This breathtaking monastery perched on a mountain top is a day trip from Barcelona. An hour by train followed by a cable car (or rack railway) up the mountain, the whole experience is very accessible for families and strollers.
Trains leave every hour from Placa Espanya and go directly to the mountain, where you change to either the cable car (Aeri ticket version) or rack train mountain ride (Cremallera ticket version). When you buy your tickets from Placa Espanya, choose between the cable car and rack train – they are not changeable. You will need to get off the train a station earlier for the cable car. The train is easy and fast – just use this guide to make sure you board the right train on the right platform.
We chose the cable car because it looked like the most fun and it’s also a bit shorter. There is no seating on the cable car and strollers need to be folded. For larger strollers or if you will need to sit down, take the rack train instead.
Up the top, there are mountain walks for the more adventurous. Take one of two short funicular rides to see even more spectacular mountain views (a funicular is a mountain train that goes up or down steep slopes). We took the funicular down to Santa Cova cave and chapel, an important pilgrim site where an image of the Virgin Mary is believed to have been seen (an additional €3.70 return unless you buy the combined ticket).
The winding path to Santa Cova runs along the cliff face. It’s not very suitable for strollers or wheelchairs so I’d advise staying up at the monastery if you rely on either of these – or if you have a child who is likely to bolt over the edge of the cliff face, as there are no barriers around the walk.
We are thankfully past the age of bolting toddlers and managed to complete the walk without any near death experiences. The walk from the end of the funicular to the chapel is speckled with massive religious carvings that have been placed along the way, embedded into the rock face. The chapel at the end was built to blend into the rock face, and appears like a secret opening into the cliff. Please note that the chapel is considered holy and visitors are asked to be quiet.
The other funicular options is up the mountain (an additional €10.00 return unless you buy the combined ticket), which promises magnificent mountain views of Catalonia and the Montserrat mountains.
There’s plenty to see and do around the main area of the monastery too, such as a museum (better suited to older kids) featuring works by Caravaggio and Picasso, and the 1000 year old basilica.
The Montserrat Boys’ Choir sings daily in the basilica at 1pm – while the choral voices are magnificent it gets very crowded and the organ is extremely loud and a bit jarring. It’s a bit much for little kids with sensitive ears.
When planning your visit, pack plenty of water, particular in summer. You can take your own food or dine in the reasonably-priced cafeteria with basic food on the mountain.
Montserrat was a highlight of our Barcelona trip. It’s a spectacular site to behold, and is an easy day trip out of Barcelona, even with young children.
Montserrat Day Trip:
Train fare plus cable car/rack train: Adult Return €20.20, Child Return €15.65 (children under four are free)
Trans Montserrat Ticket €29.30
This combined ticket includes return train fare from Barcelona to Montserrat and either cable car or train track mountain train ride to the monastery, 2 return journeys on 2 different funicular rides once you are at the monastery, and 2 free metro rides with this ticket (value of €2.15 each).