Interactive map...

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

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 to Lisbon from other European cities

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, Curve Card & VPN

Interactive map:  Click a route...

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


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operator in Portugal:

CP (Comboios de Portugal), 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.hostelworld.com

Page last updated:

21 November 2022.  Train times valid 11 Dec 2022 to 9 Dec 2023.


large bullet pointLondon to Lisbon & Porto

Portugal by train, where we're at...

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 at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier. Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in 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 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canigou.

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 DiscoverByRail.com.

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 DiscoverByRail.com.

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 DiscoverByRail.com.

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 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 at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to change trains & stations in Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 train.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier seats.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in 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 exit & turn right.  There's the Euskotren station 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 www.cp.pt.

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 www.cp.pt, 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 www.youtube.com/c/nonstopeurotrip.

1st class on an Alfa Pendular

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

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large bullet pointLondon 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.

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

Fares...

How to buy tickets...

Or ask Byway to arrange it...

Portuguese Intercity train

Lisbon-Faro Intercity train.  Photos courtesy of Matt from www.youtube.com/c/nonstopeurotrip.

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

2nd class seats...

 

1st class seats...

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large bullet pointLondon to Madeira

A weekly summer-only ferry service links southern Portugal (Portimao in the Algarve) with Funchal on Madeira.  The ferry crossing takes 24 hours.  See https://madeira-ferry.pt.

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large bullet pointGuidebooks

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 Amazon.co.uk

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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large bullet pointEuropean 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 www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (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 www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or for £9.67 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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large bullet pointHotels in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

www.hostelworld.com:  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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large bullet pointHolidays to Portugal by train

 

Railbookers logo

0207 864 4600 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1-855-882-2910 (Canada)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

 

Great Rail Journeys logo

01904 527120

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 custom-made tours, holidays & breaks by train...

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, www.railbookers.co.uk

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 toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com 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 use an annual policy 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 flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

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

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  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 balance 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 app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending 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, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.


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