We are starting to plan phase 3 of our European Atlantic Coast tour. This year our start point is the French/Spanish border at Saint Jean de Luc/San Sebastian. We would appreciate help with the following:
1. Train travel within Spain, and any specifics relating to traveling trains with loaded bikes
2. Frequency of trains to small regional coastal destinations, as we will be traveling along the Atlantic to about Lisbon, Portugal this year.
3. Train travel between Spain & Portugal...is it the same system?
4. How will we find the terrain of paved roads along the northern Spanish coast? Will the roads be good condition and numerous, or will we find ourselves inland on more major roads?
Any additional information for this segment will be appreciated. The 1st year of our journey we flew into Amsterdam, and home out of Paris. Last year we flew in and out of Bordeaux, France and took trains to our start and from our ending point. We aren't sure what will work best this year.
Louise & Clive
i can't help you with all the questions, but lets see what can i do. first of all, you must know that you will be travelling (at least) with 3 different companies (only in Spain).
1- Euskotren (http://www.euskotren.es/es/presentacioneuskotren (no web in english)). You can take them for all the Basque part to Bilbao. you can take the tickets in the station, because they are short distance trains and you will not have space problems. the trains have installed bike carrier devices inside, so you can carry them.
there are 3 lines you can use along the coast, i will put you the interactive maps to see all the stations to be easier to plan your travel:
---From Hendaya (France border) to San Sebastian: http://maps.google.es/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=es&t=h&msa=0&msid=201319501371444821422.0004a2481810172cb8851&ll=43.316186,-1.887589&spn=0.114905,0.648193&z=11&source=embed
---From San Sebastian to Bilbao: http://maps.google.es/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=es&t=h&msa=0&msid=201319501371444821422.0004a25ffe8f94719fbc8&ll=43.255205,-2.396393&spn=0.230041,1.296387&z=10&source=embed
---From Bermeo (in the coast if you are riding there) to Bilbao: http://maps.google.es/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=es&t=h&msa=0&msid=201319501371444821422.0004a0e20df8cbafb9be8&ll=43.314187,-2.717743&spn=0.249803,0.616608&z=10&source=embed
2- From Bilbao to Ferrol (Galicia, in the north-west part of the peninsula) you will use FEVE (http://www.feve.es/es/ (no web in english)). it is allowed to transport your bikes in all the trains, one each passenger and form 3 to 12 bikes depending the train, they cant be dirty and you are responsible of everything (taking in and out of the train, taking care of it to don't disturb other passengers, damages caused by the bike.....)
schematic map of the lines to know station names: http://www.feve.es/recursos/doc/horarios-y-precios/mapa-de-lineas/mapas-esquematicos/lineas-feve.pdf
and this map is to know where are those lines going through (the green lines): http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Red_actual_de_ferrocarriles_de_Espa%C3%B1a.svg
3- From Ferrol to Portugal. you will use Renfe (http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html (in english)).
rules for travelling with bikes: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/info/bicicletas.html
renfe is the main company (red lines in the previous map and lots of short distance trains). The web is in english, so less problems there ;-)
to cross to Portugal there's no problem, there are trains form cities in one country to cities in the other everyday.
here a map of Portuguese trains: http://rfp.pacopaco.es/ (you can make it bigger with the right button of the mouse)
and the english page of Portuguese trains: http://www.cp.pt/cp/displayPage.do?vgnextoid=87cbd5abe2a74010VgnVCM1000007b01a8c0RCRD&lang=en
about the paved roads...you can find everything, better roads and some not really good, but generally you will not have any problem to ride safely. the traffic depends also in the kind of road, if there is near from a big city, the hour of the day...
if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to write me, or to call me with any problem you have when you are here(number in my profile).
have a good way!!!
Fantastic research and great information. From your map location I can see that you speak from personal knowledge of the area. I will save this information for future bicycle ventures.
Thanks for providing.
For those not familiar with this route is:
You can bring loaded bikes onto the train with no problems. Like the other person said, you can put your bike near a rack inside the train.
I cycled from Barcelona to Valencia entirely near the coast. It's 100% doable. Cyclists are respected and you will see fellow cyclists riding by. Roads are in general good. Just stay on the small routes and you won't have a problem. Going by the shore is beautiful too. If you will end up somewhere in the middle of Spain, be aware that it can be kind of chilly and arduous (extremely hilly). It depends on what season you are going though -- I went in October.
I hope this helps.