THE trains in Spain do not stay mainly on the plain – they go along the coast, too.
From slow branch lines to high-speed routes, taking a trip along the country’s shoreline can reveal places you might otherwise overlook.
Travel writer Tom Chesshyre took a 3,000-mile clickety-clack journey on 52 train rides – and here are his top journeys along Spain’s varied coast.
Holidays to Spain could restart from May 17. For train bookings, see renfe.com.
- Slow Trains Around Spain: A 3,000-Mile Adventure on 52 Rides by Tom Chesshyre is on sale now, published by Summersdale.
Figueres to Blanes
SITUATED on the Costa Brava, Blanes is a quiet resort with three miles of sandy beaches and fine seafood restaurants.
The best beach is Cala Sant Francesc, tucked away in a cove down a steep path below the the wonderful clifftop Mari-murtra Botanical Garden, with a lovely restaurant by the sands.
It’s an hour and 25 minutes by train to Blanes, above, from Figueres, Salvador Dali’s home town 50 miles away.
Barcelona to Vilanova i la Geltru
FARTHER south on the Costa Brava, Vilanova i la Geltru, above, is the place to go loco over locos.
The splendid Catalonia Rail Museum is a pilgrimage for Spanish train lovers, detailing the fascinating history since the country’s first passenger service in 1848.
There is also a fantastic cathedral, an ancient quarter with labyrinthine lanes and a wide expanse of beach.
From Barcelona, the 32-mile ride takes 70 minutes. See vilanovaturisme.cat.
Pamplona to San Sebastian
THERE are said to be more Michelin-starred restaurants per square metre in San Sebastian than anywhere else.
Its shell-shaped bay, above, features golden sandy beaches, a rocky headland and, at its centre, the Isla de Santa Clara. The archways of the promenade running along the beach cover benches at sand-level – perfect for a picnic.
From Pamplona, the train journey south takes one hour 45 minutes. See sansebastianturismoa.eus.
Santiago de Compostela to A Coruna
IN the far north-west of the Galicia region, La Coruna is an historic port that makes a great stopover.
Sights include Roman lighthouse the Tower of Hercules, Casa Museo Picasso (the artist’s childhood home) as well as many beautiful churches and striking glass-fronted houses known as galleria.
The 40-mile rail journey on to Santiago de Compostela, the famous Christian pilgrimage spot, takes 40 minutes. See turismo.gal.
Benidorm to Alicante
SOUTH from Valencia, Alicante is the closest major city to the bustling bars and clubs of Benidorm.
Head for the medieval Castillo de Santa Barbara, above. There’s a lift to the top of the hill as well as a couple of pleasant, shaded cafes/bars. Other attractions include a striking contemporary art museum, cathedral market and beach.
The 28-mile train journey from Benidorm is one hour and 15 minutes. See alicanteturismo.com.
VIEW OF THE ROCK
Ronda to Algeciras
THE city of Algeciras, above, has a sleepy charm, with little squares, quiet cafes and tiny tapas bars tucked away down alleys.
You can catch a ferry to Morocco from this old port, and the Moorish influence is strong. Hookah pipes are smoked and at times you have a feeling of having crossed to North Africa. Bargain hunters will enjoy the dockside shopping centre.
The 63-mile train ride from Ronda takes 85 minutes. See andalucia.com.
CITY AND SAND
Barcelona to Valencia
OFTEN overlooked, Valencia, above, is Spain’s third largest city. You arrive at the art-nouveau station, Estacio del Nord.
It’s a short walk from there to the 13th-century cathedral (home to what is said to be the Holy Grail), the Gothic Silk Exchange and the excellent Central Market. There’s also a pretty beach, plus the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.
The ride south from Barcelona is two hours and 40 minutes, covering 220 miles. See visitvalencia.com.
MAKE IT MALAGA
Seville to Malaga
MOST visitors to Malaga make a beeline for the bright lights of Torremolinos or Marbella. Yet Malaga, above, is a vibrant city featuring the Museo Picasso (where the artist lived), the contemporary art museum Centre Pompidou, the Moorish Gibralfaro castle and the Museo del Automovilistico, jam-packed with vintage cars. There’s also a great beach.
It’s 125 miles from Seville – three hours 21 minutes by train. To find out more, see malagaturismo.com.
HOT, HOT, HOT
Almeria to Granada
FROM the coastal town of Almeria heading inland to Granada, above, you’ll find the Desierto de Tabernas – the backdrop for Sergio Leone’s famous spaghetti westerns such as A Fistful Of Dollars.
Almeria is also home to the Alcazaba, a hilltop Moorish fortress, while in Granada you can visit the medieval Alahambra Gardens.
Almeria to Granada is 100 miles. The train takes two hours and 52 minutes. See turismodealmeria.org.
Murcia to Aguilas
NEAR the train station in the Roman fishing port of Aguilas, above, is a strip of sand that feels like a secret hideaway. This is a great spot for a dip after visiting the 16th-century castle-fortress of San Juan de Aguilas and the unusual 19th-century Hornillo jetty, a train pier jutting out to sea which was once used for shipping iron and silver from nearby mines.
It is 62 miles from the city of Murcia to Aguilas, which takes one hour 55 minutes by train. See murciaturistica.es.
Source: Read Full Article