Visit Montserrat the mysterious national park in Spanish Catalonia! The mountain range with loads of hiking options as well as cultural opportunities.
Download the GPS file with all Points of interest, trekking routes and also spots for photography to your device HERE.
The complete gallery from the visit to Montserrat
Introduction to Montserrat
Montserrat in Catalonia in Spain means many various things to different people. For some means Monastery, for some it´s a mountain, for some means spiritual place and also for some it´s a natural park and place to do sports.
Montserrat mountain range is located in the Spanish region Catalonia just 50 kilometers north from Barcelona. Literally means a “saw mountain” as the shape of the ridge reminds.
The massif is made of conglomerate from a sedimentary rock. Because of its rich component the color can differ from deep brown over orange to shiny yellow. Mountain appears like terrace layered resulting in the multi-summit range where every peak reminds a loaf of icecream.
The unneglectable part of the place is the monastery Santa Maria de Montserrat. It was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between the 19th and 20th centuries, and still functions to this day
Best time to visit Montserrat
Luckily in Catalonia, winters are not a big deal. Especially on Montserrat, You will hardly get some snow. Temperatures can be dropping below zero as You may ascent to altitude over 1200 meters, but mostly not. In summer You will rarely get rain, so You will be able to enjoy blue skies most of the time. Clouds and strong winds are quite normal, so even in the summer get some windproof jacket. I visited and also recommend to visit Montserrat any period of the year.
How to visit Montserrat
Basically we can divide the journey into two main parts. Firstly how to get under the mountain. And secondly how to get on the top, or to the Monastery.
How to get to the foot of the mountain
- Car – It fairly easy to reach any part of Monserrat by car. You can expect to cover the distance from Barcelona in about 1 hour. Drive will be mostly on the highway direction to Lleida. Leave the highway in Abrera direction to Manresa until you reach Monistrol de Montserrat. From there You will enjoy the scenic uphill drive to the entrance of the Monastery. If You don´t mind walking 1-2 kilometers You can park easily for free on the road on the north face of Montserrat.
- Taxi – You can visit Montserrat by taxi. The price may range between 50 – 100 Euros per one way from Barcelona depending where you will start and end.
- Bus – There is a regular coach driving between Barcelona and Montserrat. The official site of the operating company You can find HERE. Times differ from the time of the year, but usually, there is one going there in the morning and bringing You back in the afternoon.
- Train – Maybe the most convenient way to get under Montserrat. Take the line R5 at Plaça Espanya in Barcelona to Aeri de Montserrat. From Aeri You will take the cable car or just walk. The timetable of trains is listed HERE and the cost is close to 6 Euros.
How to get up the hill
Once You reach one of the villages under the ridge You have a few interesting options to get up there and visit Montserrat.
- Train – Take the Montserrat Rack Railway from Monistrol. For just 7 Euro you will have a chance to enjoy this scenic ride. Check the official site with fares HERE.
- Cable car – Funicular de Montserrat scary, but breathtaking. That´s the yellow cable car from Aire. You will appear in a couple of minutes at the door of the monastery. For more info go HERE.
- Hiking – For the hardened tourists take the GR5 route from Monistrol de Montserrat to the Monastery. Starting at 150 meters ascending to 800 will be a good challenge. You can also take the hike from any corner of this ridge as the place is a heaven for hikers. See more info about hiking in the following section.
Where to stay during the visit Montserrat?
- Hotels – There is one just close to the monastery. Also, there are some options in Monistrol de Montserrat and villages around.
- Camper vans – I tried many times and the road on the slope of Montserrat offers plenty of places to overnight. Private parking just on the edge of the cliff will provide you big portion of romantic. Spectacular views to the valley as well as on the ridge behind you. Just be careful and remember to pull the hand brake properly. Some of the best spots for campers are marked on the map.
- Camping – Yes there is one with a spectacular view just on the Monastery. Unfortunately, you can not reach by car, but only on foot. See the position of the campsite on the map above.
- Refuge – There is one refuge in the western part of the ridge. You can also find the spot on the map above. Refugi Vicenç Barbé is a small idyllic place to stay for trekkers and costs 10 – 40 Euro depending on what you order. For further details visit the official site HERE.
- Free camping – Despite it´s not allowed. I think it´s a lovely place to break the rules. If You pitch Your tent somewhere in the ridge far away from people you will most probably have no issue. Wake up early and pack
What to do and why visit Montserrat?
No matter if You are seeking for culture, history or adventure. Montserrat will satisfy all the needs.
The monastery on the mountain is very popular. It´s surprisingly huge and You can spend a minimum one day just exploring the mystical sights. There is a big photogenic basilica as well as mentioned cloister containing around 70 monks!
If You are interested in spirituality, I recommend you to walk the way of the cross where one of the stops is a set of statues by Gaudí. More information about Gaudí and his works in Barcelona and around read our article: The top 10 must-see Gaudi Buildings in Barcelona. The path provides lovely views to the valley and leads to a religious shrine Santa Cova.
Hiking, trail running, climbing
The place is a haven for outdoor lovers. Uncountable paths and routes for trekking, running and also limbing will fit every level you are searching. Montserrat is clearly the best hiking spot in the area.
Sant Jeroni (1235 m.a.s.l.) – the most popular hike in Montserrat
Maybe the most visited spot in the ridge. With 1235 meters is the highest peak of the massif. You can reach the top starting at the monastery in about 1 – 1,5 hours. Starting from Monistrol de Montserrat It will take 3-4 hours, but also over 1000 vertical meters. A popular spot for trail runners rewarding with 360 degrees views.
Trekking around Montserrat – Hard, but the best
If You are a hardcore trekker you can walk around the massif. There are good hiking trails to do so. Starting at the Monastery follow rad marked trail GR4 to Monestir de Santa Cecília (5,5km). Then follow the trail to Coll de Guirlo (6km). From this point pass the Magnificient formation following route PR-C 78 to Saint Jeroni (6km). And return back to the Monastery (4km). The western part of the massif is in my eyes the best and the less-visited, so enjoy it. Be prepared to cover over 22kilometers with a lot of ascents and descents.
Find the GPS file with the route on the map above, or download HERE.
If You feel to climb any of the summits feel free to do it. It´s allowed. There are few via Ferratas in the ridge which are the great options to go where most of the people don´t.
All of Ferratas are fairly difficult and very technical. One of the most well-known Ferratas are:
FERRATA DE LES DAMES – 41° 35′ 0.596″ N, 1° 48′ 58.248″ E
CANAL DEL JOC DE L’OCA – 41° 35′ 26.362″ N, 1° 48′ 7.441″ E
JOC DE L’OCA – N 41°35.57083′, E 1°48.16392′
FERRATA TERESINA – 41°36’39.6″N 1°49’00.5″E
Find the GPS file with routes on the map above, or download HERE.
Dolomite cave – Coves del Salnitre
The entice mountain contains over 100 known dolomite caves. One of the most famous and also best accessible are Coves del Salnitre. You will find it just at the foot of the mountain close to the town Collbató. The official website of caves with opening times finds HERE.
This place is an eldorado for every photographer. Every spot is so nice and perfectly fitting into the frame. The best pictures I took were mostly at the sunrise, or during the sunset. Night pictures are also very attractive. Find the best photography spots in the map above or download the GPS file with its locations.
Find the GPS file with photography spots on the map above, or download HERE.