Take in the monastery and mountains as a day trip from Barcelona. Special tickets can be purchased from the Tourist Office (Information Centers). The "Trans Montserrat" ticket includes five Metro rides, the train ride to Montserrat with return, the ride on the Cable Car up to the mountain, and unlimited rides on the two funiculars. This ticket is 19.50 Euro per person.
The "Tot Montserrat" ticket includes all of the transportation in the Trans Montserrat ticket, plus admission to the Audio-Visual Exhibition, the Art Museum, and a two-course lunch with dessert, beverage, and coffee at the self-service restaurant atop the mountain. This ticket is 34.00 Euro per person.
We opted to go with the Trans Montserrat ticket because we had no plans to go to the Art Museum, and we also thought that we could buy our own lunch and bring it with us for much less money. You catch the train to Montserrat at the Espanya Metro Station. When we were there the trains ran every hour at 36 minutes after. The ride to Montserrat takes about an hour. You disembark at the Aeri de Montserrat station. You then are supposed to board the cable car for an awesome ride up to the monastery. However, in the winter the cable car does not run because of its yearly maintenance check. What a disappointment! So instead, we had to take a bus up, which wasn't too bad and gave us some nice views of the surrounding area.
The monastery, at the time, was going through some major construction to a train or something, so we were constantly walking around workers who were jack-hammering and the like. We followed the signs to the Audio-Visual exhibition, which leaves from one of the gift shops. I wouldn't recommend this. It costs two Euro per person and basically is just a bunch of lit pictures on the wall of monks and a slide show set to music. We found it terribly boring and not the slightest informative!
From here we found our way to the Basilica. There is no admission charge to the church, but donations seem to be accepted. The basilica is beautiful! There are many ornate shrines to different Catholic saints and everything seems to be covered in a rich gold.
If you enter from the side door you can walk your way up to the shrine of the Black Virgin. The Virgin sits in a little room which overlooks the back of the Basilica. She is in a glass box, but one of her hands and a wooden orb protrude through the glass so that you can touch her. The room that she is in is decorated with mosaic murals and gold. It is quite amazing! More to come in my Montserrat 2 entry.