Montserrat Rocks

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Easy hiking trails in Barcelona:

I have found my perfect easy hike on the Montserrat Rocks!

"Montserrat rocks near Barcelona"

Now, if I were on a spiritual, Leonardo-di-Caprio-inspired quest to find “The Hike”, I could happily retire and lay down my quill (and my computer, too), leaving you in peace to find your own way around the best hiking trails in Europe. But I am not, so I guess I will be pestering you with advice for some time to come.

"The very easy hiking trail on the Montserrat rocks near Barcelona"

And my advice for today is: if ever you are in Barcelona for more than a day or two, do not miss out on the Benedictine abbey of Montserrat on the foot of the Pyrenees.

"The Monastery o n the Montserrat rocks near Barcelona"

Montserrat rocks!

It simply clicks all the right boxes: it is easily accessible, and once you step off the train, you are only a few metres away from the first trailhead. There are many different routes on offer – you can pick one of the longer trails (the longest I saw clocked in at 7.5 km) or combine several of the shorter ones (they start at under 3 km), and if you want to keep it really easy, you can pick trails that run mostly downhill.

Isn’t that great?

"Fingerpost showing the direction to the different trails on Montserrat rocks"

Some of the trails are so easy, in fact, that you can bring Granny and the kids along (although perhaps not in mid-February when there might still be many icy patches around and hopefully you didn’t forget to get your travel insurance cover.) And no matter where you go: you are sure to get some splendid views of the mountains around you.

"An icy easy hiking trail in the mountains of Montserrat near Barcelona"
The base camp of Montserrat provides all the infrastructure you could need, including a reasonably priced cafeteria, and many interesting things to see. And on top of all that, one of Europe’s top cities, Barcelona, is in spitting distance, so you can round off your hiking day with some tapas in the Barrio Gotico and an after-dinner drink in one of the classy bars on Las Ramblas.

How cool is that?

"A giant cross high above the Montserrat rocks near Barcelona"

Montserrat, of course, is much more than just a conveniently located “base camp”. For many people, it represents the spiritual heart of the Catalan nation, no less.

Have you read: Barcelona has a Secret!

Under Franco, when Catalan culture was widely suppressed, the ecclesiastically independent Montserrat abbey was the only place where masses were read in the – otherwise banned – Catalan language.

"Lamps on the esplanade of the monastery on the Montserrat rocks in Barcelona"

The monastery is of medieval origin, but most of its buildings were destroyed by Napoleon’s invading army in 1811. As a consequence, much of what you can visit is actually fairly new, including most parts of the Basilica, for example. There is also a museum with works by El Greco, Picasso and Dalì as well as a library with 200,000 books. Montserrat Abbey also accommodates one of the world’s oldest still active “publishing houses” (est. 1499).

"The Monastery of Montserrat among surround by the rocks of the mountain"

Trains to Montserrat leave Barcelona hourly from the metro station Espanya. Leave the “subway” section of the public transport network through one of the regular exits (you will need a different ticket) and look for the signs towards (city rail) line R5.

"Funiculaire on its way down seen from a funiculaire going up in Montserrat rocks"

Buy a combined ticket, which includes the R5 train to Monistrol de Montserrat and the ticket for the narrow-gauge railway (the “Cremallera”) that will take you from the station up the mountain. (And don’t worry: there is a special desk in the “departure” area of Espanya station which is manned by friendly and English-speaking staff, ready to tell you exactly how to proceed.)

"The funiculaire that will take people to the next level of the mountains of Montserrat"

Once you have arrived at Montserrat station proper, cross the street for the local tourism office and ask for an English-language leaflet that describes some of the most popular trails.

"Well-laid out and maintained easy hiking trail in Montserrat near Barcelona"

Many of the trails start at the top station of the funicular (for which you will have to purchase another ticket) and lead you back to the Monastery, so they will mostly run downhill. (It goes without saying that you can also inverse that if you feel up to the challenge.)

"The still-icy easy hiking trail uphill on the Montserrat rocks near Barcelona"

I can’t speak for all of the trails, of course, but the one we chose was in excellent nick, intelligently laid out (with views in different directions) and well signposted.

"A stony detour on the easy hiking trail on the Montserrat rocks"

One word of caution: outside of the high tourist season, the last train from Montserrat to Barcelona leaves at 6:15 pm. You should take that into account when planning your walks around the area.

At the end of what was a great day of easy hiking, there would, however, be no grand finale for Mrs. Easy Hiker and myself, no tapas dinner and certainly no trip to no bar on Las Ramblas or anywhere else.

Have you read: The Weirdest Thing About Parc Guell

 

On day 7 of our 8-day-dash through three Mediterranean countries, we had – just about – enough energy left for a short detour to the food hall of El Corte Inglès on Plaza Catalunya where we bought some traditional Iberian cold cuts and an overpriced bottle of Chilean red, to return to our hotel and watch Jennifer Hudson sing I Will Always Love You on BBC World for the zillionth time.

Oh, the romance of travelling!

Base yourself for a few days in the centre of Barcelona. Why not stay in an AirB&B apartment, like we usually do? We’re even giving you €35 for your first rental anywhere! 

33 comments to Montserrat Rocks

  • Glad to hear you’re doing some walks in Barcelona, Fiona. Don’t fail to read our latest posts on tips where to go and eat over there!

  • Fiona

    Thanks for the great post, I’m currently in Barcelona and have been looking for nice day trip. Perfect suggestion, I know what I’m doing tomorrow!

  • We loved our hike in Montserrat too and there was such a choice of short and long trails. Wish we had more than a day there, really. Glad you loved it too, Cindy.

  • Cindy

    Montserrat was one of the most memorable travels I have ever had. It may sound dramatic, but I had such a moment of clarity, whilst I was on a solo hike on one of the trails. I will always be thankful for Montserrat for that. Thanks for the blog.

    Cindy

  • Fantástica visita. Te envío enlace de mi Bloc y espero que sirva de ayuda. http://muntanyademontserrat.blogspot.com.es

  • Thanks for the tips, Jordi.

  • Jordi

    This is a useful site to organize your visit to Montserrat http://www.montserratvisita.com/en/index.html. If what you want is to visit the mountain deeply, hiking or climbing, the guides at Guies de Muntanya de Montserrat http://www.guiesdemuntanyademontserrat.cat are perfect connoisseurs of the mountain and speak english and german. By the way… don’t miss to buy “Mel i mató de Montserrat”.

  • You will not need to stay overnight to enjoy some hiking over at Montserrat, Raul. You can do one or two trails in a day and be back in central Barcelona for some tapas. Thanks for dropping by.

  • I missed going to Montserrat when I visited Barcelona for the Olympics – too much to do in the city with the event. Your post makes me really want go back to “finish” that trip! I assume there are places to stay the night in Montserrat?

  • It’s a lovely area to stroll around, and I think it’s the perfect place for the landscape photographer to drop by if they happen to be in Barcelona. It makes for an amazing day out and you can really take the time to relax and contemplate things.

    Thanks for sharing your photos.

  • Hi Rachael, the trails in Montserrat are not hard to hike and vary in length and time needed. We got our info directly from the tourism office (available in English). If you’re staying there for several days, you can choose which ones you want to do. But there are several that are short. We chose a short one when we were there due to the weather, i.e. there were still snow and ice in some parts of the trail. We were actually advised and warned by the tourism people not to do any that day. We did anyway, as you can see. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Do you know where you can get maps of the trails so we can do some planning from home? Thanks

  • Ola,there are usually quite a number of tourists going there and especially so around August. When we went, it was late February and despite that, there were quite a number of people doing the short hikes. If you want to feel really sure, inquire at the tourism office what hikes they can recommend for a solo woman hiker. There are several trails you can choose from.

  • Ola

    Hi Michael,
    I’m going to Barcelona in August for two weeks and thought about spending a day hiking in Montserrat. I was just wondering if it is safe to go alone – I don’t mean health issues, I know my limits and won’t try to be overly adventurous. I mean, how busy are the trails? Will I, as a 22 year old female, feel comfortable and pass enough people on the way not to start feeling uneasy? This might be a stupid question but I want to make sure ;)

  • Most definitely, Joe. That’s the only reason why mountains are worth climbing.

  • Joe

    That’s what I love about mountains Michael, not only are they attractive landscapes, but you can get a spectacular view from the top

  • I love hiking, and views, and mountains, and since this looks like such an easy day trip from Barcelona.. it seems likely to make the list! Amazing!

  • Montserrat would have been literally a walk in the park for both of you, Deb. But really it’s the view that you got to see.

  • Wow! I gotta go back! When we were there it was pouring rain and we were totally unmotivated. We didn’t explore at all and didn’t end up going back. Now reading your post, I realize what a mistake we made. We even had a rental car so we could have gone back. Ah, next time!

  • Hello Maricor. When we were in Barcelona, we stayed in a rather good, clean hotel near the city center. It’s called Hotel Constanza in Barcelona. If you book online, they have 3 kinds of rates. The cheapest is the non-reimbursable one. So, make sure you are going because you risk forfeiting the rent for 2 nights. But it can be 50% less than their normal prices. Week-ends can be as cheap as 58.90 Euros for two per night. The train to Montserrat from Barcelona would be about 1 hour 20 mins. But I tell you it’s worth going there. May 1 is normally a holiday in most European countries so I can’t guarantee that sites would be open. Weather-wise, it should be good.

  • Maricor Sison Castillo

    Please recommend a good hotel in Barcelona for first time visitors who will be there for 3 days and 2 nights only. How long is the train ride from Barcelon to Monserrat? Is May (1st week) a good time, weather-wise, to travel to Barcelona?

  • Oh, most certainly I will continue to hike, Rich.

  • Wow the picture make this venture seem amazing, but the real question is will you go back to hike again?

  • Yes, you’re right, Natasha. Montserrat seems to be a favourite for rock climbers too.

  • Aargh, I didn’t make it to Montserrat when I was in Barcelona either! Apparently there’s amazing rock climbing there as well as the easy hikes :) It will happen!

  • One more exciting destination for you next time you’re in Europe, Amy.

  • Amy Hume

    Very nice! Having studied many years under Catholic nuns, kindergarten through college ,I know about Monserrat, Spain but never thought much about it. As I’m not into religious sites, it never held any interest for me before I saw your photos. The place and the views from stop the hills are breathtaking. Thanks for these, I shall include Monserrat in my future travels.

  • Jeremy, there weren’t many out there doing a hike because the tourism people were trying to discourage people because there were still quite a bit of icy patches. But we thought we’d give it a go and turn back if it really was impossible. In the end, we finished the trail, through some iffy downhill icy patches. It was really a great hike.

  • Jeremy Branham

    That really is a beautiful hike! Never took the time to go to Montserrat when I was in Barcelona. Now I wish I had. Incredible views and a beautiful hike. Looks like there weren’t that many people out there.

  • You are totally right, Jeff. The views were magnificent. It also helped that it was a clear sunny day too, though a bit cold.

  • Leigh, it was an opportunity we could not let go, despite feeling rotten because of impending flu. We just had to stuff ourselves with paracetamol. But it was really worth it. One of the best easy hikes we’ve had.

  • Wonderful overview of a place I’ve never heard of. And your pics are spectacular to boot. Would love to ride the funicular to the top!! What a view that must be!

  • We’d thought of a trip to Montserrat when we were in Barcelona but just ran out of time. Your photos make me wish we’d had a few more days to do side trips away from the city.

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