Oviedo to Santander by train. FEVE.
The FEVE railway (Ferrocarriles de Vía Estrecha) is the longest narrow-gauge rail network in Europe. Three narrow gauge railway lines that span the northern Spanish coast on the Bay of Biscay, from Galicia (Ferrol) in the west, through Asturias (Oviedo), to the Basque country in the east (Bilbao).
But whereas I was pleasantly surprised with the previous journey to Oviedo (Vigo-Leon-Oviedo by train), I was slightly disappointed by the FEVE.
And it was simply due to my prior expectations.
The scenery of northern Spain that these trains slowly wind through is spectacular. And the local Galician/Asturian/Basque people are so friendly.
No, it was the actual trains themselves that were disappointing.
When I hear “narrow gauge railway”, I immediately think of historic trains running through wild countryside that makes narrow gauge rails a necessity. But the FEVE trains are almost “normal”. And that “narrow gauge” is still a very healthy 1-metre wide.
Don’t get me wrong though. This is a magnificent railway. Passing through some wonderful country (which on this leg of the journey, between Oviedo and Santander, means the sun-dappled water of the Bay of Biscay on one side, and the jagged peaks of the Asturian Los Picos de Europa National Park on the other).
Santander (my destination today) is actually served by ferry from England (Portsmouth). So it is a lot easier to get to this region than you might think.
Web resources for the Oviedo to Santander FEVE route:
Official Train Operator: www.renfe.com (English version)
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[photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org]