When planning a trip to Barcelona, and Spain in general, make sure to pack your most comfortable pair of shoes. Walking all day is not only for the pilgrims anymore and Europe is well-known to leave one feet-up with a glass of wine at the end of a day out and about. But more to the point: bring shoes you can take to the mountain!
If you’re looking to escape the urban jungle after a few days (or just 1) I recommend a day trip to Montserrat to clear your mind and breathe in that freshness. Big, round peaks, lots of trees in the valleys, picnic spots… Nature. I treat myself to this getaway every couple of weeks.
What to Expect
There are a number of trails, going everywhere around and up the mountain. The most popular being Sant Jeroni, the highest point reaching 1236m above sea level. There are caves, I just haven’t found them yet. Bring your ropes and climbing gear if you’re an avid climber! You’ll see many scaling the mountain like Spiderman.
You can get a brochure in English that includes a map of the trails, distances and the history at the info office.
There’s also a museum half way up to the top, with information about the region’s fauna and flora of the past and present, along with some interesting geology illustrations and explanations of the rock formation.
At the foot of the mountain (but really more like the ankle) are the shops, restaurants and the famous basilica with the black Madonna holding a ball. This is also the hiking starting point. This area also has wi-fi in case you feel the need to upload photos, like now. But I suggest you put your phone on airplane mode for just 6 hours, you’ll save battery that can be better used to take photos.
How to Get There
Go to Placa España metro and train station and either ask for a return ticket at the ticket office, or use the very easy to use machine. You can change the language to English on the machine and just follow the instructions from there, paging through the options until you find Montserrat. You will also be given the option to include an extra in your ticket: take the ‘ferrocarril’ (like a mini mountain train/tram) or the cable car up to the ‘ankle’ of the mountain from the Montserrat train station. The return ticket, with the extra included, costs 20Euros (2014). You should hold on to this ticket until you’re back in your room at the end of the day because it serves both as a check-in/entry and check-out/exit.
PS: If you want to leave the station to explore the small town of Montserrat before going up or going back home, you can do just that. The ticket normally allows that but just to be safe, talk to any of the friendly train staff at hand and they’ll let you out/in.
What to bring
Your sense of adventure! And a camera. A small backpack will really be sufficient, you just need a bottle of water and some snacks if you’re keen to picnic up there. You can stock up before leaving Barcelona, the cheaper option, or you can buy drinks and snacks at the shops once you get to the starting point on the mountain.
What if something happens
Like what?? Don’t worry, there are medics, security and fellow adventurers ALWAYS around and willing to help.
Now go and explore!
For more information you can check out Barcelona’s tourist site.