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Route map, london to portugal by train Route via Barcelona & Madrid

London to Lisbon by train

You can reach Portugal by train from London, either via Barcelona & Madrid or via San Sebastian & Vigo.  For the Algarve, take Eurostar & a TGV high speed train from London to Barcelona on day 1, stay overnight in Barcelona, then take an AVE high-speed train from Barcelona to Seville and an air-conditioned bus to Faro on day 2.  This page explains the best train times, fares and how to buy tickets.

Train times, fares, tickets

small bullet point  London to Lisbon & Porto

small bullet point  London to Faro & the Algarve

small bullet point  London to Madeira

small bullet point  Starting from other UK towns & cities

small bullet point  Trains from Lisbon to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains from other European cities to Lisbon

small bullet point  Lisbon to Porto by train

small bullet point  Lisbon to Faro & the Algarve by train

small bullet point  Portugal's Douro Valley line, Porto to Pocinho

Other travel information

small bullet point  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  General information for European train travel

small bullet point  How to change stations in Paris by metro or taxi   

small bullet point  Left luggage facilities in Paris & Madrid

small bullet point  Luggage on trains

small bullet point  Taking your bike   Taking your dog    

small bullet point  People with disabilities

small bullet point  Hotels & accommodation in Portugal

small bullet point  Holidays & tours to Portugal by train

small bullet point  Travel insurance, mobile data, VPN & other tips

Interactive map:  Click a route

Route via Barcelona & Madrid Route map, London to Portugal by train

Useful country information

Train operator in Portugal:

CP (Comboios de Portugal), for times, fares & online booking.


Eurostar times & fares.  To check any European train time:



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:



£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:     Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Portugal:

Finding accommodation in Portugal   Hostels:

Page last updated:

15 January 2024.  Train times valid 10 December 2023 to 14 December 2024.

London to Lisbon & Porto

This used to be easy.  Eurostar to Paris, high-speed TGV to Hendaye and Sud Express sleeper train to Lisbon.  The Sud Express was suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 and Renfe (Spanish Railways) used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of it, as it isn't interested in sleepers.  So another famous train name has disappeared from the timetables after 134 years.  There's been talk of the Portuguese restarting the Sud Express without Renfe's involvement, and of a direct Madrid-Lisbon day train.  A fast 4-hour Madrid-Lisbon train may be possible in a few years' time, using a new high-speed line in Spain and rebuilt line in Portugal.  But in the meantime, there are just two cross-border routes between Spain & Portugal, a twice daily Regional Express from Vigo to Porto and a daily railcar from Badajoz to Entroncamento which forms part of a slow but interesting 3-train combo from Madrid to Lisbon.  Journeys from the UK to Portugal currently have to use one of these trains.

Which route to choose?

There isn't a clear winner between the route via Madrid and the route via Vigo, it depends on your choice of stopover, Barcelona & Madrid versus San Sebastian & Vigo.  However, the route via Vigo usually has cheaper fares than the route via Barcelona & Madrid.  By all means go out one way, back the other, just make sure you book the Eurostar as a round trip as Eurostar returns are significantly cheaper than two one ways.  All other trains are one-way ticketed so it makes no difference.

small bullet point  London to Lisbon via Barcelona & Madrid

small bullet point  London to Porto & Lisbon via San Sebastian & Vigo

Option 1, London to Lisbon via Barcelona & Madrid

London to Lisbon in 2 days & 2 nights with hotel stops in Paris & Madrid.  You take fast & comfortable high-speed trains from London through Paris & Barcelona to Madrid, with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Then it's a slow but scenic 3-train combo between the Iberian capitals.  Stop off in Paris, Barcelona or Madrid for longer if you like, it makes no difference to the price.

London ► Lisbon

Lisbon ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

Or ask Byway to arrange it as a package

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More about Eurostar & check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.


1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.


One of two cafe-bars, cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Barcelona by TGV  See video guideMore photos & information about this journey.

The Paris-Barcelona trains are impressive 320 km/h (199mph) TGV Duplex double-deck high-speed trains.  You board the train through a wide sliding external door into a small hall at one end of the lower deck, where an internal door opens into a lower deck seating area.  A wide, short & easy flight of carpeted stairs leads from the entrance door to a landing at one end of the upper deck.  You walk along the train from car to car at the upper level, and the café-bar is also at the upper level.  There are toilets & luggage racks both upstairs & downstairs, and power sockets at all seats.  If you have problems with stairs or very heavy luggage, the lower deck might be best.  But for the best views (over the top of the occasional sound barrier along the high speed lines!), definitely choose an upper deck seat.  For couples in first class, an upper deck 'club duo' table-for-two is easily the best option.  Free WiFi is coming to these trains at some point.  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide Barcelona Sants station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon. These 320 km/h double-deckers link Paris with Barcelona.  Watch TGV Duplex video.

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.


2nd class seats on upper deck with a mix of tables for 4 & unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class upper deck seats, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right.  360º photo.


A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

Lunch from the cafe-bar on the train to Barcelona   The hilltop cathedral at Beziers

Lunch with wine, on the move.


Béziers' 13th century cathedral, seen from the train.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees.  One of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline on the right all the way from Perpignan to Girona, see

3. Barcelona to Madrid

This high-speed journey takes as little as 2h30 at up to 320 km/h (199 mph).  More about Barcelona-Madrid trains & journey Barcelona Sants station guideMadrid Atocha station guide.

An AVE-S103 high-speed train

An S103 AVE train from Madrid to Barcelona, about to leave Madrid Atocha.  See virtual tour of an AVE S103.

Turista class on a Spanish S103 AVE train   Preferente class on a Spanish S103 AVE train

Standard class (2nd class) on an AVE-S103.


Comfort class (1st class) seating.

Scenery between Barcelona & Madrid

Scenery an AVE train from Barcelona to Madrid.  Courtesy of

4. Madrid to Lisbon

This is a slow but scenic & interesting 3-train combo across rural Spain and Portugal.  For full details see the Madrid to Lisbon page.

Madrid to Lisbon by train: Changing trains at Badajoz

Changing trains at Badajoz station.  The express from Madrid to Badajoz is on the left, the single-car Allan Railcar from Badajoz to Entroncamento is on the right.  Photo courtesy of Giles Baker.

Madrid to Lisbon by train: Castle between Badajoz & Entroncamento

Castle seen from the Badajoz to Entroncamento train.  Photo courtesy of

The railcar stops at Elvas station in Portugal...   The railcar stops at Elvas station in Portugal...

The Badajoz to Entroncamento railcar pauses at wayside stations with lovely tiling.  Courtesy of

Lisbon Santa Apolonia station:  See map

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

Lisbon Santa Apolonia station exterior   Lisbon Santa Apolonia station interior

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

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Option 2, London to Porto & Lisbon via San Sebastian & Vigo

This route also takes 2 nights with hotel stops in San Sebastian and Vigo.  It's a bit slower but usually cheaper than option 1, although as fares are dynamic like air fares this isn't always the case.  San Sebastian is well worth a longer stopover, and Porto is worthy of a stop, too.  There's great scenery crossing Spain.

London ► Porto, Lisbon

Lisbon, Porto ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

Or ask Byway to arrange it as a package

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More about Eurostar & check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.


1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.


One of two cafe-bars, cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish border by TGV

Most TGVs between Paris and Hendaye on the Spanish border are now double-deck TGV Duplex, most with the stylish new Océane interior with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views.  Paris Montparnasse station guide.

TGV from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Hendaye, for the train to San Sebastian

Boarding the TGV Duplex at Paris Montparnasse.

TGV Duplex Oceane at Paris Montparnasse

There are automatic ticket gates at the entrance to the platforms at Paris Montparnasse, just scan the barcode on your ticket.  Click the images below for larger photos.

TGV Océane cafe-bar   TGV Océane 2nd class seats

TGV Océane cafe-bar, upper deck car 4 (or 14)


TGV Océane 2nd class seats.

TGV Océane 1st class seats   TGV Océane 1st class seat   TGV Océane 1st class drop-down table

TGV Océane 1st class seats.  An innovation on TGV Océane, all 1st class seats (except the very end ones) rotate to face the direction of travel, or can be rotated to make a face-to-face group of 2 or 4 seats.  The drop-down tables open to reveal USB and 2-pin power sockets.

3. Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara by Euskotren

Hendaye SNCF station   Hendaye station showing location of Euskotren to San Sebastian

At Hendaye, get off the TGV, walk off the platform and through the SNCF station ticket hall.


Walk out of Hendaye SNCF station & turn right, the Euskotren station is 50m across the forecourt.  Larger photo.

Hendaia Euskoten station, for trains to San Sebastian   Inside Euskotren station at Hendaye

This is the new Hendaye Euskotren station, opened in 2020.  Photo courtesy of Nicholas Brooke, taken soon after it opened.


Hendaye Euskotren station, looking back towards the station building.  Photo courtesy of Nicholas Brooke.

Euskotren train to San Sebastian at Hendaye   Inside Euskotren to San Sebastian

There are now two platforms.  It's where the trains start, so no worries, you can't get on the wrong train, they all go to San Sebastian-Donostia Amara!  These air-conditioned metro trains leave every 30 minutes, a turn-up-and-go metro service.  There's plenty of space for luggage and they even have a wheelchair-accessible toilet.

4. San Sebastian to Vitoria by Intercity and Vitoria to Galicia by Alvia

Alvia & Intercity trains at Vittoria

The connection at Vitoria-Gasteiz:  On the right, the 12:21 Intercity train from San Sebastian has arrived at Vitoria/Gasteiz.  On the left, the Alvia train from Barcelona to Galicia picks up passengers.  These Alvia-S130 trains are nick-named Patito (little duck) by staff, no prizes for guessing why.  They have adjustable axles so can run on standard-gauge high-speed lines at up to 250 km/h or on Iberian broad gauge classic lines at lower speed. Photo courtesy of Ekain Munduate.

Turista seats on the intercity train   Turista Plus seats on an Alvia train

Standard class on the Intercity train, 2+2 across car width.

Comfort class seats on an Alvia train, 1+2 across the car width.

Scenery in Galicia seen from the train

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

5. Vigo to Porto by regional express train

The train is comfortable and air-conditioned.  It's 2nd class only, there are toilets but no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.  There are no seat reservations on these trains, you sit where you like.  This route is known as the Celta link, it runs twice a day, morning & evening, you can find a timetable at

Vigo to Porto train   Inside the Vigo to Porto train

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

6. Porto to Lisbon by Alfa Pendular or Intercity train

The best and fastest trains are the tilting 200 km/h Alfa Pendular, shown below, there are various departures through the day.  Other departures are branded Intercity, with older air-conditioned cars and old-school comfort.  You can book Portuguese domestic trains at the CP website, the only website that will book them.

Alfa Pendular train from Lisbon to Porto

Alfa Pendular train from Lisbon to Porto.  Photo courtesy of Matt from

1st class on an Alfa Pendular

1st class on an Alfa Pendular train.  Photo courtesy of @rexybexy

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London to Faro & the Algarve

You can easily reach the Algarve by train from London, either by train all the way via Lisbon, or by train to Seville then bus.  Train service from Lisbon to the Algarve was dramatically improved some years ago.  The line from Lisbon to Faro was electrified and speeded up, and air-conditioned InterCity trains now run direct from Lisbon's new Oriente station, crossing the Tagus on an impressive suspension bridge instead of requiring passengers to take a ferry to Barreiro station across the river from central Lisbon.  With the sleeper trains from the French border & Madrid to Lisbon now discontinued, I'd currently recommend the route via Seville shown as option 1.

Option 1, London to the Algarve via Seville

Take comfortable high-speed trains from London to Seville, then a 3-hour bus ride from Seville to Faro.  This is currently the fastest, cheapest & easiest option.

Also bus from Seville to Faro

An Alsa bus from Seville to Faro & Lagos, at its departure point right outside Seville Santa Justa station.  Courtesy of Julie Murray.

Option 2, London to the Algarve via Lisbon

The sleeper trains to Lisbon have been discontinued, and until links between Spain & Portugal are improved, this is now the slower option.

London ► Albufeira, Lagos, Faro

Faro, Albufeira, Lagos ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

Or ask Byway to arrange it

Portuguese Intercity train

Lisbon-Faro Intercity train.  Photos courtesy of Matt from

2nd class on a Portuguese Intercity train   1st class on a Portuguese Intercity train

2nd class seats.


1st class seats.

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London to Madeira

Until the pandemic, a weekly summer-only ferry service used to link southern Portugal (Portimao in the Algarve) with Funchal on Madeira.  The ferry crossing took 24 hours.  However, at present there seems to be no ferry service at all linking mainland Europe to Madeira.

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Make sure you take a good guidebook, even in the age of the internet.  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!Amazon logo  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

Rough Guide to Portugal - click to buy online at Amazon   Lonely Planet Western Europe - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Portugal - click to buy online

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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 set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at (UK addresses) or (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at (shipping worldwide) or at (UK addresses).

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Hotels in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Backpacker hostels:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Holidays to Portugal by train

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 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 logoRailbookers,

Railbookers can tailor-make a 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 flag  UK call 0207 864 4600,

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call 0800 000 554 or see website.

Great Rail Journeys logoGreat Rail Journeys,

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.

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Travel insurance & other tips


Staysure travel insurance


Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA. logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list.  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card! is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.


Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.


Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.


Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from or Buy from

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

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