Feeling confident we crammed in as much as possible during our first day in Spain, we decided to get out of the city for a portion of Day Two. I was intent on on getting to Montserrat, a mountain-top monastery just outside of Barcelona. While we got a later start than intended (that love of naps and an urgent need for a restroom while in the station set us back a good four hours), we arrived well rested and totally awed by the view:
So how do you get to this gorgeous place and just what is there to do here? I give you…
A Quick Guide to Montserrat
From Placa D’Espanya station, take the R5 Line towards Manresa. The rail runs quite frequently (times are available here – search by the ‘Monserrat Rack Railway’), but arrive early if you have a certain departure time in mind. We had a little bit of difficulty finding the correct entrance to the station because you pick up the R5 Line in a different location than the inner-city lines. Here’s an image of what you’re looking for. When in doubt, ask an attendant or even a local to help you locate the right entrance.
At the station, you’ll have the option to buy tickets for a variety of combinations of transport to and around Montserrat. The train from Espanya station only takes you to the foot of Montserrat mountain, which takes about an hour. From there, you have two options to actually go up the mountain to the area around the Monastery: the cable car or the Cremallera funicular. You must decide on one or the other in advance, not only for the sake of purchasing the right combo ticket, but also for getting off at the correct stop (Aeri for the cable car, which is the first stop, or Cremallera for the funicular).
My advice? Take the cable car if you want to take in some gorgeous views. (And if you’re not afraid of heights!) Plus, the ride is a little shorter -5 minutes versus 15 for the train. Be aware though, that you will likely have to wait in line for either option if you go later in the day and/or during the weekend.
Another quick tip: If presented with the option to prepay for lunch, the museum and the additional funiculars at the top when you purchase your train tickets, skip it – unless you know for sure you want to do it all. You have the option to pick and choose what you’d like to do once you reach Monserrat.
Once you’re at the top, there are a number of things you can do including:
Once you’ve had your fill, head back down the mountain the same way you came: cable car or funicular to the station to catch the train back to Barcelona. Easy, right?! It should be. But since I always have a special way of torturing Jake….
After three hours of taking in the views, we squeezed in to the cable car and arrived at the station with minutes to spare before the 4:40 train back to Barcelona. Hot, tired and hungry, we were desperate to get back. As the train approached, I did think it was odd it was facing the opposite way of the city… but the outward pushiness that became necessary in HK when it comes to public transport kicked in and after shoving aside a few other couples, we made it onto the train first. Ain’t karma a bitch. Once we finished doing our happy dance we realized we were the ONLY people on the train. Yea…. we were headed in the wrong direction. The silver lining? This train would finish out its route and then turn back. So while we added yet ANOTHER hour onto our journey, at least we were guaranteed all the seats we wanted…
So do yourselves and favor and make sure the train is facing the way you originally came from, AND plan on it taking a little longer to get back down the mountain if you’re heading back at the end of the day. All in all, Montserrat is so worth it!