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NORTHERN SPAIN & THE DOURO VALLEY

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Fares
  • Accommodation

A journey overview

  • San Sebastian
  • Bilbao
  • El Transcantábrico Train
  • Santiago de Compostela
  • Douro Valley
  • Salamanca
  • Madrid

19 Days Explorations
  • Departing:
  • 21 May 2020
  • 27 Aug 2020

The Iberian Peninsula is a magical place to be in summer – golden sunshine and warm breezes characterise the days. Aboard the magnificent El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo train, we plot a course along northern Spain’s coastal railways, stopping to explore the humble villages wedged between Bilbao and Ferrol. In Portugal’s Douro Valley, we base ourselves in a boutique wellness retreat amid hallowed vineyards, before cultural explorations of Salamanca and Madrid bring our journey to a resounding crescendo.

Map

San Sebastián defines Basque country culture and the beachside Hotel Londres is a beautiful place from which to enjoy it. We welcome a guide to help us navigate the cobblestones of the Old Town, before being led between the glorious maze of back-street bars and dimly lit restaurants. We while away an afternoon doing whatever we please before dinner on the breezy terrace of El Restaurante Zelai Txiki.

In Bilbao, we join the El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo train, which has been privately chartered for our adventure along Spain’s sunny coastal railways. The crew welcomes us with drinks as we head for our first stop, Villasana de Mena, where a gourmet Spanish dinner awaits us.

Our train takes us back to Bilbao and we admire the installations of the Guggenheim Museum, as well as its extraordinary exterior, designed by Frank Gehry. In Santander, we get to know the city with our guide, then enjoy the rest of the afternoon on our own schedule. After exploring the tiny town of Potes, we have time for some pampering at La Hermida Spa. Rejuvenated, we rejoin tour train for the trip to Cabezón de la Sal.

From Santillana del Mar, we set out for the Cave of Altamira, where we find paintings from the Upper Paleolithic period. Our train then snakes through rugged mountains and past glacial lakes before arriving in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias. Next, we visit the Old Town of Avilés while, nearby, a rail trip along a coastal railway takes us to Gijón, sitting on the Bay of Biscay.

Our train takes us to Ribadeo, where we follow the dramatic coastline to reach Las Catedrales Beach. Our train cuts a steady path to Ferrol, from where we then drive to Santiago de Compostela. We appreciate the striking stone architecture and authentic Galician eateries. In the Plaza del Obradoiro, we witness pilgrims gathering at the cathedral, having completed the final stages of their epic journey.

After checking in to Hospes Palacio de San Esteban in Salamanca, we enjoy lunch and a discovery of the city. Hypnotic heel beats and sultry flamenco guitars mesmerise us during dinner at our hotel. Explorations of the beautiful Old Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor are followed by a rousing private performance at the Professional Conservatory of Music.

We approach Madrid aboard a high-speed train. Here, we reflect on the likes of the lavish Royal Palace and the Prado Museum. Join our World Hosts for dinner at one of their favourite local eateries, before retiring to the Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques. In the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, we explore its vast monastery, before heading back to Madrid, where a Farewell Dinner draws our journey to a close.

From Spain’s north to Portugal’s Douro Valley, our colourful passage has revealed a new side of this region. Reflect on these memories as we journey home.

Brochure