The elegant train crossing the railway bridge of Luarca in Asturias
The Cantabrian coast in style: eight days exploring the north of Spain by luxury train

The Cantabrian coast in style: eight days exploring the north of Spain by luxury train

An elegant way to travel. We climb on board one of the most extraordinary and beautiful hotels in the world and visit the places along the 667-kilometre route between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela

Marta Aguilera

Friday, 24 February 2023


Choo, choo, all aboard the train! Welcome to the Transcantábrico Gran Lujo, the first luxury tourist train in Spain to travel around some of the loveliest towns and cities in the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia.

This wonderful hotel on rails provides the opportunity to enjoy the most select Spanish cuisine and some of the most impressive landscapes in the country.

For eight days and seven nights the luxurious express travels the Cantabrian coast between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela. It is a leisurely journey, at a constant speed of 45 kilometres an hour - what is important is not the destination but the experience of being inside this train along the way.

Not to be missed: the trip includes a visit to Galicia's spectacular Las Catedrales beach

This is a very special trip, a nostalgic reminder of rail travel in the early 20th century. A real treasure of a train, converted into a delightful five-star moving hotel with top-class suites, combining the comfort of the 21st century with the elegance of days gone by.


To discover the origins of Spain's most luxurious train, we have to look back to the late 1920s. At that time travelling was a luxury, but also a pleasure, and the train was the favourite means of transport for the upper classes in Europe.

The famous Pullman sleeper cars, a great success in the USA, crossed the Atlantic and the British company, The Leeds Forge, was commissioned to manufacture them. Only five were brought to Spain, to cover the route between Bilbao and San Sebastián.

San Sebastián, Santander and Santillana del Mar
Imagen principal - San Sebastián, Santander and Santillana del Mar
Imagen secundaria 1 - San Sebastián, Santander and Santillana del Mar
Imagen secundaria 2 - San Sebastián, Santander and Santillana del Mar

This train has brought with it exquisite on-board service, luxurious surroundings and elegant suites for all its passengers; it is a return to that tranquil and extremely elegant way of travel from the early 20th century.


The interior of the four carriages on the Transcantábrico are decorated in wood and art deco style, transporting travellers to the splendours of the 1920s.

The tea lounge, the Panorama car and entertainment room are ideal for relaxing and watching the beautiful, varied scenery pass by, and for enjoying live performances in the evenings or settling down with a drink and a good book.

The restaurant car is where the gastronomic magic happens: from complete buffet or à la carte breakfasts to lunches and dinners served on board, including the most select regional dishes. The food is a pleasure for the most demanding palates in the search for excellence.

Comfort is one of the priorities on board the Transcantábrico Gran Lujo. Each of its 14 Deluxe Suites consists of a lounge, a private bathroom with a hydromassage shower and steam sauna and a bedroom. These suites are cosy and comfortable, ideal for resting and wellbeing.

If you want to enjoy a bit of solitude during the train journey, the room can be quickly transformed into a delightful private lounge and the bed becomes a comfortable sofa from which to enjoy the views through the windows.


From the time the journey begins in San Sebastián to arrival at the final destination in Santiago de Compostela, or vice versa, this luxurious train provides a lounge, bedroom, restaurant and means of transport for all its occupants.

During the day, passengers can leave the train and a private coach will take them to the different places of interest in each place, such as beaches, museums and historic town centres.

Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are eaten on board the train between stations. This is the time to sample some of the finest gastronomic delights, prepared by top-class chefs. Also, after dinner the travellers can enjoy a party with live music or even go out for a stroll around the town in which the train has stopped. During the night, it remains in the station so the passengers can sleep comfortably and be rested for the programme the following day.

Oviedo, Ribadeo and Santiago de Compostela.
Imagen principal - Oviedo, Ribadeo and Santiago de Compostela.
Imagen secundaria 1 - Oviedo, Ribadeo and Santiago de Compostela.
Imagen secundaria 2 - Oviedo, Ribadeo and Santiago de Compostela.


This fantastic experience begins in the elegant town of San Sebastián, where after a delicious lunch and a walk around the main tourist attractions, such as Monte Igueldo, La Concha beach and the old town, the passengers are taken by luxury coach to Bilbao railway station. There, the train's crew will be waiting to welcome them with a drink before they settle into their respective suites.

The highlight of the second day of this exciting trip is a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the most cosmopolitan contemporary art museum in Spain. It is, without a doubt, one of the most eagerly awaited visits on this interesting journey.

Then it is back to the train for lunch, as the Transcantábrico bids farewell to the Basque Country and heads into Cantabria, passing through the Mena valley and the Santoña Natural Park to Santander, one of Spain's most elegant cities.

Santander is famous for its culture, its festivals and exhibitions, and it also has some places of interest which should not be missed, such as the cathedral, the Magdalena palace, El Sardinero beach, the Botín art centre, the prehistory museum and the fine arts museum. It is one of the most modern and cosmopolitan towns to be found in northern Spain.

For the third stop on the journey there is a change of pace: from big towns and cities the train moves on to some of the loveliest rural areas in the country. Passengers on this luxurious express will be able to visit some of Cantabria's most important natural treasures, such as La Hermida gorge, where a spa circuit at the Balneario de la Hermida, with its wonderful location, is included.

Potes and gorgeous Comillas, home to Gaudí's El Capricho, one of the architect's few works outside Catalonia, put the final touch to this beautiful stage of the journey on the Transcantábrico Gran Lujo train.

On the fourth day of the trip, the passengers can enjoy exploring the lovely medieval town of Santillana de Mar and visit the Cueva de Altamira, one of the finest examples of cave art dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period.

Halfway through the journey, the time comes to cross into Asturias. Llanes, the Covadonga lakes, La Santina sanctuary and Oviedo are some of the treasures here, to be explored on the Transcantábrico's fifth stop along the route.

On the sixth day there is the chance to discover the delights of the coastal area of Asturias, where Gijón and Luarca, both bathed by the Cantabrian sea, will be welcoming the guests from this luxurious mobile hotel.

Two days before the end of this wonderful trip, it is goodbye to Asturias and hello to Galicia.

Ribadeo is the first place to welcome the Transcantábrico, and, as well as a tour of this historic town, a visit is arranged to the famous Las Catedrales beach, one of the most spectacular in the world.

The final day of the journey is spent visiting the noble town of A Coruña and then on to Santiago de Compostela, a place of pilgrimage for over 1,000 years, which houses one of the most important architectural treasures in the whole country: its impressive cathedral. The best way to explore this beautiful Galician town is to wander around the historic centre, which was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1985.

After eight fantastic days exploring the northern coast of Spain, the journey comes to its end. An experience which has taken travellers back to the romanticism and elegance of slow travel, with no rushing involved.


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