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Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

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Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

Hi, I need help with suggestions to narrow down my options. There is just too much I want to do.

I arrive into Santander on a Wednesday evening and have to be in Santiago de Compostela Thursday evening the following week (travelling in May). Im looking for suggestions of where to travel in the 8 nights/8 days inbetween. Ideally I would like:

- to travel by train, or if not by bus. I will not be hiring a car (too hard when there's no person to direct you!)

- to stay in 2 or 3 cities and take day trips (that way I can check into a hostel for 2 or 3 nights and leave my luggage behind while I explore)

- to see art galleries, museums, historical buildings, at least 1 cave art. I like shopping and sitting at cafes, but I don't need to sit at the beach. Places with great photo opportunities are welcomed so the outdoors is good but no hikes (!). I've been to a few walled towns or windmill locations in Spain previously and they were great.

I'm travelling by myself, so I'd like places that aren't too difficult to get to and are great for people watching or casual eating once you're there. I've already been to Bilbao and although I LOVE it there (seriously, my favourite place in all of Spain) I feel like I should see something else. But I may be tempted, just to go back and eat some pintxos and visit the Guggenheim. I speak incredibly basic Spanish (read: next to none).

So far in my investigations I like the look of:

- From Santander: Puente-Viesgo, Santillana del Mar and/or Comilla (with the Attamira caves)

- From Bilbao: Vitoria and/or Castro-Urdiales, maybe Burgos

But then what about Gijon, Oviedo, Lugo and Vigo?!

Any suggestions about must-see destinations that are train/bus friendly and the best city to be based in would be much appreciated.

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1. Re: Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

Belinda:

The cave at Santillana del Mar is a replica of the original cave. The real Altamira Cave is restricted.

We did have time to find the best meson in town, called El Castillo. We ordered the menu of the day and we had a very good meal. I asked for wine with the meal and they brought a full bottle of a very good red wine. As usual they were very generous with the wine. No, I did not finish the bottle. I just had two glasses!

Oviedo is a very good place to visit.

The first day we were in Oviedo, we stopped an elderly woman walking near the Cathedral and asked her what restaurant she could recommend for us. She told us of the Restaurante El Ovetense (San Juan, 6). It is located in a hotel and the dining room is on the second floor. The restaurant is not too big, but it is very clean and has white table cloths. We asked for the menu of the day, which had an inexpensive price. For the first plate we asked for the paella, and bacalao a la Vizcaina for the second plate. When the paella arrived, we were surprised that we were brought a huge platter of paella, freshly made, very juicy, and with calamares, meat, and sausage. The taste was fantastic! Our second plate was just as delicious. For dessert I asked for the pudding, and it was also great. I always say that you can eat well in Spain anywhere if you ask the people on the street who live in the city. They will always recommend a good restaurant to you. Of course you have to speak Spanish to ask them. We returned to this restaurant three more times and always had great meals there.

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2. Re: Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

Thanks for your reply - I'll skip the replica caves! I love the food in Spain, and I speak fluent menu - that's about the extent of my Spanish, apart from being able to ask what time the train departs.

Cantabria
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3. Re: Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

Firstly, I hope some of the info on my blog might be able to help you with this: www.ratoncantabria.wordpress.com, there's info on there about travelling by public transport, with websites and links.

There is also a Trip List on here I did some time ago about day trips via public transport from Santander:

tripadvisor.co.uk/GoListDetail-i25629-Day_Tr…

If you want bases with good public transport, then I'd consider Santander, obviously, easy to get to Santillana, Comillas, San Vicente de la Barquera, Castro Urdiales, Santoña, Laredo etc. by bus, also easy to get to pretty Liérganes by train.

I'd also actually consider San Vicente de la Barquera. It's a fishing town, with a pleasant centre, and old part with castle and church and great views, you can walk over easily to the fantastic beaches, probably the best and nicest you'll be able to get to without a car, and it's a little transport hub. You can bus from here to Potes (much quicker than doing it from Santander), it's on the main east-west ALSA bus route which goes to all the main cities along the north coast, so easy connections, you can bus to Santillana and Comillas easily, and to Llanes in Asturias. There is also a FEVE train station, ALTHOUGH, this is NOT in town, and you're best speaking to wherever you stay about getting taxi transport to/from (there are not taxis readily available in San Vi, but there must be someone who will do this!). The FEVE train on this part of the line is not frequent, but they do run at least daily both east and west, taking you by train to Santander and stations between, Oviedo and stations between (including Llanes and Ribadesella), and on to El Ferrol in Galicia and stations between. It certainly might be an option for you at some point. It's slow, it's basic, but it's cheap, and if you look carefully at the timetables, you'll see that although the trains are only twice daily on the stretch between Cabezón de la Sal and Llanes, but either side of that they are much more frequent, so it's just a case of getting your timing right! The website is pretty clear if you look at the Horarios (Timetables) and Mapas with a map in front of you! http://www.renfe.com/viajeros/feve/index.html

Also I would advise against using Santillana as a base if you're dependant on public transport, it has far less connections with other places.

As for caves, you could see Altamira, but as Benny rightly said, they're not open to the public, so you'll only be seeing the (very good) replica. Caves by public transport in Cantabria...well I'd try from Santander by bus the caves at Puente Viesgo, a lovely town worth an overnight in fact if you fancy it, it has a great spa, lovely river walk (not taxing, certainly not a hike!), and great great caves! You are best reserving in advance on the website for Cantabria's caves: …culturadecantabria.com/english/castillo.asp (in English!)

The only issue with these caves is that you have to walk up the road to get to them, but again, if you're staying in the town, I'm sure someone at the place you're staying can help you get up there by car if you need to. The walk up will take you about 20 minutes. For public transport for Puente Viesgo from Santander check here: www.transportedecantabria.es/web/guest/home (also more or less in English) This website also has all FEVE and ALSA bus times for Cantabria on it, as well as the bus times for the La Cantabrica buses which serve the Santander-Santillana-Comillas-San Vicente route, and the Palombera bus times for the Santander-San Vicente-Potes route.

Hope that's helpful!

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4. Re: Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

Thanks that's really helpful. I'll definitely take a look at San Vicente de la Barquera, and thanks for the tip about Santilliana not being as well connected as some other places. The day trips from Santander were also really helpful. Thank you.

Cantabria
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5. Re: Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

Don't get me wrong about Santillana, it's easy to visit with public transport from Santander/Comillas/San Vicente, it's just that there's only really that bus route, so if you want to get anywhere else, then it's more difficult and you'll end up having to go to Santander or Torrelavega. However, if you're only interested in going to those places anyway, then it could still be an option as it is the most central place of the lot. Check out that Cantabria transport website, it'll give you a better idea of the possibilities.

6. Re: Northern Spain suggestions for single traveller (train/bus)

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