Hiking in Montserrat Nature Park
Montserrat is a multi-peak mountain range in Catalonia, near Barcelona, famous for its’ monasteries and oddly-shaped rock formations. In this post we write about hiking in Montserrat Nature Park and share the route of our day hike up on the mountain, with a downloadable route map and a picture gallery. We shortly introduce the trails that lead up to the Montserrat Monastery from the foot of the mountain, as well as the trails that run up on top of the mountain in Montserrat Nature Park. To learn more about visiting Montserrat and Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey monastery, check out our travel guide post about Montserrat.
Table of contest:
About Montserrat Nature Park
Hiking up from the foot of the mountain
Hiking on top of Montserrat and to Sant Jeroni Peak
Our day hike in Montserrat Nature Park
What to pack for your hike
Where to stay
Montserrat Nature Park
The geology and nature of Montserrat Mountain Range are unusual and to preserve it, a nature park was established in 1987. In Mesozoic era, over 100 million years ago, the mountain top was under water, part of a delta area, and the sediments in the present day rock pillars were in the bottom of a river and lake. After the lake and river dried, the area was exposed to erosion, and over a long period of time, the mountain with several peaks formed. Not just the geology us uncommon, but also the climate up in the mountain is unique, with different micro-climates. Wildlife of the park includes mammal like squirrels, boars and goats, wide range of different birds, bats and geckos. Vegetation varies from oak forests to small flowery meadows, and altogether there are over 1250 species of plants.
Hiking trails in Montserrat
Hiking up to the monastery from the foot of the mountain
The Montserrat Monastery up on the mountain can be reached by a car or bus along the road, by a rack train from Monistrol de Montserrat village, or by a cable car from Aeri de Montserrat station. It’s also very well possible to hike up, and there are a couple of easily accessible trails. Both the trails described below are marked and should be easy to follow even without a map. However, these trails are not that developed or popular as the main trails on top of the mountain, and come with over 600 meters of partly steep ascent. Trails have been described as difficult by some hikers, so maybe they are not for very inexperienced hikers or ones with knee problems. An offline map app like maps.me is very useful for following your location and checking where the alternative paths lead.
From Monistrol de Montserrat village, there is a walking trail called Cami de les Aigues (GR5 / GR96) leading up to the monastery. If you come by train to Monistrol de Montserrat train station, cross the river along Pont Gotic bridge, and walk to the village. You’ll find the trail end from along the main road Carrer de la Trinitad – from Place de la Font Gran in the village, walk up the Carrer de la Font stairs that lead to the main road, and the trail is on the opposite side of the road. After less than 1 km of hiking, there is a fork, and you can choose from two different paths. GR5 (Cami de les Aigues) is the left work, a bit longer but more even trail. The other option is trail called Drecera dels Tres Quarts (GR 96), which is a bit shorter but with steeper ascent. Whichever trail you choose, it leads up to the Benedict Abbey quite steadily, but with some steeper sections and stairs. Walking time from the trail end to the monastery is around 1,5 hours.
The other hiking trail up begins from Aeri de Montserrat cable car station. The first part of this hike is to cross the bridge, turn right and follow the main road for a few minutes, until there is a trail end on the opposite side of the road. This trail up takes around 1 hour 15 minutes, and the ascent is a bit over 600 meters. This path comes together with the GR 5 trail form Montserrat village after 1 km of walking. We didn’t try these trails up ourselves, as we visited Montserrat along a road trip, so we had our own wheels. We drove up closer to the monastery by car and started our hike from there. It was a mistake though to leave the car on the side of the road for night, more about that later in a separate post.
Hiking on top of Montserrat and to Sant Jeroni Peak
When you have reached the Benedictine Abbey Santa Maria de Montserrat, take some time to visit the monastery, the handsome basilica and possibly the museums. The main hiking trails up to the mountain summit area leave from the monastery, but there are also some alternative, less popular trails from elsewhere around the mountain top, from along the BP-1103 road. You can get a map of the main trails from the tourist office in Montserrat Monastery, but maps.me app is very useful for planning you route using the alternative paths also.
For those after only short and easy walks, there are some short walking routes around the monastery, taking you to pilgrim sites and past religious monuments and sculptures. One popular option is to walk down to Santa Cova chapel, along Cami de la Sta. Cova trail. Part of the descent, or way back up, can be covered via Santa Cova funicular, but at the time of writing, the funicular was under renovation, and planned to be opened again in spring 2020.
Probably the most popular hike in Montserrat is from the monastery to the highest peak, Sant Jeroni (1236 meters). It’s nice and relatively easy hike along well maintained, wide paths. You can begin the walk next to the tourist information of the monastery, or first take the Funicular de Sant Joan up closer to the peaks. The upper station of the funicular is a starting point to the main trail to the peak, Cami nou de Sant Jeroni. From the station it’s a 3,4 km hike (with 270 meters ascent) with wonderful views of the oddly-shaped rocks and through the forested valley between the peaks. Reaching Saint Jeroni peak takes from one to two and a half hours, depending on your pace and how often you stop for taking pictures.
If you’d rather avoid the pricey funicular (8,75 € for a single journey, 13,50 € for a round trip for adults), you should start the hike from the monastery. The route from there, called Escales dels Pobres, is actually not much longer than the one from the funicular station, but takes more time, as it comes with altogether 460 meters ascent and a lot of stairs in the beginning of the walk. Note that the trail from the monastery doesn’t lead to the funicular station, but joins the same trail later.
Sant Jeroni peak is not a narrow rock tower like many other peaks of Montserrat, but instead more round, and thus easy to get on top off, along a few sets of stairs. On top of the peak, there is a viewing platform from where you can admire the wonderful scenery, and on clear days you can see basically the whole Catalonia, Pyrenees Mountains and even the island of Mallorca. For the walk back, you can follow your tracks, but to enjoy different views, it’s advisable to choose another path. So in case you walked up from the monastery, take the path to the funicular station when going back. From behind the funicular station you’ll find a narrow road, called Cami de Sant Miquel, leading back to the monastery. And if you came from the funicular station, consider walking back down to the monastery along Escales dels Pobres.
If you’d like to avoid the main trails and take a longer route around the main massif and to the Sant Jeroni Peak, you can utilize the alternative paths in the Nature Park. Following the route of our hike below is one option, and this route described in summitpost website looks like a great option as well.
Our day hike in Montserrat Nature Park
During our day hike in Montserrat Nature Park, we used partly the main trails, and partly some less-known paths that run between the rock formations. We started the hike from Camping Montserrat, where we stayed for two nights. Instead of heading up from there, we first walked down along the main road from the monastery (lined with a huge parking area) for roughly two kilometers, and hit the trails leading up to the mountain top from the first trail end along road BP-1103. From there, a steep path (Canal del Gat) climbs up, through forest and in between of peaks. This was not the most pleasant climb to be honest, with limited views and rather steep ascent. However, when you reach the summit area, the views are spectacular, and there is a nice path, Cami de l’Arrel, running past lines of wonderful rock formations, towards Sant Jeroni.
After walking 1,4 km along Cami de l’Arrel path, we reached the main trail Cami nou de Sant Jeroni, and walked along it on top of the peak. After admiring the scenery we started the hike back to the monastery, but instead of walking along the main trail, decided to find an alternative, longer route on the southern side of the summit valley. When climbing down from the peak, we turned right after the Monument a Verdaguer, taking a path leading south. The trail was mostly marked with yellow paint, and easy to follow, running in between of rocks and down to the valley. Nice, quiet and mostly very scenic path. There would have been optional trails for even longer hike, but we returned to the main path after three kilometers of walking. Then we continued to the upper station of the funicular, and back to the camping site along the small road from there. This circular hike was almost 14 kilometers long, with 820 meters total ascent, and it took us around six hours, including a couple of breaks and a lot of short photography stops.
What to pack for your hike
- Good hiking shoes and sports clothes according to the weather
- Always carry some extra layers of clothes, in case of changes in weather or emergencies
- A hat or head scarf and sunscreen
- Plenty of water. Fill your bottles from the water points close to the monastery, as there are none up in the mountain.
- Snacks or packed lunch (don’t leave any trash behind!)
- No special gear is needed, but hiking poles may help with steeper ascents and descents
- First aid kit
- Trail map or map application showing the paths and your location, like maps.me
Where to stay
Check our guide post to Montserrat for information about accommodation options up in the monastery. For those with camping gear, a climbing-oriented Camping Montserrat, just a few hundred meters from the monastery, is an affordable option, and comes with wonderful views! In Spanish the campsite is called Area Esportiva i D’Acampada, and you’ll find it by following a road called Cami de Sant Miquel, that leads up from below the lower station of Sant Joan funicular.
Map of our route
Click map to open and download the route
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The perfect day trip from Barcelona — Walk My World
If you’re looking for a complete change of pace from the city (or just want to see the more natural side of Catalonia), then visiting Montserrat is the perfect day trip from Barcelona. Within an hour, you’ll be outside the hustle and bustle of the city and into the beautiful village of Montserrat surrounded by spectacular mountains.
The hike to the top gets you away from the crowds, passing through a local village before winding up the steep mountainside, treating you to stunning views all the way, whilst also giving you a thorough workout. At less than 7km, it may not seem that long, but you’ll feel it in your legs!
The reward for hiking to the top is the huge monastery (Monestir de Sant Benet de Montserrat) and the beautiful small chapel – Capella de la Santa Cova. Both are unique and interesting places to take in, but as nature lovers the mountains themselves were the true highlights for us. If churches are not your thing you can simply have lunch and a cappucino whilst looking out at those dramatic views.
Hiking Monserrat is definitely a highlight of any trip to Barcelona.
What to do in Montserrat
Montserrat isn’t too big, so you won’t need much more than an hour or two at the top unless you want to continue the hike on to the summit (which we highly recommend).
You’ll want to factor in about five hours minimum for the trip though if you plan on taking public transport from the city and then hiking.
Capella de la Santa Cova
The Capella de la Santa Cova was our favourite part of Montserrat and is often overlooked by people taking the cable car or funicular railway to the top as it requires a little walk downhill and isn’t immediately obvious from the top. On the hiking trail from the base it is well signposted and worth the 20 minute (each way) detour.
The views along this stretch of track were our favourite on the whole hike.
Built on the side of the mountain, this tiny chapel is beautiful and seamlessly merges with the mountain. Inside is a humble church, with a few pews, altar and candles. It is peaceful and a great place for reflection.
Entrance to the church is free.
Monastir de San Benet de Montserrat
This huge monastery isn’t the kind of thing you expect to find on the top of a mountain and it feels as grand as the majority of cathedrals you see in major cities in Europe.
It starts with a picturesque courtyard but it’s the inside that will truly blow you away. It is the most ornate monastery we have ever seen complete with beautiful lanterns and framed by a huge arched roof.
If you have time, you can queue up to visit the gallery, which gives you a view from much higher up and takes you round to the back of the altar.
It is very different from both the Barcelona Cathedral and the Sagrada Familia and is well worth a visit.
Entrance to the monastery is free.
You can also visit the Montserrat Museum which costs seven euros, we didn’t enter the museum though so we can’t comment on how good it is.
Simply put, the views from the top of Montserrat are incredible. From here you’ll see the countryside with its small villages, rivers and surrounding mountains (which were snow capped when we visited).
It is a great place to have lunch or a coffee on a sunny day (although prices here are high so if you’re on a budget we’d suggest bringing a picnic from the city) and just take in how amazing rural Europe can be.
Read next: Mistakes to avoid in Barcelona
How to hike to Montserrat Monastery
Type of walk: One way or return
Difficulty: Short, but strenuous
Distance: 6.88km (including the detour to Capella de la Santa Cova)
Time taken: 2 hours 20 (including the detour and time spent at the church)
The hike up to the top of Montserrat is steep with very few flat sections to get your breath back. It is reasonably well marked if you know what you’re looking for, but there are next to no formal signposts. Here are some instructions to get you on the right track.
Finding the start of the trail
Starting at Monistrol de Montserrat, exit the train station and turn immediately right, then left. This will take you to the bridge which crosses the river and heads towards the village.
Once across the bridge, you’ll see the highway in front of you. Take the underpass which will take you to the other side of the highway. Keep an eye out for the path that goes left of the BBVA bank.
Follow this path into the village and it will open up to a square. There’s a staircase that you will see with these markings on it. These are the markings you’ll be following along the whole hike.
At the top of the stairs, turn left. You’ll have a short walk along the road before having to cross to this path (also marked with the paint).
From here, it is a straightforward hiking path all the way to the top. Keep following all signs to “Monestir de Montserrat”. The path does become rough in a couple of patches and will require a little scramble, but on the whole it is in good condition.
It is not a path which has amazing views throughout as you will often be in bushy sections but there is definite satisfaction in making your way to the monastery under your own steam.
The track will eventually wind behind the mountain and give you the option of turning left to visit Capella de la Santa Cova – the small chapel on the side of the mountain.
We highly recommend this as – although it adds on more distance and you’ll have to climb uphill again – it will take you past some sculptures and eventually to this beautiful little chapel.
Once you’ve visited the Capella de la Santa Cova, head back and upwards to the main buildings. Here you’ll find the terminal for the cable car, funicular railway and the monastery.
Continuing to the summit – Sant Jeroni
On our most recent visit we weren’t able to continue the hike past the monastery as a storm rolled in and it wouldn’t have been safe.. or fun! However on our previous visit we did and if you have the energy we’d highly recommend it.
The views from the top are even more incredible than from the monastery. It is a steep climb so it’s a fair additional undertaking, though the path is a little better than from the base to the monastery.
You can find the path very close to the monastery, you can’t miss it. If you have even more time there are also a couple of other walks too.
You’ll want to allow an extra couple of hours to make the hike to the summit from the monastery and back.
Read next: Barcelona’s most photogenic spots
How to get back down if you don’t fancy anymore hiking!
The good news is that you don’t have to hike down if you don’t want to. Sadly, both options will probably involve queuing as the cable car and funicular railway are most tourist’s choice of transport up and down Montserrat.
If you can avoid weekends you should find the queues much shorter.
The cable car from the top of Montserrat runs to Montserrat Aeri Train Station, 1 stop before Monistrol de Montserrat. The cable cars only run every 15 minutes, which can make a pretty long wait (there isn’t much room inside these cars).
However, the reward is the stunning valley views, we’ve taken the cable car in the past and it is definitely better than the funicular. Tickets cost €7.50 one-way, making it the costlier option.
Current cable car openings times can be found on this website.
The funicular railway is a lot less scenic, but also a little cheaper. If you just want a quick way back to the train, then this is the one to take.
The funicular runs between 2-3 trains per hour, but they carry quite a lot of people in one go. We managed to squeeze in with a lot of other people when it was raining. It’s not so picturesque and the windows were quite dark so it is not good for photos, but if you simply want to get back quickly it is your best bet. Tickets cost €6.60 one way.
Current opening hours for the funicular can be found on this website.
Getting from Barcelona to Montserrat
The simplest way to get from Barcelona to Montserrat is to take the train from Playa Espanya. The R5 train runs every hour and takes about an hour to get to Monistrol de Montserrat.
Ignore the google maps recommendations as sometimes it will say you will have to make 15 changes to get there! It’s much simpler to time your trip with the R5 trains that run direct.
Ticket prices and timetables can be found at this website.
Top tip: Don’t make the mistake we did and arrive with little time to spare for your train, the station is really big and we ended up missing ours by moments. Give yourself plenty of time to buy tickets and get to the platform.
Where to stay in Barcelona
We’ve stayed in a few different places over the years and can definitely say Barcelona has something for every budget.
Budget – Hostal Abrevadero
On our most recent trip we wanted somewhere cheap and cheerful where you can get a private room for a reasonable price, Hostal Abrevadero offered just that. We were a little further walk from the city than many hostels (around 20 minutes to many of the sites) but we were happy to walk more in order to pay the same for a private ensuite room that we would have had to pay for two dorm beds in a more central location.
The room was spotlessly clean and comfy and the staff here were so incredibly friendly.
Check out the latest prices & reviews on:
Mid-range – Exe Plaza Catalunya
If you’re looking for a mid range option then Exe Plazaa Catalunya is a great choice. The rooms are fairly small but comfy with huge beds and the bathrooms are massive. Staff are friendly and the brekkie is good too.
You can’t beat it for location as it is very central and a few steps from La Ramblas.
Check out the latest prices & reviews on:
Somewhere Special – The W
For a splurge we’d recommend the hotel that Joe’s brother stayed in, the W. It’s a little further from the city but you get fabulous water views and trendy rooms. They even serve champagne with breakfast!
Check out the latest prices & reviews on:
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, that we will earn a small commission if you click through and decide to make a purchase. This helps towards the costs of running our website. 🙂
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Montserrat mountain and surroundings, Catalonia, Spain
Hearing the word Montserrat, people rarely remember that this is not only a monastery, Montserrat is a whole mountain. Arriving in Montserrat, you can not only walk around the monastery, but also take a walk up the mountain, or take one of the funiculars closer to the nature and geology of the mountain itself. If you love hiking and wildlife, you will be amazed by the unique nature of Mount Montserrat.
This page contains all the information you need about Montserrat. Here there is information about the features of the mountain, its geology and climate, about how the mountain was conquered by man for many centuries, as well as a detailed description of the highest peak of the mountain – St. Jerome.
Book your tickets for a half day excursion to Montserrat from Barcelona with round trip
There are two organized tours that will save you time and hassle to travel to Montserrat on your own. They include round-trip travel from Barcelona to Montserrat by air-conditioned bus. You can choose a half-day tour in the morning or in the afternoon.
Morning excursion to Montserrat
Click here to purchase tickets online for the morning excursion to Montserrat from Barcelona
For more information on the Montserrat Nature Reserve, you should check out our page on the Montserrat Nature Reserve. There is information about the climate, flora and fauna on the mountain. Plus there is information about exhibitions and hiking trails on Mount Montserrat.
Features of Montserrat
Montserrat is 10 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide. The perimeter of the mountain is 25 km. The surface area is about 45 km2. From the side, the mountain looks higher than it actually is, this is due to the fact that it rises straight up from the Llobregat River. There are no mountains nearby that could compete with her in height, so she really stands out in the landscape of this part of Catalonia.
Geology of Montserrat
Montserrat translates as “jagged mountain” – once you see it with your own eyes, you will understand why it is called that. The mountain looks jagged, bizarre peaks have formed on it.
It was formed from sedimentary rocks. What today is the foot of the mountain, in the Mesozoic was the mouth of the river, the source of which was on the Balearic continent. This river flowed into a large lake in the center of Catalonia. Sedimentary rocks formed at the bottom of this lake. When the Balearic continent went under water, all that was left was a dried-up lake and an exposed river mouth – sedimentary rocks.
These sedimentary rocks have been eroded. Over the next ten million years, the movement of the earth’s crust, climate change and erosion turned these sedimentary rocks into what we can see today.
Montserrat consists of dense and eroded rock and limestone. The high hardness of these rocks distinguishes them from other Catalan mountains and increases their resistance to erosion.
The climate on Mount Montserrat is unique – it is a humid Mediterranean climate (subtropical – hot summers and warm winters). The sharply defined relief of the mountain contributes to the fact that over short distances the climate can be radically different. This phenomenon is called microclimate.
On Montserrat, at an altitude of 740 meters, there is a meteorological station. Thanks to her, it was found that the average annual rainfall can reach 678 l/m2. The average annual temperature is approximately 14 – 16 degrees Celsius. And because of the sea winds, thick fog can hang over the mountain. This fog provides the necessary moisture for plants (for more information about the vegetation on Mount Montserrat, see our guide to the Montserrat Nature Reserve).
Snow is rare on Montserrat, but there is significant snowfall from time to time.
History of the relationship between man and Montserrat
One of the peaks of Montserrat, Montgrós, was first climbed in 1880. After that, other routes of climbing the mountain were laid.
Over the years, mountaineering on this mountain has also developed greatly (read more about mountaineering in our article on mountaineering on Montserrat). In 1922, the Echoes Peak was conquered. Then other peaks were conquered, for example, the peak of Cavall Bernat in 1935, the wall of St Jerome in 1948 and the Devils wall in 1955.
The human presence on the mountain was not limited to mountaineering – people lived in local caves. In prehistoric times, some caves were inhabited. Of greatest interest are the caves Cova Gran and Cova Freda – both located on the southeastern slope of the mountain. Information about the study of these caves was published in 1925, traces of Neolithic pottery were found there.
St Jerome – the highest peak of Montserrat
St Jerome is the name of the highest peak of Montserrat. Leaving the Funicular de Sant Joan station, you can see the rock formations near this peak. Each such formation, depending on its shape, was given an appropriate name. There appear such names as: Little Mummy, Mummy, Cat and Elephant.
Skete at the top of St Jerome
All over the peak of St. Jerome, sketes are located – these are small chapels in which monks once lived. Learn more about hiking trails on St. Jerome, as well as the sketes that can be seen during such walks, read our guide to hiking trails on Montserrat.
Montserrat is a beautiful place, its unique rock formations are of interest to geologists all over the world. Once on Mount Montserrat, do not miss the opportunity to admire the nature of this place, whether you love nature or not, you will not be left without impressions.
Montserrat Visit and Hike, Barcelona – Booking.com
Montserrat Monastery Visit and Hike
Explore the natural wonders, culture and history of Montserrat with a guide
On this guided tour from Barcelona you will discover Montserrat Monastery and its surroundings.
First, you will visit the monastery with a guide, and then go on a hiking trip. Your guide will take you to the top of Montserrat, from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Montserrat Natural Park, the Mediterranean, the surrounding countryside, and the Pyrenees. On your return to the monastery, you will have free time to explore the surroundings and taste regional products at the local farmers’ market.
- Guided tour of Montserrat
- Opportunity to enjoy stunning views of the Montserrat Natural Park
- Opportunity to enjoy a round trip from Barcelona
What is included in the booking 90 003
- Round trip from Barcelona
- Guide services
- Sightseeing fee
Languages spoken by the tour guide
The maximum number of participants per booking is 8 people.
The tour is conducted by a multilingual guide.
Don’t forget to take your ticket with you.
Attention: the organizer may cancel the event for unforeseen reasons.
You must be over 18 or accompanied by an adult to book this activity.
Organized by UNIque Tours
Montserrat visit and hiking
UNIque Tours Barcelona / Outdoor Experiences, Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona
Wait for your guide in front of the Unique Tour office s.
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