We have a Sunday free between a RS Basque and a Spain tour beginning in Barcelona. We are thinking of visiting Montserrat that day as we will be introduced to Barcelona when we join the tour. Any advice on Montserrat or anywhere else to visit on that Sunday.
As it is a Sunday, Montserrat will be packed with the faithful going to mass and those going to hear the famous boy's choir. If you want to see the Madonna expect long lines. We went on a Sunday and waited over an hour to see her. We also attended the noon mass with the boy's choir and it was wall to wall packed. This is the official Montserrat website that will help you plan your day http://www.montserratvisita.com/
There is also a nice little farmer's market there with different honeys and cheeses if you don't want to eat in the cafeteria.
Sunday can be very busy, but there is a wonderful experience and opportunity to hike, picnic and intake wonderful views without joining the crowds for the Madonna or choir.
Visiting Montserrat is much more than visiting La Moreneta, the monastery and the museums...
Don't forget to visit the monument (http://bit.ly/monumentRamonLlull) to the poet and mystic Ramon Llull, a key figure in Catalan literature from the 11th century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Llull), located at the end of the road -at about 300 metres only- by the extensive parking lots, near which is a large outlook terrace. The eight stages of the monument, in the form of a spiral, represent the eight stages of awareness (stone, flame, plant, animal, man, heaven, angel, God). Look out for the monument sign on the right hand edge of this map: http://bit.ly/mapmontserrat
But Montserrat is much more, its name is in fact, the name of a very distinct multi-peaked mountain that literally means "saw (serrated, like the common handsaw) mountain" in Catalan. It describes its peculiar aspect with multitude of rock formations which are visible from a great distance. The mountain is composed of strikingly pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock. Montserrat is a National Park and one of the reasons to visit is indeed to hike in one of its many trails (http://bit.ly/walksMontserrat) and experience nature at its best, some are short and easy for everyone old and young alike to participate while others are geared towards more avid hikers. Picture: http://bit.ly/1h6iW6m These are some of the scenery routes you should check: http://www.cremallerademontserrat.com/website_cremallera/eng/itineraris_rutes.asp and many are easy enough for people all ages.
Full 360º view: http://bit.ly/360montserrat
The trip to Montserrat is an important part of the visit. While it's possible to reach Montserrat by bus, it's best experienced by 'traditional' means which include train + cable (http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/7966557.jpg) car or train + rack train (http://bit.ly/1fIW0cR). Once in the mountain, there are funiculars (http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/33908144.jpg) to visit the different coves. There is a combined ticket (labelled "TransMontserrat") that can be bought at the departure station in Barcelona, located in Plaça Espanya, and includes all the necessary tickets. It can be also purchased online at the official Tourism Information Board: http://bit.ly/RASY5c at the same price. Note that the decision to ride up the mountain to the monastery either by cable car or by rack train has to be made when purchasing the ticket as the transfer points are at different stations.
Upon returning from Montserrat, if you've gone by train, you'll be arriving to Espanya station in Barcelona, located in Plaça Espanya. Note that it's a good opportunity to see the Magic Fountain light and music show (http://infocatalonia.eu/w/54XRj) which is performed on Sundays in the evening (see schedules: http://bit.ly/1pEM1hv ). The Magic Fountain is merely 300m away from this station.
Lastly, four further options to consider for other places to visit on Sundays as mini-escapades from the city (the city centre that is!) to do on your own:
Monastir of Pedralbes (http://infocatalonia.eu/w/Qxhub) located north of the city, in the district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. A 14th century monastery considered to be one of the finest examples of Catalan Gothic architecture which includes the artistic legacy preserved by the community of nuns from the Order of Saint Clare throughout the centuries. It was founded by King James II of Aragon for his wife Elisenda de Montcada in 1326. It is easily reachable by public transportation from the centre of the city (bus #22: http://bit.ly/BCNbus22). It's a 45'-50' ride.
Museu de la Ciència (aka ComoCaixa: http://infocatalonia.eu/w/aGVve) also located in the district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. Reachable by bus #22 (same then above) or else by metro to station Av.Tibidabo at the end of line 7 (FGC): http://bit.ly/BCNmetromap It's a great interactive science museum.
Torre Bellesguard (http://infocatalonia.eu/w/OWTSI), also located in the northern district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, is a superb manor that briefly was the residence of Catalan king Martí the Humane in the 15th century. By the turn of the 19th century, the proprietors of the manor commissioned Antoni Gaudí to build a modernist house in the premises, merging with the medieval remains of the property. The term Bellesguard comes from the Catalan for "Beautiful View", representing the fact that the building lies at halfway up the Collserola mountain overlooking Barcelona and consequently provides wide views over the city. It can be reached from Plaça Catalunya via bus #22 or bus #58. Please note this is not a tourist attraction, the manor is owned by a private family, it's opened for small groups visits only and tickets have to be pre-booked: http://www.bellesguardgaudi.com/
Colònia Güell (http://infocatalonia.eu/w/0Mug3), one of Gaudí's first works, located in the outskirts of the city in the town of Santa Maria de Cervelló, reachable by train also from Plaça Catalunya. Look for the "Combinat Güell" ticket, which includes the train+entrance ticket to the colony+audioguides -it's a good value package. You can buy it on the same day at the station in Plaça Espanya (departure point) or in any of the Tourist Offices throughout the city. More info on this site: http://www.gaudicoloniaguell.org/
PS: To get your bearings... http://bit.ly/BCNdistricts
Great post of helpful info!
You're welcome :)
Thank you everyone for taking the time and sharing your information with me!
Fabulous info, Enric, thank you!
Be sure and take the gondola down and walk the cliff side stations of the cross. Each station a creation by a different artist. At the end is a little chapel that was very moving.