Mountains, the sea, world famous museums and the bustling life of Northern Spain’s cities: On our train and hiking trip along the so-called Camino del Norte (the northern route of the Camino de Santiago trail) we will experience the Basque country, Cantabria, and Asturias in various ways. In Bilbao the Guggenheim Museum is opening especially for us. During the tour visually impaired guests can experience some of the world famous exhibition pieces in a tactile way. The narrow-gauge railway FEVE will take us from one place to another on a beautiful route with a lot of Spanish vivacity on board. We will experience the coast and the mountains, try Queso Picón and get to know the vivid Siderías, the home of Asturian Cider. Oviedo, the pilgrim’s city with its beautiful cathedral, will mark the end of our trip.
Day 1: Arrival in Bilbao (Spain)
By plane you will reach Bilbao in the Basque region. At the airport we will pick you up and take you to your hotel. After a walk through the old town of Bilbao at night we will have the traditional Cazuelitas for dinner. (One night stay in Bilbao.) Dinner included.
Day 2: Guggenheim-Museum, Santillana del Mar
Today the gem of architect Frank Gehry, which made Bilbao to the city of arts, will be on our agenda. Usually the Guggenheim Museum is closed on Mondays, but for us it is opening its doors, offering a tour especially suited for blind and visually impaired visitors which will also give sighted people a very new perspective.
After a snack in the Art Nouveau train station we are taking the narrow-gauge railway to the west. In the late afternoon we will reach Santillana del Mar, the pearl of Cantabria. Romanic churches, Early Medieval squares and beautiful flower arrangements are lining the path on our stroll in the afternoon. (Two nights in Santillana.) Breakfast and Dinner included. Travel distance: approx. 154 km.
Day 3: Hiking tour on the trail of St. James
Today we are following the pilgrims, by leaving Santillana del Mar on the Camino de Santiago trail. Pastures, quaint villages and in the background the Cantabrian side of the Picos de Europa. After a few kilometres, we are turning towards the sea and get to the impressive green cliffs of Oreña. After having lunch in a small village we are making our way back to Santillana del Mar. Breakfast and Lunch included. Hiking level: moderate, 10 km, ↑150 m, ↓150m, good surface.
Day 4: Fishing village Llanes and culinary Asturia
The narrow-gauge railway takes us to Asturia. In the picturesque fishing village Llanes we will check in at a comfortable hotel in a converted convent. Afterwards, we are taking a walk around the village, which still shows genuine northern Spanish architecture of the 18th century. For those who wish to take a swim, there is enough time to go to the beach, which is easily accessible and located in a beautiful bay. In the evening, we will have delicious food in the refectory of the former convent. Dinner included.
Day 5: Picos de Europa and cheese factory
By bus we will arrive at the small mountain village Potes, amidst the Cantabrian range of mountains. With the spectacular ropeway from Fuente Dé we will get to a height of 1,887 m. From there we will take a long walk in this height, enjoy the clear air, the blooming mountain flowers and the stunning view over the mountains to the coast. After a little picnic we will return to the valley and visit the small, pre-Romanesque church of Lebeña. Finally, we will stop by a small mountain cheese factory where the famous Queso Picón is being produced. Having tried various kinds (some of which are rather spicy) we will return to Llanes. Breakfast and Picnic included. Hiking level: moderate to difficult, 8 km, ↑450 m, ↓450m, broad mountain trails.
Travel distance round trip: 102 km.
Day 6: Sidra Museum and trip to Oviedo
We will get on the early train taking us on a hilly and picturesque tour to Nava. There we will get to know the history of the Asturians’ local drink and visit the Sidra Museum. Will you manage to pour the Sidra behind your back just like the locals do? Or play something on the bagpipe? In any way you will have the opportunity to try the local cider at lunch. Afterwards we will continue our trip to Oviedo.
In the evening, we will enjoy a walk through the old town of Oviedo and its lively squares. Lunch included. Travel distance: 118 km.
Day 7: Oviedo and trip back to Bilbao
In the morning we will visit the impressive gothic cathedral and its Camara Santa and learn about the reasons Oviedo became such an important point on the Camino de Santiago trail. In the church, you will notice plenty of pilgrims taking a break on their way to Santiago de Compostela. At noon, we will set out to get back to Bilbao where we will have a farewell dinner, the traditional Basque Pintxos. Dinner included. Travel distance: 291 km.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast, our trip is ending. We will take you back to the airport of Bilbao.
1. IMPORTANT DETAILS1. Trip classification (maximum = 4)
Culture: 3, Nature: 3, Physical condition: 2
The train trip through Northern Spain is a cultural round trip with stays in 3 different hotels. The focus of this trip lies on nature (Atlantic Sea and mountains) on one hand, on cultural visits (Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum, Santander and Oviedo) on the other hand. A good physical condition is required.