reach España rail station, which is on the Green and Red metro lines.
At the massive España station look for Line R5 headed towards Manresa.
It is a bit difficult to find Line R5, but if you follow the ‘Green signs for Manresa’ or the ‘Orange signs for Montserrat’ (image below) you can easily reach Line R5.
The trains which start from Line R5 at Espana Station take you only to the foot of Montserrat mountain.
From there, to get to the Montserrat Monastery, you can either take the Cable Car or take the Rack Railway Cremallera Funicular.
To take the Cable Car to the Monastery you must get down at Aeri Montserrat station, and if you prefer to take Rack Railway, you must get down at Monistrol Montserrat station (which comes four minutes later).
Both the Cable Car and Rack Railway take approximately 20 minutes to take you from the foot of the mountain to Montserrat Monastery.
The first Barcelona to Montserrat train starts from España rail station at 8:36 am.
After that, there is one train every hour, with the last one leaving the station at 4:36 pm.
The train timing to get back to Barcelona depends on where you board the train – the first station Monistrol Montserrat or the second station Aeri-Montserrat station.
On your return, if you take the Rack railway Cremallera Funicular to get to the foot of the mountain, you will be boarding the train to Barcelona at the first station Monistrol Montserrat.
If you get down from the Monastery to the bottom of the mountain in a Cable Car, you will board your Barcelona train at the second station Aeri-Montserrat station.
The last train from Monistrol Montserrat is at 6.41 pm.
Before this last train, trains are leaving for Barcelona every hour – going up to the first one at 9:41 am.
These trains starting from Monistrol Montserrat reach Aeri-Montserrat station in four minutes.
That means the first train from Aeri-Montserrat station to España rail station is at 9.45 am, followed by one every hour till the last one at 6.45 pm.
Before you buy train tickets for your Montserrat trip, you must decide on the following –
1. Once you reach the foot of Montserrat, do you want to travel by the Cable car or Rack Railway (more about this below)
2. Do you want to buy a one-way ticket or return ticket (we recommend the return ticket)
3. Do you want to buy ‘ToT Montserrat ticket,’ which besides covering all transport also gets you free entry into the Montserrat Museum and includes a buffet lunch at Montserrat Restaurant
Whatever your choice, the Montserrat tickets are available for purchase at PlaçaEspaña station from ticket booths in front of Line R5 to Manresa.
3. Guided group tours
While the 90 minutes’ journey from Barcelona to Montserrat is exciting, it can be intimidating as well.
Many tourists don’t want the hassle of managing their own transport to and from Montserrat because there so many decisions to make.
This is what makes group tours from Barcelona to Montserrat very popular.
These Montserrat tours start anywhere from 8 am to 10 am, and usually last seven to nine hours.
Montserrat Cable Car
To take the Montserrat cable car to go to the Monastery, you must get down at Montserrat de Aeri, first of the two Montserrat train stops.
Once you get down from your train, you can’t miss the Cable Car station right there.
Since each trip can only seat 35 visitors, during peak seasons, there are long waiting times to get into the Cable car.
The journey from the Cable Car station to the Montserrat Monastery is five-minutes of visual treat over the Llobregat Valley and its river.
The Cable Car travels at a speed of 5 meters/second at a 45% gradient.
If you have mobility issues, we don’t recommend the Montserrat Monastery cable car because once you get down, you need to walk up a slope and some stairs to reach the Monastery.
Montserrat cable car timings
The Montserrat cable car is frequently available – one every 15 minutes.
However, depending on the season and the day of the week, its operating hours change.
March to October: 9.40 am to 7 pm, daily
November to February:
10.10 am to 5.45 pm on weekdays
9.40 am to 6.15 pm on weekends
Montserrat Rack Railway
The Montserrat Rack Railway is also often referred to as the Cremallera mountain train.
To take the Rack Railway from the bottom of the Montserrat mountain to the Monastery, you must get down from your Barcelona train at Monistrol de Montserrat station.
This station is in a small town of the same name.
There are three stops on the Montserrat Rack Railway – Monistrol de Montserrat, Monistrol Vila, and Montserrat.
To reach the Monastery, you get on to the Rack railway at the first stop and get off at the third stop.
The trip from Monistrol de Montserrat to the Monastery takes approximately 20 minutes.
Important: If you have limited mobility, we strongly recommend the Montserrat Rack Railway.
Montserrat Rack Railway timings
March to October: 8.35 am to 8.15 pm, daily
November to February: 8.35 am to 6.15 pm
Montserrat opening hours
The Montserrat experience is made up of many attractions, and in this section, we will provide their timings.
Montserrat Basilica hours
The Montserrat Basilica, which is in the center of the Monastery, is open 24 hours.
However, the best times to explore are from 7.30 am to 8 pm.
Mass timings at Montserrat Basilica
Every day, Montserrat Basilica has two main masses.
11 am: Conventual mass
12 noon: Mass in the Capella del Santíssim
On a Saturday, a third Mass is scheduled at 7.30 pm.
On Sundays and holidays, the church has four masses –
9.30 am: Mass
11 am: Conventual mass
1 pm: Mass
7.30 pm: Evening mass
Montserrat Boys’ choir times
Monday to Friday: 1 pm, Salve Regina and Virolai
Monday to Thursday: 6.45 pm Vespers, Salve Montserratina and Polyphonic Motet
Saturdays: Rest day
Sundays and religious holidays: 12 pm, Salve Regina and Virolai and at 6.45 pm Vespers, Salve Montserratina and Polyphonic Motet
Choir performance times can sometimes change.
Montserrat Museum hours
Montserrat Museum is located under St Mary’s Square and is open all through the year.
Every day the Museum opens at 10 am, but it’s closing time varies depending on the season and occasion.
September 16 to June 21: Closes at 5.45pm
June 22 to September 15 (peak season): Closes at 6.45pm
Christmas Day is an exception, for the Museum closes early – at 2 pm.
Throne of Our Lady timings
The Patron Saint of Catalonia can be seen at Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery from 8 am to 10.30 am and from 12 pm to 6.15 pm.
From 15 July to 30 September, the peak tourist season, tourists can see her from 7.15 pm to 8 pm as well.
How long does a visit to Montserrat take
If you are traveling from Barcelona, a visit to Montserrat is a full day trip.
If you travel by train, you need 90 minutes one way.
One hour for the train part of the journey and approximately 30 minutes for the Cable Car or Rack Railway.
Even if you travel by road (private car or coach tour), you will need approximately 90 minutes to reach Santa Maria de Monastery Abbey.
Once on Montserrat mountain, there is lots to see, and you will need at least three hours to explore everything.
If you plan to hike up the Montserrat mountain and have lunch or dinner, you may need around five hours.
What to see in Montserrat
Besides experiencing Cable Cars, Rack Railways, hiking, stunning views from the mountain top, etc., there is so much to see and do at Montserrat.
We list them below:
1. Abbey of Montserrat
The Monastery of Montserrat is also known as Santa Maria de Montserrat.
Founded in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 20th century, this Monastery still hosts 70 odd Monks.
2. Basilica of Montserrat
Once you enter the square of Santa María of the Monastery, you can’t miss the Basilica of Montserrat.
After being destroyed in the Peninsular War, the Montserrat Basilica was rebuilt entirely in 1811.
3. Black Madonna
All of the tourists who visit Montserrat pay their respects to the statue of Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia.
This 12th-century figure of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus is elevated above the high altar in Basilica of Montserrat.
It is also known as Our Lady of Montserrat and the Virgin of Montserrat.
4. Montserrat Museum
Montserrat Museum was first conceived as a Biblical museum, and over time, it has become what it is today.
Located below the Montserrat Monastery square, this Museum houses outstanding pieces of art by artists such as Claude, Monet, Caravaggio, El Greco, Picasso, Degas, etc.
Don’t miss out on the special exhibition dedicated to images of La Moreneta.
5. Escolania de Montserrat
Escolania de Montserrat is a group of 50 choirboys from the Monastery’s boarding school who sing songs at the Montserrat Basilica daily.
This Montserrat boys choir has been around since the 14th century and is the oldest boys’ choir in the whole of Europe.
Monday to Friday, every day at 1 pm they perform Salve Regina and Virolai.
At 6.45 pm the Montserrat boys choir sing Vespers, Salve Montserratina and Polyphonic Motet.
They don’t perform on Saturdays.
If your Montserrat day trip falls on a Sunday or religious holiday be at the Montserrat Basilica at 12 noon for that’s when they start performing Salve Regina and Virolai.
There is no change in the evening performances.
6. Santa Cova
Santa Cova de Montserrat is the place where the figure of Virgin of Montserrat is believed to have been discovered by the shepherds.
Legend has it that the Black Madonna was hidden in Santa Cova during the Moorish invasions.
It is just 1 Km from the Monastery and can be accessed by a mountainous path.
7. Monumental Rosary of Montserrat
On the road from Monastery of Montserrat to the Holy Cave at Santa Cova, you will find lots of sculptures of religious symbols – all these put together are known as Monumental Rosary of Montserrat.
A group of architects and sculptors (one of whom was Antoni Gaudi himself) came together to build these sculptures.
8. Way of the Cross trail
Way of the Cross (also known as Via Crucis) trail lies just after the statue of AbatOliba, the founder of Montserrat monastery.
The trail has life-size sculptures depicting the last journey of Jesus Christ.
Since there is so much to do on a Montserrat tour, there are many kinds of Montserrat tickets or tours you can book.
Whatever Montserrat experience you choose, we recommend you book your tickets in advance.
Montserrat Monastery can get really crowded (see image below) during peak times, and if you don’t plan ahead you may end up wasting your time waiting in queues.
We list below our handpicked tours – the ones most popular with tourists.
If you want to check out all Montserrat tours available, click here.
1. Cheapest Montserrat tour from Barcelona
This is the most value for money Montserrat tour ticket from Barcelona.
This tour ticket includes train tickets both ways, access to Montserrat Monastery, Montserrat Basilica, Montserrat Museum, and liqueur tasting.
Adult ticket (14+ years): 44.20 Euros
Child ticket (4 to 13 years): 25.10 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
If you can handle your own transportation to Montserrat and back, you can save money by buying this Montserrat Monastery & Museum Ticket
2. Montserrat Monastery with hike
If you want a little bit of everything at Montserrat Monastery, this is the perfect tour for you.
This tour starts from Barcelona at 8.30 am.
Besides the regulars, the Monastery and the Basilica this ticket also gets you one hour of hiking, 3-course lunch at a farmhouse, and an opportunity to listen to the Boys’ choir singing.
Adult ticket (9+ years): 89.50 Euros
Child ticket (4 to 8 years): 54.75 Euros
If you want a difficult hike lasting 11 Kms (7 Miles), check out this tour.
3. Montserrat Monastery with lunch and wine
This Barcelona to Montserrat day-long tour starts at 10 am on an air-conditioned bus.
After visiting the Montserrat Monastery, you will visit Oller del Mas, a boutique winery in a 10th-century castle.
You have the option of booking a 3-course meal with wine or a tapas lunch and cheese platter.
These highly rated lunches happen in the backdrop of stunning views of the Montserrat mountain.
Such tours are also referred to as Montserrat wine tours.
Adult ticket (13 to 64 years): 80 Euros
Seniors ticket (65+ years): 78 Euros
Child ticket (4 to 12 years): 50 Euros
If you don’t want it to be a full-day affair, we recommend this half-day Montserrat tour from Barcelona.
Map of Montserrat Monastery
There is lots to see and do at Montserrat.
This is why it is very easy to get lost or miss a must-see item while exploring the Montserrat Monastery.
We recommend you understand the Montserrat map before your visit, especially if you are traveling with kids.
Besides the things to see in and around the Monastery this map also marks out visitor services such as restaurants, washrooms, ATMs, picnic areas, etc.
Do not miss the walking trails marked on the map.
If you want to refer to this Montserrat layout again, bookmark this page or download the map to your mobile.
Hiking in Montserrat
A lot of the visitors to Montserrat end up hiking – if not a long trail, at least a short one.
There are many walking & hiking trails around the Montserrat Monastery which suit all kinds of hikers.
Map of Montserrat hiking routes
Before you step out in any direction, visit one of the tourist information stands (there are three in the Monastery!) and get a free map of the Montserrat mountain.
These maps have the most popular hiking routes mapped out, and on the reverse, you will find details such as directions, walking difficulty, length of the walk, etc. about each of the hike trails.
Preparing for Montserrat hike
There are both easy and challenging walk/hike trails at Montserrat.
Whichever trail you choose you must stick to a few basic rules of hiking –
1. Wear sturdy footwear
2. Carry water, because most of the walking routes are exposed and it can get hot
3. Keep a printed copy of the map with you (if possible download the offline version of the Google map for this region)
To Montserrat Monastery on foot
One of the best pilgrimage walks in Spain is to start from the foothills of Montserrat and walk to the Monastery, which houses the Black Madonna.
All these pilgrimage walks start from the small town called Monistrol de Montserrat, at the foothills.
The objective of these pilgrimage walks is to reach the Monastery, as they would have done in the olden age.
Best Montserrat hikes
There are numerous walking routes which start from the Montserrat Monastery.
However, some of the hiking trails start some distance from the Monastery.
In such a case, you must take one of the Funiculars to reach the hiking trail’s starting point.
Here is a list of the best walking routes in Montserrat:
1. Montserrat Monastery to The Degotalls
Distance: 3.2 Kms (2 Miles)
Time taken: 50 minutes
Slope: 20 meters (66 feet)
This is an easy Montserrat hike and is quite peaceful.
To get to this Montserrat hiking trail, you need to get to the Montserrat Monastery car park, and then take the road to the left of the Mirador dels Apostals.
The objective of this hike is to see the Degotalls rock formation and turn back.
This is also referred to as the Cami dels Degotalls hiking route.
2. Montserrat Monastery to Santa Cova
Distance: 2.7 Kms (1.7 Miles)
Time taken: 1 hour 20 minutes
Slope: 120 meters (394 feet)
This is one of the most popular Montserrat hikes, especially with religious hikers, because an image of the Virgin Mary is believed to have been seen at Santa Cova.
To find this Catalonian hike trail, you must get on to the paved path in between the Montserrat cable car and Montserrat rack railway stations.
A steep 20-minute hike gets you to Santa Cova Funicular’s lower station.
If you continue walking along the ‘The Path of the Rosary,’ in approximately 20 minutes, you’ll reach the base of St Paul’s Needle.
From St Paul’s Needle, Santa Cova is only a 25 minutes’ hike.
While returning, you have two options – take the steep incline back or hop onto the Santa Cova funicular.
3. Sant Joan Funicular station to Montserrat Monastery
Distance: 5.2 Kms (3.2 Miles)
Time taken: 1 hour 30 minutes
Slope: 150 meters (492 feet)
To get to the starting point of this Montserrat hiking trail, you need to take Sant Joan Funicular from the Monastery to Sant Joan.
Sant Joan is also known as the upper station.
Once you get out of the station, on your left you will spot the full trail going left – stick to it till you reach the Holy cave in Santa Cova.
This walk is nice and even and during a good stretch of the hike you get to see fantastic views of the Llobregat Valley and the River Llobregat.
4. Sant Joan Funicular station to the top of Montserrat
Distance: 7.5 Kms (4.7 Miles)
Time taken: 2 hours
Slope: 320 meters (1050 feet)
This is the most difficult of all hiking trails in Montserrat, and once again starts from Sant Joan station.
This hiking route takes you via Sant Jeroni and Flat of Els Ocells and eventually to the highest point on Montserrat mountain.
From the top, you get some of the most beautiful views of Montserrat Natural park and Catalonia itself.
However, this hike’s difficulty level is high, so set out only if you have hiked before.
For the keen hiker, Montserrat offers a lot more options.
Instead of hiking, if you are interested in climbing Montserrat, you must visit the nearby town called El Bruc.
It is 13 Kms (8 Miles) from the Abbey of Montserrat and is home to La Sargantana, a company which specializes in outdoors experience.
You can rent out climbing equipment and book sessions with them.
Restaurants at Montserrat
When it comes to food at Montserrat, there are quite a few options.
1. Restaurant Hostal Abat Cisneros
This restaurant is in the Hotel Hostal Abat Cisneros building, which is just a minutes’ walk from Montserrat Monastery entrance.
It serves traditional Catalan cuisine, and the set lunch costs approximately 28 Euros.
Hostal Abat Cisneros serves lunch from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm and dinner from 8 pm to 9.45 pm.
2. Restaurant Montserrat
This classic restaurant is in the Mirador dels Apostols building, right next to the car park.
It serves value for money Mediterranean cuisine.
There are two pre-set meal options prices at 25 Euros and 19 Euros each.
If you are traveling with kids, you may want to try their special menu for children.
To reserve any of these hotels send an email to email@example.com or call them at +34 93 877 7701.
3. Bar de la Placa
Bar de la Plaça is a bar cum cafe right in the middle of Montserrat.
It is a perfect place for a quick coffee or a sandwich, and you can choose to sit inside or hang around the tables outdoors.
Bar de la Plaça is open only during the summer months of March to November.
Monday to Friday: 10 pm to 5 pm
Weekend: 10 pm to 5 pm
4. La Cafeteria
La Cafeteria has two zones – the self-service zone called ‘Servei Express’ and ‘Canteen’ where warm food is served.
While the self-service area serves sandwiches, chips, drinks, etc., the Canteen area serves full meals.
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 6.45 pm
Weekend: 9 am to 8 pm