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Calp is a pretty small tourist/fisherman's town in Spain, not far from Benidorm. I have spent 21 of my 23 winters there up to this point. A few years ago, I developed a fear of flying after a few rather turbulent flights and we (me and my parents) started going there by car. We usually take one of these routes (we don't actually start in Antwerp, but it's only a 10 km difference on a 1700 km distance):

https://www.google.be/maps/dir/Antwerp/Calp,+Alacant,+Spain/@45.2038506,1.7503431,6z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x47c3f68ebfc3887d:0x3eaf448482a88ab8!2m2!1d4.4024643!2d51.2194475!1m5!1m1!1s0x129dfe2fe8a2a5b9:0x8bd32a530d554773!2m2!1d0.0456876!2d38.6436469!3e0?hl=en

It's a 2 day trip by car and only half a day by plane (including transit to and from the airport), but I'd rather take a long train ride there than a short plane trip. What are my options if I want to take the train?

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1  
rome2rio.com/s/Antwerp/Calp –  AakashM Jul 22 at 15:06
    
@AakashM Rome2Rio fails to mention many interesting land-based option. For this trip I am absolutely not impressed. –  Gilles Jul 31 at 21:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Until quite recently, one option would've involved a night train. However, with the opening of the high speed line across the French-Spanish border, and the associated through TGV trains, the night trains no longer run between France and Spain. It's basically just daytime TGVs or local trains

Your journey will be largely similar to one starting in the UK, so you can get an idea by looking at the Seat 61 page on trains to Alicante and Benidorm. You'll also need to get from Antwerp to Paris to catch the onwards TGV to Spain. Easiest and quickest would be Thalys, see the Seat 61 France to Belgium page for more.

Basically, though, it's going to be a two day journey. One option is:

  • Thalys (or otherwise) Antwerp to Paris, cross Paris, afternoon TGV to Barcelona, stay in Barcelona, morning train to Alicante
  • Late train from Antwerp to Paris, stay in Paris, early morning TGV to Barcelona and mid-afternoon train on to Alicante
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So in the end, unless I take a plane, it will always require a pit stop somewhere? –  Nate Kerkhofs Jul 23 at 7:25
    
With current timetables, yes. As the French and Spanish high speed rail networks continue to grow, you may be able to get it in one day. As it stands, if you leave Antwerp at 05:36 you can make it to Alicante by 22:47, if everything goes well, but that'll be too late to get to Calp that night –  Gagravarr Jul 23 at 9:38
    
@NateKerkhofs I might have missed something, but going by eurail, you might be able to make it in one go. I'll add the answer –  Peter Raeves Jul 31 at 19:11
    
@NateKerkhofs No! The comfortable night train between Paris and Barcelona no longer runs, but you can still get to the Spanish border with a night train and continue across Spain during the day, arriving in the evening. –  Gilles Jul 31 at 21:37

If you really want to make it in one go it should be possible.

According to Eurail the fastest itinerary you could follow from Antwerp-Central to Valencia-Terminal is the following.

enter image description here

With this itinerary it would take you 13 hours and 45 minutes to get to Valencia. You can see at the bottom that this trip can be taken on a daily basis. It doesn't matter what day you would go, you would be departing and arriving at the same time.

At this point you are about 126km away from your destination. This leaves you with a few options.

  • Hitchhike
  • Ask a friend to come pick you up
  • Take the late night bus towards Benidorm
  • Take the morning bus towards Calp

If you would take the third option you would be able to get to Benidorm by 2:05 am, which would then only be 22km away from your destination. Now again you are left with the options

  • Hitchhike
  • Ask a friend to come pick you up
  • Walk

If you would take the fourth option, you would be able to get to Calp by 10:05am. You could change Valencia Terminal Europa SA, Lugar Muelle Nuevo Dique del Este, 46001 Valencia, Spain to Valencia, Spain and this will give you a different route, but in the end you would still arrive and 10:05am and be waiting/sleeping at busstations for a couple of hours.

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Other answers show that with daytime trains you can just barely make it in one day if you drive the last leg from Valencia, or you can have a layover in Paris or Barcelona. The former Ellipsos train-hotel service between France and Spain was discontinued in December 2013 when the high-speed train line was opened.

However it is still possible to leave Antwerp in the late afternoon, cross France by a night train, and make your way to Valencia or Alicante where you can catch a regional train or bus or drive to Calp and arrive in the evening. This is rather long (more than 24 hours), but you save a hotel night. Your night train options are:

  • Paris–Port-Bou, departing Paris-Austerlitz at 21:54 and arriving at 8:22. Antwerp–Paris takes 2 hours by hourly high-speed train, allow 1 hour to cross Paris comfortably.
    From Port-Bou, you need to take a slow regional train, taking 2½ hours to reach Barcelona. From Barcelona, express trains take you to Valencia in 4 hours or to Alicante in 6 hours; faster Euromed trains take about 1 hour less.
    For the return journey, the train departs Cerbère at 19:40 in the high summer and 20:16 starting in September.
  • Paris–Latour-de-Carol, departing Paris-Austerlitz at 21:57 and arriving at 7:51. From Latour-de-Carol, a regional train takes you to Barcelona in about 3 hours, so you'll arrive in Barcelona at roughly the same time as with the Port-Bou train. For the return journey, the train departs Latour-de-Carol at 20:20.
  • Luxembourg–Port-Bou, departing Luxembourg at 19:28 and arriving at 9:17. From Antwerp to Luxembourg is a 4-hour hourly connection via Brussels, which makes the trip quite a bit slower than via Paris. Beware that this train runs only twice a week in winter.
    For the return journey, the train departs Cerbère at 20:24.

From Valencia or Alicante to Calpe, you can take a TRAM train or an ALSA bus. I can't seem to find a train schedule online. There is a direct bus from Valencia to Calpe taking 3 to 4 hours, with 9 services during summer weekdays; note that the last bus leaves Valencia at 18:00. From Alicante the bus takes 1½ to 2 hours and the last bus also leaves at 18:00.

I haven't researched bus options to cross France. They'll probably be slower but cheaper than the train.

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