๐Ÿฅพ Hiking Montserrat’s Sant Jeroni Summit Loop Guide

The blog author standing on a mountain with sky blue views in the horizon.

Montserrat, a famous mountain about an hour away from Barcelona, has over a dozen hiking trails ranging from easy two-mile hikes to challenging ten-mile ones.

I hiked the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop, a trail with a panoramic view in Montserrat, and here, I share practical tips on planning a day trip there. This post covers:

  • โ›ฐ๏ธ Montserrat overview
  • ๐Ÿš— How to get to Montserrat
  • ๐Ÿฅพ Best moderate hike there
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Tips on hiking a trail there
  • ๐Ÿ’ง What to wear and pack

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Montserrat at a Glance

Here is some general information on Montserrat to help you plan your trip.

โ›ฐ๏ธ What Is Montserrat Known For?

Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain range near the city of Barcelona, Spain. The name means “serrated mountain” in Catalan, and the unique rock formations give the mountains a distinct appearance.

Montserrat is known to be the home of Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey and a place for hiking and nature.

๐Ÿ“ Where Is Montserrat Located?

Montserrat is located about 40 miles northwest of Barcelona and should not be confused with Montserrat the Caribbean island.

A map showing Montserrat located 40 miles northwest of Barcelona.
Montserrat is northwest of Barcelona. (Map by Google)

โ˜€๏ธ Best Time To Visit Montserrat

The most popular time to visit Montserrat is during the spring, from March to May when the weather is dry and mild. During these months, the average temperatures are in the 60s ยฐF and there’s a good chance of a clear day.

Montserrat follows Barcelona’s seasons and weather conditions. It’s hot in the summer from June to September (80s ยฐF) and mildly cold in the winter from November to February (50s ยฐF).

โณ How Long To Spend in Montserrat

Most people visit Montserrat as a day trip and spend a full day there. Transportation from Barcelona takes one to two hours, so it’s worth spending at least half a day in the mountains.

If you want to spend a night at Montserrat to do a longer hike and visit all the attractions, the mountain has some accommodations.

The blog author standing at the edge of a mountain with mountain peaks in the background.
Hiking Montserrat solo.

๐Ÿ’ฐ How Much Does Visiting Montserrat Cost?

There’s no entrance fee to access the Montserrat hiking trails, so you’ll only have to account for transportation and any tour or attraction costs (if you decide to do one).

Hiking Montserrat is a great inexpensive activity. I share all my travel expenses in this Barcelona trip cost breakdown.

โ›ช๏ธ Top Things To Do in Montserrat

This Montserrat guide focuses on doing a moderate hiking loop that leads to a panoramic view. It’s a great way to take a break from the city during your Barcelona vacation.

That said, most visitors visit Montserrat to see its many religious attractions:

  • Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey โ€“ a Benedictine monastery and Montserrat’s most popular attraction. It’s home to the famous Black Madonna statue called “The Black Virgin of Montserrat” or “La Moreneta.”
  • Santa Cova Chapel โ€“ a chapel embedded on the side of a mountain that holds significant religious meaning. It offers a stunning view on a clear day.
  • St. Miquel’s Cross โ€“ a prominent and significant monument in a scenic location. The hike I recommend below passes by it.
A cross structure near the edge of a mountain with a valley backdrop.
St. Miquel’s Cross.

Montserrat is also a popular place for rock climbers. While hiking around the trails, you might see some of them rock climbing up the face of a mountain.

๐Ÿ•œ When Is Montserrat Open?

Montserrat has several attractions that have different hours of operation. The famous Monastery of Montserrat is open from 7 am to 8 pm. If you’re hoping to grab a bite before heading back to Barcelona, the cafeteria closes at 5:45 pm on weekdays and 6:45 pm on weekends.

Montserrat’s hiking trails do not have set hours of operation, but make sure to check the train and cable car timetables so that you don’t get stranded on the mountain.

How To Get to Montserrat From Barcelona

There are several ways to get to Montserrat from Barcelona. Important things to know about making your way to the mountain range:

  • Step 1 โ€“ You first have to get to the bottom of the mountain. You can do this by train car, tour, or bus from Barcelona.
  • Step 2 โ€“ Once you arrive at the base of the mountain, you have to get to the top of the mountain, which is where the basilica and most trailheads are located.

When people say “Montserrat” or “Montserrat Monastery,” they mean the top of Montserrat. You can get to the top of Montserrat by car, cable car, rack train, tour, or hiking.

๐Ÿš† Option 1: Train and Cable Car

I took the train and cable car to Montserrat and found them convenient, but a bit tricky to figure out. It cost about $35 USD round-trip during the peak season and it took an hour and a half one-way.

I think the cable car is one of the best ways to get to Montserrat because of the brief stunning views you get while riding it.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get to Montserrat by train and cable car:

At a Pl. Espanya station kiosk, you have the option to buy: 1) just the train ticket or 2) a combined train and cable car ticket to save money (see ticket prices). Credit cards are accepted.

  • Step 3 โ€“ From Plaรงa Espanya, take the R5 line to Aeri de Montserrat towards Manresa. The R5 line (look for teal-blue color) is run by FGC and the train ride is roughly an hour long. If you get lost in the train station, look for a lime-green square symbol:
A green square with a white chain inside, representing the FGC's logo.

Google Maps will tell you to take the R5 line to Monistrol de Montserrat. If you want to take the cable car, do NOT get off there. Make sure to get off at Aeri de Montserrat station.

  • Step 4 โ€“ Once you get to Aeri de Montserrat, you’ll see signs to take the yellow cable car to Montserrat.
    • Purchasing the cable car ticket: If you didn’t buy the combined train and cable car ticket earlier, you can purchase a cable car ticket at the station (see ticket prices).
    • Cable car duration: The cable car ride itself lasts 5 to 10 minutes. If many others are waiting in line during peak times, the wait can take 30 minutes.
    • Cable car timing: The cable car comes approximately every 15 minutes, but during the high season, it will leave whenever there are enough passengers in the car. When leaving Montserrat, make sure to know the time of the last cable car so you don’t get stranded.

At the cable car’s upper station, you’ll arrive at Montserrat and can start hiking once you walk to the trailhead.

A yellow cable car passing by stone mountains.
A cable car ride to the top of Montserrat.

๐Ÿš† Option 2: Train and Rack Railway

If you’re uncomfortable with heights, an alternative to riding the cable car is riding the rack railway, also known as the “funicular” or “cremallera de Montserrat.”

The price is the same as the cable car and it takes 5 to 10 minutes longer, so the overall trip is a bit over an hour and a half.

Here’s how to get to Montserrat by train and rack railway:

At a Pl. Esapnya station kiosk, you have the option to buy: 1) just the train ticket or 2) a combined train and rack railway ticket to save money (see prices here). Credit cards are accepted. The rack railway and cable car tickets are not interchangeable, so make sure you buy the right ticket.

  • Step 2 โ€“ From Plaรงa Espanya, take the R5 line to Monistrol de Montserrat towards Manresa.
  • Step 3 โ€“ At the Monistrol de Montserrat, follow the instructions to take the rack railway, which is a 15-minute ride. There’s a ticket kiosk at the station to buy a ticket if you didn’t buy the combined train and rack railway ticket earlier.

At the end of the rack railway ride, you’ll arrive at Montserrat and can start hiking once you walk to the trailhead.

๐Ÿš™ Option 3: Rental Car

If you decide to rent a car and drive to Montserrat from Barcelona, you will have two parking options once you arrive.

Option 1: Monistrol-Vila Parking

You can park at the bottom of the Montserrat mountain at Monistrol-Vila. The parking lot is sizable (about 1,000 car spaces).

Parking there is free, but you will have to pay for and take the rack railway or do an hour-and-a-half hike up to the top of Montserrat. This also means you have to know the rack railway’s timetable to make sure you can catch the last ride back down.

Option 2: Montserrat Monastery Parking

You can also drive up the mountain and park near the monastery.

The parking lot has space for about 400 cars. Be aware that parking can be expensive and is calculated by time and the kind of car you have, but it is open 24 hours.

๐Ÿš Option 4: Organized Tour

If you find getting to Montserrat overwhelming or inconvenient, you can also book a small group tour or hire a passionate local guide who will take care of transportation for you.

You’ll find that there are various types of Montserrat tours from Barcelona. Here are a few highly-rated ones:

๐ŸšŒ Option 5: Bus

There’s a bus operated by Autocares Julia that runs from Barcelona to Montserrat (see their timetables). The journey takes approximately 75 minutes and costs about $5.50 USD.

Although the bus is a great budget option, most people choose to get to Montserrat by train because it’s more comfortable.

Sant Jeroni Summit Loop Overview

Montserrat has 18 hiking trails ranging from easy to hard. The Sant Jeroni Summit Loop is one of the most well-rated moderate trails in Montserrat. It is the one I chose to do and will cover in detail in this guide.

๐Ÿคฉ Why Hike the Sant Jeroni Loop?

Here are three reasons why the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop is one of the best hikes in Montserrat:

  • Panoramic view โ€“ It takes you to the highest point of Montserrat where you can get a panoramic view of the area.
  • Timing is great โ€“ It’s the perfect length to hike if you’re doing a day trip from Barcelona and traveling by public transportation.
  • Tranquil hike โ€“ It’s a relatively quiet hike where you’ll see very few people, giving you a nice break from the bustling city experience of Barcelona.

If you don’t want to do a moderate hike, Montserrat has a dozen other hiking trails that fit a wide variety of fitness levels.

A high view looking down at green land and an open, blue sky.
View of Montserrat from the peak of Sant Jeroni Summit Loop.

๐Ÿฅพ Sant Jeroni Trail Information

Here’s some quick trail information on the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop:

  • Hiking Length: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,978 feet
  • Average Time To Complete: 3.5 hours

You can cut this hike in half by taking the funicular de Sant Joan to a high observation deck where you can continue the hike to the summit of Sant Jeroni.

6 Tips When Hiking Sant Jeroni Summit Loop

Here are six tips when hiking the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop in Montserrat.

๐Ÿ“ฑ 1. Download the Alltrails map in advance.

There’s no cell service on the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop, so download the Alltrails map ahead if you’re not with a Monserrat hiking guide.

There are many trails and if you’re hiking it by yourself like me, you can easily make a wrong turn, so it’s good to check the map’s GPS once in a while.

Three different map views where the user's location is slightly off the highlighted red line representing the trail.
Taking the wrong turn and going off trail three times during my Sant Jeroni Summit Loop hike.

๐Ÿ’ง 2. Pack enough water and snacks.

There are no water fountains on the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop, so make sure you have enough water for a six-mile hike that has elevation.

I packed cold water in my insulated 24 oz water bottle and bought a standard sports drink, which was sufficient for me. I also packed a small sandwich snack to enjoy at the summit, which I reached around lunchtime.

๐Ÿ“ 3. Double-check the trailhead’s location.

The Sant Jeroni Summit Loop’s trailhead is not clearly marked and can be tricky to find, so it’s not a bad idea to double-check the start with the tourist office.

The trail’s starting point is around here. You should be walking up a slight incline at the start and pass St. Miquel’s Cross within 20 to 30 minutes.

A cross structure near the edge of a mountain with a valley backdrop.
The St. Miquel’s Cross viewpoint where you can see the basilica.

๐Ÿ‘Ÿ 4. The terrain varies and running shoes are sufficient.

During the hike, you’ll walk on well-maintained paths, take some stone stairs, go on dirt roads, and squeeze through some rocks, all of which are doable in running shoes.

I wore my Asics running shoes and thought everything was very manageable.

A narrow dirt path shaded by trees on both side.
A hiking trail on the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop.

โญ๏ธ 5. Budget time for the panoramic view.

At the summit, you will have to climb steep stairs to be on the platform with the panoramic view, which I thought was well worth it.

I stayed near the summit for about 30 minutes to enjoy the breathtaking views.

The blog author standing on a mountain with a valley view in the background.
Near the peak of the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop.

โฐ 6. You can take the funicular to shorten the hike.

If for some reason you need to make the hike shorter, the Sant Joan funicular will take you to the top funicular station, which will cut an hour from your hike. You won’t pass by St. Miquel’s Cross if you do this.

The funicular ride takes about seven minutes and runs approximately every 20 minutes.

Montserrat Day Trip Itinerary

Below is a great way to spend a day trip in Montserrat while hiking the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop.

I’ve included my actual timestamps to give you an idea of how long you might need for each activity and how to efficiently sequence them.

Morning
9 amStart leaving Barcelona; get to Plaรงa Espanya station
9โ€“10 amTake the R5 train and arrive at Aeri de Montserrat
10โ€“10:30 amTake the Montserrat cable car and look around the monastery; visit the tourist office to get a map
10:30โ€“11 amStart the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop and enjoy the view at St. Miquel’s Cross
Afternoon
11 amโ€“12:30 pmReach the Sant Jeroni summit and enjoy your lunch/snack
12:30โ€“2 pmFinish the loop
2โ€“4 pmExplore Montserrat if you have free time:
– Visit the Monastery of Montserrat and see the Black Madonna
– Visit the art museum
Evening
Head out 4โ€“6 pmCatch the cable car and take the train back to Barcelona

This Barcelona itinerary shows how to incorporate this day trip into your trip.

Barcelona Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Barcelona trip planner.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

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