Looking for what to do in Barcelona for 3 days? Maybe even more? Montserrat, Spain is an excellent place to visit for a day trip from Barcelona. It is a multi-peaked rocky mountain range is 50 km from Barcelona city center. Montserrat means “saw mountain” in Catalan, which is a perfect description. Spain’s first National Park contains a multitude of striking rock formations, visible from various distant locations. The mountain is composed of sedimentary rock giving it and noticeably pinkish conglomerate.
This area has stunning views of the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range. The highest peak is Sant Jeroni standing at 4,055 ft (1,236 m), followed by Montgrós 3,675 ft (1,120 m), then Miranda de les Agulles 2,963 ft (903 m) above sea level.
Within this famous mountain is the home of the Virgin of Montserrat, commonly known as the Moreneta due to the dark color of her skin. It is a 12th-century polychrome Romanesque carving of great beauty. The Virgin of Montserrat was proclaimed Patron Saint of Catalonia in 1881, by Pope Leo XIII. Located in the upper part of the apse of the basilica, it is enthroned in a silver altarpiece. Some have also identified this area as the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth.
Getting to Montserrat from Barcelona
There are several ways to get to Montserrat from Barcelona.
The easiest and the least recommended way is by motorcoach. These organized tours usually make several stops at various tourist destinations. The downfall to this is your time is very limited at each stop. The allotted time in Montserrat is a very short 90 minutes.
Taking the train to Montserrat is a very popular way to get there. There are several different ticket packages available, so make sure you are purchasing the desired tickets. Some tickets will include the cable car or rack railway up to the top of the mountain and one also includes lunch. You need to leave Barcelona from the Plaça d’España rail station. The red and green metro lines both will take you to Plaça d’España. Once at Plaça d’España you will want to purchase your desired ticket and go to Line R5 heading towards Manresa. Tickets are not interchangeable, so you can not change your mind once purchased.
Upon arriving at the foot of Montserrat mountain you will either take the cable car or the Cremallera Funicular ride up to the Monastery. Your ticket and chosen way up the mountain determines which stop you will need to get off the train. The stop for the cable car and funicular are different stops. Travel time from Plaça d’España to the base of Montserrat is approximately one hour. It takes approximately an additional twenty minutes to get to The Benedictine Abbey via the train and about five minutes on the cable car.
*Please be aware of the metro lines, rail station, and many areas throughout Barcelona are littered with pick-pockets.
The most flexible way to get to Montserrat is by car. If you are driving, you have two options. You can park at the base of the mountain and take either the cable car or the Cremallera Funicular ride up to the Monastery. You can enjoy spectacular views as you are transported up the mountain. Alternately, you can drive up to the abbey of Montserrat and pay for parking. If you are driving it is best to arrive early in the morning. This allows you to beat most of the crowds, find parking, and during the summer months enjoy your time there before it gets too hot.
Top 9 things to do in Montserrat
1. Ride the Funiculars
The Funicular de Sant Joan railway goes up to the top of the mountain from the abbey. Here you will see various abandoned hovels in the cliff faces that were once residences of the reclusive monks. The peak of the mountain offers spectacular views of Montserrat mountain and Catalonia.
The price of the funicular ride to the top of the mountain is:
Single ticket: €5.95 Return ticket: €9.90
The Funicular de la Santa Cova descends to a shrine of the monks.
If you aren’t comfortable with the breathtaking views of the cable car, you can take the Cremallera Funicular down to the base of the mountain and see the shrine dedicated to the monks. Advantages of the funicular are the suitability for wheelchairs and those who wish to sit.
The funicular ride to Santa Cova cave at the base of the mountain from the monastery is: Single ticket: €3.40 Return ticket: €5.20
2. Ride The Cable Car (Aeri de Montserrat)
In 1930 the Montserrat cable car which connected the Llobregat highway to the Montserrat Aerial station on the Barcelona-Manresa train line opened. The cable car was briefly out of service during the Spanish Civil War. It still uses all the original structures and mechanisms today. The five-minute ride offers stunning views across the river, over the valley, and up the Montserrat Mountain.
3. Enjoy the art museum
The Montserrat Museum has permanent exhibitions that showcase the history of the Monastery and the thousand-year-old abbey. On display are works of art of famous artists including Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, among others. If you like art and you have time, it is worth visiting.
Admission price: Adults: 7€, Students and pensioners: 6€, Children (from 8 to 16 years old): 4€.
4. Visit the Monastery and La Moreneta
The community at the monastery is made up of 80 monks. As at all Benedictine monasteries, the monks of Montserrat follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. They devote their lives to prayer, welcoming visitors and pilgrims, and working. You can enter the chapel and see the Virgin Mary statue. The queue to go into the chapel can be very long. Tradition says if you touch the ball she carries in one of her hands and make a wish, it will come true.
5. Walking through the Camí dels Degotalls
A good way to get to the monastery is going through the Camí dels Degotalls. The road becomes the starting point to the Camino de Santiago from the Monastery of Montserrat. To get there, you must go by the road, following the direction of Monistrol. You might discover traces of wild boar, robins, blackbirds, and other small wildlife. The route is decorated with evocative majolica sculptures in memory of Jacint Verdaguer, Emili Vendrell, Joan Maragall, Pompeu Fabra, and Pep Ventura. The walk is very relaxing with views of countless trees, yews, and grasses.
6. Listen to La Escolanía
The Escolanía de Montserrat is another typical Montserrat symbol. The all-boys choir is composed of 14 years old kids. It is one of the oldest choirs in the country. The boy’s choir is internationally known and performs live on a regular basis in Montserrat.
7. Visiting the Santa Cova
Legend states the image of the Mother of God was found at Santa Cova. It is said that on a Saturday in 880, around dusk some shepherd children saw what is known as a ‘great light’ fall from the sky. Accompanying this great light was a ‘beautiful song’ on the mountain. Ever since the cave has been a place of worship. Thousands of men and women make a pilgrimage to pray to the Virgin Mary and ask for her help every year.
8. Rock-climbing the mountain
If you like rock climbing you will want to go to Montserrat. It is one of the most popular climbing spots in Spain. The mountain is 7 kilometers long and 2.5 kilometers wide, which gives climbers a lot of different places to climb. It is centrally located near the center of Catalonia, by the cities of Barcelona, Manresa, and Terrassa. Most climbers choose the south section of Montserrat, in el Clot del Boixar, Vermell del Xincarró, or L’Agulla del Senglar areas.
9. Visit the local market
Walking towards the monastery of Montserrat, there is a small market. It is a single row of about 10 table stands. Here you can buy a variety of local products including honey, cheese, oil, wine, and more.
The unique combination of history, nature, and pathways make a Montserrat and great place to visit. After visiting the monastery, you can walk on several pathways throughout the area and discover different chapels hidden in the mountain. Bring plenty of water with you, especially if you go in the summer months. There are two restaurants in Montserrat where you can relax and get something to eat.
Some of my favorites in Barcelona
Want to check out some other things to do in Barcelona? Here are a few of my favorites.
I love going on Wine Tours
The Ohla Eixample Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in the city.
Looking for some great day trips, check out these three places.
Bunkers del Carmel are a great place to go for a walk and enjoy the city views.
One of my favorite places to have a drink is Paradiso.
The Stunning Palau de la Musica. You need to see a show in this stunning masterpiece of a building.