The Feve narrow gauge train service runs along the rugged northern coast from Bilbao through Santander, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. It stops at all the coastal towns as it plunges through ravines and tunnels.
It is very easy to hop on and off, no need to book, you can get several bikes on it easily and it is cheap. Even cheaper if you are over 60. A brilliant way to explore this dramatic coastline on public transport. You can also do the tourist thing and go on the Transcantabrico line which offers seven day trips, luxury accommodation, full board and excursions.
I have recently returned from a long weekend learning to surf on amazing beaches just outside Bilbao with the surf-school Wellentime. It’s run by Holger, a friendly German chap, and the instructors are all colourful locals with a passion for surfing and an infectious enthusiasm. Although one of them, Danny, is apparently one of Spain’s top surfers, he seemed genuinely overjoyed when I first managed to stand up (just about) on the board (and not immediately fall off). I found it so helpful to have that encouragement to motivate my aching limbs back into the waves for another go.
The setting was fantastic – the beach’s name roughly translates as the ‘wild beach’ and like a lot of the coastline there it is low-key and unspoiled.
The surf lessons were up until lunchtime, so in the afternoon you can hop on the metro to the centre of Bilbao. It’s a really interesting place to explore – a working city that’s less touristy than other parts of Spain with a really nice relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy fabulous pintxos (the local, unique and utterly delicious form of tapas) in the early evening. The Guggenheim is amazing – you’ve really got to see it to appreciate the unique architecture. And the artworks inside are brilliant.
The Wellentime guys shuttle you from your accommodation to the beach and make the whole experience so enjoyable and hassle-free. They make sure it all goes smoothly but leave you do your own thing in your free time.
c/o Camping Gorliz
Uresarantse s/n 48630 Gorliz (Bilbao) Spain
+34 610 779 340
Coastal suburb of Bilbao, great place to stay if you have a car, easy parking yet only 20 minutes on metro to centre. A lot cheaper than city centre places. Has lovely beaches and excellent base to wander further afield eg Gernika and beaches at Plentzia/Gorliz/Vizcayan coast.
Two town centres clustered around Las Arenas and Algorta metros, Pension El Abra is good place to stay near Arenas. Try out Ereaga beach and walk to cute whitewashed Puerto Viejo for eats at lunchtime. Get a Creditrans for the metro, almost halves cost of tickets and is also valid for city centre funiculars and 'hanging' transporter bridge across the river to Portugalete - worth seeing in its own right!
Getxo, Vizcaya, nr Bilbao. Metro: Las Arenas/Algorta
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