It’s easy to get to the Montserrat by yourself. You don’t need a tour. Just a little patience, some snacks, and some comfortable walking shoes. (Trust me on these…)
It is the region of Catalonia’s most important religious retreat and groups of young people from Barcelona. People all over Catalonia make overnight hikes at least once in their lives to watch the sunrise from the heights of Montserrat.
Montserrat (“serrated mountain”) is an hour’s journey by FGC train from Barcelona’s Placa d’Espanya station. Take the R5 line in the direction of Manresa. The train departs about every hour.
After the train you can decide to either take the a cable car or railway train. The Aeri cable car is a 5-minute ride (disembark at the “Aeri” stop), while the Cremallera (rack railway), is a 15-minute ride (take the “Monistrol” stop, which is after the Aeri stop). The cable car ride provides breathtaking views, but it is standing room only. Hence, if you have a fear of heights, the rack railway is a better choice.
“Stairway to Heaven”
I was amazed by the breathtaking views once I reached the top. Now, what to see first? My main reason for the visiting Montserrat was to climb the “Stairway to Heaven” and snap a few breathtaking clicks. Unfortunately, the sculpture was closed for renovations, so no death-defying clicks for me. Disappointed and extremely dehydrated, I made the trek up to the Cathedral.
The Santa Mara de Montserrat Abbey cathedral is about a 15 minute hike up the hill from the “Stairway to Heaven.” The cathedral is renowned for enshrining the Virgin of Montserrat (the black virgin), which is Catalonia’s favorite saint, and is located in the sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Montserrat, next to the Benedictine monastery nestling in the towers and crags of the mountain. Many locals and tourists alike come to say a prayer, light a candle, and rub the gloves of Black Virgin for good luck.
Even though I didn’t get what I came for, I left Montserrat with a renewed sense of self and exploration. Solo traveling can be tough at times, wandering aimlessly in the hot weather in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a passion fueled by curiosity and wanderlust.