Located about 30 miles (50 km) northwest of Barcelona is Montserrat Mountain, the 'Serrated Mountain.' This unique rock formation, sawed and sculpted by thousands of years of wind and rain, is most famously home to a Benedictine monastery, an important Catholic pilgrimage spot thanks to its 12th-century wooden statue of La Moreneta (The Black Madonna), Catalonia's patron saint. Aside from its religious and cultural importance, the mountain also boasts unbeatable views from its peaks.
Montserrat is one of the most popular full- or half-day trips from Barcelona. Located mid-cliff, the monastery is reachable via cog railroad or cable car, and from there, visitors are free to explore the monastery grounds, hike the numerous trails winding up and around Montserrat Mountain, or ride two funiculars to a scenic lookout or a holy cave believed to be the spot of a miraculous sighting of the Virgin Mary. Montserrat's location in Spain's cava-producing region means many travelers combine a visit with a tour and tasting at one of the several nearby wineries.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Choose a half-day Montserrat tour or a full-day excursion with a stop at a cava winery for wine tasting.
- Trips last anywhere from four to 10 hours, depending on the option you choose.
- Montserrat Monastery is wheelchair accessible, as is the cog railway leading there. Other parts of the mountain, including the funiculars, are not accessible.
- Bring layers, as Montserrat is cooler than nearby Barcelona.
- Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes, especially if you plan to make use of the trail network.
How to Get to Montserrat
The easiest way to get to Montserrat is with a guided, small-group tour that includes round-trip transportation from Barcelona. Independent travelers can reach Montserrat by catching the R5 train from Plaça d'Espanya station. Those wishing to take the cable car should get off at Montserrat-Aeri, while those taking the cog railway should get off at Monistrol de Montserrat. The journey from Barcelona takes about 90 minutes one way.
When to Get There
Montserrat is open throughout the year, but it can get very busy in summer, particularly in July and August. This time of year also brings the hottest temperatures—expect highs in the upper 80s. On a clear day, the monastery affords panoramic views, so it’s a good idea to check the weather and visit on a sunny, cloudless day.
Hear the Boys Choir of Montserrat
Santa Maria de Montserrat is home of the famous L'Escolania choir, a boys choir of altos and sopranos who perform in the Basilica of Montserrat each day. The midday performance by one of the oldest boys choirs in Europe has become one of the most popular activities at the monastery, with seats filling up well before the singing begins.