Culture

Vintage Asturias and Cantabria including the FEVE Historic Train

5 to 16 April
Spain

Join us as we explore the very scenic Asturias and Cantabria in Northern Spain using the FEVE metre gauge lines. The trip includes the use of the FEVE Historic Train on three of the days.

We spend our first night in Madrid and visit the Spanish Railway Museum, one of the largest historic railway collections in Europe. We then travel north to Oviedo on one of Spain’s most scenic lines where we stay for 3 nights and will have the chance to visit another railway museum in Gijon, or just relax and enjoy the culture and atmosphere of Oviedo.

Leaving Oviedo, we head into the mountains to the historically important sanctuary of Covadonga and to the “Picos de Europa”, staying in a hotel in the area. We continue along the northern coast by FEVE train, first to Santander, where we will have ample time to explore this popular coastal resort, and then onwards to Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country.

From Santander to Bilbao and again from Bilbao to León, we will travel on the FEVE Historic Train. An optional trip on this train to San Sebastian and the Basque Railway Museum is included.

As we travel from Bilbao to León through this very scenic part of northern Spain, we will stop to visit local railway museums and a lineside hotel where we have our Farewell Lunch.

Time too for a trip to see the spectacular Valporquero Caves and to explore León’s attractive historic centre. We travel to Madrid on a morning train ready for our flights home. Optionally stay for extra nights for your own exploration of the Spanish capital.

On the Historic Train days, we will be joined by other PTG clients who are doing the FEVE Historic Train tour.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

Highlights
  • Railway Museums
  • FEVE Historic Train for part of the trip
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Narrow gauge lines
  • Cave visit
  • Great hotels
Itinerary

Thursday 5th April Flights from the UK to Madrid, with a transfer to our hotel. Overnight in Madrid.

Friday 6th April (B,D) After breakfast we visit Madrid Railway Museum. It is located in the former station of ‘Delicias’, one of the finest and most representative examples of Spanish industrial architecture, designed by Gustave Eiffel and inaugurated in 1880. The Museum offers the visitor an impressively comprehensive collection of vintage rolling stock. The station’s Central Hall houses a diverse range of locomotives and passenger coaches, which not only illustrate the development of traction (steam, electric and diesel) over more than 150 years of Spanish railway history, but also provide an insight into the different conditions in which passengers travelled on these trains. After lunch, we join our fast train to the Asturian capital Oviedo, our home for the next 3 nights. The line from Madrid to Oviedo is particularly scenic, passing through several different landscapes on the 4-hour journey, as well as changing gauge as we pass through León. On arrival in Oviedo, we transfer to our hotel where we will have our Welcome Dinner.

Saturday 7th April (B) Oviedo is served by two suburban rail networks, the RENFE operated “Cercanías” broad gauge lines and the metre gauge FEVE lines. Today we experience both of these. We will travel out to El Entrego on the FEVE lines to visit a mining and industrial museum, with its own railway allowing us to experience the railway journeys made daily by the miners. At the end of the afternoon we return to Oviedo on the Cercanías line.

Sunday 8th April (B) A choice of activities today. For the rail fans, we take a trip on the region’s FEVE lines to the coastal town of Gijon and its railway museum. The railway museum is located next to the station and has more than 1,000 objects, of which 140 are rolling stock including steam and diesel locomotives, wagons, trams and other material related to the history of trains in Spain. We return to Oviedo on a different line at the end of the day. For the non-rail fans, spend the day in the historic city of Oviedo, which contains a very rich architectural history, with many buildings dating back to the early medieval period. A local guide will lead you through the most important parts of the city, with the afternoon free for your own exploration. In particular, look out for the Cathedral of San Salvador, which was erected in 1388 over the previous cathedral, which itself was founded in the 8th century. The Tower on the south side of the church was erected in 1556. The north tower was never completed. Also look out for the La Foncalada fountain from the 9th century. It is the only preserved Pre-Romanesque civil work in the whole of Europe.

Monday 9th April (B) We leave Oviedo to head into the mountains to visit Covadonga sanctuary and Picos de Europa. Covadonga is situated just to the west and north of the Picos de Europa mountain range in the heart of Asturias’ walking and hiking country.  It is also very close to the tourist town of Cangas de Onis and is an absolute “must visit” location for all visitors to the area. Covadonga pretty much targets every button on the scenic tourist’s hit list and offers breath-taking scenery and close access to the famous Picos de Europa and some stunning mountain lakes. But possibly even more importantly, Covadonga also possesses a religious sanctuary with a splendid and historic basilica, a mythical grotto, a museum and both a statue to, and the tomb of, Asturian and Spanish hero, Pelayo. Our hotel tonight is in the charming little town of Cangas de Onis, famous for its Asturian cider and Roman bridge!

Tuesday 10th April (B) This morning we continue by FEVE train to the seaside resort and port city of Santander, capital of Cantabria, with its seafront and large casino (a rival to Monte Carlo?). We will have a free afternoon to explore Santander, nowadays best known as the city that gave its name to the international banking group! However, it has much more than that, including excellent beaches, a lively city centre, interesting museums and beautiful gardens. “El Sardinero” is known as one of the most elegant beach resorts anywhere on the Spanish coast. Also worthy of mention is the park of Magdalena where there is a small zoo as well as three galleons in which the Cantabrian sailor Vital Alsar crossed the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Wednesday 11th April (B) Santander also has a Cercanías suburban rail network, and today we explore the line down to Reinosa. This is a very scenic line, including horse-shoe curves to gain and lose height. Free time in Reinosa for lunch. Though off the tourist trail, it is a charming town with a variety of places to eat. Alternatively, have a free day exploring Santander.

Thursday 12th April (B) After enjoying a relaxing morning in Santander, we join our specially chartered FEVE Historic train for the trip to Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country. The journey is about 3 hours and once again we see a variety of different landscapes. We stay here for the next 2 nights.

Friday 13th April (B) Today is a free day in Bilbao. No longer the grey, industrial city it was in the 1970s, Bilbao boasts a plethora of things to see and do. Most famous of all is the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry and considered as one of the most important structures of contemporary architecture, the building being wrapped in titanium panels. Also visit the colourful Old Town, known as the “Seven Streets”, as they were the seven streets that formed the medieval town. For transport fans, a trip on the futuristic metro system, designed by Sir Norman Foster (the station entrances are known locally as “fosteritos”) is a must. Be sure to visit the UNESCO listed Viscaya Bridge, the world-famous transporter bridge, where people and vehicles cross the river in a suspended gondola.

Alternatively, join the clients on the FEVE Historic Train Tour on a rare trip by this train onto the lines belonging to the Basque railway company, Euskotren. We will depart from the Euskotren station, Atxuri, and travel west to the beautiful city of San Sebastian. A visit to the Basque Railway Museum with a specially charted train is included.

Saturday 14th April (B,L) – The Bilbao – León line passes through some beautiful, and at times unusual, scenery and mountain formations, and there is no better way to see this than from our very own charter train. Along the way, we will stop to visit local railway museums, and of course we will have lunch at a lineside restaurant. Late afternoon arrival in León.

Sunday 15th April (B) We visit Valporquero Caves in the mountains north of León. The journey there is as spectacular as any you will experience, as the road weaves its way through a narrow gorge with the mountains towering above. We walk through the caves, almost a mile inside the mountain, passing through six distinct caverns with a range of geological features, quite a spectacular sight.

Monday 16th April We catch an early morning train to Madrid and then transfer to the airport for our flights home.

To enjoy this trip to the fullest, you will need to be able to walk a few hundred metres and climb stairs in metro and railway stations etc. Occasionally we need to walk short distances with our luggage.

Hotels

Hotel Chamartin, Madrid (1 night)
Hotel AC Oviedo, Oviedo (3 nights)
Hotel Los Lagos Nature, Cangas de Onis (1 night)
Hotel Bahia, Santander (2 nights)
Hotel Carlton, Bilbao (2 nights)
Hotel Afonso V, León (2 nights)

Flights

EZY5477 12.15 Gatwick to Madrid (arr 15.50)
EZY5478 16.30 Madrid to Gatwick (arr 17.50)

EZY7103 16.45 Liverpool to Madrid (arr 20.15)
EZY7104 20.50 Madrid to Liverpool (arr 22.20)

FR3187 17.45 Manchester to Madrid (arr 21.15)
FR3186 21.55 Madrid to Manchester (arr 23.25)

EZY6035 17.50 Bristol to Madrid (arr 21.10)
EZY6036 21.45 Madrid to Bristol (arr 23.00)

IB3169 11.35 Heathrow to Madrid (arr 15.05)
IB3180 17.05 Madrid to Heathrow (arr 18.25)

Place(s) available
Holiday Prices (per person)
  • Full 12 day holiday including flight from London Gatwick: £1,899
  • Full 12 day holiday including overland from St Pancras: £2,099
  • Full 12 day holiday with own travel to/from Madrid: £1,699

Options

  • Single room supplement: £475
  • Fly from Mancester: POA

Deposit

  • £100 (balance of deposit due 01/01/2018)
Price includes
  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Services of our tour manager (this tour is fully escorted from Madrid)
  • Meals (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner) as specified in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite hotel accommodation
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Recommended flights
  • Direct flights to Madrid from Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Bristol.