Interactive map...

...click a destination or route for train times & fares.

Route via Barcelona & Madrid

UK to Portugal by train, in 24 hours...

Of course!  It's easy to reach Portugal by train from London, by early morning Eurostar from London to Paris, a high-speed TGV from Paris to Irun on the Spanish frontier, then the famous Sud Express overnight to Lisbon, with sleeping-cars, restaurant & bar, the civilised way to reach Portugal.  Or you can take Eurostar and TGV high-speed train to Barcelona, stay overnight, then take a high-speed AVE train to Madrid and the overnight Lusitania trainhotel to Lisbon.  This page explains the best train times, fares, and how to buy tickets.

Train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

  London to Lisbon by Eurostar, TGV & the Sud Express.

  London to Lisbon by Eurostar, TGV & trainhotel via Barcelona.

  London to Lisbon by day trains with hotel stops at Irun & Vigo.

  London to Porto

  London to Faro & the Algarve via Lisbon & the Sud Express

  London to Faro & the Algarve via bus from Seville

  London to Madeira

  Trains from Lisbon to other European cities

  Trains to Lisbon from other European cities

Other travel information...

  General information for European train travel

  Buying UK train tickets to connect with Eurostar

  How to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi   

  Left luggage facilities in Paris & Madrid

  Luggage on trains  -  Send your luggage in advance

  Taking your bike   Taking your dog   Taking your car    

  People with disabilities

  Hotels & accommodation in Portugal

  Tailor-made holidays & tours to Portugal by train

Sponsored links...

 

Useful country information

Train operator in Portugal:

CP (Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses), www.cp.pt for times, fares & online booking.

 

 

Eurostar times & fares.  To check any European train time: http://bahn.hafas.de.  To check for any problems affecting trains from Paris to Spain & Portugal (in French only), see www.infolignes.com.

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT (GMT+1 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code

+351

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.visitportugal.com.     Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Portugal:

Finding accommodation in Portugal   Hostels:  www.hostelbookers.com

Page last updated:

3 September 2014.  Train times valid 15 June to 13 December 2014.


London to Lisbon via the Sud Express

This is the direct option between London, Paris & Lisbon, using Eurostar to Paris, a morning high-speed TGV to the Spanish frontier, then the modern incarnation of one of Europe's famous trains, the Sud Express, overnight to Lisbon.  The Sud Express is now a trainhotel featuring a restaurant, cafe-bar, and cosy sleepers including some Gran Clase sleepers with private toilet & shower.

London ► Lisbon

Lisbon ► London

See the London to Paris page for information about Eurostar...

On board the TGV from Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish border...

The TGV's interior is designed by Christian Lacroix, with power sockets at all seats.  On the TGV Atlantique route from Paris to Bordeaux & the Spanish border, one 1st class car has a conventional open plan layout, the other two have a unique layout with bays of two seats facing across a table one side of the aisle, and semi-compartments of 4 seats around a table on the other, as pictured below.  Very civilised!

TGV trains at Paris Montparnasse   1st class on a TGV Atlantique

TGVs to the Spanish border, waiting to leave Paris Gare Montparnasse...

 

1st class on TGV Atlantique, showing semi-compartments.  Courtesy Rafal Tomasik.

2nd class seats on the TGV   TGV cafe-bar car

2nd class seats on the TGV.  Most are unidirectional, some are in bays of 4 like this.  See panorama photo

 

The café-bar car, serving drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  See a typical menu here...

On board the Sud Express from Irun on the Spanish frontier to Lisbon...

In March 2010 the Sud Express became an articulated Spanish trainhotel, complete with cafe-bar and cosy sleepers, including some Gran Clase sleepers with private toilet and shower.  There's now no restaurant car.  See panorama photo of 4-berth tourist class sleeper.

The train hotel 'Sud Express' for Lisbon, boarding at Irun   Gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode) on a Spanish train hotel   Gran Clase 2-bed sleeper (night mode) on a train hotel

The Sud Express, about to leave Irun on the Franco-Spanish frontier, bound for Lisbon...  Courtesy of Ron Baker See panorama photo...

 

Gran Clase sleeper, in evening mode with the seats folded out...

 

...return from the bar to find the attendant has made up the beds...

The cafe-bar on a trainhotel similar to that on the Sud Express to Lisbon  

The full-length bar on a trainhotel, similar to that on the Sud Express...

4-berth tourist class sleepers (Turista Cama) are cosy & inexpensive...

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Irun

 by TGV...

 From €25 each way 2nd class, €40 each way 1st class.

 Fare varies, book early for the cheapest fares.  Full price 2nd class is €93.

  

 3.  Irun to Lisbon

 by Sud Express, per person...

Turista

reclining

seat

Turista

Sleeper

(4-berth)

 Preferente

 Sleeper

 Gran Clase

 Sleeper with shower

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Promo fare, one-way:

€27

€37

-

-

-

-

 Promo+ fare, one-way:

€31

€42

-

-

-

-

 Flexible one-way fare:

€69

€94

€132

€182

€148

€198

 Child 4-11 with own berth, one-way:

€41

€56

€82

€112

€104

€134

 Child 4-10 sharing a bed, each way:

-

-

€40

-

€50

-

 Youth 12-25 or Senior over 60, one-way:

€51

€70

€103

€141

€130

€168

 InterRail or Eurail passholders, one way:

€7

€30

€62

€112

€91

€152

Promo = Advance-purchase fare, no refunds, no changes.  Promo+ = Advance-purchase, limited changes & refunds.

You can check fares at www.cp.pt, www.renfe.com or www.spanish-rail.co.uk (look for 'International trains' then 'Surex').

Other agencies may charge higher prices and may not give the return discount over two one-ways.

 How to buy tickets

  How to buy tickets online the easy way, if you live in the UK...

  The Sud Express arrives in Lisbon Oriente station.  London & Paris to Lisbon by train!
 

The Sud Express arrives in Lisbon Oriente:  The Sud Express has just arrived at Lisbon's new Oriente station.  Change here for InterCity trains to Faro & the Algarve, remain on board for the final stop, Lisbon's original Santa Apolonia Station for Lisbon city centre.  Photo courtesy of Ron Baker...

 

To book hotels...

www.booking.com allows you to book your accommodation before train bookings open, at no risk with free cancellation. 

Try a price comparison at hotelscombined.com.

        How to buy tickets, anyone...

Anyone from any country can buy tickets from London to Lisbon by booking each train separately at the relevant operator's website as follows, with print-at-home tickets, the cheapest prices for each train, and the full choice of classes and seating options in each train too.  Do a dry run on each site to confirm times, prices & availability before booking for real.

How to buy tickets by phone:  UK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  Remember to book early for the cheapest prices, ideally 2-3 months ahead, as just like air fares prices increase closer to departure.  Unlike some other agencies, International Rail are equipped with both the French and Spanish rail ticketing systems, so can sell the cheapest fares for all the trains from the UK through Spain to Portugal.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  Eurostar, TGV & Trainhotel tickets will usually be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.  For more information on buying European train tickets, see the How to buy European train tickets page.

How to buy tickets by email...

If you'd rather ask an experienced agency to book tickets for you, simply fill in this simple booking form and email it to sales@europeanrail.com.  They will call you back to confirm the cost, usually within 24 hours.  If you're okay with the price you can give them your credit card details and they'll send you the tickets.  European Rail (Erail) is a London-based ticketing agency who can access the cheap fares for Eurostar and TGV and trains across Spain.  They charge a £35 booking fee which includes postage to any UK address, or they can send to any address worldwide if you pay the courier fee.  Seat61 gets some commission if you buy tickets using this form.

Have your trip professionally arranged...

Custom-made travel arrangements:  A hassle-free option is to get a train travel specialist such as Railbookers to arrange your whole trip, with train tickets, hotels and transfers all sorted with one phone call.  As you're then in effect booking a package, they'll take care of you if there's a strike or major delay, for example.  Just tell them when and where you want to go, and they'll create the best rail-based tour or holiday for you.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

Call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, contact Great Rail Journeys at www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120.  They have regular escorted tours from the UK to Portugal by train.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Nick Stone reports:  "...Instead of flying to Lisbon to join friends, earlier this month for sightseeing in the city, I took the train and what a marvellous trip it was.  Bought a return £69 Eurostar ticket from London to Paris, than a Prem's €43 TGV ticket from Paris Montparnasse to Irun.  It would have been €25 if I'd travelled on a day other than a Friday.  From Irun, it was a £72 ticket for the Sud Express from Irun to Lisbon.  I paid for a shared cabin but ended having it to myself!  Included in the ticket was breakfast the next morning of orange juice, coffee and toast.  The Sud Express is highly recommended, especially the scenery the next morning through Portugal."

Lisbon Santa Apolonia station...   Click for city map

For the city centre, you want Santa Apolonia station, although if you're heading to or from Faro & the Algarve, these trains start at Lisbon Oriente station so change there.

 

Lisbon's central Santa Apolonia stationPhotos courtesy of Ian Moffat.


London to Lisbon via Barcelona & Madrid

You can also reach Lisbon travelling via Barcelona & Madrid.  This takes an extra night, but gives you a time in the Catalan & Spanish capitals - stop off for longer if you like, it's up to you.  The trainhotel between Madrid & Lisbon offers Gran Clase sleepers with private shower & toilet, as well as a café-bar.

London ► Lisbon

Lisbon ► London

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at £39 one-way or £69 return in 2nd class, £107 one-way or £189 return in 1st class.  More details here.

  • Paris-Barcelona by TGV starts at €59 each way in 2nd class, €79 in 1st class.  More details here.

  • Barcelona to Madrid by AVE train starts at around €40 each way in Turista.

  • Fares for each of these trains vary like air fares, rising as the cheaper tickets are sold.  Book early for the cheapest fares.

 Madrid to Lisbon

 by Lusitania trainhotel, per person

Tourist

reclining

seat

Turista

Sleeper

(4-berth)

 Preferente

 Sleeper

 Gran Clase

 Sleeper with shower & WC

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Promo fare, each way:

€24

€33

-

-

-

-

 Promo+ fare, each way:

€27

€37

-

-

-

-

 Flexible one-way fare:

€60

€84

€105

€151

€146

€203

 Flexible return fare:

€96

€134

€168

€242

€233

€324

 Children under 12 one-way:

€36

€50

€63

€90

€87

€122

 Youth & Senior one-way:

€45

€63

€79

€113

€109

€152

 Inter-rail pass holders one-way:

£30

£46

£60

£90

£80

£115

 Eurail passholders one-way:

£8

£30

£45

£65

£60

£100

Youth = anyone under 26.  Senior = anyone over 60.  Youth & senior returns are twice the one-way fare.

Children under 4 go free if they share a berth.

Promo = Advance-purchase fare, no refunds, no changes.  Promo+ = Advance-purchase, limited changes & refunds.

How to buy tickets online...

The easiest and cheapest way to book your trains from London to Lisbon is online.

  • Step 1, book the London to Paris Eurostar and the Paris-Barcelona TGV following the simple instructions on the London to Spain page.  UK residents can book both tickets together at www.loco2.com, although I recommend splitting the journey into London to Paris and Paris to Barcelona, and using the 'add to basket' facility.

  • Step 2, book trains from Barcelona to Madrid separately at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com, looking for cheap Promo or Promo+ fares.  Click here for advice on using Renfe.com.  If you have any problems booking or paying at Renfe.com, simply use www.petrabax.com/renfe instead, in plain English with no payment problems and also providing print-at-home tickets, but with a small mark-up added.

  • Step 3, book the Lusitania trenhotel from Madrid to Lisbon at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com, looking for cheap Promo or Promo+ fares.  Click here for advice on using Renfe.com.  Again, if you have any problems booking or paying at Renfe.com, simply use www.petrabax.com/renfe instead, in plain English with no payment problems and also providing print-at-home tickets, but with a small mark-up added.  You can also book this train at www.loco2.com (UK residents) but you won't see any promo fares, just standard fares.

How to buy tickets by phone:  UK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  Remember to book early for the cheapest prices, ideally 2-3 months ahead, as just like air fares prices increase closer to departure.  Unlike some other agencies, International Rail are equipped with both the French and Spanish rail ticketing systems, so can sell the cheapest fares for all the trains from the UK through Spain to Portugal.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  Eurostar, TGV & Trainhotel tickets will usually be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.  For more information on buying European train tickets, see the How to buy European train tickets page.

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page...

Paris to Barcelona by TGV Duplex:  See the Paris to Barcelona TGV page.

On board the trainhotel from Madrid to Lisbon...

You might find this Spanish video about the Lusitania trainhotel interesting.

Paris to Madrid & Barcelona by trainhotel:  The cafe-bar...  

The trainhotel's café-bar serves drinks & food.  Grab a barstool early, it gets crowded later on!

   

4-berth tourist class sleepers (Turista Cama) are cosy & inexpensive...

To Morocco by train...   En route to Morocco by train: gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode)   en route to Morocco by train: Gran Classes 2-bed sleeper (night mode)   Paris to Madrid & Barcelona by trainhotel: Gran Classe sleepers have a private shower and toilet

The Lusitania trainhotel from Madrid to Lisbon is an articulated Spanish Talgo train...

 

Gran Clase sleeper, in evening mode with the seats folded out...

 

...return from the bar to find the attendant has made up the beds...

 

Gran Clase sleepers have a private toilet & shower...


London to Lisbon by daytime trains

London to Porto, Lisbon & Faro by daytime trains via Vigo...

This is nowhere near as time-effective as using sleeper trains as in two options above, but you may prefer comfortable all-daytime travel through interesting scenery with overnight stops in a hotel at Irun on the Spanish border and at Vigo.  The journey takes 2 nights, 2 days to Porto, and just a little longer to Lisbon.

London ► Porto, Lisbon, Faro

Faro, Lisbon, Porto ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone:  UK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  Unlike some other agencies, International Rail are equipped with both the French and Spanish rail ticketing systems, so can sell the cheapest fares for all the trains from the UK through Spain to Portugal.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  Eurostar, TGV & Trainhotel tickets will usually be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.  For more information on buying European train tickets, see the How to buy European train tickets page.

On board the TGV from Paris to Irun on the Spanish border...

The TGV's interior is designed by Christian Lacroix, with power sockets at all seats.  On the TGV Atlantique route from Paris to Bordeaux & the Spanish border, one 1st class car has a conventional open plan layout, the other two have a unique layout with bays of two seats facing across a table one side of the aisle, and semi-compartments of 4 seats around a table on the other, as pictured below.  Very civilised!

TGV trains at Paris Montparnasse   1st class on a TGV Atlantique

TGVs to the Spanish border, waiting to leave Paris Montparnasse...

 

1st class on TGV Atlantique, showing semi-compartments.  Courtesy Rafal Tomasik.

2nd class seats on the TGV   TGV cafe-bar car

2nd class seats on the TGV.  Most are unidirectional, some are in bays of 4 like this.  See panorama photo

 

The café-bar car, serving drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  See a typical menu here...

On board the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo...

Cafe-bar on the Arco train from Irun to Santiago de Compostella & Vigo   Turista seats on the Arco train from Irun to Santiago de Compostella & Vigo

Cafe-bar on the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo.  Courtesy of Martin Hill

 

Turista seating on the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo.  Courtesy of Martin Hill

Preferente seats on the Arco train from Irun to Santiago de Compostella & Vigo   Scenery in Galicia seen from the train

Preferente seating on the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo.  Courtesy of Martin Hill

 

Scenery as the train enters Galicia on its way to Vigo.  Photo courtesy of Martin Hill.

On board the Vigo to Porto local train...

 

The local train between Vigo & Porto.  Photos courtesy of Martin Hill.

Traveller's report...

Traveller Martin Hill went from the UK to Portugal this way in 2013:  "In Irun we stayed at the Alcazar hotel, a €5 taxi ride from the station. It's very quaint and basic as it's stuck in a time-warp of about 30 years ago. The staff speak little English but are very obliging. Unfortunately there was no restaurant open when we arrived around 9pm from Paris, though there is a bar.

The scenery from Irun to Vigo is very varied. The first hour or two the line follows river valleys through the Pyrenees. Due to recent storms the rivers were severely flooded and quite spectacular. Much of the journey is then across a plain with distant views of snow-capped mountains, including the southern edge of the Picos de Europa.  As you reach Galicia the journey gets exciting, as the line climbs through mountains, and at one stage does a 360-degree spiral to change levels. It follows a very attractive river and several lakes.

The InterCity train has music channels and shows a couple of videos during the journey. They bring earphones round free of charge, but you may want to have your own. There was a buffet car which was open pretty much throughout the journey with the same staff all the way. Prices were quite reasonable after the TGV. On the InterCity train coffee was €1.50, cake €1, a half-bottle of wine €4.10 and a very nice microwaved pizza €4.30. There were three locomotive changes with scheduled stops of about 20 minutes each time which enabled us to visit the station buffets with a more varied selection. We recommend having a copy of the complete train timetable so that you know where the long stops are. The train changed direction twice.

The Portuguese train from Vigo to Porto has a toilet but no catering. However, the station buffet at Vigo Guixar is very well-stocked and opens at 7am. Note that the station in Vigo is not the one marked on maps, including Google Maps, as they are rebuilding the old station to accommodate the high-speed trains which will reach Vigo in a couple of years or so. In the meantime they have built a new station called Vigo-Guixar (marked on some maps as Vigo-Puerto) at least 1km from the old station."


London to Porto

Here is the most time-effective option from London to Porto, using Eurostar and the Sud Express sleeper train.  If you would prefer to use daytime trains with overnight stops in hotels, and don't mind it taking a bit longer, see the London to Portugal by daytime trains section above.

London ► Porto

Porto ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...


London to Faro & the Algarve

You can easily reach the Algarve by train from London, either by train all the way via Lisbon as shown below, or by train to Seville then bus (shown further below).  Train service from Lisbon to the Algarve has just been dramatically improved.  The line from Lisbon to Faro has been electrified and speeded up, and air-conditioned InterCity trains now run direct from Lisbon's new Oriente station, crossing the Tagus by bridge instead of requiring passengers to take a ferry to Barreiro station across the river from central Lisbon.  If you would prefer to use daytime trains with overnight stops in hotels, and don't mind it taking a bit longer, see the London to Portugal by daytime trains section above.

London ► Albufeira, Lagos, Faro

Lisbon-Faro InterCity train...   Comfortable seats inside the Lisbon-Faro InterCity train

Above:  Modern air-conditioned InterCity trains link Lisbon with Faro and the Algarve several times daily.  Photos courtesy of Luisfer

Faro, Albufeira, Lagos ► London

Fares...

How to buy tickets...

London to the Algarve via Seville...

It's also possible to travel via Madrid and Seville, if you don't mind a bus journey at the end.  This routing may be cheaper, and just as fast.


London to Madeira

A weekly summer ferry service started in 2008, linking southern Portugal (Portimao in the Algarve) with Funchal on Madeira.  The ferry crossing takes 24 hours.  Unfortunately, this ferry ceased operating in 2012, leaving no way to reach Madeira except cruise ships or flying.



Guidebooks

Make sure you take a good guidebook.  I think the best ones out there for the independent traveller are the Lonely Planets and the Rough Guides.  Both books provide an excellent level of practical information and cultural and historical background. You won't regret buying one of these!  My own book, an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", is due to be published in June 2008, and Amazon will let you pre-order now.

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Rough Guide to Portugal - click to buy online at AmazonLonely Planet Western Europe - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Portugal - click to buy onlineThe Man in Seat 61 book - click to buy online


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 


Find hotels in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelbookers.com...

Homestays: www.homestay.com...


Holidays to Portugal by train..

 

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-800-408-3280 (USA)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 002 034 (NZ)

 

01904 527120

 

020 7619 1080 (UK)

Please quote 'seat61'

If you want a holiday to Portugal by train not plane, but want someone else to organise all the train tickets & hotels for you, several specialist companies do just that, for a holiday without airport hassles or whole days in cramped coach seats on motorways.  Railbookers & Erail offer tailor-made individual holidays with departure on any date you like, whereas Rail Discoveries & Great Rail Journeys offer escorted tours with specific departure dates.

Railbookers tailor-made tours, holidays & breaks by train...

Railbookers can tailor-make a flight-free holiday or city break to Portugal for you, with train travel, transfers & hotels, leaving on any date you like.  If you tell them what you want, they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels and sort it all out for you.  They get a lot of repeat business!

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

Call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au.

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

Erail, www.erail.co.uk, 020 7619 1080.  Please quote 'Seat61.com' when you call...

Erail can also tailor-make a holiday to Portugal by train for you, with departure on any date you like.  Call 020 7619 1080 to enquire or book, please quote 'Seat 61' when you call.

Great Rail Journeys, www.greatrail.com, 01904 527120:  Escorted tours...

GRJ offers five-star upmarket rail-based escorted tours to various European countries, with travel from London by train and a range of departure dates.  Check holiday details online, then call 01904 527120 to book or use their online booking form.


Send your luggage in advance

Ride the trains without heavy luggage... 

Send your suitcase ahead by Luggage Mule from around £30 each way.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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