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  • Monday 9am - 7pm
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  • Thursday 9am - 6.30pm
  • Friday 9am - 6.30pm
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  • Sunday Closed
Northern Spain by Rail
12 days
Spain - Trip code RSP

Northern Spain by Rail

On this holiday we have the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of Northern Spain as we travel by rail along its spectacular coast. Our journey takes us through a number of regions including the unique Basque area and Spain's oldest national park, the Picos de Europa mountain range. Along the way we'll stay in a variety of historical cities, including Santiago de Compostela, Leon, Bilbao and Oviedo. It's the ideal way to see the highlights of the lesser-visited north of Spain.

Trip highlights

  • Rail Journeys - Travel by rail throughout northern Spain including the unique Basque country
  • Picos de Europa - Walking amongst the beautiful landscapes of Spain's oldest national park
  • Bilbao - Sample txakoli wine and admire the coastal views in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
  • Leon and Santiago de Compostela - Two of Spain's most historic holy cities
Accommodation grade:
Our standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.
Trip pace:
Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you’ll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries.
Group Size:
10 - 16
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.


Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Why book this trip

If you're looking to ride the rails along northern Spain's spectacular coastline and through the Picos de Europa mountain range then this is the trip for you. As well as seeing some of the country's most captivating scenery, on this tour you also have the option of upgrading your stay by travelling on one of our Premium departures, where you can unwind after a busy day exploring in comfortable hotels for the majority of nights of your holiday. Please select the 'RSP PREMIUM' itinerary on the drop down menu for further details.

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 11
  • Bus
  • Taxi
  • Train
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Driver(s)
Award Winning Explore Leaders
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Price Guarantee Promise
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Airport Transfers
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FairFX currency card
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Trip information

Country information



Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Round


Roman Catholic


Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

Santillana del Mar: Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana entrance €3.00 per person; Altamira Cave Museum entrance €3.00 per person plus a taxi journey at approximately €8.00 per vehicle per way.
Oviedo: Asturias Railway Museum in Gijon entrance €2.40 per person ; train journeys to Laviana, Colanzo or Gijon approximately from €3.50 to €12.00 per person.
Santiago de Compostela: Museum of Galician Culture entrance €3.00 per person, Pilgrims Museum entrance €2.40 per person, Cathedral Museum entrance €6.00 per person; guided walking tour of Santiago Cathedral and surrounding squares €120.00 per group (sight entrance fees not included).
Ponferrada: Templar Castle entrance €6.00 per person; return taxi to Villa Franca approximately €90.00 per vehicle for a return trip (maximum 8 persons per vehicle); return taxi to Las Medulas €100.00 per vehicle for a return trip (maximum 8 persons per vehicle).
Leon: Cathedral entrance €6.00 per person or a guided visit (including entrance) is €12.00 per person; San Isidoro entrance €5.00 per person.
Guernica: Peace Museum entrance €4.50 per person.
Gexto: Bizkaia Bridge walkway from €8.00 per perosn or gondola from €0.40 per way per persob.
Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum entrance €13.00 per person; Arxanda Funicular €1.50 per way per person; Art Museum entrance €7.00 per person.


Lightweight cotton clothing is best from June to September, light rainwear may be needed at any time of year, but especially after the start of September, and a warm fleece/light jacket is recommended for cooler evenings and nights at the beginning and end of the season. Don't forget a swimming costume.


Good comfortable trainers or lightweight walking shoes. Sandals for relaxing.



Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.

It's very important that you pack light and are able to lift your case. There is limited storage on the trains and the steps to board can be steep. A soft sided bag is best and the smaller bag you can use then the easier this will be for you to lift it on board and to store it.


A water bottle, sunhat and high factor sunscreen are all essential. A head torch (for use on day 4 of the tour) may be useful to bring, however is not essential.


Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided.Accordingly, you should allow approximately €10-20 for tipping.

In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.

Country Information


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
£8.00 - 12.00
Dinner price
£16.00 - 20.00
Beer price
£1.50 - 2.50 (depending on the region/area in Spain)
Water price
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Recommended Currency For Exchange
We recommend you take the majority of your spending money in Euros cash.
Where To Exchange
We recommend that you change any currency into Euros prior to arrival. Bureau de Change are generally only found in major cities and large airports.
ATM Availability
In cities and most major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Visa and Mastercard are generally accepted in larger restaurants and some shops.
Travellers Cheques
Not recommended.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Taxi, Train

Essential Information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Included activities

On this trip we will take a number of long train journeys, so as well as enjoying the ever-changing views we'd recommend taking snacks and drinks and entertainment such as a book, audio books or an electronic book reader, games device or tablet, pack of cards or a quiz book.

Non refundable permits



Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Dates, prices and booking

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