Vacations to Go – Northern Spain by Train from Oviedo to Ferrol

We begin the second part of our train adventure in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias. Oviedo’s quaint Old Town with its maze of narrow streets clusters around the magnificent cathedral, San Salvador. It was here that King Alfonso II set in motion the enduring religious rite of Christian pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, when, upon hearing of the discovery of the tomb St. James the Apostle, he left on the first such pilgrimage. This lovely, compact town, surrounded by mountains and beautiful green nature, was to be our base for the next few days, as we explored its lovely sights, its Museo Bellas Artes with its beautiful El Greco and Goya works, its streets dotted with modern sculptures, its many tapas bars and lively main square with grand performances by Spanish singers.

Carving an improbable course through improbable terrain, after our stay in Oviedo, we continue westwards towards the Atlantic coast as the FEVE train rumbles on. There is a sense of timelessness throughout this relaxed journey. For adventurers who want to feel the country and its people, up-close and local, this is the way to go. People get on. People get off. You may chat with your travel companions who are women on the way to their favorite butcher in the next town, or a young couple taking their dog to the nearest vet, or a group of bikers with their bikes in the luggage compartment.

We arrive in Luarca, the white town on the green coast, a drop-dead gorgeous fishing port wedged between towering cliffs along a river that opens onto the sea. This a great place to sample Asturias’ famous cider, which is very big here. Sitting at one of the many sidrerias running along the harbor, we watch the sun set.

Early next morning, we continue to Ribadeo, opting to skip the detour to Gijon. This small city dominates the Rio Eo estuary which borders Galicia and Asturias. We stop off to see the not-to-be-missed stunning vaulted arches, caves and rock formations of the nearby Playa de las Catedrales on the Mar Cantabrico of the Biscay Bay, among the most beautiful beaches in Spain. Our next stop, Viviero, with its rows of tiny houses along the harbor, boasts impressive gallerias, elaborate glass enclosed balconies. This medieval walled town houses 14th to 16th century monuments like the Gate of Charles V and the Convent de las Concepcionistas, with its replica of the Lourdes grotto.

About 20 stops and a half hour out of Ferrol, we enter heavily forested silver-blue Eucalyptus valleys. The scenery opens onto vistas of the azure Atlantic when we pass Ortigueira on the northernmost tip of Spain. As the train weaves in and out of tunnels, the stunning fjord-like entrance of the Rio do Barquiero comes into view. Approaching the terminus at Ferrol, we pass round rocky headlands on the wild Atlantic coast to catch glimpses of the sea pounding the shore.

Our final destination, Santiago de Compostela, is reached by coach only. The resting place of St. James, this is the last stop on the Pilgrim’s trail – the Camino de Santiago, since the 9th century. This jewel in the crown, with its historic streets, boasts the lovely Plaza del Obradoiro, the Platerias and a stunning cathedral.

For those preferring a “Rail Cruise” , the FEVE tracks are also the route of the world-renowned El Transcantabrico, among the most famous and romantic train excursions in the world, which loops from Leon to Santiago de Compostela in 8 days, with coach trips, gourmet food and lovely sleeping quarters on board. Whether traveling on your own or on the “Rail Cruise”, this amazing rail adventure links history, art, spectacular ecclesiastical architecture and the stunning rugged landscapes of northern Spain in a magnificent not-to-be-missed train journey.

About the Author

I’m a trip consultant, planner and manager who loves creating unique intercultural adventures for families. I want to impart information,tips and personal experiences especially related to family adventure travel.