With everything going on with COVID, I have decided to keep my travelling to a minimum. However, I had to get out and do something. There is so much to see surrounding Barcelona, which makes for perfect day trips. Most places are easily accessible by both public transport and private car. Public transportation can often make for a very affordable way to take a quick trip out of the city.
Montserrat is a major tourist site, so I was wary of this. However, I guess the upside of COVID is less tourists. While there were visitors, there was nowhere near the amount that would generally be at a popular tourist destination in summer in Spain. No large crowds and a short train ride away made for an anxiety free day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat. Here’s how it went…
How to get there
Montserrat is about an hour or so by train. The train towards Manresa leaves from Plaza Espana metro station and takes you to where you can get either the Cable Car (Montserrat Aeri) or the Rail Rackway (Monistrol de Montserrat). From there, you either take the cable car or rail rackway, both take you straight up the mountain.
Once in the Plaza Espana metro station, there are signs posted, making it very easy to find your way to the train that will take you to Montserrat Aeri or Monistrol de Montserrat. You can pre – buy your Montserrat transport tickets online or you can purchase them at the station. The combination tickets purchased at the station will include the train ride to the Montserrat transports. Follow the signs to the train, and there you will find the ticket machines as well as a booth with an attendant.
Types of tickets
There are a few different ticket options available. You can buy one way tickets at the machines or buy combination tickets with the attendant. A one way ticket would include your train ticket + your cable car/rack railway ticket (13.25 euros). There is a also roundtrip combination ticket available (24 euros) however, you will have to choose to either take the cable car up and down or the rack railway up and down, but not either or. Once you have purchased you cannot change your mind. Since I wanted to experience both the cable car and the rack railway, I opted to buy two, one way tickets.
My advice would be to get the cable car going up to Montserrat and take the rack railway back down. Here’s why:
The cable car is standing only, but you get a stunning 360 degree view of parts of Catalonia and the Pyrenees. If you are afraid of heights like I am, I would say to bite the bullet and go up this way as it’s totally worth the view and the ride is only about 5 minutes, and hey… I survived.
After a long day of touring the monastery and perhaps going on a hiking trail, I’m sure you will be leaving with tired feet. The rack rail provides seating so you can rest as you journey back down the mountain side. Another reason that it is recommended to get the rack railway back is because you will be able to get on the train at the first stop rather than the second one where the cable car drops off. If there are many people leaving at the same time, you are more likely to get a seat on the train back to Barcelona before those that will get on at the cable car drop off. When leaving Montserrat you can purchase your one way ticket back on the cable car/rack railway + train (12.65 euros).
What’s to see at Montserrat
The first thing to see are the interestingly shaped mountain views; Montserrat – “serrated mountain.”
Apart from the views, the highlight of Montserrat is the monastery. This is home to Our Lady of Montserrat otherwise known as La Moreneta. Mass is regularly held at the monastery and you are not allowed in until it is over. You can enter the monastery, see La Moreneta and hear the boy’s choir sing all for free. Get your ticket from an agent at the front and they will tell you what time to make the line. Be sure to consider the times for the choir as they sing at specific times of the day.
The property is like a little town that houses a community of monks. There is a small supermarket, a couple of places to eat, souvenir stores and a museum (8 euros).
Leaving the monastery you can go in several directions to find hiking trails. There are two additional funicular railways that take you to different parts of the mountains for hiking. (about 13 euros)
I took a trail that started right at the monastery which leads out to a big cross that sits out on the edge of the mountain side. It is an uphill walk, but not too bad of a hike, so if you are not up for a long trek or have any difficulties with taking long walks, this trail will be perfect for you. The cross is at a higher level than the monastery and the views are breathtaking.
Taking this day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat during this time turned out better than I thought. There were no crowds which made it very easy to get around and no long lines to wait in. Like almost every church I have been to in Barcelona so far, the monastery was beautifully decorated. I could spend hours just looking at the details of the artwork. The views are impressive to say the least. In addition to Montserrat being home to the monastery, there are also wineries located about 30 to 40 minutes away by car. I spent quite a bit of hours exploring the monastery and the hiking trail that I don’t think I could have done both things in the same day. I will save the wineries for another day.
If you live in Barcelona and looking for a quick getaway, give Montserrat a visit. If you are visiting Barcelona, a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat is an easy add to any itinerary.
Have you done a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know how your experience was.
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