Whoever visits Barcelona can’t help be charmed by its artistic side, the splendor of its churches, and the energy that blows effortlessly through the city air – something that goes right to the top of Barcelona’s biggest hill.
This urban green lung is the closest escape from the city chaos and a must for any tourist.
Let’s help plan a day of exploration on epic Montjuïc hill.
MONTJUÏC HILL GENERAL INFORMATION
In Catalan Montjuïc can be translated simply as “Jewish mountain”.
It was named this way due to the Jewish cemetery found there during medieval times.
The 184 metre tall flat top hill was traditionally the home of military fortifications, prisons, and the unfortunate execution site for political prisoners.
It was only with the 1929 World’s Fair that the area began to blossom. The once barren hill is now a space to walk around and take in some of the best panoramic views of the city.
Here you’ll find some of Barcelona’s biggest tourist attractions, art galleries, museums, some amazing gardens, and some important leftovers from the 1992 Olympic Games.
After a long walk around you’ll eventually come across some amazing gardens all with a style of their own. From the unique, wild vegetation of some gardens to the more decorative gardens there’s something for every taste.
Take a day to get lost in Montjuïc hill’s green spaces and you won’t be disappointed.
Jardines de Laribal
Probably the most spectacular of the whole lot. Here you’ll find a distinct Mediterranean feel with its fig trees, pines, persimmons, oranges, geraniums, roses, lavender, and rosemary.
From an architectural standpoint you’ll be able to see some very feminine statues, plant covered arbors, stairs, a ton of flower pots, and even a few small waterfalls.
Jardines de Teatro Grec
Right next to the Jardines de Laribal you’ll be able to see a replica Greek theatre from close up, walk through yet more arbors, and see a ravishing rose garden.
You’ll also find a spectacular overlook that faces nearby Sierra de Collserola, the mountain range just to the north of Barcelona that’s home to the largest urban park in the world – 22 times larger than Central Park in New York!
Jardines de Joan Maragall
One of the most beautiful of the Montjuïc gardens even if its not that well known. Here you’ll find regal style gardens with massive tree-lined avenues, amazing fountains, all sorts of ornamental sculptures, and big well-manicured lawns where you’ll be able to relax.
It’s only open only Saturday and Sunday.
Jardines de Mossen i Costa i Llobera
Here it’s a little like being in a desert, with more than 600 species of cactus and other plants from the world’s desert and subtropical zones.
From here you’ll have an amazing view of the Mediterranean coast and the port of Barcelona.
The Botanic Gardens
Spread out over 14 hectares is this garden displaying a collection of plants from all the world’s continents that share the same micro-climate as Barcelona. For those passionate about botany this is a place you’ll be able to go wild.
Here you’ll see the beautiful harmony of so many plant species from all over the world coexisting in the same place: from Australia to California to North Africa and the Canary Islands… a trip here is like a trip around the world!
Here you have to pay to get in. It’s €3.50 a head and free for minors under 16.
Giardino Botanico Storico
Not far from the Jardines de Maragall is this veritable hidden gem that’ll take you back in time to the peaceful rural life described in Greek poems.
There’s hardly a better place to seek refuge from the burning summer sun than between the rocks and shaded benches of the most fascinating gardens of the park.
A couple other parks worth mentioning are the Jardines de Joan Brossa, Jardines de Miramar (another great Montjuïc panoramic view spot) and the Jardines de Cinta Verdaguer.
IMPORTANT: at the entrance to every Montjuïc hill park you’ll find a sign with a small map of the area – it’s a great way to get your bearings and navigate your way through its many gardens.
Aside from offering a tranquil escape from the chaos of the city, at Montjuïc there are quite a few attractions to see.
The Magic Fountain
This is one of Barcelona’s most spectacular attractions, and best of all it’s free.
The music, light, and water show here has been dazzling visitors since the 1929 World’s Fair though it was really taken up a notch after a restoration for the 1992 Olympic Games. A great place to cool off in the summer.
In this mini city you’ll find a reconstruction of a typical Spanish town using architectural styles from each of the country’s 15 regions.
Here you’ll be able to visit the classic all-white alleys of Andalusia, take in the emblematic stone houses of Aragon, or see any of the marvelous monuments made famous in the region of Castilla.
For centuries Montjuïc Castle was used to look down upon enemies and invading armies, until 1640 when it became a true fortress for Barcelonians against the troops of Philip IV (‘El Grande’).
After the War of Spanish Succession the castle fell into the hands of the Bourbons, who shaped it into the form we observe today.
From 1800 until 1960 the castle was used to imprison political dissidents or for mass executions. It was here that Franco tortured and later killed the Catalan leader Lluis Companys.
From the top of castle you’ll get another great panoramic view of the city and port that’ll leave you speechless. Montjuïc castle tickets cost €5 (minors under 16 enter free).
Yes, green spaces and gardens are the essence of Montjuïc hill.
The thing is though – the bursting culture and art of Barcelona is so rich that you’ll find it even at the museums at the top! 🙂
The Joan Miró Foundation
This foundation created by Mirò himself was envisioned as an artistic space that would guarantee a voice to contemporary artists of the area all the while hosting international exhibitions.
Here you’ll be able to see the different phases of Mirò’s craft and appreciate more than 10,000 paintings, sculptures by Miró and many others.
MNAC (The Catalonian National Art Museum)
This museum is home to one of the most complete romantic art collections in the world. It was born from the union of the Modern Art Museum and the Museum of Catalan Art in 1990.
Today you’ll be able to find more than 250,000 pieces at the MNAC divided into different historical periods.
Two real hits here are the Gothic section and the area dedicated to Catalan modernism. The museum is conveniently situated in the towering building in front of the Magic Fountain. If you decide to take in the show you’ll be rewarded with an amazing panoramic view.
The Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion
This building is also known as the Barcelona Pavilion and is one of the main works of celebrated German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It was built to represent Germany at the 1929 World’s Fair.
The beauty of this building is the variety of materials used for its construction (glass, stone, and wood) and in its geometric simplicity. For lovers of design and architecture this is a must.
TIP: the MNAC and Joan Miró Foundation can be had for 45% off using the articketBCN museum discount card.
THE 1992 Barcelona OLYMPICS
Montjuïc hill was actually the main site of the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Today you’ll see the remnants of the events here all within the Anella Olímpica – Barcelona’s Olympic park. You’ll find it between the Catalonian National Art Museum and l’Avinguda de l’Estadi, easily reached from Plaça Espanya with bus 150.
Here are a few Olympic highlights you won’t want to miss:
Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium
This is Barcelona’s second biggest stadium by capacity after the legendary Camp Nou. Until 2009 it was the old home of Barcelona’s second football club Espanyol.
What’s unique here is the massive contrast between the outside facade (built in 1929) and the interior of the stadium which was renovated for the Olympics in 1992. Totally worth a look.
Palau Sant Jordi
One of the most important modern architectural works in all of Barcelona, let alone Montjuïc hill. Inside you’ll find it to be one of Barcelona’s biggest events centres playing host to concerts, sporting events, and more.
Montjuïc Communications Tower
This imposing structure was built by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava for the Barcelona Olympic Games.
It’s easy to spot this landmark for its protruding 136 metre height and its unique oblique shape, something uncommon with communications towers. It is meant to represent the Olympic torch being carried in an athlete’s hand.
HOW TO GET TO Montjuïc
A standard city bus which to my knowledge is the easiest and most convenient method of transport to reach the hill. You can catch bus 150 from Plaça Espanya (metro green line L3 or red L1).
From here you’ll be able to get to some of the biggest attractions on Montjuic: Poble Espanyol, the Miro Foundation, the Olympic Stadium, the Teleferica del Montjuïc station, Palau Sant Jordi, and Montjuïc Castle.
The Bus Turistic
Barcelona’s hop on hop off tourist bus is also a great option to see some of the most important Montjuïc landmarks.
This option would be ideal for families with children, people with mobility issues who won’t be able to walk around the park easily, and for anybody who’d rather enjoy the sights and sounds from the top of a double decker bus.
The Montjuïc Funicular
This method of transport can be caught from the Paral-lel metro stop (green line L3 or purple L2).
It’ll leave you on Avinguda Miramar where you’ll be able to visit the surrounding garden. Right outside the exit of the funicular you’ll find the Montjuïc Cable Car.
Montjuïc Cable Car
As mentioned, you’ll find the cable car station right next to the Montjuïc Funicular. The difference between the two lies in the cable car being suspended in the air, much like a ski gondola, while the funicular finds itself on a track.
The cable car gives you an amazing birds eye view of the city over the seven minute trip starting at the port and leaving you near Montjuïc Castle.
The cable car is not included in any of the transport discount cards, but buying online gets a 10% discount by clicking the button below.
- Make sure to bring a bag lunch or something to snack on.
- Set aside an entire day if you want to see everything.
- Alternatively, do a half day of a few highlights and have a picnic lunch with a view.
- Time your visit with the sunset for added visual value.
- If you’re visiting Barcelona with kids Montjuïc offers a ton of play spaces.
- To avoid a big uphill battle make sure you start at Montjuïc Castle and work your way down.
- Make sure your cameras and phones are charged! The photography from here is insane.
- Avoid after a night at Barcelona’s best clubs – you’ll need rest because you’ll be walking a lot!
- Bring a hat and sunscreen in summer.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Take your own water bottle – the prices are steeper than the hill!
- If you’re taking the cable car get a one way ticket (cheaper) then walk down the way back.
Get at Me in the Comments Below
It has been a lot to swallow but did I miss anything?
If you have any questions about what to do at Montjuïc hill or anything else on your Barcelona holiday I am here to answer it in the comments below.