9 Mistakes to avoid Travel from Barcelona to Montserrat by Train

When I was planning for my trip to Barcelona, Spain I learned about one of the best day trips from Barcelona.

After seeing a lot of Barcelona and Gaudi in one day, I wanted to escape the city and travel from Barcelona to Montserrat Mountains. I researched many practicalities before we set out to this little hamlet in the mountains.

Nevertheless: things didn’t go as planned. In order for you to learn from my errors, I’m sharing with you my 9 mistakes to avoid when you travel from Barcelona to Montserrat by train.

Check out my web story about my visits to Montserrat from Barcelona here.

I paid for everything myself. This post contains affiliate links to resources I recommend. If you decide to follow any of my links and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.

Updated: October 2021 to reflect the new time table and prices.
Covid-19 update: As of April 26th, 2021, travel within the region of Catalonia is allowed, making a trip from Barcelona to Montserrat possible. Due to the preventive measures taken by the health authorities, some facilities and options mentioned below are not fully reopened again. The mentioned tickets and options are currently not 100% available for purchase. The best option is the TOT or the Trans Montserrat ticket.

# 1. Arrive too late at Montserrat Monastery

The journey from Barcelona to Montserrat takes quite some time and there is plenty to see and do once you get to Montserrat monastery. I set the alarm at 8.30 am to make sure we would arrive at Montserrat monastery in time.

We wanted to hike around, visit Montserrat monastery and travel back and forth with the train and funiculars. Alas, we managed to arrive at Montserrat monastery in the afternoon and were seriously pressed for time.

TIP: Don’t arrive too late but leave early and calculate the whole day to explore the area. This is actually one of the biggest mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat Monastery. If we would have had enough time, all the things to follow would not have mattered that much.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
View from the Montserrat Mountains

# 2. Miss the train from Barcelona to Montserrat

I knew there were regular trains running from Plaça d’Espanya in Barcelona to Montserrat but I didn’t bother to check how often they run and at what time. Turns out, we wanted to purchase our Montserrat tickets but got in doubt if it would be the right ticket for us.

And just like that, the train left. The consequence: we had to wait 55 minutes for the next train. The result was that we arrived even later and we were more pressed for time as we had to take the last funicular back too.

TIP: Don’t miss the train from Barcelona to Montserrat. Research the train schedule. 
Buy your Tot Montserrat Tickets, Trans Montserrat ticket or Montserrat Express tickets in advance online. You can download the train schedule from Plaça d’Espanya to Manresa, line R5 from here.

TIP: Buy your train tickets to Montserrat in advance online

There are several Montserrat tickets that you can buy in advance online, from the official Barcelona tourist office. But what are the differences? I walk you through the different ones that you can purchase.

Read more: Barcelona Solo Travel Guide, how to have an epic time on your own?

What is the Trans Montserrat Ticket?

This is basically your go-to ticket when you want to travel from Barcelona to Montserrat. At the moment, it is €33,45 pp and includes the following:

  • Return Metro Ticket from anywhere in Barcelona to Plaça d’Espanya where the train to Montserrat leaves
  • A return train ticket to the train station Monistrol de Montserrat from Barcelona
  • It includes the return trip by cable car or rack railway up to Montserrat Monastery
  • Free use of the other funiculars at Montserrat Mountains to get around
  • Exhibit in Montserrat

This is what you need if you want to travel from Barcelona to Montserrat and don’t lose any time at the vending machine at the train station. 

A day trip from Barcelona (Spain) to Montserrat by train is a great way to get out of the city. Although an easy trip, things can go wrong. Be prepared and learn from my 9 mistakes.
The Trans Montserrat ticket is your gateway to Montserrat from Barcelona.

What is the ToT Montserrat Ticket?

The Tot Montserrat Ticket is the all-inclusive, transport ticket for your day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat (and back) by public transport.

  • You’ll get a return metro ticket to Plaça d’Espanya where the train to Montserrat leaves.
  • The train ticket to Montserrat from Barcelona, and back.
  • It includes the return ticket on either the rack railway or the cable car
  • You can use the other funiculars around Montserrat.
  • To top things off you can see the exhibit, enter the museum and get a meal at the self-service restaurant.

This is your all-inclusive (self-guided) day out to Montserrat. This has everything the Trans Montserrat ticket has, plus the extra entrance to the museum and a meal. This wasn’t an option when I went to Montserrat, but as prices for food in Montserrat are crazy, it might be a good option for you.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
Train from Barcelona

What is the Montserrat Express ticket?

We’re not done yet, you can also opt-in for the Montserrat Express ticket. This sounds speedy, doesn’t it? It has fewer options than the Trans Montserrat ticket or the Tot Montserrat from Barcelona ticket, but still enough for your day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat by train. It includes the following:

  • Return ticket for the train from Barcelona to Montserrat
  • Return journey on the rack railway to the monastery (so no option to take the cable car)
  • A goodie-bag with audio-guide about Montserrat Monastery and the history, a liqueur, a local treat, and discount vouchers.

This ticket is perfect if you don’t feel like hiking or going into the Montserrat Mountains, but want to explore the Monastery of Montserrat from Barcelona and take in the place.

# 3. Buy food and drinks at Montserrat Monastery

I knew there were shops at the monastery and I figured the products available would be more expensive than in the local supermarket. But I never expected things to be that expensive. We brought our own lunch (something we did do right) but bought water and a pack of cookies on site. We spend €6,80 on 2 bottles of water and some cookies. Insane.

TIP: Don’t buy too much in the shops as they are expensive. Bring your own snacks and drinks, or opt for the transport ticket by train that includes lunch!

Looking for the best foodie adventure in Barcelona? Join one of these mouth-watering food tours in Barcelona.

In Monsterrat, there are plenty of shopping opportunities as well as a daily artisan market where locals sell their local honey and lovely cheeses. You will also find a cafe where you can purchase sandwiches, cold drinks, and small hot meals. In the restaurant, you can have a full buffet-style lunch (or dinner).

Looking for more useful tips and ideas? Sign up for the monthly newsletter and be part of Probe around the Globe.

# 4. Purchase a return ticket for the Sant Joan funicular

We wanted to buy the return train ticket including the funicular to Montserrat Monastery. As this was not possible in Barcelona, we only purchased our round-trip ticket to Montserrat monastery Once at Montserrat, we wanted to take the Sant Joan funicular further up the mountain and purchased our tickets there.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
The Montserrat Funicular and a picture of me hiking in the Montserrat Mountains.

As I didn’t read the directions before going up, I didn’t realize we would be walking down. At the ticket booth, I requested two return trips. We paid too much as we would be walking down instead of taking the funicular back down to Montserrat monastery.

This was one of the easiest of the 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat. If I only had read the instructions better.

TIP: Avoid buying round-trip tickets when you only use a single ticket. Research your route before you set out. You can find the times and prices for the two funiculars on Montserrat Mountain here. Or buy a transport ticket to Montserrat and see if the Funicular to the Sant Joan (and Santa Cova) are open.

# 5. Take the wrong route when hiking in Montserrat Mountains

At the tourist office, I was handed a small leaflet with 5 routes for the mountains of Montserrat. The back of the leaflet had a very poor map and I read the instructions for our intended route: after leaving the Sant Joan funicular to go right.

And so we did. At least, I thought we did. After a couple of minutes, I realized none of the routes descriptions matched the landscape around us, but we kept walking. Soon we were on a dead-end pass and walked back and forth to find the right route.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
Hermitage on the wrong side of the trail

After all our options were exhausted, we decided to walk back to the funicular. Turned out, we missed the very first instruction.

As you walk out of the funicular, there is a path to the right instantly. We missed it. I ignored my feeling of being wrong straight away and therefore, we lost 1 hour of valuable time (and energy). Have you ever missed an obvious instruction?

TIP: Avoid taking the wrong route by taking your time to navigate and follow directions. Avoid getting lost by taking a guided walking tour of Montserrat. Click the link for times and prices, the price includes a guided tour of Montserrat and the journey by train from Barcelona.

# 6. Not take in the views of the Montserrat Mountains

Once on the right path, we still wanted to walk our intended route. The route would take 2.5 hours and we still had 3,15 hours left until the last funicular down the mountain. So we rushed. We had a quick lunch and we walked at a brisk pace.

We only made a few quick stops to take some snapshots. When planning our trip, I imagined we would take our time, take in the views, enjoy each other’s company and take loads and loads of beautiful pictures.

Instead, we were walking. The views were stunning and I tried to look up as much as possible, but we hardly gave ourselves time to really enjoy our walk in the Montserrat Mountains. Although Montserrat is a cool day trip from Barcelona, be careful hiking when it gets hot in Montserrat too. Read my tips on staying cool when you travel in Europe.

TIP: Avoid rushing through your trail but take time to soak up the spectacular views and enjoy the silence.

# 7. Push on against better judgment

I wanted to push on. I had my mind set on reaching the top. I wanted to complete the route and show myself I could do it. After an hour of walking, we reached a fork in the road. The directions indicated we should have reached this after 35 minutes. Against better judgment, I wanted to continue with my plan and go to St. Jerome’s peak.

I was already getting tired and had sore legs. I was struggling. Because of my Crohn’s disease, I am not nearly as fit as I’d like to be. I also never walk in hilly areas as the Netherlands are flat as a pancake.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
Unfortunately, we never made it to the Sant Jeroni viewpoint

Luckily for me, my boyfriend was there to protect us against my hubris. He insisted we head back down to the monastery. I caved and we spend another hour walking down. It was a very wise decision as I was struggling to make it down.

TIP: Avoid pushing yourself further than you can. Always listen to your body and be safe and healthy.

If you’re really short on time, you can also book a direct bus tour to Montserrat, either a morning bus tour to Montserrat or an afternoon tour of Montserrat.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
Stunning rock formations at the Montserrat Mountains

# 8. Lose your return train ticket to Barcelona

Exhausted and a little bit disappointed, we reached Montserrat Monastery. As I wanted to pass the tourniquet for the funicular back to Montserrat, I looked for my ticket. The expensive return ticket that I bought in Barcelona.

I searched in every pocket and turned my bag upside down. But the ticket had vanished without a trace. I couldn’t find it. I think I lost it somewhere up the mountain.

There was nothing left to do than to buy a new ticket. Money down the drain.

TIP: Don’t lose your return train ticket to Barcelona. Store the ticket in a secure spot and leave it there.

# 9. Avoid standing in the train from Montserrat to Barcelona

I received a tip to take the rack railway instead of the cable car. The cable car is quicker than the rack railway. But you get off the train earlier for the cable car. This also means you’ll board the train to Barcelona last on your way back. At the end of the afternoon, the train can be pretty full, and boarding last means having to stand for the hour-long journey back to Barcelona.

We choose the rack railway and boarded the train back to Barcelona first. After a full day of strenuous walking in the Montserrat Mountains, I could rest my sore legs and sit on the train.

Cable Car to Montserrat

From Barcelona, you’ll take the train to Montserrat and then you’ll switch the mode of transport. You’ll either take the cable car to Montserrat Monastery or the Rack Railway. Both end at the same point at the monastery in Montserrat, but was is the difference?

The Cable Car to Montserrat leaves from the train station “Aeri de Montserrat”. As the train leaves Barcelona from Plaça d’Espanya, after an hour and 15 minutes, this is the first stop near Montserrat where most people will get off. You need to get in line for the yellow cable cars that whisk you through the air, up to the Monastery.

Only 15 to 20 people can board one cable car and usually, there are only 2 operated, so it might take some time before it is your turn to fly through the air to Montserrat.

Rack Railway to Montserrat

The Rail Railway leaves one stop after the cable car stop. Don’t make the mistake of getting off too early, because when the train leaves and you figure out your mistake you need to wait another hour for the next train. Or you need to buy a single-journey ticket on the cable car.

For the rail railway to Montserrat, you need to disembark the train at Monistrol de Montserrat where you’ll switch to the Rack Railway. The schedules are aligned, so you don’t have to wait too long.

When you purchase the Trans Montserrat ticket or the TOT-Montserrat ticket, you need to choose between the rack railway and the cable car. The price is the same, regardless of what you choose.

TIP: Avoid having to stand on the train back to Barcelona. Take the rack railway from Montserrat monastery and board the train to Barcelona before the cable car.

I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
Cremallera or rack railway to Montserrat Monastery

Need more inspiration why you should go to Montserrat?

Montserrat is a perfect day trip from Barcelona but the sight and surroundings offer many other opportunities like wine tasting or hot air balloon rides. Find more inspiration and reasons to go to Montserrat from Barcelona here:

9 Mistakes to avoid when going from Barcelona to Montserrat

As you can see, a lot of things went wrong. We arrived too late and missed the train. We paid too much buying groceries at the monastery. We purchased a return ticket when we only needed a single ticket. We also took the wrong route in the mountains and didn’t take time to enjoy the views.

I wanted to keep walking, although I felt it was not wise. I also lost my return train ticket to Barcelona. Luckily I was warned of one of the mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat, so I was able to sit on the train back to Barcelona.

Because I was warned before I traveled to Montserrat, I was able to do some things right. With my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat, your trip to Montserrat by train will be a success! Looking for more day trips from Barcelona?

I took a trip to Montserrat near Barcelona but a lot went wrong. I give you my mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat monastery so you can do better.
Hiking in Montserrat Mountains

Frequently asked questions for your day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona

In short, here are some questions, and answers, to the most frequently asked questions about this great day trip by train to Montserrat from Barcelona.

Do I need to buy a ticket for the train to Montserrat in advance?

No, you don’t have to, because there are ticket machines at the train station. But I do recommend you to buy your train ticket in advance online. This way, you won’t miss the train waiting in line at the ticket machine.

You can purchase your tickets via the official Barcelona Tourism Office:

Do I take the Cable Car or the Rack Railway to Montserrat?

This is entirely up to you. The Cable Car is cool, the ride is quick, but only a few people can go at the same time so you might end up waiting in the queue, depending on how busy it is.

I loved the rack railway as it meanders through the mountains to Montserrat Monastery on a historic railway route. You get spectacular views and usually, there is enough room to have a seat.

The price is the same, but remember, if you purchase your tickets, you need to go up and down the mountain via the same mode of transportation. There is no combination ticket. When you choose the cable car, it is your mode of transport both up and down. The same applies to the rack railway.

What if I really want to try both the rack railway and the cable car?

It is possible but it will cost you extra money. On your Trans Montserrat ticket or TOT-Montserrat ticket, the return journey up the mountain is included. If you want to go up via cable car and down via rack railway, you can always purchase one single journey and experience both!

Can I stay overnight in Montserrat?

Yes, you can! If you miss the last train down or just want to experience Montserrat when the crowds are gone, then stay overnight in Montserrat.

There is the Abas Cisneros Hotel that offers twin rooms and single rooms in Monsterrat. Check for their rates and availability here.

For families, it might be more suited to check out the Abat Marcet Apartments. They offer fully fitted one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. They are usually fully booked, so make your reservation in advance via this link.

Another option would be the Alberg Abat Oliba. They offer hotel rooms with private bathrooms. They have twins, quadruples with bunk beds, and family rooms (with double beds and bunk beds) that can sleep up to 6 people at the same time. Check for the rates and options here.

Other options for staying overnight in the area are in Monistrol, so you’d have to take the rack railway down to the village.

When is the best time to go to Montserrat?

You can visit Montserrat year-round. Obviously, it can get colder in the mountains (the monastery is at 1,236 meters above sea level (4,055 ft)). But you can still visit Montserrat on a day trip from Barcelona in winter.

Montserrat Monastery is extremely important with Catalan people and it can get very crowded on weekends and public holidays. Check the calendar for Catalan and local holidays here.

If you wish to see the boy’s choir rehearse, check their schedule to make sure they practice on the day of your visit. Usually, they have time off in the month of July.

A day trip from Barcelona (Spain) to Montserrat by train is a great way to get out of the city. Although an easy trip, things can go wrong. Be prepared and learn from my 9 mistakes.
The iconic image of the monastery against the mountainous backdrop.

How long does the journey to Montserrat take from Barcelona?

It takes roughly 1.5 hours to go from Plaça d’Espanya in Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery, depending on how busy the cable car is. Usually, the rack railway takes 1.5 hours. Trains run roughly every hour but schedules may vary depending on the time of year and special holidays. Check the schedule before you go.

How much time do I need to visit Montserrat?

I’d say as much time as you can spare. Go as early as possible and take your time to really soak up the atmosphere of Montserrat and enjoy being outdoors. Calculate at least 4 to 5 hours in Montserrat. When you add up the 1.5-hour journey to arrive and return to Barcelona, you’d need a full day.

If you don’t have that much time, you can also consider a quick half-day trip by bus, either in the morning or afternoon. Or take a combination tour with the works of Gaudi and a visit to Montserrat.

If I don’t like hiking, will I still enjoy Montserrat?

In my opinion, yes! You can stroll around, visit the Monastery of Montserrat. Attend the boy’s choir rehearsals or explore the museum with the famous works of Picasso and Caravaggio.

You can take the funicular up the mountain and take a picnic there, and then return with the same funicular down without climbing or hiking.

A day trip from Barcelona (Spain) to Montserrat by train is a great way to get out of the city. Although an easy trip, things can go wrong. Be prepared and learn from my 9 mistakes.
The Montserrat Boy’s Choir rehearsal is famous and a nice thing to do in Montserrat

Do you have more questions? Drop them in the comment section below!

Have you ever traveled from Barcelona to Montserrat by train? Did anything go wrong? Do you have any other tips? Please share them in the comment section below. Are you planning to travel to from Barcelona to Montserrat? Let me know if the guide was helpful or spread the word and share it on your social media.

A day trip from Barcelona (Spain) to Montserrat by train is a great way to get out of the city. Although an easy trip, things can go wrong. Be prepared and learn from my 9 mistakes.
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I travelled on a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Monastery. A lot went wrong so I give you my 9 mistakes to avoid when going to Montserrat.
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Travel by train from Barcelona to Montserrat Mountains. Read my 9 mistakes to avoid to have a great day trip from Barcelona
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  1. Helen L

    My daughter and I are planning a trip to Montserrat mid week middle of December. It appears the buffet/ cafeteria restaurant included in the All-inclusive ticket won’t be open then-closed in winter after December 8th.
    Do they offer a different lunch option or should we opt for an express ticket then find a spot for lunch on our own. Can you suggest a decent cafe within a reasonable walking distance?
    We intend to spend approx 5 hrs there and want to see the basilica, monastery, boys choir and museum. Your advice is wonderful and much appreciated!

    1. In that case, Helen, I’d opt to either bring your own lunch or use one of the café on sight. They have delicious freshly made breads, rolls, sandwiches and soups. The cafe is located near next to the train station in the bend of the road upwards to the sights. I hope you’ll have a wonderful time.

  2. Cecilia Brown

    The previous travelers are SO RIGHT! You have done all of us a huge favor by constructing this site. The official information is nothing but confusing. So I’m inclined to splurge (unusual for me) and get the 50.95e ticket because Montserrat is so confusing.
    What does the ticket pick up place look like at the airport?
    Can I print the tickets out online instead?
    If the day we plan to go is raining (March) can we do it all another day?
    Do you know whether the meal provided near the monastery is any good?
    I read all about the delays you had. If my friend and I get to Placa Espana by 8AM will we be able to get up to the monastery/mountain/trails in a reasonable time? This trip is in March 2020.
    Maybe the answers to my many questions will help others too. Thanks SO much!

    1. Thank you Cecilia. I’m not sure why it seems so complicated but it does! However, once you go, and follow my tips, it is all quite easy and straight forward. Regarding your questions: there is a BCN ticket office at the airport. You can pick up your Montserrat card there and go when you like. Either the day you intended to or a day later. That is all fine. Online printing is not possible, it really is a card. I don’t have experience with the meals at Montserrat other than sandwiches bought from the shop. I did check out the restaurant and it looked clean and fully stocked but also very busy. If you take the 8.40 (ish) train you’ll be at Montserrat by 10 am. That is a good time and you might be ahead of the crowds. Depending on the day of the week it might even be quiet. Either way. Have fun when you visit Montserrat!

  3. Samantha

    Hi there – this is such a clear and insightful article. I am trying to purchase the tickets in advance – but nowhere in the steps before payment does it ask me to which date/ timing I would be going. Is this a free and open ticket? Or should there be some page where I can select date and timing.

    Thanks in advance.

      1. Samantha

        Hi Naomi thanks so much for the super prompt reply.

        I am already at payment page but no sign of the date & time of travel.

        The closest question I had was “When will I arrive at Barcelona” and “How many nights will I be staying”

        Should I be expecting to see:
        1. Date of train
        2. Time of train from Barcelona – eg 8.36am

        Thanks again for your prompt reply.

      2. Jonathan Stone

        This article is so good it makes me think about not going back to Montserrat, the first time was 16 years ago & everything was taken care of by a group who knew the ropes. I wanted to email whoever wrote this, particularly about tip#4. After researching transport to Monseratt from Barcelona I am now completely confused. Tip#4 encapsulates just how off putting getting to Montserrat is. My mom wants me to go with her & now it sounds just dreadful because I do not understand the ticket purchasing process any better in English than in Spanish. That never happens to me so it is a problem.

    1. Hi Ray. That is a good question. I’m actually surprised I haven’t wondered this myself as I’ve traveled multiple times already. I guess it is a good thing I didn’t need it. But, I contacted FGC for you and they confirm there are toilets aboard their trains that run this line, so if you really need to, you can use it on the train. In the little station of the funicular are also toilets and at Montserrat you have several options. I wish you a good trip!

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