The Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat is an eleventh-century Benedictine monastery set in an idyllic mountaintop location approximately thirty-five kilometres from Barcelona.
If you’ve already read my Ultimate Guide to Visiting Montserrat from Barcelona, you’ll know that the most convenient way to reach the monastery is by taking the R5 train from Barcelona, followed by either the cable car or rack railway.
In that post, I mentioned that it’s also possible to reach the monastery on foot, either by walking all the way from Barcelona, following the Camí de Sant Jaume, or catching the train to Monistrol de Montserrat and then walking from there.
Several footpaths connect the village of Monistrol de Montserrat with the monastery. This post describes a ten-kilometre circular route which follows the GR-96 long-distance trail up to the monastery and then returns to the train station at Monistrol via the Cami de les Aigües.
The footpaths are well-marked and signposted, and I’ve also created this Wikiloc trail which you can download to your phone.
It takes approximately ninety minutes to walk from the train station at Monistrol de Montserrat to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery. The return journey typically takes between an hour and an hour and a quarter.
Walking from the FGC train Station at Monistrol de Montserrat to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery
Our journey begins at the FGC train station at Plaça d’Espanya. The train station is underground beneath the plaza and connected to the Espanya metro station by a series of passageways.
At the station, you’ll see large posters advertising the Tot Montserrat and Trans Montserrat travel passes, which cover, amongst other things, the train to Montserrat plus the cable car, rack railway and the funicular railways which take you further up the mountain.
Since you will be walking to the monastery from the train station at Monistrol de Montserrat and won’t be taking the cable car or the rack railway, it doesn’t make sense to purchase one of these passes. You just need the basic return train ticket, which can be purchased from the ticket machines at the station and currently costs €11.50.
Monistrol de Montserrat is on the R5 line, which runs from Barcelona to Manresa. The journey takes approximately sixty minutes, and there is usually one train per hour. Trains typically depart from platforms three or four at Barcelona Plaça d’Espanya, but you should check the screens above the ticket barriers to make sure.
You get your first views of the Montserrat mountain range as the train approaches the industrial town of Martorell, approximately forty minutes after leaving Barcelona. Then, approaching Aerí de Montserrat train station, you get a brief glimpse of the monastery tucked away high on the mountainside.
As the train continues to Monistrol de Montserrat, the monastery is once again hidden behind the mountain’s jagged peaks.
As we disembark the train and leave the station, we turn right and follow the road, which briefly runs parallel to the railway tracks. After about twenty metres, we come to a junction where a narrow lane descends steeply down to the left between some houses.
From here, we come to the bridge across the Llobregat River, which leads to Monistrol de Montserrat town centre. At this point, you’ll notice that there are several different trail markers painted on the bridge. We are going to follow the red and white marks which indicate the GR-96.
Just after the footbridge, a subway (pedestrian underpass) takes you safely under the main road. The subway comes out next to a supermarket and a couple of small restaurants where you can stock up on water and snacks if necessary.
From here, we follow the narrow street between the supermarket and a pharmacy towards the town centre. You might notice a yellow arrow painted on the wall of the pharmacy, indicating that we are also following The Camino de Santiago.
From here, we cut through the town to a plaza called Plaça de la Font Gran. We cross the square, to where a flight of stone stairs with a metal handrail leads upwards to the right. Once again, there are more red and white paint marks to guide us on our way.
Next, the footpath heads uphill amongst houses before crossing a minor road and heading out of town.
Leaving the town behind us, we follow the footpath alongside a dry stone wall before heading uphill between some farmers’ fields. The route is well marked, and the paths are in pretty good shape, although there are a couple of sections where you should take care not to slip.
Fifteen minutes after starting the walk, we are out in the open countryside on the lower slopes of Montserrat, and the scenery is typically Mediterranean.
We continue following the red and white paint markers until we come to the signpost shown in the photo below, where we turn uphill, following the GR-96.
From here, the vegetation becomes a bit denser, and you can see the route of the rack railway as it traverses across the mountain above us.
After about an hour, the footpath branches again and we come across two large cast iron pipes which channel water down the mountain. At this point, we follow the footpath uphill alongside the pipes. The gradient becomes steeper, and in some sections, there are rough stone or concrete steps.
Finally, we come to the wide paved section leading up from La Santa Cova, and we pass the cable car station on our way to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery.
For the return journey, you could simply retrace your steps along the GR-96, but I think it’s more interesting to do a circular hike. When I recorded the Wikiloc trail above, I walked a circular route following a section of the Cami de les Aigües. Both routes are well-marked, of similar difficulty, and take about the same length of time to complete.
Hiking to Montserrat Practicalities and FAQs
How long does it take to walk from the train station at Monistrol de Montserrat to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery?
It takes approximately ninety minutes to walk to the monastery following the GR-96.
Is it easy to walk from Monistrol de Montserrat to the monastery?
I would class the hike up to the monastery as moderately easy. The route is well-marked, and there is no climbing involved. However, some sections are pretty steep, and there are some rocky sections.
What footwear is needed for hiking up to the monastery?
As mentioned above, this is a moderately easy walk, but the trail is unsurfaced and rough in places, so although you don’t need heavy hiking boots, you do need shoes which have good tread and which offer some support. I recommend wearing lightweight walking shoes like these ones by Merrell or trainers with a good grip.
How to get From Barcelona to Monistrol de Montserrat?
Monistrol de Montserrat is on the R5 train line, which runs from Barcelona (Plaça d’Espanya) to Manresa. Trains depart hourly throughout the day. There’s more information in my in-depth Montserrat travel guide.
Did I miss anything? If you’ve any questions about hiking to Montserrat, please comment below.