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A Day Trip to Montserrat from Barcelona, Spain

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Located high in the rugged mountains of Spain, Montserrat is a popular destination to take a day trip from Barcelona. While it’s only about an hour from Barcelona, it’s an entirely different landscape outside of the city. Montserrat boasts not only breathtaking natural beauty but also spiritual significance to the Catalan region and beyond.

There’s a reason why 3 million people visit Montserrat each year!

I had the opportunity to take a day trip to Montserrat while on a recent trip to Barcelona. While it’s possible to visit Montserrat on your own, I chose to go with a tour and enjoyed the ease and flow of that option. As a solo traveler, I enjoy the opportunity to meet and connect with other travelers along the way.

What is significant about Montserrat?

Montserrat has been considered a spiritually significant place for quite some time. The Romans once built a temple there to honor the goddess Venus.

Montserrat is also home to “Our Lady of Montserrat,” AKA the Black Madonna. You may also hear her called “The Virgin of Montserrat,” “La Moreneta,” “St. Mary of Montserrat,” or in Catalan, “Mare de Déu de Montserrat.” Many people make a pilgrimage to Montserrat specifically to see the Black Madonna, as she is known to have healing powers. Benedict monks have been living there and welcoming visitors for a thousand years.

Montserrat is also a geographically gorgeous place. It is quite high up and set within the mountains. On the winter afternoon that I was there, the unique shapes of the mountains were creating beautiful light beams into the sky.

Mountains from a day trip to Montserrat
The mountains of Montserrat

What is there to do in Montserrat?

There is a lot to see and experience in Montserrat, and it is free to enter the grounds and churches.

1. Visit the Black Madonna

The Montserrat Basilica is where you find the Black Madonna. Legend states that in 880 the wooden sculpture of the Virgin and Child was brought to Barcelona by St. Peter. He reportedly hid the figure in the mountains so that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of Moorish invaders. She was brought back out when she was found by shepherds…who became aware of her location because she was emitting a soft glow.

The church authorities ordered that she be moved to Barcelona, but the attempt to move the statue from Montserrat was thwarted when she suddenly became too heavy to lift. Getting the message that she was right where she wanted to be, a chapel was created there to house her. This was replaced by a Benedictine convent in 976.

A day trip to see the black madonna at montserrat
The Black Madonna of Montserrat

Others say that she is a Romanesque sculpture in wood from the late 12th century.

Either way, thanks to the presence of the Black Madonna Montserrat became a site of pilgrimage, and miracles have been reported. While the majority of her figure is behind glass, her extended hand reaches out. When you visit the Black Madonna you are welcome to touch or kiss her hand as you pray or pay respect.

Some say that she is known for healing fertility issues, while others say she’s a miracle granter in general!

The Virgin of Montserrat is the patron saint of Catalonia, which she shares with Saint George.

Located in: Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey

Address: 08199 Monestir de Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain

2. Explore the rest of the Benedictine Abbey

The Benedictine Abbey at Montserrat
The Benedictine Abbey at Montserrat

While the Black Madonna tends to be the main attraction at the Montserrat Basilica, there are many other interesting and gorgeous things to take in at the abbey. The basilica was consecrated in 1592 and then went through some construction after the Napoleonic Wars in Spain. In 1836 the monks were ordered to leave, at which point the basilica fell to disarray. Then in 1881 the monks returned and rebuilt it.

It’s also interesting to note that 50 monks still live there to this day, which is why we’re able to visit. They live within the apartments featured in the photo above.

In addition to serving as a place of worship, the location also houses a library of important texts like books on history, geography, and of course religious documents.

3. Listen to the world-renowned boy’s choir

Montserrat has a boy’s choir called L’Escolania that has been around since 1223. The choir is recognized around the world for its high-quality music. They perform each day, which may be as follows:

13:00 – Salva and Virolai
18:45 – Salve montserratina

Click here to visit their official website and confirm times.

Note: Sundays get busy, but are also reportedly the best day to go.

4. Visit the Ave Maria Path

One of my favorite parts of Montserrat was visiting the Ave Maria Path after exiting the Basilica. This is a cave where people light candles to pray and pay homage to the Virgin.

The Ave Maria Path, Montserrat
The Ave Maria Path, Montserrat

It was breathtaking to see all those lit candles within that environment. Anyone is welcome to purchase and light a candle. Like any church, this is done on the honor code and you can simply drop your change into a tin container and choose your candle.

5. Soak up the power spot

Many say that Montserrat is a power spot, which has been echoed by people like the Dalai Lama. This may have to do with the Black Virgin, or it may be why the Black Virgin ended up there. Whether or not you’re into the spiritual aspect, the fresh, quiet air up there will be a cleansing change coming from any city.

6. Visit the The Art Museum Of Montserrat

The Art Museum Of Montserrat is a pretty substantial place featuring art from the 13th to the 20th centuries. They have work from artists like El Greco, Caravaggio, Berruguete, Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Dali, Picasso, and Rusiñol.

7. The Audiovisual Room on the History Of Montserrat

One way to learn about Montserrat on your visit is to check out the Audiovisual Room. This interactive experience showcases archive photos and videos, as well as artifacts on site.

8. Santa Cecilia’s Monastery

In addition to visiting the Benedictine Abbey, you might also want to see Santa Cecilia’s Monastery, which is about a five-minute drive. The Roman church dates back to the 11th century but it was restored in the 20th century by Puig i Cadafalch. The interiors were designed by artist Sean Scully and opened to the public in 2015.

9. The Caves Of Salnitre (Collbató)

If the land itself appeals to you, it’s possible to take tours of the Caves of Salnitre where you may see formations like stalactites and stalagmites. Some of the rooms within the caves are called things like “The Cathedral”, “Devil’s Well”, “Hell’s Mouth”, and “Cloister of the Monks.”

There is evidence that the caves were inhabited and utilized by prehistoric people during the Stone and Iron Age.

10. Take a Hike in Montserrat

There are a variety of hiking trails that can be used to explore the mountainside of Montserrat, with gorgeous views into the valley below. From the main trailhead is takes about an hour and a half to hike to the monastery.

Getting from Barcelona to Montserrat

Montserrat is just 38 miles or 58.5 km from Barcelona. It can be accessed by public transportation, taxis, guided tours, or you can even drive yourself. Its elevation is around 4,000 feet.

Montserrat, Spain
Beautiful Montserrat

Taking public transportation to Montserrat

If you decided to take public transportation from Barcelona to Montserrat, you would catch a train at the R5 train at Plaça de Espanya station, and then either get off Monistrol de Montserrat to catch the railway or at Montserrat Aeri to catch the cable car.

You can also purchase packaged ticket options, which include the Trans Montserrat Ticket and the TOT Montserrat Ticket. These will cover all of the transportation needed, as well as some of the entry tickets.

Traveling to Montserrat by public transportation may take an hour to two hours depending on the time of year and how busy the day is. The cable cars up to Montserrat run less frequently than the trains do in Barcelona proper, so if you don’t plan a time you may have some waits.

You can also catch a bus to Montserrat via Autocars Julia. Do note that these buses only run once per day. You can check out their bus schedule here: Julia Bus.

Driving to Montserrat

If you choose to drive to Montserrat, you can either drive to the Rack railway station and take the railway, or drive up and park in the public parking at Montserrat. If you park at the Montserrat Monastery you will get the first 30 minutes free. After that, the cost is €6.50 for the rest of the day.

Taking a taxi to Montserrat

If you take a taxi or a rideshare like Uber or Bolt for your day trip to Montserrat, you can expect a fast ride, but a more expensive one. The one-hour ride may cost up to 100 euros. It’s also worth noting that there won’t be any taxis or rideshares waiting in the town of Montserrat. It would be best to organize your pickup ahead of time or be willing to wait a while to confirm a ride back down.

Going to Montserrat with a tour

You can absolutely take a day trip to Montserrat without a tour, but there are some benefits to doing so. In addition to getting information along the way from your guide, all your transportation is also handled.

I took a tour that included a bus ride from Barcelona to the cable car station. From there we rode the cable car funicular into Montserrat. On the way back we were able to meet our bus in Montserrat and take that down. This is a nice option because you don’t have to think about return tickets or timing with the cable cars.

My tour cost around 50 Euro. This is more than it would cost to take public transportation solo but far less than taking a rideshare.

Another benefit to booking a tour to Montserrat is that some of the tours package multiple locations within a day. You might be able to see Park Guell or La Sagrada Familia on the same day.

And then of course there’s the part where you get to hang out with some strangers. This is something I enjoy about taking tours. I’m always fascinated by who else is visiting this same place at the same time and why.

How much time to spend at Montserrat

Montserrat can be seen in either a half-day or full-day, depending on what you want to see there.

I went to Montserrat for a half-day trip, which was plenty of time considering that it was pretty cold up there in January. My half-day tour was enough time to visit the monastery, hit a couple of shops, and a museum, plus take some photos.

That being said, I would also enjoy a full-day trip to Montserrat. With more time I would eat up there are do more sightseeing. There are multiple museums at Montserrat, as well as other activities to take part in like wine tasting and hikes.

The best time to visit Montserrat

I visited Montserrat in January, which was quite cold. The upside to this of course is that the basilica is less crowded. We still had to wait in a short line to see the Black Virgin since everyone gets a moment with her. But the lines can reportedly get very long in the spring and summer months.

The most popular times to take a day trip to Montserrat are in the spring and summer.

The upside to going in the warmer months would be wanting to spend more of the time outside. There are hikes to take up there, which I did not do on my winter visit.

All in all, I thought it was definitely worth taking a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat.

Can you visit Montserrat as a tourist?

Montserrat is open to tourists every day of the year.

Is Montserrat in Spain worth visiting?

There is a good reason why Montserrat is one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona Spain. The mountains offer a complete change of scenery, and the history of the monastery appeals to spiritual seekers as well as the generally curious.

How do you dress for Montserrat?

If you’re entering the basilica at Montserrat there is a dress code to adhere to. This includes no tank tops, short shorts, or sandals.

How much does it cost to go to Montserrat?

Entering the basilica or visiting the Black Madonna at Montserrat is free. To get there you can take public transportation, drive, or go with a tour.

How far is it from Barcelona to Montserrat?

It is 38 miles from Barcelona to Montserrat. The travel time is about an hour, depending on how you get there.

Is it worth taking a day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona?

Around 3 million people visit Montserrat each year, many of whom visit on a day trip from Barcelona. The region is uniquely beautiful and is a significant spiritual getaway for the Catalon region.

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