Photo: Tren Costa Verde Express

This Little-Known Luxury Train Is the Spanish Equivalent of the Orient Express

Spain Train Travel Luxe Travel
by Morgane Croissant Nov 2, 2023

Traveling on board the Orient Express, the most luxurious train in the world, carries an absurd price tag: It starts at $4630 per person for the shortest trip (two days and one night) and the cheapest accommodation on board. If you can’t justify such an outrageous amount of money on such a short journey, know that they are other luxury train options in Europe that will cost you a lot less. One of them is the Costa Verde Express, a luxury train that operates in the north of Spain between Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s three-plus times longer than the most basic trip on the Orient Express and the amenities and offerings are much better value for your money.

What is the most luxurious train in Spain?

There are several luxury trains operating in Spain, all of them equally as fancy, including:

  • Al Andalus: A luxury train that runs in Andalusia, a large autonomous community in the South of Spain.
  • La Robla Express: A luxury train that travels around Castile and León, an autonomous community north of Mardid.
  • El Transcantábrico: Launched in 1983, it was the first ever tourist train in Spain. It operates in the north of the country, between San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela.
  • El Costa Verde Express: A luxury train that runs between Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela, along the Costa Verde (Green Coast) in the north of Spain.

Where does the Costa Verde Express train go?

The Costa Verde Express is a Spanish luxury train that travels between the city Bilbao in the Basque Country, and Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Depending on the direction of travel (from Bilbao to Santiago de Compostela, or from Santiago de Compostela to Bilbao), the train makes different stops, all of which are indicated in blue on the map above.

Where is the Costa Verde in Spain?

The Costa Verde is a 215-mile-long section of coast that stretched over Spain’s autonomous community of Asturias (capital: Oviedo). The Costa Verde (meaning Green Coast) is named as such because it consists of rugged grass-covered cliffs and meadows along the Cantabrian Sea.

How long is the trip on the Costa Verde Express?

The trip between Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela on board this luxury train takes six days and five nights. While the distance between the two cities isn’t very big, the train stops in many cities and towns along the way for several hours, giving passengers the chance to explore this part of Spain thoroughly.

Travelers who don’t wish to spend such a long time on board the train (or can’t afford to), can opt to travel between Bilbao and Oviedo only. The train trip between Bilbao and Oviedo lasts three days and two nights.

What are the sleeping accommodations on the Costa Verde Express?

The choice of sleeping accommodations on this luxury train is limited to Grand Class rooms, i.e. extremely comfortable wood-panelled rooms each furnished with a double bed, a desk, a wardrobe, a mini bar, and a private bathroom. All Grand Class rooms have large windows from where passengers can enjoy the passing scenery.

Note that there are only 23 Grand Class rooms, making for a maximum capacity of 46 passengers on board the train.

The train stops at night to guarantee passengers get the best of the scenery when they are awake.

Do passengers have private bathrooms and showers on the Costa Verde Express?

Inside the Costa Verde Express luxury train

Photo: Tren Costa Verde Express /Shutterstock

This luxury train consists of 23 Grand Class rooms, all of which have a private bathroom, including a sink, shower (with hydromassage and steam functions), and toilet.

How much does it cost to travel on the Costa Verde Express?

If you’re traveling on your own, the trip between Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela by luxury train will set you back $8,500 (8000 €). If you’re traveling in pair, it’ll cost $4,780 (4500 €) per person, or $9560 (9000 €) for two.

The trip between Bilbao and Oviedo on board the same train is much cheaper: $4,360 (4100 €) if you’re traveling on your own, or $4890 (4600 €) if you’re traveling and sharing the room with another person.

Note that the price includes sleeping accommodations, all meals on and outside the train, excursions and scheduled visits, museums and monuments entrance fees, tickets for shows, a train ticket to get to the departure station of the train, and more.

When does the Costa Verde train operate? How can I book a trip?

The luxury train only operates on select dates from May until October. In 2024, the Costa Verde train will operate on:

  • May 1, 18, 25
  • June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
  • July 6, 13, 20, 26
  • September 4, 7, 15, 21, 28
  • October 5, 12, 18

You can book a trip on this luxury train by visiting the official website.

What makes the Costa Verde Express a luxury train?

Photo: Tren Costa Verde Express
Photo: Tren Costa Verde Express

There is no doubt that this train is one of the most luxurious in Europe, comparable to the Orient Express. All the rooms in the train, from the private rooms to the dining car, are all elegantly decorated in a style reminiscent of the 1920s, with wood panels, rich textiles, and more. But it’s not just the exquisite decor that makes this particular train journey opulent. The excellent 24-hour service, the gourmet meals, the exceptional entertainment and excursions, all combine to make the this Spanish train extremely fancy.

What is the difference between the Costa Verde Express and the Transcantábrico?

While both trains travel in the north of Spain between the Basque Country (Bilbao for the Costa Verde train, and San Sebastian for the Transcantábrico) and Santiago de Compostela, their offerings are different. First, their itineraries are similar, but not exactly the same. Second, the trains themselves are different — the Transcantábrico consists of restored 1920s cars and 14 Deluxe Suites, while the Costa Verde is comprised of 23 Grand Class rooms. Finally, the trip on board the Transcantábrico is longer: eight days and seven nights to the Costa Verde train’s six days and five nights. The quality of service and the food, as well as the luxury of the amenities are the same, however.

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