How to get to Montserrat from Barcelona
ALL THE OPTIONS FOR GETTING TO MONTSERRAT
The Montserrat Mountain and Monastery are the most popular destination for a day trip from Barcelona, because it’s close to Barcelona and well communicated with the city by public transportation, besides offering a very appealing range of attractions: a historical monastery, a breathtaking rocky mountain, a boys choir with angelical voices, a fine art museum, hikes around nature…
If you are staying several days in town, or if this is not your first time in Barcelona and want to do new things, getting to Montserrat abbey is a wonderful plan. But how do you get there? There’s many options depending on your budget, favorite means of transportation and even your energy levels. Let’s discuss what the options are!
Getting to Montserrat from Barcelona by train
Barcelona to Montserrat by train + cable car
The trains to Montserrat depart from Plaça Espanya and are run by FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya), the Catalan railways. You need to hop on the R5 line and go to Aeri de Montserrat. The ride takes one hour and you'll need a 4-zone ticket. Make sure to check the departure times in advance, as there's only one train every 30 minutes, and missing one and having to wait for the next will considerably shorten your time in the mountain. Because even if there's trains heading back to Barcelona until late at night, the cable car closes earlier depending on the sunlight.
The Cable car station is right next to the Aeri de Montserrat train station, and there you’ll need to purchase another ticket for the cable car ride. Ask for a round trip if you are sure you’ll be taking the cable car down, or a one way (“solo ida” in Spanish or “nomes anada” in Catalan) if you want to have the option of taking the cogwheel train down. There’s rides every 15 minutes, but it’s not rare to have to wait more because of the lines – one to purchase the tickets, the other one to board, and the limited capacity of the cabins (around 20 people per ride). Our recommendation is to arrive early (maximum 10 or 10.30AM) to avoid lines.
The ride takes around 5 minutes. It’s not recommended for people that suffer fear of heights, and this is what nobody else tells you: it’s not a good option for people with walking issues. The reason is that the top station is not adapted (there’s a staircase with some 20-30 steps between the ground level and the cable car platform below, and the top station is located several meters under the monastery level. I’ve seen elderly people have a hard time walking up the not so gentle slope between the cable car and the monastery.
TIP: In order to see the views from the cable car, find a spot to stand in the side opposite to the Montserrat mountain: you’ll have prime views over the valley, whereas if you stand facing the mountain you’ll soon only be seeing rocks.
Barcelona to Montserrat by train + cogwheel train
The cogwheel train (there’s only two of them in Spain) takes 11 minutes to take you to the Montserrat Monastery area, briefly stopping in an intermediate station (“Monistrol Vila”) on the way. Although in the high season there’s more frequency, during the low season, there can be only one cogwheel train every hour – so make sure to check the schedule in advance to avoid wasting your precious time stuck at the station. Take into account that there might be lines to purchase tickets at the cogwheel station, so it’s recommended to have them in advance. There’s no lines to board because the cogwheel train has usually enough capacity to absorb all the passengers waiting.
The cogwheel train is a good option for people with fear of heights, because they can just seat on the side opposite from the cliff. It’s also perfect for people with walking issues because the stations are accessible and the top station is on the same level of the Montserrat Monastery area. The cogwheel train also stays for another hour after the cable car has closed, so it’s a good option if you are planning to stay longer in the mountain.
TIP: The best views, once you board and facing the direction of the train, are those on the left hand side of the train. The right hand side is mostly facing the mountain rock walls.
Montserrat Combined tickets including train rides
Basic train + cable car ticket
This ticket is available at the train station as well as on the top station of the cable car (for the trip back to Barcelona).
Tiqets Montserrat combined package
This popular online ticket platform sells a combined ticket that includes the R5 train (round trip), the cogwheel train, an audiovisual guide, admission to the Museum and a liquor tasting.
Combined ticket that includes the R5 train (round trip), the cogwheel OR the cable car (round trip), the funiculars once in Montserrat, and an audiovisual about the monastery and the mountain. You can purchase it online or at the train station in Plaça Espanya. You need to choose if you’ll be using the Cable Car or the Cogwheel Train at the moment of purchase – either one or the other, and you can’t change your mind after buying it.
The most complete combined ticket includes the same as the Trans Montserrat, plus two subway rides, admission to the Montserrat Museum and lunch at the cafeteria of the monastery. Just like Trans Montserrat, you can purchase it online or at the train station in Plaça Espanya, and you need to choose if you’ll be using the Cable Car or the Cogwheel Train at the moment of purchase – either one or the other, and you can’t change your mind after buying it.
Best way to get to Montserrat from Barcelona by car
If you have your own car or a rental one, you might want to consider doing what locals do and getting to Montserrat by car. The drive takes under one hour, it’s easy enough and well signed. The only issue can be parking. First: it’s no cheap. Second: up in the Montserrat Monastery there isn’t a large wide space for a parking lot: the parking is lined up along the road on the edge of the mountain. And the thing is that the spots closer to the monastery get quickly taken by the people that arrive earlier (and that’s already about 10-15 minutes walk from the first parking spots to the Monastery).
Parking by the parking access gate (meaning you were one of the last to arrive) is some 20-30 minutes walk uphill. And when the parking is full, locals just park along the road (free, but they might have to walk 40 minutes to one hour to the monastery! not fun). In such case, the road from Monistrol usually has longer lines – a golden tip that only a local can tell you. So choose wisely.
Via Monistrol de Montserrat
You will soon see the monastery up in the mountain, and the parking of the Aeri (Cable Car) to the right of the road. From the parking you also access the bridge that takes you over the river to the actual cable car station where there’s another parking that often fills up. Five minutes later you’ll find the fork where the road to the Montserrat Monastery starts (BP-1121). It’s just some 10 minutes of a winding scenic road with multiple occasions to stop for pictures.
If instead you were planning to head to the cogwheel train, stay on the C-55 instead, and just a couple of minutes later you’ll reach a large turn-about where the last exit is the cogwheel station of Monistrol-Vila (the intermediate stop between the suburban train station and the monastery. There’s a huge covered parking lot, a cafeteria and free toilets. In the high season there’s lines to get tickets, so it’s always a good idea to get them online in advance.
GOING BACK DOWN: I personally don’t recommend it because while driving up doesn’t seem too tricky, on the way down you realize it was more steep than it looked and it can be a bit scary if you aren’t used to winding roads. The El Bruch Road is easier for the way down.
Via El Bruch
This road is also very scenic and shows you both sides of the mountain and views of the Pyrenees in the distance. But it won’t work if you want to use the cable car or the cogwheel train, because it reaches the monastery from the top of the hills, not from the valley. It’s also easy to ride as the curves and the slope are not as pronounced, and it’s less scary for people with fear of heights. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you to go up via Monistrol and go down via El Bruch to get a more complete image of the mountain.
Via Terrassa - Castellbell i el Vilar
This is another option that some people like because the views of the mountain of Montserrat from the road are quite scenic (although there’s no vantage point where you can stop to take pictures), but it’s a toll road (not free like A2). But if you want to try, you’ll be leaving Barcelona from the North (Nus de la Trinitat), and taking the C-58 towards Terrassa, that eventually becomes the C-16 where the toll is. You’ll take the exit 41 to St. Vicenç de C. / Castellbell i V / Montserrat and continue on the C-55.
The road crosses the turn-about to the Monistrol-Vila cogwheel station before reaching the crossing where you take the BP-1121 up to the monastery – the same winding road you take when getting to Montserrat via Monistrol. I’m not a big fan of this option, but for some reason (maybe because of the scenery), I’ve found many private drivers and bus drivers that like it – so I had to share.
How to get to Montserrat Mountain by bus
There’s only one suburban bus line that takes you to Montserrat. It is run by the Julia bus company and the buses depart from Sants train station, and drop you off at the monastery. These buses are direct, but beware: there’s only ONE train departing at 9.15AM in the morning from Barcelona, and ONE train going back at either 5 or 6PM. A risky business, if you ask me. Plus it’s slow: one hour and fifteen minutes or more depending on the traffic.
B23 + Cogwheel train
There’s also the B23 bus between Barcelona and Monistrol de Montserrat, stopping in a couple of other towns before reaching Monistrol, and the ride takes about 1 hour. Then from the second stop in the village (Parc de l’Alvernia – La Puntual) it’s some 10 minutes walk from the Monistrol de Montserrat station. But really… why make it so difficult when you could just take the train to the same place?
Getting to Montserrat Monastery by taxi
And make sure to tell them you want to use the A2, because if they go via Terrassa and Castellbell del Villar you’ll have to add the cost of the toll on top. In any case, pay only what the meter marks and ask for a receipt if you feel like you are being cheated (sometimes that makes them “notice the mistake”, or at least you will have a prove to complain to the Taxi Authority. And by all means don’t fall in the trap of asking them to wait for you (unless you are in a hurry to get back to Barcelona and only came for a quick picture – I’m not gonna judge you here). You’ll end up paying for all the waiting time plus the ride back.
Back to Barcelona
If you miss the last cogwheel train, don’t panic yet: you won’t have to spend the night there or hitchhike back: you can call a cab! There’s a small company in Monistrol de Montserrat that operates 24/7. Their number is +34 607329946. If they don’t reply in English, still don’t panic yet. At the tourist information point they’ll be able to help you. And if it’s so late it’s already closed, head to the Abat Cisneros hotel to the left of the Monastery and as the receptionist for help.
How to get to Montserrat Monastery hiking
It’s a total of 52km / 32 miles, and it takes over 12 hours to cover it from end to end. The trail is marked with a white and red marks. And believe it or not, it’s a traditional hike that a lot of hiking and sport clubs, parish churches and catholic schools will organize once a year – kind of like a pilgrimage but with a more or less religious accent depending on who does it. And most of the time it starts from Barcelona with the sunset and you spend the night walking to reach Montserrat with the sunrise. I guess you avoid the heat and the sunstrokes like that. Or it offers a more silent setting if you are looking for a spiritual experience.
I’ve done it once, but we cheated: we skipped the first leg between Barcelona and Les Fonts (took the FGC trains there), then we did the last two legs (Les Fonts to Olesa de Montserrat and Olesa de Montserrat to the monastery) in one night. But if you want to do the whole thing, it’ll take you like 5 hours more, the path starts by the Parc del Laberint in the Horta district, and crosses the Collserola range that surrounds Barcelona.
From the Cable Car station
The “Camí de l’Aigua” (Water trail) is a steep path that connects the bottom station of the Montserrat Cable Car with the monastery. You’ll leave the station by crossing the bridge over the Llobregat river, then following the C-55 road to the right (towards Monistrol). In ten minutes you’ll reach two humble buildings, one of them a small water treatment plant. There you’ll find a signage pole that marks the beginning of the hiking trail, as well as other hiking paths that connect here.
Some 40 minutes later you’ll find another water pumping facility where the trail becomes stairs. And up you go. Eventually the stairs join the path connecting the Monastery of Montserrat and the Chapel of the Holy Cave. You are only 10 minutes of climbing stairs away from the monastery area. The whole thing takes about 1.5 hours, it’s 3.3km / 2 miles for an over 500m / 1650 ft gradient.
From Monistrol de Montserrat station
Another option to hike to the Monastery of Montserrat (Spain) is to take the train to Monistrol de Montserrat and take the Drecera dels Tres Quarts. From the station you’ll have to cross the bridge over the river and take the Pas de la Canaleta walk to the Plaça de la Font Gran. From the opposite side of the square, the Carrer de la Font takes you between some buildings to the BP-1121 road that you need to cross to find the hiking trail marked as GR5 and GR96. The path goes up some hill crests until it joins the Camí de l’Aigua, and from there the steps, and the fork taking to the Santa Cova chapel or the Monastery. This hike is 3.8km / 2.3 miles long, with a 524m / 1719 feet elevation gain, and takes about 1.5 hours to be completed.
Other unsual means of transportation to Montserrat
By air or by ground...
Taking a tour to Montserrat from Barcelona
Group tours (not operated by us)
Group tours are a good option to get to Montserrat abbey in a time-efficient way. You don’t need to worry about transportation, you have a guide that shows you around, and can do in a morning what on your own would take the entire day – and that’s great to maximize your short time in Barcelona. The downside is that you are sharing your time with strangers and committed to a certain schedule and itinerary.
Private tours with us
Finally, the best way to get to Montserrat monastery if budget isn’t an issue is to take a private tour. You get to travel in style in a luxury car with driver, then a private guide shows you around Montserrat focusing on your interests: hiking? museums? religion? scenic sites? And you can even combine Montserrat with some other destination that you wouldn’t be able to cover on your own or on a group tour.
Further reading to prepare your day in Montserrat
How are you planning to get to Montserrat (Spain)?
Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.
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