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Reviews for Northern Spain By Rail

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

Trip notes

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Northern Spain By Rail reviews verified by reevooReevoo

13 reviews

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Northern Spain By RailScores 7.4 out of 10 based on 13 reviews
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Confirmed traveller: 25 May 2016
Published on: 05 June 2016
(9 out of 10)


This trip would be of interest to rail enthusiasts, those interested in ancient Spanish cities, the St. James's Camino and the landscape of northern Spain. I am not a rail enthusiast, but still enjoyed the travel on the narrow gauge railway as it runs through some amazing scenery. The cathedrals in Oviedo, Santiago and Leon are wonderful, as are the Visigothic churches near Oviedo. We attended the 7.30pm Friday pilgrims mass in Santiago to see the botafumeiro (enormous censer) being swung by 8 men - it nearly hit the cathedral roof. For the walk in the Picos de Europa, it would be better to wear boots as the path is rough with loose stones and difficult to negotiate in walking shoes.
Confirmed traveller: 25 May 2016
Published on: 01 June 2016
(8 out of 10)


All good except I think the Santillana del Mar overnight was not necessary, as not much to see there. Could be seen in an hour's stopover visit and go stay somewhere else.
Confirmed traveller: 25 May 2016
Published on: 01 June 2016
(7 out of 10)


Great Paradores but worst rooms were booked and cheapest dinner option provided for 2 included dinners. Be specific when booking with Explore the type and location of room you want at the Paradores to avoid disappointment. No luck with the free meals unless you order your own off the amazing menu and ask for a partial credit for the included meals. Cities and towns visited were beautiful, train service excellent. Last day 12 hour train ride a bit excessive, there is a faster train available.
Confirmed traveller: 30 September 2015
Published on: 28 October 2015

Thank you for your review John. I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the rooms and dinners provided at the paradors. The rooms at the paradors are allocated on a run of house basis and because they are historic buildings every room can differ in size, layout and decor, but all are equipped with the same amenities. The two included dinners don’t have as extensive a choice as the restaurant full a la carte menu, however we usually receive positive comments from customers on both these aspects of the trip. Having said this though, I have given your feedback to our local agent and I will closely monitor this. The train journey on the last day of the holiday is the longest, taking 7 hours. I’ve updated our trip notes so it’s clearer to customers that this is the case.

(4 out of 10)


Melbourne Australia
Highlights - Santiago de Compostela, Picos de Europa

Don't book unless you like long, tedious journeys by poorly scheduled trains
Confirmed traveller: 30 September 2015
Published on: 19 October 2015

While we’re delighted to read that you enjoyed some parts of your trip, we were disappointed to read that you were unhappy with the train journeys. Clearly, we’re at the mercy of the local train operators, but we do try to dovetail as many journeys as possible to make them speedy and efficient. We’ve taken your comments onboard and will consider them when we next review the itinerary.

(8 out of 10)


Eastry, Sandwich, Kent
The Rail journeys, the Paradors and the pleasant countryside.
Confirmed traveller: 30 September 2015
Published on: 04 October 2015