From the French border to Lisbon overnight in comfort...

Every night, an articulated Spanish sleeper train called the Sud Express links the French border & San Sebastian with Lisbon.  It runs combined with the Madrid-Lisbon Trenhotel Lusitania between Medina del Campo and Lisbon.  Today's train perpetuates the famous Sud Express name, first carried by a Wagons-Lits Company train in the late 19th century.

  Train times

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

  What is the trenhotel like?

  Travel tips:  Luggage, food & drink...

  For travel from London to Lisbon using this train, see the UK to Portugal page.

  For travel from Paris to Lisbon using this train, see the Trains from Paris page.

Train times 2019...

 Hendaye, San Sebastian ► Lisbon

 

 Lisbon ► San Sebastian, Hendaye

 Days of running:

daily

 Days of running:

daily

Train name:

Sud Express

Train name:

Sud Express

 Hendaye (French border) depart:

18:35

 Lisbon Santa Apolonia depart::

21:25

 San Sebastian depart:

19:10

 Lisbon Oriente depart

21:34

 Coimbra-B arrive:

04:45

 Entroncamento depart:

22:30

 Entroncamento arrive:

06:05

 Coimbra-B depart:

23:32

 Lisbon Oriente arrive:

07:20

 San Sebastian arrive:

10:53

 Lisbon Santa Apolonia arrive:

07:30

 Hendaye (French border) arrive:

11:33

The Porto connection:  The fastest option is to get off the trenhotel at Coimbra B or Entroncamento (where the line from Madrid to Lisbon joins the Lisbon-Porto line) and catch a northbound express to Porto Campanhγ.  But this means getting up at silly o'clock.  Personally, given the trenhotel is the same price whether booked to Coimbra or Lisbon, I'd stay in bed all the way to Lisbon then take a northbound train from Lisbon Oriente to Porto Campanhγ.

Update:  The Sud Express traditionally started its southbound journey at Irun, but from 25 April 2018 it was extended to start from Hendaye to restore connection with the TGV from Paris, see this news item.

How much does it cost?

 Hendaye or San Sebastian 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:

€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

€?

€?

Promo & Promo+ = limited-availability advance-purchase fares, limited or no refunds or changes to travel plans.

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

How to buy tickets...

What is the Sud Express like?

The Sud Express is an articulated Spanish Talgo train built in the 1980s and fitted out with tourist class reclining seats, tourist class 4-berth sleepers, preferente class 1 & 2 berth sleepers with washbasin, gran clase 1 & 2 berth sleepers with en suite toilet & shower, and a cafe-bar.  Each carriage is much shorter and lower than a conventional railway carriage and there's just one axle - in other words, just one pair of wheels - shared between adjacent cars where carriage meets carriage.  A unique Spanish design!  The train is air-conditioned, fully-carpeted and all non-smoking.

Sud Express to Lisbon, about the leave Irun

The cosy sleepers of the Sud Express about to leave Irun on the Franco-Spanish border on a winter's night...

Turista 4-berth sleepers...

Berths in these turista sleepers are sold individually, so one ticket = one bed and you share with other sleeper passengers of the same gender unless you book all four berths in a compartment (when gender is then irrelevant).  If there are 3 of you, you can buy 4 tickets to get sole occupancy if you like.  Known as turista cama in Spanish, each compartments has 4 comfortable beds made up with mattress, sheets, blankets & pillow.  The beds fold away to reveal seats for evening & morning use.  There's a washbasin, soap & towels are provided, and each passengers gets a small bottle of mineral water.  The door locks securely with a normal lock and security catch, although tourist compartments are only lockable from the inside.  With cheap advance-purchase fares, tourist class sleepers are the economical but civilised option, great for families or small groups.  Luggage goes on the floor or in a recess above the door which projects above the corridor ceiling.

4-berth sleeper in seats mode   4-berth sleeper in night mode

A cosy 4-berth turista sleeper with the beds folded away and seats folded out.

 

4-berth turista sleeper with beds folded out.  This photo was taken through the window the morning after.

1 or 2 berth preferente sleepers with washbasin...

Preferente (1st class) sleepers are sold as whole compartments, so unlike most European sleepers you can't buy one bed and share with another passenger.  So even if you book one ticket in a 2-berth sleeper at www.loco2.com you'll end up with a single-berth sleeper all to yourself.  Preferente compartments have upper & lower berths, convertible to seats for evening & morning use.  The door locks securely with a hotel-style card-key lock so you can lock your room when you go to the cafe-bar.  There's a washbasin, soap & towels are provided and there's a small bottle of mineral water for each passenger.  Luggage goes on the floor or in a recess above the door which projects over the corridor ceiling.   Photos courtesy of Michael Walker.

Preferente sleeper, day mode   Preferente sleeper, set up as a single-berth

Compartment in day mode with seats folded out, looking towards the door to the corridor...

 

Compartment in night mode with bed folded out, set up as single-berth.  See larger photo.

Washbasin   Toiletries   Card key door lock

Washbasin by the window...

 

Complimentary toiletries...

 

Card-key door lock.

Corridor   Compartment set up with seats

The sleeper corridor...

 

Seats folded out for evening & morning use...

1 or 2 berth gran clase sleepers with shower & toilet...

Gran Clase (premium 1st class) sleepers are only sold as whole compartments, so unlike most European sleepers you can't buy one bed and share with another passenger.  So even if you book one ticket in a 2-berth sleeper with shower & toilet at www.loco2.com you'll end up with a whole gran clase compartment all to yourself.  The compartments have upper & lower berths which fold away to reveal comfy seats for evening & morning use.  There's a compact toilet compartment, with WC, shower & washbasin.  Toiletries & towels are provided and there's a small bottle of mineral water for each passenger.  Luggage goes on the floor or in a recess above the door which projects into the space over the corridor ceiling.  The door locks securely with a hotel-style card-key lock so you can lock your room when you go to the cafe-bar.

Gran clase sleeper with seats folded out   Gran clase sleeper with bed folded out, as single-berth   Gran clase toilet & shower

Gran clase in day mode...

 

Set up as a single-berth...

 

En suite toilet & shower...

Gran clase sleeper, set up as double berth   Gran clase sleeper, single-berth

Set up as 2-berth...

 

Set up as single-berth...

Cafe-bar...

There's a cafe-bar but no restaurant car.  However, as you can see below the cafe-bar has a long counter with bar stools and serves beer, wine, tea, coffee, snacks & decent hot dishes.  A starter, main course & drink costs around €15, and the vinho verde comes highly recommended.

Trainhotel cafe-bar...   Hot dish served in the trainhotel cafe-bar

Travel tips...

The Sud Express to Lisbon boards at San Sebastian

Plenty of passengers joining the Sud Express at San Sebastian on a summer evening...

The Sud Express leaves San Sebastian

Off she goes...  A few minutes later, the Sud Express rolls out of San Sebastian bound for Lisbon.

Lisbon Santa Apolonia station...   Click for city map

For the city centre, you want Lisbon Santa Apolonia station, the train's terminus.  If you're heading to Faro & the Algarve, these trains start at Lisbon Oriente station so change there.  Trains from Lisbon to Porto usually leave from Santa Apolonia and also call at Oriente.

 

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

The combined Sud Express and Lusitania at Lisbon

The combined Sud Express from Lisbon to San Sebastian and Lusitania from Lisbon to Madrid boarding at Lisbon Santa Apolonia station.  Photo courtesy of AcotPhill...


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