If you’re looking to get out of the city during your Barcelona vacation then Montserrat is the place for you. In just over an hour you’ll be far away from the hustle and bustle of the city and breathing fresh air from high on the mountain. There’s many different ways to visit Montserrat: you can go for a few hours, the entire day or you can stay overnight. I’ll give you my tips for visiting Montserrat from Barcelona. Read on:
Although the journey itself is easy, the ticket process can be complicated. To sum it up, this is how you get from Barcelona to Montserrat:
- Train from Barcelona (Plaza Espanya) to the base of Montserrat
- Rack Railway or Cable Car from the base of Montserrat up the mountain
Simple enough, right?
Except there’s a few crucial pieces of information you need to remember. Your train ticket to Montserrat is purchased as a “combination ticket”. One price, and one ticket, includes your train and your rack railway OR cable car. You must decide wether you want to take the rack railway or the cable car before you purchase your ticket. Although they cost the same they are two different tickets, and they are not interchangeable. To top it off, they are also two different train stops.
So, which one? The cable car offers amazing views and takes less time, although it’s not recommended for people who are afraid of heights. The rack railway takes longer (15 minutes instead of 5) but it’s my preferred choice for one very important reason…
Whichever method you choose will be the same method you have to use in each direction. Remember how I said each option has a seperate train station? Well on the way home the people on the rack railway get picked up first. That means by the time the train gets to the base of the cable car there’s no seats left on the train. I don’t know about you, but after hiking a mountain all day the last thing I want to do is stand on a train for the hour-long ride home.
Let me complicate things further by telling you about the TransMontserrat ticket, which I highly recommend. For 27.50€ you can buy a ticket that includes the following:
- Roundtrip on the metro (to get to and from Plaza Espanya)
- Roundtrip train from Plaza Espanya to the base of Montserrat
- Roundtrip on either the rack railway or cable car from the base of Montserrat up the mountain
- Unlimited use of the two funiculars at Montserrat
- Some interactive visual show that I never checked out
If you add up the cost of those things individually it will cost a lot more than 27.50€. These tickets can be purchased at the Plaza Espanya station or at the information booth in Placa Cataluyna.
The Rack Railway station in Montserrat
PLANNING YOUR DAY
When you arrive in Montserrat (by rack railway or cable car) you’ll find yourself about halfway up the mountain in a beautiful little village. There’s restaurants, gift shops, two hotels, a museum and the basilica. Take your time exploring this area, and stop by the information booth to grab a free map.
Montserrat appeals to people for different reasons. Many people spend the entire day in this area, especially in the basilica. Montserrat has a lot of religious significance, and some people are here only for that.
I’m not one of those people.
After briefly looking around this village area (and skipping the museum and basilica) Paul and I took the Sant Joan funicular further up the mountain. The views from up here are amazing! Once up here you have a few different options:
- You can take some pictures and enjoy the view, then take the funicular back down to the village.
- You can enjoy the view then walk 35 minutes back to the village, following the many signs.
- You can walk further up the mountain.
This picture best illustrates our day! This picture was taken on the trail at the top of the funicular. No hiking or mountain climbing required at this point!
We were feeling adventurous, so we choose option number three. We followed the paths and signs as far as we could. When they ended we just continued walking uphill.
Most of the walk up there were some sort of food paths, and we passed by lots of other adventurous travellers on our walk. After about an hour we finally got to the top of the mountain. The views made every bruise and scraped knee worth it! Just check out some of my pictures below to see for yourself!
Finally at the top!
The walk back down was harder than the walk up, thanks to the lack of real paths and the steepness of the mountain. When we finally got back to the funicular we were exhausted… and ready for a cold drink! We spent another 30 minutes enjoying drinks at one of the restaurants and taking pictures around the village before heading home.
We really enjoyed our time in Montserrat, even though we skipped the museum, basilica and pretty much anything else religion-related. Including transportation, we were gone from Barcelona for just under 7 hours. If you’re considering a side trip to Montserrat I would highly recommend it. Just plan ahead of time so you know what kind of ticket you need to buy, and how you want to spend your time there!