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Northern Spain By Rail RSP

Visiting: Spain
Trip Duration 12 Days

Reviews for Northern Spain By Rail

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

Trip notes

Each departure date has its own dedicated trip note, detailing all you need to know about that trip. Whether you've already booked, or weighing up your options, please choose carefully the relevant itinerary for you.

We have the following different versions of the Northern Spain By Rail trip available at present.

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Northern Spain By Rail reviews verified by reevooReevoo

19 reviews

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Northern Spain By RailScores 7.8 out of 10 based on 19 reviews
(9 out of 10)


We enjoyed this trip very much and can recommend visiting Northern Spain very highly. The Northern Spanish cities are all very different and all interesting. Léon was our favourite with its soaring cathedral, interesting museums and great café culture and nightlife. We found some of the Feve train journeys rather tedious and not that interesting. The trains stop at every lamppost and, apart from the journey between Bilbao and Santander and the occasional glimpses of the Atlantic coast, are not very interesting. We would suggest that the journey between Oviedo and Santiago de Campostela would be better by bus as the Seven hours it took were not very productive in our view. The early part of the holiday was rather dampened by the wet weather, which is not unusual for this area of Spain of course, but we still enjoyed our day in the magnificent Picos de Europa despite this stopping us doing our walk down the mountain. The only other issue we felt worth mentioning was arriving in some places when the attractions we were expecting to visit from the information in the trip notes were closed because we were there on their closure day. This was particularly unfortunate in Santillana del Mar where the Romanesque monastery was the jewel in the crown, but because we w ere there on a Monday this, and all the museums and galleries were closed. We had the same problem in Ponferrada. We would suggest changing the travel days to avoid this and ensuring that the tour stops in bigger places wigth a greater range of things to do on Sunday and Monday. As flights to Bilbao are generally available every day from a range of airports we think this could be achieved. The standard of accommodation was high and it was a treat to stay in the historic paradors in Santiago and Léon (this hotel is apparently closing in December for two years refurbishment). We had wonderful food and the bed and breakfast arrangement worked well. We do not feel the trip needs to include any dinners as there are many places to eat in every stopping point. Our guide Eric was superb throughout. He was a charming and gracious young man who was well organised and prepared to be flexible to suit the group's needs. He arranged local guides in two places and these were both excellent too. Overall we would recommend this trip but think it could be improved with the tweaks we have suggested.
Confirmed traveller: 05 July 2017
Published on: 11 July 2017

Thank you for your feedback Margaret and I am so pleased to hear that you enjoyed the trip so much. We have noted your comments about the train journeys, and those of Joan below, and will be revising the trains we use on the 2018 trips. We are sorry that some of the sights were closed and we are looking to amend the departure day of the trip as you suggest for 2018 so that the itinerary is unaffected by these closures. Also thank you for advising about the closure of some of the Paradors from December this year, we have been made aware of this and will be amending the accommodation on the premium trips in response to this.
It is also good to hear how great your Explore Leader, Eric, was and that he looked after you and the group so well.

(8 out of 10)


Great Missenden, Bucks
Would recommend with reservations. Narrow guage railway journeys long, slow & not always a toilet. Highlights Guggenheim, Santiago and Leon cities with excellent Parador accommodation. Varied itinerary but Picos sadly very wet. Suggest drop Ponferrada and visit Burgos. Trip notes entirely inaccurate re camino walk (in Ponferrada):would have required a taxi ride out of town. Guide arranged good local guides in Santiago and Leon at our expense but otherwise one needed one's own info as guide to other cities
Confirmed traveller: 05 July 2017
Published on: 11 July 2017
(9 out of 10)


The highlights of the trip have to be the day in the Picos del Europa and the pilgrims mass in Santiago de Compostela. But what took the trip to a level above the usual from Explore, was the personal contributions of out tour leader Emma. She obviously enjoyed showing her county to us. It could equally have been called a 'gourmet tour' - I spend more on food than I expected but enjoyed experiencing the food of Northern Spain. As well as being efficient, considerstr and good-natured at all times, Emma gave added value to the tour by sharing her enthusiasm for all aspects of her county .
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 31 May 2017
Published on: 09 June 2017
(8 out of 10)


Highlight definitely the visit to Picos de Europa national park. An excellent and enthusiastic tour leader, Emma, who helped to make the holiday a very enjoyable one.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 31 May 2017
Published on: 09 June 2017
(9 out of 10)


Enthusiastic, friendly, unphased leader. Variety of fish and tapas - reliant on leaders knowledge. Train and bus tour of N Spain. Such a gentle, rural, cultural friendly area. Such a diverse tour - mountains, coast, towns, villages, cathedrals, walking, culture, history, food
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 31 May 2017
Published on: 08 June 2017
(9 out of 10)


Shepley, W. Yorkshire
A superb way to see Northern Spain! Wonderful scenery, amazing historic towns, fantastic accommodation and a brilliant guide.
Highlights have to be staying in the paradors of Santiago de Compostella and Leon and the scenery of the Picos de Europa.
Some of the trains were not ever so comfortable, but the views made up for this.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 21 September 2016
Published on: 17 October 2016
(7 out of 10)


Highlights. Gaggenheim, Oviedo, Leon, Santiago. Small group but lovely people.

In Pomferrada we went for a very uninteresting walk through the outskirts of the town. It was only when we returned home that we discovered we were only 35 minutes from Las Medulas, a World Heritage site the last 4 reviews for which, all placed in the last 3 weeks, are headlined "absolutely spectacular", "simply stunning", "incredible", "amazing views" . To be so close and yet denied a visit is very disappointing.

The prominent use of pictures of the luxury El Transcantabrico Classico in your promotion of this tour is inappropriate and unacceptable as it forms no part in this itinerary.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 13 July 2016
Published on: 07 September 2016
(5 out of 10)


The train journeys were very disappointing very slow very uncomfortable single track two carriage and no refreshments even on the 7 hour journey. There was also a strike on two days and we had to use a coach which was a great relief.
The main problem was that there was no local guide we were simply given a map in each town and a brief description of places to visit and then left on our own.
When we complained the tour manager said he could organise guides if we paid every one of the 16 on the group agreed to pay and guide were organised. It cost us about 160 Euro's each. We have been on many many Explore trips since 2003 and this is the first time guides were not provided.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 24 June 2016
Published on: 01 August 2016

Thank you for your review John. Please accept my apologies that this trip didn’t meet your expectations. We do note that the train journey from Leon to Bilbao will be the longest journey of the trip – at seven hours – on the narrow gauge system. I am sorry that the train did not have refreshments available, however this is not something that we can guarantee. We have reminded the local guide this may be a possibility and to recommend a packed lunch and snacks. On reviewing the notes we do not have city tour or optionals included on your free days. We have found, as the areas have so much to see and do, that customers prefer to make their own arrangements.

(8 out of 10)


Dublin, Ireland
It is a beautiful , interesting and varied part of Spain. The people are wonderful, very friendly, good humoured and helpful. The paradors vary. Some are gorgeous but others are disappointing. Be prepared for delays and changes of plan as strikes happen and not everything runs to schedule. It is never boring though.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 23 June 2016
Published on: 29 June 2016
(6 out of 10)


The trip generally went as described. I would have liked a little more time at the Aspeitia Railway museum, and unfortunately part of the railway between Leon and Bilbao was closed and replaced by a two and a half hour bus ride. The walk in the Picos de Europa was enjoyable but tougher than expected, and should not be attempted without good walking boots.
But be warned, Northern Spain in May can be wet and cold. It has good reason to, be known as the Costa Verde.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 25 May 2016
Published on: 05 June 2016