This is a sample itinerary for our Private Montserrat & Girona in One Day Tour.
Final itinerary and timings might vary due to many factors (your location and pace, traffic conditions, your main interests…)
DRIVE TO MONTSERRAT
Meet your guide & driver
CABLE CAR, RACK TRAIN OR DRIVE
There are 3 different ways to get to the Monastery:
- Cablecar: Our favorite way, unless you are scared of heights. The ride takes less than 5 minutes, and even if guides can’t skip lines, there isn’t usually many people when we get there. Not recommended for people with walking issues either, as the walk from the upper station to the Monastery is uphill and involves some steps.
- Rack (cog wheel) train: The option for those who are scared of heights and get motion-sickness. Unfortunately, guides can’t skip lines there either and specially in the weekends and high season they can be particularly long. The ride takes 15 minutes.
- Drive: You can of course choose to just stop to take a picture of the Monastery from the bottom of the mountain and continue by car. It’s a very scenic winding road and the ride takes around 15 minutes.
Things to do in Montserrat
The Monastery area offers lots of activities to choose from. Here are some ideas:
- Art Museum. If you like art, you will be impressed by the beautiful collection the monks have gathered throughout the centuries! The visit takes at least 1 hour.
- Hike to the Cross of Saint Michael. An easy hike that provides outstanding views over the Monastery. 1 hour total.
- Via Crucis path. This shorter walk with decorative panels describing Jesus Path of the Cross takes around 30 minutes and despite a few steps here and there, it’s quite easy to walk and it takes you into the nature and away from the pilgrim and visitors crowds for a while, with also some nice photo opportunities.
- Audiovisual and Exhibit. A 10 minute audiovisual explains what the Mountain and the Monastery of Montserrat mean for the locals, from its history, its religious significance, the art and the nature. Then the visit continues through a nice exhibit that explains how the monks and the children of the choir live (about 20 minutes more, after watching the video).
- Shopping. There are two gift shops and a small farmers market with a dozen stalls selling local food products such as cheese, honey, fig bread and caramelized nuts.
You’ll discuss the options with your guide, and spend your time focusing on your favorite activities. Your guide will stay with your during the entire time.
ENTER THE BASILICA
Waiting for the Choir
Oldest Boy Choir in Europe
Hearing the Escolania Choir is a highlight of this tour. But because it’s so popular, there’s not enough room in the Royal Basilica of Montserrat for everyone that wants to attend (even if the Basilica isn’t precisely small…). That’s why we recommend to head there 30 minutes earlier in order to get a good spot standing as close as possible (if you want to be seated, then you should arrive 1 hour earlier).
The Escolania sings 3 songs: the Our Father prayer, the Salve (an anthem in honor of the Virgin Mary), and the Virolai (the hymn of the Black Madonna), and it lasts 15 minutes. They sing every day at 1PM, except Sundays when they sing at noon right after mass, and Saturday when they have their day off and don’t sing at all.
Time to Eat!
After the choir, you’ll have some time for a light lunch at the Monastery canteen. Unfortunately, the food options aren’t great: sandwiches and cafeteria reheated food (chicken, sausages, omelettes, fries, salads…). But if you wish to see the choir, I’m afraid that’s the only option (unless of course you prefer to wait until 3.30PM and eat a decent lunch in Girona…
ONLY EXCEPTIONS: On Saturday and during school holidays there is no Choir, so we can start your tour at 8:30AM and be in Girona at 1:30PM for lunch. On Sunday the Choir sings at noon, and if we leave right after, we’ll be in Girona by 2.30 for lunch.
A medieval gem
The ride to Girona is long, so feel free to take a lovely nap, or enjoy the views as you cross the landscapes of the central Catalonia: mountains, farmlands, villages, woods and local industries. Your guide can answer any questions you might have about our history and culture, or start filling you in about what you’ll be seeing in Girona.
The Old Town of Girona keeps a charming Call (medieval Jewish Section) with a fascinating (and unfortunately sad) history. No Jewish Heritage tour here would be complete without a visit of its Museum of History of the Jewish ( closed on Monday).
Besides this, there’s also some interesting Medieval Baths, the path along the city walls and an extraordinary Gothic Cathedral. You’ll also get to walk around the medieval alleys and squares to enjoy the local atmosphere. Almost like being in Italy, but without the crowds!
DRIVE TO BACK TO BARCELONA
Enjoying the landscape
Back to the car, enjoy a well deserved rest or continue chatting with your tour guide about what you’ve seen today, make more questions to your guide, or get recommendations for the rest of your stay.
At the end of the tour you’ll be dropped off back to your hotel or apartment after a great day out of town.