How to get to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on Public Transport
During my recent trip to Spain I had a bit of a challenge working out how to get to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on public transport. Hence I thought I’d make this practical point one of the more significant parts of my post on Poblet Monastery.
If you have been following along for a while you probably know that visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites form a large part of my travels. I’ve now visited 72 of them and I’ll be aiming to visit many more before the end of my 15 months of travels.
For me hunting UNECO World Heritage Sites isn’t so much about crossing things off a list or collecting places. I actually choose to visit them for two major reasons; firstly because I’m a huge history buff and in their very nature UNESCO sites always have strong historical significance. But the second reason is that searching out UNESCO sites has really helped me to get off the main tourist trail.
Nothing could be more true of my visit to Poblet Monastery when I was in Tarragona. Despite how cliché it may sound, the journey was half of the adventure.
I’d always planned to visit the Poblet Monastery while I was in Tarragona. In fact it was essentially the reason I was going to Tarragona in the first place. There is less than a hour by car between them so I naively thought that it would be a simple journey, even on public transport.
Clearly I was mistaken, getting to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on public transport ended up being one of my most ambitious independent journeys.
How to Get to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on Public Transport- The Challenges
The first challenge with getting to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona is that the bus doesn’t operate on a very effective timetable. The bus from Tarragona bus station to Poblet Monastery only runs about four times a day and doesn’t run on weekends.
The only bus that will really get you there at a reasonable time is the bus that leaves Tarragona at 12pm and arrives at the Monastery at 1.44pm.
The second challenge is that not only are the connections sparse, but they don’t match up with the opening hours of the Monastery. Poblet Monastery is still a working monastery so the hours during which they are open to the public are limited.
The Monastery is only open from 10am-12.30pm and then from 3pm to 6pm. Hence upon arrival at the Monastery you have just over an hour to wait before you can even visit.
The third challenge is the sheer amount of time it takes. Considering it is only 40 minutes from Tarragona to Poblet Monastery by car, the bus ride takes one hour and 45 minutes. That was a lot of bus time. But I was determined to see this monastery, so armed with my kindle to kill all that time, I headed to the bus station.
Unfortunately the bus station itself was my fourth issue. This was one of the cases where google maps completely lied about the location of the bus station. I really depend on google maps far too much and it was clearly evident in this situation where I walked around a block three times without visiting the bus station.
I had to resort to the old fashioned way of finding my way and used my mediocre Spanish to get directions to the bus station. Luckily I arrived just in time to make my bus.
From the reaction of the bus rider when I got along, I’d say the journey to Poblet Monastery isn’t something that usual tourists make. As I handed him my ticket he looked at me in surprise and said something along the lines of ‘you are going to Poblet Monastery? Alone? On the Bus?’. In a way it made me feel adventurous and a tad bit proud of myself for it.
The Bus Journey
But as we set off from Tarragona and into the Catalan countryside, I started to feel very happy with my decision to make this out of the way journey. To put it mildly, the scenery that we passed was simply stunning.
We passed small towns, green fields and old churches in the middle of no where. I got glimpses of hills and mountains, vineyards and rivers. I didn’t find myself picking up my kindle very often, being content with just gazing out the window.
The Poblet Monastery
I arrived at Poblet Monastery about an hour and a half before it reopened again for the afternoon. This seemed like the perfect amount of time to go in search of food. The town of Poblet itself is exceptionally tiny, but lucky for me Poblet Monastery has a hotel on sight, and attached to it a restaurant.
For 15 Euros I ordered the meal of the day which included bread, an entrée, a main, dessert and wine. It was the type of value I wasn’t expecting to get at somewhere catered for travellers.
Having resigned myself to being slightly healthy I ordered the spinach for entrée and the fish for main. It helped justify how much wine and dessert I ate along with the meal.
The spinach entrée was huge but tasty, the fish was beautifully cooked and seasoned and the dessert was delicious. But the best part of the meal was when the waitress opened a bottle of local red wine and left it on my table to devour at my leisure. I was definitely not complaining.
By the time my meal was finished I was just in time for my visit to Poblet Monastery. Visits occur at particular times because you must be accompanied by a guide.
Poblet Monastery is so off the normal tourist track that they don’t even offer tours in English. Instead you are asked to join the Spanish tour but given an English brochure to follow along with.
If the beautiful landscape on the way here or the whole bottle of wine hadn’t convinced my decision to come to the monastery was a good idea, actually seeing the Poblet Monastery for myself definitely did.
The Poblet Monastery is one of the older monasteries I have visited. It was built in 1151 by Cistercian Monks from France after the Catalan lands were reconquered from the Moors.
But it was raided, abandoned and fell into disrepair for sometime in the middle of the 19th century before some Italian monks reconsecrated it in 1940.
The Monastery featured an amazing courtyard and you were able to visit prayers rooms, the kitchens and other places within the complex that gave some insight into the daily life of the monks that have living here for centuries.
The Kings of Aragorn
But the highlight for me, and one of the major reasons I decided to come to Poblet Monastery in the first place was being able to see the final resting places of the Kings of Aragon.
The majority of the Kings of Aragorn and their wives are buried in tombs within the church. At that moment I felt incredible close to the history I’d learnt about back in class in Australia.
The Poblet Monastery monks are also known for their wine, and they still produce it in the Monastery vineyard even today. Whilst I didn’t get to try any monk wine I was able to check out the cellars of the Monastery.
By the time I was finished with the Monastery I had close to an hour to wait for my bus back to Tarragona. Luckily the unseasonably warm day meant I was content to sit outside in the courtyard with my kindle and just soak in the Catalan sun.
How to Get to Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on Public Transport- Other Ways
Another way to get to the Poblet Monastery from Tarragona on Public transport is to take the train to L’Espluga de Francoli. From here you can choose to hike the 3.2km to Poblet. It should take you around 40 minutes each way. Or you could catch a cab out to the Monastery. The departures to and from this station are more frequent so this could potentially be an easier way.
But I can’t guarantee you’ll see as much of that beautiful landscape as I did!
The Town of Tarragona
I spent minimal time in Tarragona as I wanted to prioritise seeing Poblet Monastery but in hindsight it would have been nice to spend an extra day or two exploring the town itself.
There is an amazing collection of Roman ruins scattered throughout the town as Tarragona used to be the biggest Roman city outside of Italy.
Moreover if you are visiting in the summer that coastline looks pretty enticing. I’ve also got it on good authority that the water park located right near the city is also a lot of fun.
Have you ever made a complicated journey on public transport? Have you got a favourite off the beaten track site or town? Comment below!