Portugal has a great train service. It’s old, and it’s a little slow in comparison to the trains in many other European countries, but it works. Sometimes the air con even works as well!
(Note: If working air con is a priority, I’d recommend booking a coach instead. Most have good air con and free Wi-Fi, and take about the same amount of time as the train).
Train routes run throughout Portugal and connect all of the major regions by rail. Not every town has a train station, but the majority of the large towns do.
It’s cheap (and here’s how to get it cheaper)
What’s amazing about Portugal’s train service is the cost. As an example, here are some prices I’ve grabbed today.
- Porto to Lisbon: €14.80 for a single
- Faro to Lisbon: €11 for a single
- Albufeira to Lisbon: €10.50 for a single
- Faro to Coimbra: €23 for a single
- Vila Real de San Antonio to Valenca (a 715km journey): €38,10 for a single.
All of those prices are for second class tickets booked more than eight days in advance to take advantage of the discounts. These are:
- Up to 56% off if you buy your tickets at least 5 days in advance
- Up to 65% off if you buy your tickets at least 8 days in advance
You’ll notice I also booked a second class or standard ticket. That’s because first class is fairly disappointing, at least in comparison to other countries like Spain and the UK where you are served a meal and drinks. First class on a Portuguese train really just means more legroom and more comfortable seating. If that’s worth it for you, then go for it! As you can see the difference in price between first and second class is often less than 5 Euros.
As well as advanced tickets, there are also discounts for:
- Under 25s: 25% off for those under 25.
- Under 30s: 12-30 year olds get 25% off with a European Youth Card.
- Group travel: Travel as a group of 3 or 4 people on the Alfa Pendular or Intercidade trains and get up to 50% off.
- Those with special needs: Up to 75% off for you, and 25% off for your carer.
- Senior Citizens: Over 65s get 50% off.
- Under 3s: Half-price tickets for under 3s that don’t occupy a seat.
(You can select any of these discounts when you’re booking online. If you have booked in advance, this is usually the best discount you can get. You can select a Senior Citizen or Under 25 discount, but this will actually be less than the advanced promo price. Unfortunately, you can’t combine discounts e.g. 5 days in advance and under 25.)
Do the trains have Wi-Fi?
There are signs up saying that they do, but I’ve never been able to get it to work. If you need Wi-Fi on the train, get a Portuguese sim card with data or a portable mobile hotspot. If you have a simcard from another EU country, the new EU ruling means you can use that abroad and pay what you would normally pay back home.
Buying Train Tickets
The Comboios De Portugal (Portugal Trains) website is reasonably easy to use, and is one of the easiest ways to buy train tickets. There’s also an app for both iOS and Android, or you could buy your tickets at the counter in a train station.
You can get your ticket sent to your by SMS, which is much easier than having to print it off. You can also get it delivered via the app.
Tip: Try to avoid clicking ‘Train times’ (in English) or ‘Consultar Horários’ (in Portuguese). This section of the website feels like the section of the website where you buy tickets, but you can only look up the timetables. If you’re wondering why there’s no ‘buy now’ button, this is probably why.
Getting Train Timetables
If you want to see the train timetables, the easiest thing is to enter your dates and do a search. If you click the (+) button, you can see a list of all the stops on the journey.
International Tickets: Portugal to Spain, France & the rest of the world
It’s not possible to book international train tickets with CP.pt. There’s a route from Lisbon to Madrid, for example, but you need to book this through the Spain train website, Renfe.es.
Travelling further than that is even more complicated. I wanted to see if it was possible to book a train ticket from Lisbon to Barcelona or Lisbon to Paris, but neither RailEurope, GoEuro, or thetrainline.eu could do that for me. If you want to do an international trip like this, you will need to book all of the train tickets for each individual leg.
Have you used the trains in Portugal? What was your experience? Let us know about it in the comments below.
Spot a mistake? If you notice a mistake, or would like to suggest improvements to the article, please get in touch. This article was last updated in September 2018.
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