Montserrat day trip: curious rocks, religious legend and spectacular views
Montserrat means ‘serrated mountain’ in Catalan… And seeing the jagged peaks of the Montserrat mountain range, it’s obvious just how apt the name is! It’s a big tourist attraction but don’t let that put you off… There is something magical about Montserrat with its curious rock formations and incredible views that make it a worthy day trip from Barcelona.
Here’s a few things you can do in Montserrat…
Visit the monastery and hear its famous choir
As well as being a protected national park, Montserrat is also home to Catalonia’s most important holy sites: a Benedictine monastery whose history lies in the numerous sightings (or visions) of Our Lady of Montserrat. Thousands of visitors every year come on a pilgrimage to pay their respects via a 12th century sculpture of her.
The monastery itself comprises a collection of buildings including the Basilica, a museum and the school where Montserrat’s famed boys choir trains and studies. If you’re fortunate to be in Montserrat on a day they’re singing in the Basilica, it’s a must-do. You can usually hear the choir at 1pm in the Basilica from Monday to Friday and midday on Sunday.
For news on events and services at the monastery (including notices about days the boys’ choir will not be singing), visit: montserratvisita.com.
Hunt for the Holy Grail…
The mountain is also one of the places which is rumoured to be where the mysterious Holy Grail is hidden! If you believe the legend, you could go on a grail hunt by exploring the various trails in and around the mountain… Do it anyway just to enjoy the views!
Enjoy breathtaking views
Whilst Montserrat is of great religious importance, it’s also a natural wonder. And once in Montserrat, there are a number of walks you can do to enjoy all that it has to offer.
One of the most popular walks is the path down to Santa Cova, which offers spectacular views of the valley below. The path goes to Santa Cova (Holy Grotto) where you’ll find a chapel and cave where the first sighting of Our Lady of Montserrat occurred. This walk covers less than three kilometres and takes just over an hour. It’s also largely downhill, which makes it easier.
But if you’re not keen on doing the walk, you can take the Funicular de Santa Cova down to the grotto. It goes down the side of the mountain so you’ll still be able to enjoy great views.
There is also a second funicular you can take from the monastery area. The Funicular de Sant Joan takes you higher up the mountain where you can enjoy views overlooking the monastery and surrounding area. At the top, there are several walking paths you can take.
Driving to Montserrat: car parking
There are two options for car parking. The first is right by the monastery on Montserrat, which is open 24 hours. The second car park is a little further down the mountain at Cremallera de Monistrol Vila Station, which is the starting point for a rack railway train (or Cremallera) to Montserrat proper. Parking is free and from here, you can take the cremallera up to where the monastery is.
The latter option has the added advantage of you being able to enjoy the amazing views of the mountain from the comfort of the train. However the car park is only open whilst the cremallera is running so do check the hours and use the other car park by the monastery if you think you’ll be staying beyond those times.
There is also a wealth of information on Montserrat and things to do with detailed descriptions of the various walks available at: montserrat-tourist-guide.com.