Day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona


When traveling new lands, I personally love nothing more than doing small pilgrimages outside of the main cities in whatever capacity they are available.

From Barcelona, this pilgrimage is Montserrat. And it takes you right up into an ancient mountain range that overlooks scenic Catalonia.

The day trip itself can be immensely stressful if you don’t properly understand the Barcelona train systems. Here is everything you need to know to keep the peace.

Where is Montserrat?

The Montserrat Mountains lie about an hour and a half northwest of Barcelona’s city center.

What I love about this destination is that people vacationing in the Spanish capital, Madrid, can also make the journey in to the mountains in the form of a day trip. These travelers will hop on a high-speed train headed northeast and arrive in under two and a half hours.

The distance between Barcelona and Montserrat is 61km. The distance between Madrid and Montserrat is 580km. Thank goodness for high-speed trains!

Things to Do at Montserrat

At its essence, a day trip to Montserrat is a chance to escape the metropolitan lifestyle that the city brings, and to reconnect with the more natural wonders of the Spanish landscape.

For some, simply making it to the mountain range is good enough, and they’ll spend a few hours wandering around the Montserrat village on foot.

Those looking for activities to pass the time have a range of options. The most popular is catching the cable car up to the summit of the mountains in order to visit the ancient Monastery of Montserrat.

Inside of the monastery you’ll find access to the chapel where the statue of the Virgin Mary stands. Traditionally, all who visit her should touch the ball in one of her hands and then make a wish. During examination periods many students flock here wishing for luck.

Montserrat – by Lubomira Yovcheva – Unsplash

If heights aren’t really your thing, or the weather isn’t permitting, I strongly recommend a visit to the Montserrat Museum. It houses some impressive works, including that of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Montserrat is also a hotspot for climbing and hiking. There are a few family-friendly walking paths that give way to people traveling with children; the Camí dels Degotalls is the easiest and most popular.

Those looking for more intense hiking routes or rock climbing facilities have a range of options to choose from. Information on all of these is available at the arrivals hall in the main town of Monistrol.

Hiking Montserrat gives you the opportunity to skip the need for both the cable car and the rack railway services, as you’ll have opted to make your way up the mountain on foot instead.

Montserrat Hiking – by Fikri Rasyid – Unsplash

Getting to Montserrat 

Thanks to the influx of tourism over the years, there are now many different ways in which to reach Montserrat, depending on how you like to travel. Have a read through all of the following combination options and suss out which one feels like the one for you.

Rack Railway Train Combo

Not everyone can stomach the cable car ride up the mountain, and so this travel combo is best for them albeit slightly longer in journey time.

All journeys to Montserrat begin at Plaça Espanya in the city center. You can reach this station from anywhere in the city simply by using the metro service.

From Plaça Espanya you’ll need to catch the R5 line through to the Monistrol de Montserrat stop. This leg of the journey takes about an hour and tickets go for €5.25 one way. If you’ll be taking the same route home, but your return ticket at the same time.

At the stop, you’ll be able to change to the Cremallera Railway; this line runs right up to the top of the mountain. It requires the purchasing of new tickets: €7.20 on way or €12 for a return ride.

Montserrat – by Sebastian Pichler – Unsplash

Cable Car Train Combo

The train and cable car journey is the fastest and most popular option for travelers between Barcelona and Montserrat. It’s also undoubtably the most scenic.

You’re going to catch the same first train as the option before, starting at the Plaça Espanya. Ride the R5 through to the Aeri de Montserrat and get off; this is one stop before the stop we used previously.

Aeri de Montserrat is where one gains access to the Montserrat cable cars. They typically run every 15 minutes, and tickets go for €7.50 one way or €11.50 return.

What’s great about this journey is that combination tickets can be purchased directly from the Plaça Espanya Station, which allows you to skip the queues on arrival in Montserrat.

Montserrat – by AC Almelor – Unsplash

ToT Combo Ticket

The Barcelona tourism board has graciously put together a combination package known as the ToT Ticket.

This is really an all inclusive day trip experience where you’re left worrying about absolutely no leg of your journey at all.

The tickets start at around €50 per person, with discounted rates for children. What you’ll get is roundtrip travel starting and ending at the Plaça Espanya. You’ll use the R5 train and then have your choice of either taking the cable car up or using the rack railway.

Once you’re in Montserrat, your ticket gets you access into the Montserrat Museum, unlimited rides on the mountain funicular and a self-service lunch experience at a restaurant in the village.

ToT tickets can be purchased directly from the Barcelona tourism website. Click here for more information.

Montserrat – by Angel Santos – Unsplash

Can You Drive to Montserrat?

Absolutely. Making the journey between Barcelona and Montserrat is totally doable by car.

Be it via rental vehicle or by taxi, simply make your way to either one of the train stops mentioned above, from which you can catch the cable car or rack railway up the mountain.

There is parking available at both stations and vehicles can be late here for the day. Those opting for taxis should be aware that there may not be any lingering around when it comes time to go home, so be prepared for a train ride back.

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Montserrat – by Madara Parma – Unsplash