Interactive map...

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

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

UK to Lisbon by train in 24 hours...

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.

COVID-19 update See COVID-19 travel information.  Eurostar is running a much-reduced service.  The Sud Express & Lusitania Trenhotel to Lisbon remain suspended, with no certainty when or if they will return.

Train times, fares & tickets...

small bullet point  London to Lisbon by Eurostar & the Sud Express

small bullet point  London to Lisbon via Barcelona & Madrid

small bullet point  London to Lisbon by day trains with hotel stops

small bullet point  London to Porto

small bullet point  London to Faro & the Algarve via Sud Express

small bullet point  London to Faro & the Algarve via bus from Seville

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

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 1.11 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:

2 December 2020.


large bullet pointLondon to Lisbon by Sud Express

This is the direct option between London, Paris & Lisbon, using Eurostar to Paris, a morning high-speed TGV Duplex 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

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Hendaye

 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.  Hendaye to Lisbon

 by Sud Express, per person...

Turista

seat

Turista

Sleeper

(4-berth)

 Preferente

 Sleeper

 Gran Clase

 Sleeper with shower

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Promo fare, one-way:

€28

€38

-

-

-

-

 Promo+ fare, one-way:

€32

€43

-

-

-

-

 Flexible one-way fare:

€71

€96

€135

€186

€150

€202

 Child 4-11 with own berth, one-way:

€42

€57

€82

€112

€111

€134

 Interrail or Eurail passholders, one way:

€7.60

€30

€45

€88

€58.50

€117

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

You can check fares at Raileurope.com.

Passholder fares cannot be booked online.  If you have a 2nd class pass you cannot travel in Preferente or Gran Clase sleepers, only Turista.

How to buy tickets

  Meal in the cafe-bar of the Sud Express
 

A hot meal in the cafe-bar of the Sud Express on the way to Lisbon.  Courtesy of Ron Baker.

  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.  Any hotel with a review score over 8.0 is unlikely to disappoint.

Or buy at www.thetrainline.com

Or book each train separately...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Let Railbookers arrange it for you...

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 (10-minutes for business premier) 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.  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 the Spanish border by TGV Duplex...

TGV Duplex Oceane arrived at Bordeaux

A TGV Duplex at Bordeaux St Jean on its way south from Paris.  Most of these double-decker high-speed trains on this route now have the all-new Océane interior as shown here and carry the latest grey, silver & red TGV colours.  Click the images below for larger photos...

TGV Duplex at Bordeaux

The TGV pauses at Bordeaux St Jean en route to Hendaye...

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 Lisbon on the Sud Express...

In 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, only a cafe-bar.  See panorama photo of 4-berth tourist class sleeperSee the Sud Express guide.

Sud Express Trenhotel to Lisbon, at Hendaye

The Sud Express trainhotel on platform B at Hendaye station.  Hendaye only has 4 platforms, 1 & 2 (standard gauge), A & B (both standard and Iberian broad gauge).  After a dash across France at up to 186mph, the TGV arrives at the Spanish border.  The TGV usually arrives at platform 1.  Incidentally, Hendaye station is where Hitler met Franco on 23 October 1940.  You'll be treading the same platforms!  Photo courtesy of Alan Uxbridge.

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 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 seats folded out.

 

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

 

Gran Clase private toilet & shower...

Sud Express trainhotel cafe-bar...   4-bed sleeper, night   4-bed sleeper, day

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

 

4-berth sleepers (Turista Cama) are inexpensive & convert from beds to seats.  See 360º photo.

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.

Traveller's reports...

  • Traveller Ron Baker reports:  "There may now only be a cafe-bar on the Hotel Train not a restaurant car, but they serve steak or fish, potatoes and veg, good starter and sweet, with wine..  Good value.  Very good cooked breakfast.  Beds, loo and shower in Gran Clase worth the money."

  • 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."

Back to top


large bullet pointLondon to Lisbon via Barcelona

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 £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Paris to Barcelona by TGV starts at €39 each way in 2nd class, €59 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:

€25

€34

-

-

-

-

 Promo+ fare, each way:

€28

€39

-

-

-

-

 Flexible one-way fare:

€62

€86

€102

€148

€122

€181

 Children under 12 one-way:

€36

€51

€65

€89

€88

€108

 Eurail & Interrail passholders one-way:

€7.60

€30

€45

€88

€?

€?

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.

Passholder fares cannot be booked online.  A 1st class pass is necessary to use a Preferente or Gran Clase sleeper.

How to buy tickets

  • The easiest and cheapest way to book trains from London to Lisbon is at raileurope.com, as all your tickets can be booked together in one place at the cheapest prices and you can print your own tickets.  That's because it connects to the British, French and Spanish ticketing systems.  Anyone from any country can book using raileurope.com, as international credit cards are accepted.  There's a small booking fee.

  • When do reservations open?

    Bookings from London to Barcelona usually open 120 days ahead.  Trains from Barcelona to Madrid usually open 90 days ahead, although this can vary as Renfe loads bookings in blocks of dates at a time.  The Lusitania trainhotel usually opens 60 days ahead.  By all means book in stages if you like, booking each leg when it opens for booking.  Tip:  You can reserve hotels risk-free before booking your trains if you use www.booking.com with free cancellation.

  • Step 1, go to raileurope.com and book from London to  Barcelona by Eurostar & TGV, following these simple instructions on the London to Spain page.  Add this to your basket.

  • Step 2, now book from Barcelona to Madrid Atocha in the morning or afternoon of day 2, and add this to your basket.

  • Step 3, now book the overnight trainhotel from Madrid Chamartin to Lisbon Santa Apolonia leaving in the evening of day 2, selecting the type of sleeper you want.  Add this to your basket and check out, paying for all your tickets together as one transaction.

  • Alternatively, you can of course book London-Paris at www.eurostar.com, Paris-Hendaye at the French Railways site en.oui.sncf, and Madrid to Lisbon at the Spanish Railways site www.renfe.com (but see this step-by-step guide to using renfe.com).  It's more work, more fiddly, prices should be the same.  There's no booking fee, but using Raileurope.com is a lot easier!

How to buy tickets by phone

  • It's better to book online.  But 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.

What's the journey like?

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

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

3. Madrid to Lisbon by Trenhotel Lusitania:  See more information & photos.  You might find this Spanish video about the Lusitania trainhotel interesting.

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   Trainhotel at Madrid

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

 

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

 

Gran Clase sleepers have a toilet & shower...

 

The trainhotel from Madrid to Lisbon is an articulated Spanish Talgo train.  Seen here at Madrid Chamartin station.

Sud Express trainhotel cafe-bar...   4-bed sleeper, night   4-bed sleeper, day

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

   

4-berth tourist sleepers (turista cama) are cosy & inexpensive.  They convert from beds to seats.

Back to top


large bullet pointLondon 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 ► Portugal

  • Day 1, travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London St Pancras at 10:24 (11:01 on Saturdays), arriving Paris Gare du Nord at 13:47 (14:17 on Saturdays).  Cross Paris by metro to the Gare Montparnasse.

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Hendaye on the Spanish frontier by high-speed TGV with cafe-bar, leaving Paris Gare Montparnasse at 15:52 arriving Hendaye on the Spanish border at 20:28.  Times can vary so check for your date of travel at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.comSee the TGV photos above.

  • Day 1, at Hendaye walk out of the station and turn right, walk across the forecourt to the Euskotren station (www.euskotren.eus), the Euskotren platforms are branded Metro Donostialdea.  Buy a ticket and hop on the half-hourly local train to either Irun or San Sebastian.  Hendaye to Irun is just two stops - In Irun the Euskotren station is 10 minutes walk from the Renfe station.  Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara station takes 37 minutes - Amara (Euskotren) station is 10 minutes walk from the Renfe station.

  • Stay overnight in a hotel in either Irun or San Sebastian.  In Irun, the Pension Lizaso (cheap, gets good reviews and only 6 minutes walk from Irun Renfe station) or the Alcazar (also getting good reviews, 14 minutes walk from Irun Renfe station).  In San Sebastian, the Pension San Ignacio Centro is just 10 minutes walk from San Sebastian Renfe station and gets great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from Irun or San Sebastian to Vigo in North-West Spain by air-conditioned InterCity train Camino de Santiago, leaving Irun Renfe station at 09:10 or San Sebastian Renfe station at 09:33 and arriving Vigo at 21:04 - you'll need to switch cars en route, as this train is composed of Irun-A Coruna cars and Bilbao-Vigo cars.  See the InterCity photos below.  This is an epic journey right across Spain, through some great scenery, there's a traveller's report below.  The train has comfortable and spacious turista class seats, but no preferente class.  It has a cafe-bar, but feel free to bring your own picnic or wine for the journey.

    Update for 2021:  Major changes are happening on the Irun - San Sebastian - Santiago/Vigo/A Coruna corridor.  Information is not yet available to reliably update this journey for 2021, especially with covid-19 affecting current services.  Please watch this space...

  • Stay overnight in Vigo. The NH Collection Vigo hotel & cheaper Hotel Atlantico Vigo are both near the station with great reviews.

  • Day 3, travel from Vigo to Porto by air-conditioned regional train, leaving Vigo at 08:58 arriving Porto Campanhã at 10:20.  If you'd like to spend some time in Vigo, there's a later train leaving Vigo at 19:56 arriving Porto 21:18.

  • Day 3, if you're travelling to Lisbon you can take any suitable onward train from Porto to Lisbon, for example the 11:40 Alfa Pendular arriving Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 14:30.

  • If you're travelling to Faro, I suggest spending the day exploring Porto, then taking the fast Alfa Pendular train leaving Porto Campanhã at 14:40 direct to Faro, arriving 20:23.

Portugal ► London

  • Day 1, coming from Faro:  Travel from Faro to Porto on a direct Alfa Pendular train, leaving Faro at 07:00 arriving Porto Campanhã at 12:50.  Spend some time exploring Porto.

  • Day 1, coming from Lisbon:  Travel from Lisbon to Porto on any suitable train, for example the 14:00 Alfa Pendular from Lisbon Santa Apolonia arriving Porto Campanhã at 16:50.

  • Day 1, travel from Porto to Vigo by air-conditioned regional train leaving Porto Campanhã at 19:10 and arriving Vigo at 22:34.  If you'd prefer an earlier train to spend some time in Vigo, there's an 08:13 from Porto arriving Vigo at 11:35.

  • Stay overnight in Vigo. The NH Collection Vigo hotel & cheaper Hotel Atlantico Vigo are both near the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from North-West Spain to Hendaye by air-conditioned InterCity train Camino de Santiago, leaving Vigo at 09:16 and arriving at Hendaye on the French side of the French border at 21:22.  You'll need to switch cars en route, walking through the train from the Vigo-Bilbao portion into the A Coruna-Hendaye cars.  The train has comfortable and spacious turista class seats and a cafe-bar, but no preferente class.

    Update for 2021:  Major changes are happening on the Irun - San Sebastian - Santiago/Vigo/A Coruna corridor.  Information is not yet available to reliably update this journey for 2021, especially with covid-19 affecting current services.  Please watch this space...

  • Spend the night in Hendaye.  Try the Campanille Hendaye.

  • Day 3, travel from Hendaye to Paris by high-speed TGV, leaving Hendaye at 09:28 and arriving Paris Gare Montparnasse at 14:08, see the TGV photos above.  Times may vary, so check train times for your date at raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.comCross Paris by métro to the Gare du Nord.

  • Day 3, travel from Paris to London by Eurostar, leaving Paris Gare du Nord at 16:13 arriving in London St Pancras at 17:39.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Paris to Hendaye by TGV starts at €25 each way in 2nd class, €40 each way in 1st class.  The price varies, so book early for the cheaper prices.

  • Irun or San Sebastian to Vigo costs €63 full-price in turista class.  This is the one-way fare, double it and deduct 10% for a return.

  • Vigo to Porto costs €14.80.

How to buy tickets

  • Go to raileurope.com.  Anyone can use Raileurope.com as international credit cards are accepted and you'll get print-at-home or collect-at-station tickets.  As Raileurope.com links to the British, French (SNCF) and Spanish (Renfe) ticketing systems you can easily buy all your tickets at the cheapest prices in one place.  A small booking fee applies.

  • Step 1, book from London or any station in Britain to Hendaye (and back, if you're returning) and add this to your basket.

  • Step 2, now book from Irun or San Sebastian to Vigo one-way for the following day and add this to your basket.  If returning, book Coruna to Hendaye one-way and add that to your basket.

  • Step 3, now buy the ticket from Vigo to Porto (and back, if returning) and add that to your basket.  Then check out and pay for all journeys as one transaction.

  • Step 4, book your hotels here.

  • Alternatively, it's also possible to book London-Paris at www.eurostar.com, Paris-Hendaye at the French Railways website en.oui.sncf, Irun-Vigo & Vigo-Porto at the Spanish Railways website www.renfe.com, without paying any booking fee, but it's more work and more fiddly, using raileurope.com is a lot simpler.  See this step-by-step guide to using renfe.com.

How to buy tickets by phone

  • It's better to book online.  But 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.

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 (10-minutes for business premier) 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 and free WiFi.  I recommend an upstairs seat for the best views.

TGV Duplex Oceane arrived at Bordeaux   TGV Duplex Oceane at Bordeaux

Boarding the TGV at Paris Montparnasse...  There are now automatic ticket gates at the entrance to the platforms at Paris Montparnasse, just scan the barcode on your ticket.

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 Irun or 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 called Metro Donostialdea.  There's plenty of space for luggage and they even have a wheelchair-accessible toilet.

4. Irun or San Sebastian to Vigo by Intercity train...

The photos below show the original Intercity train pre-March 2020.  Renfe changed this train in March 2020, due to asbestos in the original cars used on this train.  It is still classified Intercity but now uses articulated Talgo cars running Irun & San Sebastian to A Coruna with a connection to Vigo.  The Talgo will be an improvement, with Turista and Preferente class with cafeteria.  This journey is likely to change in 2021, to more modern trains but with a change of train along the way.

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 Santiago & Vigo.  Courtesy of Martin Hill

 

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

Scenery in Galicia seen from the train

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

5. Vigo to Porto by express regional train...

Vigo to Porto train   Inside the Vigo to Porto train

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

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Martin Hill went from the UK to Portugal this way:  "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."

Back to top


large bullet pointLondon 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

  • Follow the directions for London to Lisbon shown above, using Eurostar, TGV and the Sud Express

  • Get off the Sud Express at Entroncamento at 06:05, then take a daily InterCity train leaving Entroncamento at 07:30 arriving Porto Campanhã station at 09:36.  Check times from Entroncamento to Porto & buy tickets at the Portuguese Railways website www.cp.pt.

  • Or go via Lisbon as it won't make much or any difference to the price.  You can take any train between Lisbon and Porto after the arrival of the Sud, check times & buy tickets at the Portuguese Railways website www.cp.pt.

Porto ► London

  • Travel from Porto to Entroncamento by Intercity train, leaving Porto Campanhã at 17:45 and arriving Entroncamento at 20:00.  Check times from Entroncamento to Porto & buy tickets at the Portuguese Railways website www.cp.pt.  Have dinner in Entroncamento.

  • The Sud Express leaves Entroncamento at 22:30 overnight to Hendaye on the French frontier, with connections for Paris, see the Lisbon to London section above.

  • Alternatively, go via Lisbon as this makes little difference to the price and gives you more sleep.  Take any train between Porto and Lisbon arriving at least 1 hour before the departure of the Sud, check times and buy tickets at www.cp.pt.  How about dinner in Lisbon?

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Alfa Pendular at Porto Capanha   1st class on an Alfa Pendular

Alfa Pendular at Porto Campanhã...

 

Alfa Pendular 1st class.  Photos courtesy of @rexybexy

Back to top


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 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.

Option 1, London to Faro via Lisbon...

London ► Albufeira, Lagos, Faro

  • Step 1, travel from London to Lisbon as shown in the London to Lisbon section above, alighting at Lisbon Oriente station at 07:20.

  • Step 2, travel from Lisbon to the Algarve by modern air-conditioned InterCity train, leaving Lisbon Oriente station at 08:23 and arriving in Tunes at 10:54, Albufeira 11:01, and Faro at 11:23.  There are a range of trains daily between Lisbon and the Algarve, see www.cp.pt for the complete timetable and fare and to buy tickets online.

  • For Lagos, change at Tunes.  A connecting train leaves Tunes at 11:06 arriving Portimao at 11:50 & Lagos at 12:08.

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...

  • Lisbon to Faro costs €21 each way in 2nd class, €27 each way in 1st class, full price.  Discounted advance-purchase fares are often available at www.cp.pt.

  • For fares London to Lisbon, see the Lisbon section above.

How to buy tickets...

  • See the Lisbon section to buy tickets from London to Lisbon.

  • Buy Lisbon-Faro tickets online including the necessary reservation at www.cp.pt.  Remember that Lisbon is spelt 'Lisboa' and you should select 'Lisboa - Oriente' for trains to Faro.  You print your own ticket.

Option 2, London to the Algarve via Seville...

It's also possible to travel via Madrid and Seville, if you don't mind a 3-hour bus journey at the end.  This routing may be cheaper, and just as fast.

  • Step 1, travel from London to Seville as shown in the London to Seville section on the Spain page.  You take a Eurostar to Paris and high-speed TGV to Barcelona on day 1, stay overnight, then take a morning AVE train to Seville's impressive Santa Justa station arriving at lunchtime on day 2.  Buy tickets as shown on that page.  The Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return, the TGV starts at €39 each way, fares work like air fares so book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • Step 2, travel from Seville to Faro by bus, journey time 2h30 to 3h15, with a departure roughly every 2-3 hours.  Several bus companies run on this route including Also, Damas, EuroLines and Iberobus, you can check times for all these companies and buy tickets at Omio.com (formerly GoEuro.com).  You print your own ticket.

    Buses typically leave at 08:30, 09:30, 11:30 & 16:00, and from Faro back to Seville at 08:20, 10:30 & 16:00, 18:30, but it varies by day.  The fare is around €17-€21 each way.  Look for buses that start from Seville Santa Justa station, where the trains arrive, so it's an easy same-station train-bus interchange.

    In fact, Spanish Railways www.renfe.com will sell through tickets from Barcelona to Faro if you select Faro-bus as your destination, although it's easier to buy tickets for the trains at Raileurope.com and a separate ticket for the bus at Omio.com.

  • So for example, you could leave London mid-morning by Eurostar to Paris and high-speed TGV train to Barcelona, stay overnight in Barcelona, catch the morning high-speed AVE train to Seville then an afternoon bus to Faro, and be in Faro around 17:30.

  • Similarly in the return direction, you could catch a morning bus from Faro and the afternoon AVE train to Barcelona, stay overnight, then take a TGV to Paris and Eurostar to London next day, arriving in the evening.

Back to top


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.

 Back to top


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

Back to top


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 with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or 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.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

Back to top


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.

Back to top


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.

Back to top


large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  However, 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, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback is always welcome.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

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

UK flag

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

 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 explained ExpressVPN 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.


Back to top

Back to home page