How to plan your day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat

Montserrat is a mountain and a famous monastery where Basilica of the Black Madonna, the patroness of Catalonia, can be found. Both are worth visiting in one trip to pray at Black Madonna and take a great hike on the mountain trails. Montserrat Mountain offers stunning views because of its awesome cliffs that are 10 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide. The highest point of the mountain is the 1236 metres high Sant Jeroni summit. The mountain looks higher than it actually is, due to the fact that it rises straight up from the Llobregat River. Its silhouette is reminiscent of the toothed blade of a saw. And this is the explanation of its name, Montserrat, meaning "sawn mountain" in Catalan. As it is located about 60 kilometres from Barcelona, the trip to it is usually taken as a day trip from this beautiful city.28montserrat 1640647

Decided? Then it’s time to plan and organise your trip. Let’s talk about how to do it by using public transport. The easiest way is to go to the foot of the mountain by train and then make your way up to the monastery by cable car or funicular. To have a nice hike, I recommend taking one more funicular ride from Monastery up to Sant Joan and starting your hike from there. So it’s the outline. Let’s add more details to this.

How to get to Montserrat from Barcelona by train

Your journey from Barcelona to Montserrat starts at Placa Espanya train station. You have to look for line R5. It would be great if you checked train departure times the day before as trains leave just once an hour and it is better to be at the train station at least half an hour before train departure time. In this half an hour, first, you need to find where line R5 is as the station is quite big and signposting is not excellent.7montserrat 164250Second, you have to buy a ticket. The closer to train departure time, the busier the ticket machines get. And yes, you have to choose which ticket to buy: one with a cable car ascending to the monastery after your one hour train ride or one with a rack railway getting up to the monastery. You can also buy your travel tickets online. If you go there during the high season, from mid-June to mid-September, or on weekends, I would advise buying a ticket with the rack railway option. It’s not because I am a fan of rack railway but because on your way back, you board the train at Monistrol train station before the other travelers who are coming from the cable car and boarding at the Montserrat Aeri station. This way during busy times you have more chances to get a seat for your one hour train ride. Unfortunately, you cannot get a ticket for the funicular one way and for the rack railway the other. If you want this, then you have to buy all these tickets separately, which takes time and maybe also more money. So make your decisions. As I was visiting Montserrat in the middle of January and I like cable cars more, I opted for the cable car. Even then, on my way back to Barcelona the train was full from Montserrat Aeri station and I was happy to get a seat. So I have told you that.

The timing of your Barcelona to Montserrat day trip

Getting to the Montserrat Monastery can take up to one hour and a half, and the same for coming back. Add time for visiting the basilica, about one hour, and time for hiking, at least 2 hours. I would advise 3-4 hours for hiking. So altogether you have to have 6-8 hours for your trip. So you should take a train from Placa Espanya at 9.36 or 10.36 am to make it in one day. Here is my actual

Monserrat tour plan from Barcelona

9:36 Train departure to Montserrat from Placa Espanya

As I mentioned earlier, it’s better to arrive half an hour before departure to have enough time to find the departure station for line R5, buy a ticket and find a seat for one hour ride.8montserrat 164093010montserrat 1640586

10:37 cable car from Montserrat AERI station

Go through a small tunnel to the cable car station and show your combined ticket to board a cable car.11montserrat 164058814montserrat 1640597Soak in stunning views while approaching Montserrat monastery.15montserrat 164060016montserrat 1640604

12:45 arrival at Montserrat Monastery

Have a short walk around and visit the tourist information centre. Ask for a hiking map for Montserrat. Make your way to Sant Joan Funicular entrance.18montserrat 164061319montserrat 164061520montserrat 164062321montserrat 1640829

11:20 Funicular ride to Sant Joan

Before buying your ticket, ask at the ticket office if it is included in your combined ticket already. If not, you have to be clear which hikes you will take at the top. One of the possibilities is to take a hike down from the upper station. Then obviously you just need a one way ticket for going up. So decide whether you need one or two way ticket before you buy it. Also, if you are planning to go down by funicular, check the time of the last departure from the upper station, which can be a bit before 5 pm in winter time or 10 minutes before 7 pm in summer.24montserrat 1640626

11:30 Hiking Montserrat

When you reach the upper station of Sant Joan funicular, you are ready for your hike. Even if you have a map with hiking trails, it’s not so easy to understand it, at least for me. I took a left turn after arriving at the upper funicular station and did a clockwise loop hike with nice views.25montserrat 1640628After a short walk, I reached Sant Joan chapel and enjoyed a stunning panoramic view from there.26montserrat 164063628montserrat 164064729montserrat 1640657Then I continued my walk rightwards.30montserrat 164065831montserrat 1640660About an hour later I was approaching a crossroads with a road pointer showing that in ten minutes I could reach Sant Joan funicular or walk in another direction and get to Sant Jeroni in 50 minutes. I decided to choose the latter.32montserrat 164066938montserrat 164070539montserrat 164071440montserrat 164073241montserrat 1640736With my walking speed, it took a bit more than an hour to reach it. I was rewarded with stunning views during my walk and also when reaching Sant Jeroni. Unlike most of the other summits in the park, the 1236 metres high Sant Jeroni is not a sharp rock pinnacle requiring rock climbing skills to attain its summit. When approaching the summit, you just have to climb 200m using a long flight of concrete steps. You will be rewarded for doing that.43montserrat 164074648montserrat 1640772Northwards, look down to the Llobregat river valley and look up to the Pyrenees over 100km away. South and east, in good weather, you can see the Mediterranean coast and Barcelona. After a well deserved break at the summit, I could not find a loop hiking trail from there so I just walked back by the same path and in more than one hour got back to Sant Joan funicular.50montserrat 164078051montserrat 164079653montserrat 164080354montserrat 1640809

15:00 Sant Joan funicular back to Montserrat Monastery

After getting back to Monserrat Monastery, I was prepared for visiting the Basilica and seeing the Black Madonna. Montserrat has been a holy site for many centuries and still continues as an active monastery to this day, with more than 80 Benedictine monks living inside.55montserrat 1640825Here you will find one of Catalonia´s most important artworks: la Virgen de la Moreneta or Our Lady of Montserrat, known as the Black Madonna due to the dark colour of Her skin. The Virgin of Montserrat is the Patron Saint of the region. To enter the church, you walk through an atrium built in the eighteenth century and renewed two hundred years later.56montserrat 1640836To get to Black Madonna as close as possible and address your prayer to her, you have to use the door at the right side of the church leading to the corridor and a stairway going up to Our Lady. The interior of the stairway is decorated with beautifully-made mosaics designed by Fr. Benet Martínez, one of the monks of Montserrat. Two pairs of beaten silver doors lead to the small throne room, visible from the central aisle.57montserrat 164084459montserrat 1640847The sculpture of Black Madonna is cut from dark wood and dates back to the 12th century. Made in Romanesque style, it is the centre a pilgrimage for thousands of worshippers and believers across the world. After you spend a few moments with Our Lady, exit from the niche via the Path of the Ave Maria where pilgrims leave candles to Black Madonna.61montserrat 1640862Finish your visit with the church where you can have a final look to Our Lady looking at you from the apse of the church, at the centre of a silver altarpiece. The church itself is an unusual building among the other monuments of Catalonia. It was built in the transition from the Gothic to Renaissance styles.62montserrat 164087164montserrat 1640881

16:20 Cable car departure back to Montserrat AERI station

Make sure you make your way to the cable car station early enough because there might be a line for boarding and places on the cable car are limited.65montserrat 1640894

16: 45 Train departure to Barcelona from Montserrat AERI station

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17:45 Arrival at Placa Espanya station in Barcelona

Practical information

Check the actual timetables of transportation before you go.  Make sure you have the best hiking shoes you own. Some trails are good, some might be challenging and good shoes can help you a lot. In any case, Montserrat hikes can be done by an average hiker like me. Take your water and packed lunch with you, as visitors report that food and water are very expensive at Montserrat and not available when hiking the mountain at all. Shops are located just around the Monastery. Have a great trip!

When in Barcelona why not to try also Barcelona food tour?

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Montserrat is a mountain and a famous monastery where Basilica of the Black Madonna, the patroness of Catalonia, can be found. Both are worth visiting in one journey: praying at Black Madonna and hiking Monserrat mountain trails. It’s actually one of the best day trips from Barcelona you can make.  Here is how to plan your tour by train from Barcelona to Montserrat. #visitCatalonia #visitMontserrat #hikingMontserrat #hiking #Barcelonadaytrips #travelpics #Europetravel #travel #travelblogMontserrat is a mountain and a famous monastery where Basilica of the Black Madonna, the patroness of Catalonia, can be found. Both are worth visiting in one journey: praying at Black Madonna and hiking Monserrat mountain trails. It’s actually one of the best day trips from Barcelona you can make.  Here is how to plan your tour by train from Barcelona to Montserrat. #visitCatalonia #visitMontserrat #hikingMontserrat #hiking #Barcelonadaytrips #travelpics #Europetravel #travel #travelblog

What did you think? Have you been to Montserrat? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting there in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.

  • Published by Anita on February 16, 2019

    Author: Anita Sāne

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Looking for the best day trip from Barcelona? Visit Montserrat in Catalonia for Black Madonna and hiking Monserrat Mountain. Here is how to plan this tour by train. By @thesanetravel #visitCatalonia #visitMontserrat #hikingMontserrat #travelpics

    Kian Lim
    Thank you Anita for the informative article. I will be going to Monserat this coming August with my wife and wife's niece.
    Great article! I was just there last year, but took a guided tour after a cruise but of course they never give you enough time to really look around. I am looking forward to using your travel tips for the next trip.
    Had an enjoyable couple of days there in April 1989 - wonderful for flowers and insects.
    A very timely and informative post. Was just looking at places to go in Europe at the end of the year.
    Thank you for all of the practical information as well as the beautiful photos! We opted for a day trip to Girona and Figueres (to see the Dali museum) when in Barcelona a few months ago. So now I feel like I've been able to experience Monserrat a bit thanks to your post. Definitely on my list for next time!
    Great details in the post, now I want to go, thanks.
    As long as there is a well defined path am quite happy to walk up :D Some trek routes are just so risky and I dont attempt them
    I'm so happy to read your adventure. I already went to Monserrat and it was one of my memorable experiences. It's so cool to see that you guys hike until the top of the mountain. We went on the top via cable car and it was fun but far fun compare to yours. Happy travel!
    What a great post! I'm in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Barcelona for October and had been looking at a day trip to Montserrat. The photos and the details are going to be so helpful when I get closer to going. Thanks!

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