8.45 or 9.45AM
DRIVE TO MONTSERRAT
Meet your guide & driver
Be picked up at your hotel, apartment or the cruise pier by your private tour guide and your driver to drive you to Montserrat, driving along the Llobregat river, the orchards and factories along it, all the way to the foot of the Mountain of Montserrat.
IF YOU STARTED EARLY
BLACK MADONNA SHRINE
IF YOU STARTED LATE
CABLE CAR, RACK TRAIN OR DRIVE
- 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
Around 2 hours
The Monastery area offers lots of activities to choose from. Here are some ideas:
- St Joan Funicular and optional hike back. Best as you arrive in case there are long lines, it departs every 20 minutes and takes you to a high point from where to enjoy the views over the Monastery and the rest of the mountain. The ride takes 5 minutes, and once there you can also visit a small exhibit about the geology and the nature of Montserrat (15 minutes). You might also choose to hike down a relatively easy path (walking shoes needed, though) that takes about 45 minutes to walk. The views are spectacular and it can be done with kids at a slower pace.
- 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.
- Holy Cave. If you are into churches and able to walk, you might want instead to walk to the Holy Cave Ermitage, where it is said the Black Madonna was originally found by miracle. The little church isn’t especially beautiful, but the views are and the path is partially decorated with sculptures representing the Misteries of the Cross, one of which was designed by a very young Antoni Gaudi. A funicular saves you 10 minutes of the way, that takes around 40 minutes (one way). The walk involves steps.
- 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
The Escolania Choir sings every day except Saturdays and school holidays at 1PM (Sundays at Noon) two songs: the Salve and the Virolai, two hymns to the Virgin Mary. The Basilica gets packed, so for the best experience we recommend arriving 30 minutes earlier to get a good spot standing as close to the altar as possible (or one hour if you wish to be able to seat). During the waiting time your guide can continue whispering you explanations, and as the Choir time approaches, a monk will read some passages of the Gospels in different languages and encourage people to join him praying the Our Father.
The singing is considered a sung prayer – not a concert. This is why it is not appropriate to clap at the end. It is also free of charge for this reason.
After the Choir, you’ll head straight back to the car. We need to depart quickly in order to avoid the tremendous traffic jam that happens after the Choir when dozens of tour buses try to leave the Monastery at the same time via the single road that takes there. This is why toilet and shopping must be done BEFORE the Choir.
DRIVE TO SITGES
From the mountain to the sea
Hop on the car to drive across the Montserrat mountain enjoying impressive views and passing curious rock formations until the road starts descending to join the highway that will take you to Sitges.
Time to eat!
9.45AM START ONLY
If you chose to start your tour at 9.45 and skip the Black Madonna shrine, now you’ll have a spare extra hour to explore Sitges with your tour guide: walk around its whitewashed streets, feel the breeze of the Mediterranean sea, and learn about the village modernist past.
DRIVE BACK TO BARCELONA
Join the driver to return to Barcelona. The road starts with some sea views, to after passing the Garraf mountains start crossing farmlands and industries before entering the city. Use this last ride to continue asking your guide questions, get recommendations for the rest of your stay, or… take a nap!
At the end of the tour, you’ll be dropped off back to your hotel or apartment, or any other point of your choice within the city limits.