๐Ÿฅพ Montserrat Day Trip Hike: Firsthand Review & Tips

A woman in athletic clothing standing on a mountain with sky blue views in the horizon.
๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Overall Rating6.2
๐Ÿฆ„ UniquenessAverage
๐Ÿ˜Š EnjoymentModerate
๐Ÿ’ฐ ValueAffordable
๐ŸŽ’ PreparationModerate
๐ŸŒŸ Book a TourView Price
Overall Rating is based on a weighted average of factors (learn more).

Montserrat is a famous mountain an hour away from Barcelona, with over a dozen hiking trails. Hereโ€™s my honest review and firsthand tips.

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๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Overall Rating

6.2
I recommend hiking Montserrat โ€“ do it if you’re interested.

My overall rating is based on a weighted average of four factors travelers consider important when assessing an experience.

Verdict

I recommend hiking in Montserrat if you want a change of scenery from the bustling city of Barcelona. The mountain is most famous for the Benedictine monastery, but it also has hiking trails with panoramic views, like the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop.

Hiking there is affordable because you only need to pay for transportation if you’re not hiring a guide (I hiked it solo).

Moderate preparation is required, as you need to research transportation and the available trails in advance.

A view of a mountain with multiple rocks jutting out.
Montserrat near Barcelona

๐Ÿ† Where Does It Rank?

Hiking Montserrat ranks as my #3 thing to do in Spain. Here’s how it compares to other experiences on my trip:

#ExperienceLocationOverall Rating
1๐Ÿฐ La Sagrada FamiliaBarcelona8.2
2๐Ÿ›๏ธ Las RamblasBarcelona6.2
3๐Ÿฅพ Montserrat Day Trip HikeCatalonia6.2
4๐Ÿšถโ€โ™€๏ธ Gothic Quarter Walking TourBarcelona5.4
5๐Ÿ–๏ธ La BarcelonetaBarcelona5.3
6๐Ÿน El BornBarcelona5.2
7๐Ÿ  Casa BatllรณBarcelona4.9
8๐Ÿ“š Museum of the History of CataloniaBarcelona4.9
Overall Rating is calculated using Lukiih’s rating system.

My Barcelona itinerary features the above experiences.

โœˆ๏ธ About My Trip

For context on my review, here’s what to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ€ย Self-fundedย โ€“ I finance my trips and don’t receive sponsorship, so this review reflects my honest opinions.
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 2022 โ€“ This post has updated 2024 information, but I hiked Montserrat in 2022.
  • โ˜€๏ธ High season โ€“ My Barcelona trip was in May when it was more crowded and expensive.

๐Ÿฆ„ Uniqueness: Average

The Uniqueness Score is based on how rare and memorable an experience is.

Rarity: Uncommon

Hiking Montserrat is an uncommon experience, as less than 50 comparable hikes exist worldwide.

๐Ÿ’Ž What Makes It Rare?

  • The hiking trails start at the same area as Montserrat Monastery, a major pilgrimage site and the home of the revered Black Madonna. Less than 50 hikes around the world are near a monastery on a mountain.

๐ŸŒ What Makes It Less Rare?

  • Other famous hikes near monasteries around the world include the Meteora Monasteries hike in Greece and the Paro Taktsang hike in Bhutan.
  • It’s called “serrated mountain” in Catalan because of its jagged multi-peak backdrop. While this is a unique rock formation, several other hikes worldwide also have it.

Memorability: Moderate

Hiking Montserrat is one of my many memorable experiences in Barcelona.

๐Ÿ“ธ What Makes It Memorable?

  • The Sant Jeroni Summit Loop, the trail I recommend, has a panoramic view.
  • It was my first international solo hike, so it was also memorable for personal reasons.
A high view looking down at green land and an open, blue sky.
Sant Jeroni Summit Loop view

๐Ÿ’ค What Makes It Forgettable?

  • While enjoyable, it ranks nowhere near the top of hikes with epic views or landscapes.

๐Ÿ˜Š Enjoyment: Moderate

The Enjoyment Score is based on how much happiness and reward an experience provides.

Happiness: Moderate

I found hiking Montserrat moderately fun.

๐Ÿ˜ƒ What Makes It Enjoyable?

  • Although the mountain is famous and touristy because of the monastery, the trail was less visited and incredibly peaceful and quiet.
  • The length of the trail makes it a perfect hike for a day trip.

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

๐Ÿ˜ฅ What Makes It Less Enjoyable?

  • Parts of the trail are not as clearly marked as I thought they would be for a mountain close to a city, so I took the wrong turn a few times.

See below for tips on hiking the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop.

Reward: Moderate

Hiking Montserrat is a moderately rewarding experience.

๐ŸŒŸ What Makes It Rewarding?

  • The loop I recommend is a moderate to challenging route that’s the perfect length for a day trip out of Barcelona.

๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ What Makes It Less Rewarding?

  • The mountain has over a dozen trails; the one I recommend is not the longest nor the hardest.
  • Others can more easily reach the top by taking the funicular de Sant Joan to a high observation deck.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Value: Moderate

The Value Score is determined by the price divided by the duration of an experience. All prices mentioned here are in USD.

Cost Estimate: $30 PP

Hiking Montserrat costs about $30 as you need to pay for round-trip transportation from and to Barcelona. The exact transportation cost varies depending on how you get there.

I last checked prices in June 2024. At about $30 per person for a full-day trip, I consider this experience affordable.

An organized Monsterrat hiking tour is much more convenient but will increase your budget.

See my Barcelona trip expenses.

๐ŸŽ’ Preparation: Moderate

The Preparation Score is based on the required skills & fitness, transportation, and bookings & packing. The higher the score, the less preparation is needed.

Skills & Fitness: Moderate

You need some skills and fitness to hike Montserrat.

  • ๐Ÿฅพ Skill โ€“ The trail I recommend is considered a moderate to challenging hike that requires some experience, as not every part of the trail is clearly marked.
  • ๐Ÿ’ช Endurance โ€“ The trail is 6.4 miles long and takes about 4 hours to complete, so moderate fitness is required.

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

Transportation: Moderate

Monsterrat is located in Catalonia, Spain, about 20 miles northwest of Barcelona.

  • ๐Ÿš† Method โ€“ Public transportation is the best way to travel from Barcelona to the mountain. Scroll down for details on how to get to Montserrat.
  • โฐ Duration โ€“ Reaching the trailheads from Barcelona takes about 90 minutes.

Booking & Packing: Minimal

To hike Montserrat, youโ€™ll need minimal booking and packing:

  • ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ Tickets โ€“ You don’t need to reserve transportation tickets in advance, but you should research how to get there.
  • ๐ŸŽ’ Packing โ€“ Make sure to pack accordingly for a medium-level hike.
    • Water โ€“ There are no water fountains on the trail. I packed cold water in my insulated water bottle and brought a sports drink.
    • Shoes โ€“ Youโ€™ll walk on well-maintained paths, stone stairs, and dirt roads, all of which are doable in running shoes. I wore my Asics running shoes.
A narrow dirt path shaded by trees on both side.
Dirt path on Sant Jeroni Summit Loop

How To Guide & Tips

Interested in hiking Montserrat after reading my review? Below is a practical how-to guide and firsthand tips.

Sant Jeroni Summit Loop

Montserrat has over a dozen hiking trails ranging from easy to hard. The Sant Jeroni Summit Loop is one of the best-rated moderate trails and the one I recommend for several reasons:

  • ๐Ÿคฉ Panoramic view โ€“ The loop takes you to the highest point, from which you can get a panoramic view of the area.
  • โฐ Ideal length โ€“ At 6.4 miles, the loop takes 3.5 to 4 hours to hike, making it the perfect length for a day trip from Barcelona.
  • ๐ŸŽถ Tranquility โ€“ Itโ€™s a relatively quiet hike where youโ€™ll see a few people, giving you a nice break from Barcelona’s city atmosphere.
A woman standing at the edge of a mountain with mountain peaks in the background.
Sant Jeroni Summit Loop

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Essential Tips

Here are my firsthand tips for hiking the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop:

  • ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ Download the map โ€“ Thereโ€™s no cell service on the loop, so download the Alltrails map ahead if youโ€™re not with a Monserrat hiking guide.
  • ๐Ÿ“ Check the trailheadโ€™s location โ€“The trailโ€™s starting point is here. You should be walking up a slight incline at the start and pass St. Miquelโ€™s Cross within 20 to 30 minutes.

The trailhead is not clearly marked and can be tricky to find, so double-check the start with the tourist office.

A cross structure near the edge of a mountain with a valley backdrop.
St. Miquelโ€™s Cross
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Budget time for the panoramic view โ€“ You’ll have to climb steep stairs to reach the summit, which I thought was well worth it. I stayed at the view for about 30 minutes to have lunch and enjoy the surrounding area.
  • โฐ You can shorten the hike โ€“ You can cut this hike in half by taking the funicular de Sant Joan to a high observation deck, from where you can continue the hike to the summit.

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How To Get There

There are several ways to get to Montserrat from Barcelona. No matter which method you take, note that:

  • Step 1 โ€“ You first have to travel from Barcelona to the base of the mountain.
  • Step 2 โ€“ Once at the base, you’ll have to reach the top of the mountain where the basilica and most trailheads are located.

When people say “Montserrat” or “Montserrat Monastery,” they mean the top of Montserrat.

๐Ÿš† Option 1: Train & Cable Car

I took the train and cable car and found them convenient but a bit tricky to figure out. The train costs about $14 round-trip, and the cable car costs another $14.

At a station kiosk, you can buy: 1) just the train ticket or 2) a combined train and cable car ticket (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 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 with a chain.

Google Maps tells 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, youโ€™ll see signs to take the yellow cable car.
    • Ticket: If you didnโ€™t buy the combined train and cable car ticket earlier, you can purchase a cable car ticket at the station.
    • 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.
    • Timing: The cable car comes about every 15 minutes, but during the high season, it will leave whenever there are enough passengers. Make sure to know the time of the last cable car so you donโ€™t get stranded.
A yellow cable car passing by stone mountains in the distance.
Montserrat cable car platform

๐Ÿš† Option 2: Train & Rack Railway

If youโ€™re uncomfortable with heights, an alternative to the cable car is the rack railway, also known as the “funicular” or “cremallera de Montserrat.” It costs the same as the cable car but takes 5 to 10 minutes longer.

At a station kiosk, you can buy: 1) just the train ticket or 2) a combined train and rack railway ticket (see prices here). The rack railway and cable car tickets are not interchangeable, so make sure you buy the correct 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. Thereโ€™s a ticket kiosk at the station.

๐Ÿš™ Option 3: Rental Car

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

  • Option 1 โ€“ You can park at the base of the mountain at Monistrol-Vila. The parking lot is free and sizable (about 1,000 car spaces). But you’ll have to pay for and take the rack railway or hike to the top, which takes 90 minutes.
  • Option 2 โ€“ 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’s 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 to take care of transportation. Youโ€™ll find that there are various types of Montserrat tours from Barcelona. Here are a few highly-rated ones:

๐ŸšŒ Option 5: Bus

Autocares Julia operates a bus from Barcelona to Montserrat (see their timetables). The journey takes approximately 75 minutes and costs about $5.50 USD. The bus is a great budget option, but most people take the train because itโ€™s more comfortable.

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Itinerary

Below is a great way to spend a day trip in Montserrat while hiking the Sant Jeroni Summit Loop. Iโ€™ve included my actual timestamps to give you an idea of how long you might need for each activity and how to sequence them efficiently.

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. Miquelโ€™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:
โ€“ Visit the Monastery of Montserrat and see the Black Madonna
โ€“ Visit the art museum
Evening
Head out 4โ€“6 pmCatch the cable car and take the train back to Barcelona

Top of guide โ†‘

Barcelona Trip Planner 2024

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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