The Green Hills of Spain & La Rhune

Azpeitia Museum - © Ray Smith
Bilbao Train Station
Eusko Tram 402 at Bilbao - © Ray Smith
EuskoTrain 6508 and 6512 at Atxuri - © Ray Smith
Gijón
Fishing port of Bermeo near Bilbao - © Jose Ignacio Soto/www.shutterstock.com
Kursaal Bridge above Urumea River in San Sebastian - © nito/Shutterstock.com
Leon Cathedral
La Rhune
View of the city from above. Bilbao, Spain - © photobeginner/Shutterstock.com

Holiday Highlights

  • Scenic journey between San Sebastian and Bilbao
  • Journey on the metre gauge FEVE network
  • Luggage transfer between hotels in Spain
  • Basque Railway Museum
  • Petit train de La Rhune rack railway
  • Time to explore Bilbao, Santander, Gijon, A Coruña and Leon
  • A mix of coastal, moorland and mountain scenery
  • 15 Days from £2,692pp
BOOK NOWTailor this tour for independent travel

Tour Dates:
Thursday 9 September to Thursday 23 September 2021

We combine the lush northern “Green” coast of Spain, with its spectacular coastline and vibrant cities, with a short visit to south western France. Travel by rail on many metre gauge lines, take the rack railway up to La Rhune and enjoy time exploring Bilbao, Gijon and A Coruña.

ITINERARY

Day 1 – By Eurostar to France

Mid-morning departure from London St. Pancras to Paris, then TGV to Poitiers for an overnight stay.

Day 2 – San Sebastian

We continue our journey by rail and reach the Spanish border at Hendaye. Here we change to the metre gauge train for the short journey to San Sebastian, a thriving coastal town. Our late afternoon arrival allows for a trip to the beach, a walk through the cobblestone streets of the old town or a leisurely evening enjoying tapas at one of the many 'Pintxos' bars.

Day 3 – San Sebastian to Bilbao

A scenic electrified metre gauge line links San Sebastian with Bilbao and we will arrive around lunchtime for a 2-night stay. The afternoon is free to relax and explore this famous city where an excellent metro system makes getting about easy. For art and architecture lovers, the Guggenheim is only a short walk away from our hotel.

Day 4 – The Basque Railway Museum

Excursion by coach to Azpeitia to visit the Basque Railway Museum. Discover the history of Basque railway companies, from steam trains to modern Metro Bilbao units. The museum houses an excellent selection of rolling stock and there should also be the opportunity for us to have a steam train ride. Running through the green fields of the Urola valley, the line is 10km long.

Day 5 – West to Santander

The FEVE metre gauge rail network performs all the functions we normally expect of a busy standard gauge main line – suburban lines around the cities, longer distance passenger routes and lots of freight. Today we have a morning journey from the splendid Bilbao Concordia station to Santander with a free afternoon to explore this busy resort or take an optional trip inland into the mountains on the RENFE main line towards Madrid.

Day 6 – Santander to Gijón

Morning departure from Santander to Gijón. Change trains at the busy junction of El Barron and arrive mid-afternoon. Use the rest of the afternoon to visit the Railway Museum of Asturias, which is a 10-minute walk from our hotel or take a walk in one of the nearby parks.

Day 7 – Free Day in Gijón

This city is the capital of the Green Coast and it has sprung from its industrial roots and is now vibrant and engaging, with plenty to offer the leisure traveller. Alternatively, use your rail pass to visit nearby Oviedo.

Day 8 – More Coastal Scenery

We continue by local train to Pravia where we change to the train for Ferrol. En route we enjoy more superb coastal scenery and fishing villages. Ferrol is the western extremity of FEVE, so from here, a Renfe train takes us to A Coruña for a 2-night stay.

Day 9 – A Coruña

A day at leisure to enjoy all that this diverse city has to offer. The centre is located on an isthmus straddled by the port on its southeast side and the main ocean beaches on the northwest. Our hotel sits in the heart of this area, 3-minutes walk away from the Picasso Museum and the Gardens of Méndez Núñez. Walk to the harbour front and the medieval district, or hop on a local bus to the famous 'Tower of Hercules' lighthouse.

Day 10 – A Coruña to Leon

We take a cross country main line train from A Coruña to Leon, arriving mid-afternoon.

Day 11 – FEVE Train to Bilbao

There is just one train per day on this recently reopened cross country line – over 150 miles of wild moorland and mountain scenery. As this doesn’t leave until early afternoon, we have a free morning to relax and take in the sights of historic Leon.

Day 12 – At Leisure in Bilbao

A free day for sightseeing or to explore the very many railway options which radiate from Bilbao.

Day 13 – Bilbao to St. Jean de Luz

We have another chance to enjoy the metre gauge line to San Sebastian and Irun before a short rail journey into South Western France. Transfer by coach to the charming village of Ascain in the heart of Basque Country. Our hotel for the next 2 nights is located in the picturesque central square, next door to the traditional church with its three balconies and Baroque-style altar.

Day 14 – Rack Railway to La Rhune

Coach transfer to Col St. Ignace where we join the rack railway for the spectacular ascent of La Rhune (2970ft). This line has vintage electric locos and equally vintage rolling stock and a journey time of 35 minutes each way. Time is allowed at the summit where there are the usual refreshment facilities. On our return, there will be time to look around St. Jean de Luz before we return to Ascain.

Day 15 – Journey Home

A TGV service to Paris and Eurostar to London sees us back at St. Pancras in the early evening.

Tour Route

Tour route map

Selected Hotels

Le Grand Hotel, Poitiers

Silken Amara Plaza Hotel, San Sebastian

Hotel Silken Indautxu, Bilbao

NH Ciudad de Santander, Santander

Hotel Silken Ciudad, Gijón

Eurostars Blue Coruña, A Coruña

Hotel Conde Luna, León

Hôtel de la Rhune, Ascain

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

  • All rail travel as stated in standard class
  • Accommodation in good quality hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 15 day Global InterRail pass in standard class (European residents only)
  • Excursions as specified
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel in Spain
  • Private transfers between railway stations in Paris
  • Services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour

Price per person

Escorted holiday: £2,692
Single room supplement: £546
Deposit for this holiday: £100

Booking form

Download your tour booking form here.

Download

Why Choose Ffestiniog Travel?

  • UK's first rail tour operator to run an overseas escorted rail holiday in 1974
  • Created for people who love rail holidays and exploring the world’s heritage railways
  • Dedicated rail holiday specialist - great destinations, sightseeing and unparalled railway content
  • Train ticket supplier for worldwide rail operators - we can plan and arrange your rail journey to anywhere
  • Knowledge of the world’s rail routes makes us leading specialists in escorted and Tailor Made rail holidays
  • Over 60% of our existing rail tour travellers return to holiday with us year after year
  • Committed to supporting rail travel and heritage railways around the world
  • Our profits support the continued preservation of the famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways
  • Small, dedicated rail holiday travel team offering an award winning personal service

Logos

Pharos Response AITO Quality Charter