Interactive map...

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

Route via Barcelona & Madrid

UK to Lisbon by train in 24 hours...

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

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Lisbon by Eurostar, TGV & Sud Express

  London to Lisbon via Barcelona & Madrid

  London to Lisbon by day trains with hotel stops

  London to Porto

  London to Faro & the Algarve via Sud Express

  London to Faro & the Algarve via bus from Seville

  London to Madeira

  Trains from Lisbon to other European cities

  Trains to Lisbon from other European cities

Other travel information...

  General information for European train travel

  Buying UK train tickets to connect with Eurostar

  How to change stations in Paris by metro or taxi   

  Left luggage facilities in Paris & Madrid

  Luggage on trains  -  Send your luggage in advance

  Taking your bike   Taking your dog   Taking your car    

  People with disabilities

  Hotels & accommodation in Portugal

  Holidays & tours to Portugal by train

Interactive route map...

...click a route.

Route via Barcelona & Madrid

Sponsored links...

 


Useful country information

Train operator in Portugal:

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

 

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

Railpasses:

 

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

Time zone:

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

Dialling code

+351

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.visitportugal.com.     Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Portugal:

Finding accommodation in Portugal   Hostels:  www.hostelworld.com

Page last updated:

14 September 2017.  Train times valid 11 June to 9 December 2017.


London to Lisbon by Sud Express

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

London ► Lisbon

Lisbon ► London

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

Paris to the Spanish border by TGV Duplex...

TGV Duplex Oceane arrived at Bordeaux   TGV Duplex Oceane at Bordeaux

A TGV Duplex at Bordeaux St Jean on its way south from Paris.  Many of these double-decker high-speed trains now have the all-new Océane interior as shown here and carry the latest grey, silver & red TGV colours - although some trains still have the older TGV Duplex interior and remain in blue and grey. Other trains on the Paris-Hendaye/Irun route are single-deck TGV Atlantique units.

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.

Spanish border 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 sleeper.

To Portugal by train...   En route to Lisbon by train: gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode)   en route to Lisbon 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.

 

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

 

....return from the bar & the attendant has made up the beds...

 

Gran Clase private toilet & shower...

Sud Express trainhotel cafe-bar...    

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

 

4-berth sleepers (Turista Cama) are cosy & inexpensive, they convert from beds to seats.

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £44 one-way, £58 return 2nd class.

 From £112 one-way, £168 return 1st class.  Child & youth fares 

 

 2. Paris to Irun

 by TGV...

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

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

  

 3.  Irun to Lisbon

 by Sud Express, per person...

Turista

reclining

seat

Turista

Sleeper

(4-berth)

 Preferente

 Sleeper

 Gran Clase

 Sleeper with shower

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Promo fare, one-way:

€27

€37

-

-

-

-

 Promo+ fare, one-way:

€31

€42

-

-

-

-

 Flexible one-way fare:

€69

€94

€132

€182

€148

€198

 Child 4-11 with own berth, one-way:

€41

€56

€82

€112

€104

€134

 Child 4-10 sharing a bed, each way:

-

-

€40

-

€50

-

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

€51

€70

€103

€141

€130

€168

 InterRail or Eurail passholders, one way:

€7

€30

€62

€112

€91

€152

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

You can check fares at www.cp.pt, www.renfe.com or www.loco2.com.

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

How to buy tickets

Option 1:  Buy at www.loco2.com...

  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. 

Try a price comparison at hotelscombined.com.

Option 2:  Book each train separately...

How to buy tickets by phoneUK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

Traveller's reports...

Lisbon Santa Apolonia station...   Click for city map

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

 

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

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London 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 £44 one-way or £58 return in 2nd class, £112 one-way or £168 return in 1st class.  More details here.

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

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

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

 Madrid to Lisbon

 by Lusitania trainhotel, per person

Tourist

reclining

seat

Turista

Sleeper

(4-berth)

 Preferente

 Sleeper

 Gran Clase

 Sleeper with shower & WC

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Promo fare, each way:

€24

€33

-

-

-

-

 Promo+ fare, each way:

€27

€37

-

-

-

-

 Flexible one-way fare:

€60

€84

€105

€151

€146

€203

 Flexible return fare:

€96

€134

€168

€242

€233

€324

 Children under 12 one-way:

€36

€50

€63

€90

€87

€122

 Youth & Senior one-way:

€45

€63

€79

€113

€109

€152

 Inter-rail pass holders one-way:

£30

£46

£60

£90

£80

£115

 Eurail passholders one-way:

£8

£30

£45

£65

£60

£100

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

Children under 4 go free if they share a berth.

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

How to buy tickets online...

  • The easiest and cheapest way to book trains from London to Lisbon is online at www.loco2.com, as all your tickets can be booked together in one place at the cheapest prices with print-at-home or collect-at-station tickets.  That's because Loco2 connects to both the French (SNCF) ticketing system and the Spanish (Renfe) system.  Anyone from any country can book using www.loco2.com, as international credit cards are accepted.

  • 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 a site like www.booking.com with free cancellation

  • Step 1, go to www.loco2.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-Irun at www.trainline.eu, and Madrid to Lisbon at www.renfe.com, but see this step-by-step guide to using renfe.com.  Using Loco2 is a lot easier!

How to buy tickets by phoneUK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

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

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

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

Madrid to Lisbon by trainhotel Lusitania...

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

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

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.

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London to Lisbon by daytime trains

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

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

London ► Porto, Lisbon, Faro

  • 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 15:50 (15:52 on Fridays & Sundays) arriving Hendaye on the Spanish border at 20:37.  Times can vary so check for your date of travel at www.loco2.com or www.trainline.euSee 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.es), the Euskotren platforms are branded Metro Donostialdea.  Buy a ticket and hop on the half-hourly local train one stop to Irun (Irun Euskotren station).

  • Stay overnight in a hotel in Irun.  Try 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).

  • Day 2, travel from Irun to Vigo in North-West Spain by air-conditioned InterCity train Camino de Santiago, leaving Irun at 09:10 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. 

  • Stay overnight in a hotel in Vigo.

  • Day 3, travel from Vigo to Porto by air-conditioned regional train, leaving Vigo at 08:58 arriving Porto Campanhã at 10:18.  If you'd like to spend some time in Vigo, there's a later train leaving Vigo at 19:56 arriving Porto 21:18.  This is the faster Vigo-Porto service introduced in 2013.

  • Day 3, if you're travelling to Lisbon you can take any suitable onward train from Porto to Lisbon, for example the 10:52 InterCity arriving Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 14:00.

  • If you're travelling to Faro, I suggest spending the day exploring Porto, then taking the fast Alfa Pendular train leaving Porto Campanhã at 15:47 direct to Faro, arriving 21:23.

Faro, Lisbon, Porto ► 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 12:44.  Spend some time exploring Porto.

  • Day 1, coming from Lisbon:  Travel from Lisbon to Porto on any suitable train, for example the 14:00 from Lisbon Santa Apolonia arriving Porto Campanhã at 16:44.

  • 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 08:15 from Porto arriving Vigo at 11:35.  This is the faster Porto-Vigo service introduced in 2013.

  • Stay overnight in a hotel in Vigo.

  • Day 2, travel from North-West Spain to Irun 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 21:21.  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.

  • Spend the night in a hotel in Hendaye.  Try the Campanille Hendaye, or stay in Irun, try the Pension Lizaso (cheap, gets good reviews and only 6 minutes walk from Irun station) or the Alcazar (also getting good reviews, 14 minutes walk from the station).

  • Day 3, travel from Hendaye to Paris by high-speed TGV, leaving Hendaye at 09:13 daily except Saturdays and arriving Paris Gare Montparnasse at 14:10, see the TGV photos above.  Times vary (and earlier or later departures are available, including on Saturdays), so check train times for your date of travel using www.loco2.com or www.trainline.euCross 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 £44 one-way or £58 return 2nd class or £112 one-way, £168 return 1st class (non-refundable, non-changeable).  Like air fares, the price rises as cheaper seats are sold, so book early for the best price.

  • If you book in advance, Paris to Irun or Hendaye to Paris by TGV costs from as little as €25 (£23) each way in 2nd class, €40 (£36) each way in 1st class.  The price varies, so book early for the cheaper prices.

  • Irun 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.  Turista class only.

How to buy tickets online...

  • Go to www.loco2.com.  Anyone can use Loco2 as international credit cards are accepted and you'll get print-at-home or collect-at-station tickets.  As Loco2 links to both the British National Rail ticketing system, the French (SNCF) system and the Spanish (Renfe) system you can easily buy all your tickets at the cheapest prices in one place.

  • Step 1, book from London or any station in Britain to Irun one-way and add this to your basket.  If you're returning, also book Hendaye to London one-way and add that to your basket.

  • Step 2, now book from Irun 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-Irun at www.trainline.eu, Irun-Vigo & Vigo-Porto at www.renfe.com, but see this step-by-step guide to using renfe.com.

How to buy tickets by phoneUK 0844 248 248 3, overseas +44 844 2482483...

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

By TGV from Paris to Irun on the Spanish border...

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

TGVs to the Spanish border at Paris Montparnasse   1st class on a TGV Atlantique showing semi-compartments

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

 

1st class with semi-compartments.

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV bar car

2nd class on the TGV.  Most seats are unidirectional, with some tables for 4.  See panorama photo.

 

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

By InterCity train from Irun to Vigo...

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

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

 

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

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

Preferente seating on the InterCity train from Irun to Vigo.  Update:  This train is now turista class only.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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London to Porto

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

London ► Porto

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

  • The fastest option is to get off the Sud Express at Coimbra B when it calls there on its way to Lisbon at 04:53 (ouch!).  Then take a fast InterCity train leaving Coimbra B at 05:21, arriving Porto Campanhã station at 06:50.  Seat reservation is compulsory on this train.

  • But if you'd like more sleep, stay aboard the Sud Express until it arrives at Entroncamento at 06:06, then take a daily InterCity train leaving Entroncamento at 08:31 arriving Porto Campanhã station at 10:39. 

  • 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

  • Daily except Saturdays, there's a 20:47 from Porto Campanhã station arriving Coimbra B at 21:46.  Seat reservation required.

  • Alternatively, if you'd like to get on board the Sud Express a bit earlier, take the 19:52 air-conditioned InterCity train from Porto Campanhã station to Entroncamento, arriving 21:58.  Seat reservation required.

  • The Sud Express leaves Entroncamento at 22:24 or Coimbra B at 23:30 overnight to Hendaye on the French frontier, with connections for Paris, see the Lisbon to London section above.

  • Or go via Lisbon, taking any train between Porto and Lisbon in time for the departure of the Sud, see www.cp.pt.

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Alfa Pendular 1st class   2nd class on an Alfa Pendular   An Alfa Pendular at Lisbon Santa Apolonia

1st class

 

2nd class

 

An Alfa Pendular to Porto at Lisbon.

Photos courtesy of www.vagonweb.cz

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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 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

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

  • 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 fares.

  • 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

  • Leave Faro by modern air-conditioned InterCity train at 15:05, calling at Albufeira at 15:28, Tunes at 15:35 and arriving Lisbon (Oriente) at 18:05.  There's time for dinner in Lisbon.

  • Coming from Lagos, leave Lagos at 14:18 or Portimao at 14:37 arriving Tunes at 15:16.  Change trains, departing Tunes at 15:35 by InterCity train arriving Lisbon Oriente at 18:05.

  • Travel from Lisbon Oriente to London as shown in the London to Lisbon section above.

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 £44 one-way or £58 return, the TGV starts at €59 each way, fares work like air fares so book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • Step 2, travel from Seville to Faro by bus, a 3 hour 15 minute trip.  Several bus companies run on this route.

    Also (www.alsa.es) run buses from Seville Santa Justa station to Faro several times a day with online booking at www.alsa.es.  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 €15 each way.  Because they use the station, these Alsa buses are the easiest to use if their schedule suits you.

    In fact, Spanish Railways www.renfe.com will sell through tickets from Barcelona to Faro is you select Faro-bus as your destination, although it's easier to buy tickets for the trains at www.loco2.com and a separate ticket for the bus at www.alsa.es.

    A competing bus service with several departures daily is run jointly by Damas & Eva-Bus (www.damas-sa.es & www.eva-bus.com) although these use Seville Plaza des Armas bus station.  You can book one-way or return journeys from Seville to Faro online at www.movelia.es, or one-way or return journeys starting in Faro at www.rede-expressos.pt.

  • 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.

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London to Madeira

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

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Guidebooks

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

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Rough Guide to Portugal - click to buy online at 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 have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at 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.

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Hotels in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve

    

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

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

►► My recommended booking site:  www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings 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 great feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

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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Holidays to Portugal by train

 

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1-855-882-2910 (Canada)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

 

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

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.co.uk

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

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

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

  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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Send your luggage in advance

Ride the trains without heavy luggage... 

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

  • Enjoy the train ride without heavy luggage - send it to your destination with Luggage Mule, www.luggagemule.co.uk.

  • Luggage Mule collects your suitcase from your home or office in the UK around 5 working days before you leave.  Your suitcase will be waiting at your hotel when you get to your destination.  They send bags to destinations all over Europe.

  • After your stay, leave your suitcase at your hotel reception when you check out, suitably labelled-up.  Luggage Mule will collect & deliver it to your home within 5 working days or so.

  • Online reviews of Luggage Mule rate them very highly indeed, though I have yet to have feedback myself.  If you use them, please let me known how they performed.

  • Example prices:  20 Kg bag from any UK address one-way to any address in:  Avignon or Nice £28.99;  Barcelona or Alicante £29.99;  Florence, Rome or Vienna £31.99;  Munich or Berlin £34.99;  Prague or Venice £49.99;  Athens or Corfu £54.99.  Check current prices to any destination at www.luggagemule.co.uk.

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Travel insurance & health card

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  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, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

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

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

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

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

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

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

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

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


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