When I was planning for my trip to Barcelona, Spain I learned about one of the best day trips from Barcelona. After seeing a lot of Barcelona and Gaudi in one day, I wanted to escape the city and travel from Barcelona to Montserrat Mountains. I researched many practicalities before we set out to this little hamlet in the mountains. Nevertheless: things didn’t go as planned. In order for you to learn from my errors, I’m sharing with you my 9 mistakes to avoid when you travel from Barcelona to Montserrat by train.
Mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat
# 1. Arrive too late at Montserrat Monastery
The journey from Barcelona to Montserrat takes quite some time and there is plenty to see and do once you get to Montserrat monastery. I set the alarm at 8.30 am to make sure we would arrive at Montserrat monastery in time. We wanted to hike around, visit Montserrat monastery and travel back and forth with the train and funiculars. Alas, we managed to arrive at Montserrat monastery in the afternoon and were seriously pressed for time.
# 2. Miss the train from Barcelona to Montserrat
I knew there were regular trains running from Plaça d’Espanya in Barcelona to Montserrat but I didn’t bother to check how often they run and at what time. Turns out, we wanted to purchase our Montserrat tickets but got in doubt if it would be the right ticket for us.
And just like that, the train left. The consequence: we had to wait 55 minutes for the next train. The result was that we arrived even later and we were more pressed for time as we had to take the last funicular back too.
TIP: Don’t miss the train from Barcelona to Montserrat. Research the train schedule. Buy your Tot Montserrat Tickets, Trans Montserrat ticket or Montserrat Express tickets in advance online here. You can download the train schedule from Plaça d’Espanya to Manresa, line R5 from here.
TIP: Buy your train tickets to Montserrat in advance online
There are several Montserrat tickets that you can buy in advance online, from the official Barcelona tourist office. But what are the differences? I walk you through the different ones that you can purchase.
What is the Trans Montserrat Ticket?
This is basically your go-to ticket when you want to travel from Barcelona to Montserrat. At the moment, it is €31,60 pp and includes the following:
- Return Metro Ticket from anywhere in Barcelona to Plaça d’Espanya where the train to Montserrat leaves
- A return train ticket to the
trainstation Monistrol de Montserrat from Barcelona
- It includes the return trip by cable car or rack railway up to Montserrat Monastery
- Free use of the other funiculars at Montserrat Mountains to get around
- Exhibit in Montserrat
This is what you need if you want to travel from Barcelona to Montserrat and don’t lose any time at the vending machine at the train station.
What is the ToT Montserrat Ticket?
The Tot Montserrat Ticket is the all-inclusive, transport ticket for your day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat (and back) by public transport.
- You’ll get a return metro ticket to Plaça d’Espanya where the train to Montserrat leaves.
- The train ticket to Montserrat from Barcelona, and back.
- It includes the return ticket on either the rack railway or the cable car
- You can use the other funiculars around Montserrat.
- To top things off you can see the exhibit, enter the museum and get a meal at the self-service restaurant.
This is your all-inclusive (self-guided) day out to Montserrat. This has everything the Trans Montserrat ticket has, plus the extra entrance to the museum and a meal. This wasn’t an option when I went to Montserrat, but as prices for food in Montserrat are crazy, it might be a good option for you.
What is the Montserrat Express ticket?
We’re not done yet, you can also opt-in for the Montserrat Express ticket. This sounds speedy, doesn’t it? It has fewer options than the Trans Montserrat ticket or the Tot Montserrat from Barcelona ticket, but still enough for your day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat by train. It includes the following:
- Return ticket for the train from Barcelona to Montserrat
- Return journey on the rack railway to the monastery (so no option to take the cable car)
- A goodie-bag with audio-guide about Montserrat Monastery and the history, a liqueur, a local treat, and discount vouchers.
This ticket is perfect if you don’t feel like hiking or going into the Montserrat Mountains, but want to explore the Monastery of Montserrat from Barcelona and take in the place.
# 3. Buy food and drinks at Montserrat Monastery
I knew there were shops at the monastery and I figured the products available would be more expensive than in the local supermarket. But I never expected things to be that expensive. We brought our own lunch (something we did do right) but bought water and a pack of cookies on site. We spend €6,80 for 2 bottles of water and some cookies. Insane.
TIP: Don’t buy too much in the shops as they are expensive. Bring your own snacks and drinks, or opt for the transport ticket by train that includes lunch!
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In Monsterrat, there are plenty of shopping opportunities as well as a daily artisan market where locals sell their local honey and lovely cheeses. You will also find a cafe where you can purchase sandwiches, cold drinks, and small hot meals. In the restaurant, you can have a full buffet-style lunch (or dinner).
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# 4. Purchase a return ticket for the Sant Joan funicular
We wanted to buy the return train ticket including the funicular to Montserrat Monastery. As this was not possible in Barcelona, we only purchased our round-trip ticket to Montserrat monastery Once at Montserrat, we wanted to take the Sant Joan funicular further up the mountain and purchased our tickets there.
As I didn’t read the directions before going up, I didn’t realize we would be walking down. At the ticket booth, I requested two return trips. We paid too much as we would be walking down instead of taking the funicular back down to Montserrat monastery.
This was one of the easiest of the 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat. If I only had read the instructions better.
TIP: Avoid buying round trip tickets when you only use a single ticket. Research your route before you set out. You can find the times and prices for the two funiculars on Montserrat Mountain here. Or buy a transport ticket to Montserrat and see if the Funicular to the Sant Joan (and Santa Cova) are open.
# 5. Take the wrong route when hiking in
At the tourist office, I was handed a small leaflet with 5 routes for the mountains of Montserrat. The back of the leaflet had a very poor map and I read the instructions for our intended route: after leaving the Sant Joan funicular to
And so we did. At least, I thought we did. After a couple of minutes, I realized none of the routes descriptions matched the landscape around us, but we kept walking. Soon we were on a dead-end pass and walked back and forth to find the right route.
After all our options were exhausted, we decided to walk back to the funicular. Turned out, we missed the very first instruction.
As you walk out of the funicular, there is a path to the right instantly. We missed it. I ignored my feeling of being wrong straight away and therefore, we lost 1 hour of valuable time (and energy). Have you ever missed an obvious instruction?
TIP: Avoid taking the wrong route by taking your time to navigate and follow directions. Avoid getting lost by taking a guided walking tour of Montserrat. Click the link for times and prices, the price includes a guided tour of Montserrat and the journey by train from Barcelona.
# 6. Not take in the views of the Montserrat Mountains
Once on the right path, we still wanted to walk our intended route. The route would take 2.5 hours and we still had 3,15 hours left until the last funicular down the mountain. So we rushed. We had a quick lunch and we walked at a brisk pace.
We only made a few quick stops to take some snapshots. When planning our trip, I imagined we would take our time, take in the views, enjoy each other’s company and take loads and loads of beautiful pictures.
Instead, we were walking. The views were stunning and I tried to look up as much as possible, but we hardly gave ourselves time to really enjoy our walk in the Montserrat Mountains. Although Montserrat is a cool day trip from Barcelona, be careful hiking when it gets hot in Montserrat too. Read my tips on staying cool when you travel in Europe.
TIP: Avoid rushing through your trail but take time to soak up the spectacular views and enjoy the silence.
# 7. Push on against better judgment
I wanted to push on. I had my mind set on reaching the top. I wanted to complete the route and show myself I could do it. After an hour of walking, we reached a fork in the road. The directions indicated we should have reached this after 35 minutes. Against better judgment, I wanted to continue with my plan and go to St. Jerome’s peak.
I was already getting tired and had sore legs. I was struggling. Because of my Crohn’s disease, I am not nearly as fit as I’d like to be. I also never walk in hilly areas as the Netherlands are flat as a pancake.
Luckily for me, my boyfriend was there to protect us against my hubris. He insisted we head back down to the monastery. I caved and we spend another hour walking down. It was a very wise decision as I was struggling to make it down.
TIP: Avoid to push yourself further than you can. Always listen to your body and be safe and healthy.
# 8. Lose your return train ticket to Barcelona
Exhausted and a little bit disappointed, we reached Montserrat monastery. As I wanted to pass the tourniquet for the funicular back to Montserrat, I looked for my ticket. The expensive return ticket that I bought in Barcelona.
I searched in every pocket and turned my bag upside down. But the ticket had vanished without a trace. I couldn’t find it. I think I lost it somewhere up the mountain.
There was nothing left to do than to buy a new ticket. Money down the drain.
TIP: Don’t lose your return train ticket to Barcelona. Store the ticket in a secure spot and leave it there.
# 9. Avoid standing in the train from Montserrat to Barcelona
I received a tip to take the rack railway instead of the cable car. The cable car is quicker than the rack railway. But you get off the train earlier for the cable car. This also means you’ll board the train to Barcelona last on your way back. At the end of the afternoon, the train can be pretty full and boarding last means having to stand for the hour-long journey back to Barcelona.
We choose the rack railway and boarded the train back to Barcelona first. After a full day of strenuous walking in the Montserrat Mountains, I could rest my sore legs and sit on the train.
Cable Car to Montserrat
From Barcelona, you’ll take the train to Montserrat and then you’ll switch the mode of transport. You’ll either take the cable car to Montserrat Monastery or the Rack Railway. Both end at the same point at the monastery in Montserrat, but was is the difference?
The Cable Car to Montserrat leaves from the train station “Aeri de Montserrat”. As the train leaves Barcelona from Plaça d’Espanya, after an hour and 15 minutes, this is the first stop near Montserrat where most people will get off. You need to get in line for the yellow cable cars that whisk you through the air, up to the Monastery.
Only 15 to 20 people can board one cable car and usually, there are only 2 operated, so it might take some time before it is your turn to fly through the air to Montserrat.
Rack Railway to Montserrat
The Rail Railway leaves one stop after the cable car stop. Don’t make the mistake of getting off too early, because when the train leaves and you figure out your mistake you need to wait another hour for the next train. Or you need to buy a single-journey ticket on the cable car.
For the rail railway to Montserrat, you need to disembark the train at Monistrol de Montserrat where you’ll switch to the Rack Railway. The schedules are aligned, so you don’t have to wait too long.
TIP: Avoid having to stand on the train back to Barcelona. Take the rack railway from Montserrat monastery and board the train to Barcelona before the cable car.
Need more inspiration why you should go to Montserrat?
Montserrat is a perfect day trip from Barcelona but the sight and surrounding offer many other opportunities like wine tasting or hot air balloon rides. Find more inspiration and reasons to go to Montserrat from Barcelona here:
9 Mistakes to avoid when going from Barcelona to Montserrat
As you can see, a lot of things went wrong. We arrived too late and missed the train. We paid too much buying groceries at the monastery. We purchased a return ticket when we only needed a single ticket. We also took the wrong route in the mountains and didn’t take time to enjoy the views. I wanted to keep walking, although I felt it was not wise. I also lost my return train ticket to Barcelona. Luckily I was warned for one of the mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat, so I was able to sit on the train back to Barcelona.
Because I was warned before I traveled to Montserrat, I was able to do some things right. With my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat, your trip to Montserrat by train will be a success! Looking for more day trips from Barcelona?
Frequently asked questions for your day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona
In short, here are some questions, and answers, to the most frequently asked questions about this great day trip by train to Montserrat from Barcelona.
Do I need to buy a ticket for the train to Montserrat in advance?
No, you don’t have to, because there are ticket machines at the train station. But I do recommend you to buy your train ticket in advance online. This way, you’ll won’t miss the train waiting in line at the ticket machine.
You can purchase your tickets via the official Barcelona Tourism Office:
Do I take the Cable Car or the Rack Railway to Montserrat?
This is entirely up to you. The Cable Car is cool, the ride is quick, but only a few people can go at the same time so you might end up waiting in the queue, depending on how busy it is.
I loved the rack railway as it meanders through the mountains to Montserrat Monastery on a historic railway route. You get spectacular views and usually, there is enough room to have a seat.
The price is the same, but remember, if you purchase your tickets, you need to go up and down the mountain via the same mode of transportation. There is no combination ticket. When you choose the cable car, it is your mode of transport both up and down. Same applies for the rack railway.
What if I really want to try both the rack railway and the cable car?
It is possible but it will cost you extra money. On your Trans Montserrat ticket or TOT-Montserrat ticket, the return journey up the mountain is included. If you want to go up via cable car and down via rack railway, you can always purchase one single journey and experience both!
Can I stay overnight in Montserrat?
Yes, you can! If you miss the last train down or just want to experience Montserrat when the crowds are gone, then stay overnight in Montserrat, for example in the lovely Hotel Abat Cisneros Montserrat or the Apartamentos Montserrat Abat Marcet.
When is the best time to go to Montserrat?
You can visit Montserrat year-round. Obviously, it can get colder in the mountains (the monastery is at 1,236 meters above sea-level (4,055 ft)). But you can still visit Montserrat on a day trip from Barcelona in winter. Montserrat Monastery is extremely important with Catalan people and it can get very crowded on weekends and public holidays.
If you wish to see the boy’s choir rehearse, check their schedule to make sure they practice on the day of your visit. Usually, they have time off in the month of July.
How long does the journey to Montserrat take from Barcelona?
It takes roughly 1.5 hours to go from Plaça d’Espanya in Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery, depending on how busy the cable car is. Usually, the rack railway takes 1.5 hours. Trains run roughly every hour but schedules may vary depending on the time of year and special holidays. Check the schedule before you go.
How much time do I need to visit Montserrat?
I’d say as much time as you can spare. Go as early as possible and take your time to really soak up the atmosphere of Montserrat and enjoy being outdoors. Calculate at least 4 to 5 hours in Montserrat. When you add up the 1.5-hour journey to arrive and return to Barcelona, you’d need a full day.
If you don’t have that much time, you can also consider a quick half-day trip by bus, either in the morning or afternoon. Or take a combination tour with the works of Gaudi and a visit to Montserrat.
If I don’t like hiking, will I still enjoy Montserrat?
In my opinion, yes! You can stroll around, visit the Monastery of Montserrat. Attent the boy’s choir rehearsals or explore the museum with famous works of Picasso and Caravaggio.
You can take the funicular up the mountain and take a picnic there, and then return with the same funicular down without climbing or hiking.
Do you have more questions? Drop them in the comment section below!
Have you ever traveled from Barcelona to Montserrat by train? Did anything go wrong? Do you have any other tips? Please share them in the comment section below. Are you planning to travel to from Barcelona to Montserrat? Let me know if the guide was helpful or spread the word and share it
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