Montserrat mountain is the perfect day trip from Barcelona in terms of accessibility, distance and powerful, raw natural beauty. Montserrat, meaning serrated mountain, is an apt name for the jagged cluster of peaks located one hour outside Barcelona.
Montserrat, Spain (4)Although it looks like a range of hills, Montserrat is in fact one single mountain with multiple peaks. The mountain is home to a benedictine abbey called Santa Maria de Montserrat. This abbey houses the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the black Madonnas of Europe.
When Saint Benedict was around twenty years old he left Rome and went to live in a cave in a mountain, for three years. A man clearly fond of getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the abbey at Montserrat seems to want to do just that as well.
This feeling that the abbey was built with a massive, invisible ‘do not disturb’ sign is heightened when you trek up the mountain the old hard-to-do way.

The best way to get to the start of the hike is by train from Placa Espanya in Barcelona. Get yourself a return ticket to Monistrol. The journey will take you just over an hour. Or alternatively you can drive to the car park outside Monistrol train station. Once you get to Monistrol, exit the train station while remembering to cast faintly superior glances at all the other visitors who are transferring to either the cable car or cremallera (narrow gauge hill train).  You are obviously made of sterner stuff!

Cross the car park, and into the scrub and you’ll soon see little paths snaking their way up the side of the hill. More information on the route can be found here.

Montserrat, Spain (5)Most of the trails have been cut into steps, so the technical rating for the trail is ‘easy’. The distance to hike from Monistrol up to Montserrat abbey, then on to San Jeroni which is the highest peak and back to Montserrat, is roughly 20 km. A reasonable hike.

However, the cumulative elevation gain in this particular hike is around 1200 meters. To put that into perspective, if you walk up to the fifth floor of a building, you would have climbed to around 15 meters. So that’s roughly 80 five storey buildings! Needless to say, if you’re not in shape, every muscle in your thigh will be screaming for mercy by the time you reach the top.

Montserrat, SpainThat pain is quickly forgotten though, with the euphoria of getting to the top. Apart from that particular peace that can only be found on tops of mountains, there are views to take your breath away and ancient monolithic boulders to rest your back on.

If this all sounds good but you’re not sure about visiting or hiking in Montserrat alone, check out bcn.travel for tours going to Montserrat from Barcelona. There are even nature hikes you can join.

Author: Prithika Nair (freelance writer)