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Portugal Trains: How to get around Portugal by Train

45 comments from other Portugalist readers

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’s functional. Sometimes the air con even works as well!

There are four different types of train in Portugal:

  • Alpha-Pendular: The fastest trains in Portugal. These are usually the newest and the most comfortable, and have additional luxuries like audio channels that you can listen to and televisions. This type of train is the most expensive, but the difference between Alpha-Pendular and Intercidades is usually only 1-2 Euros. 
  • Intercidades: This train is slightly slower than the Alpha-Pendular trains as it makes more stops, but it isn’t really significantly slower. Theses trains are older, the bar is a bit more basic, and they’re a little less comfortable. 
  • Regional (R) and Interregional (IR): These trains cover much shorter distances and are much more basic again. Tickets cannot be purchased in advance or online. 
  • Urban (U): These trains are common in larger cities like Lisbon and Porto and, again, are quite simple. Tickets cannot be purchased in advance or online. 

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 and cities do. If you can’t find a train to the town that you want to visit, it may be worth looking at taking a bus or renting a car instead. 

portugal train map

It’s cheap (and here’s how to get it cheaper)

What’s amazing about Portugal’s train service is the cost. Here are some sample prices (accurate at the time of writing, and still a good estimate): 

  • 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
Discounted rates highlighted in the red box

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.

Tickets can be booked through cp.pt, which is the official website for Comboios de Portugal (the Portuguese train company). You can pay with a credit or debit card or with PayPal. Some people have problems paying with a foreign credit or debit card: if that happens to you, try paying through PayPal (you don’t need a PayPal account to do this). 

1st class vs 2nd class

First class on Portuguese trains is a bit disappointing, at least in comparison to other countries like Spain and the UK where you are served a meal and drinks. It depends on the type of train, but first class on Portuguese trains could just mean more legroom and comfier seats. 

There are three types of train used in Portugal (Alpha-Pendular, Intercidades, Regional (R) and Interregional (IR), and Urban (U)) and only Alpha-Pendular and Intercidades offer a first and second class option. 

First class on Alpha-Pendular usually means you get a drink, a newspaper or magazine, and headphones. First class on Intercidades usually just means that you get larger and comfier seats and, on some seats, a plug socket (plug sockets are also available on some seats in second class). 

You can also book single seats on both Alpha-Pendular and Intercidades trains. This alone could be worth it if you’re travelling alone, and want a bit more space to yourself. The difference between first and second class is often less than 5 Euros, so it’s not a lot to spend to treat yourself to a little extra comfort. 

Do the trains have Wi-Fi?

Increasingly more and more trains in Portugal have wi-fi, especially the Alpha-Pendular routes, and sometimes it even works as well (although sometimes it can be slow when it does). 

Unfortunately, although some trains do have working wi-fi, it’s not a given which means you can’t rely on it if you want to work. 3G and mobile internet connections are also pretty unreliable on the train, particularly when you’re going through more rural parts of the country, and the trains are also quite jiggly which can make you feel sick if you’re staring at a laptop screen. It’s fine for watching a movie, but not great for trying to work. 

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 your ticket delivered via the app.

Note: Regional train tickets (marked ‘R’ on the trains website) and Urban train tickets (marked ‘U’ on the trains website) aren’t normally sold in advance. You can buy them on the day from the train station or on-board if there isn’t a ticket office at the station.

If your long distance train journey includes a change onto a regional train, sometimes you can buy the whole journey in one ticket (this is the case when going from Lisbon to many places in the Algarve, for example). This isn’t always the case, though, and you may need to buy that ‘R’ ticket of your journey on the day. 

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.

Credit card problems? Try paying with PayPal instead (you’ll see the option at checkout). You don’t need to have a PayPal account to do this: you can pay with your card using PayPal. 

Travelling with pets

Yes, you can travel with a pet (for free) on the trains in Portugal as long as the pet is not dangerous, is housed in a properly enclosed transportation box, and as long as they don’t smell or there isn’t any reason that other passengers might object to travelling with them. 

On some trains, it’s also possible to travel with a dog that’s not in an enclosed transportation box. The dog will need to be muzzled and on a short lead, and the owner will need to bring the dog’s vaccination card and valid licence with them. They’ll also need to buy a ticket for the dog as well. 

Guide dogs can travel with the owner on all trains for free. 

For more information about travelling with a pet on Portuguese trains, visit CP.pt

Bringing your bike

Yes, you can bring your bike onboard any intercity train (e.g. from Lisbon to Faro). There is normally space for 1-2 bikes per carriage, and passengers are normally limited to 1 bike per passenger. 

More information about travelling with a bike can be found on CP.pt

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.

Last updated in August 2019.
If you spot a mistake, leave a comment below.

45 thoughts on “Portugal Trains: How to get around Portugal by Train”

Leave a comment or ask a question below. I try and answer all of them.
  1. If you book a train ticket in advance ~eg for date X – do you also have to specify the actual train time or can you leave that open?

    IF you have to specify the train, and then are late and miss it ~is the ticket just lost or can you get it changed on the next train without having to pay the full price again ?

  2. If you go to the “cp.pt” site, you will see that you can also leave from Porto Sao Bento, and you will find the times, prices, stops, and changes…..

  3. How long it takes to take the train from Lisbon to Lagos and is it direct from Lisbon to Lagos or is there a transfer at Albuferia? Is it a high speed train?

    What website can I visit to book tickets? Do the trains have club cars or does one have to bring their own refreshments? If I buy tickets in advance and decide to change my itinerary, can the tickets be cancelled and refunded at no charge?

    • Hi Margaret,

      The fastest train from Lisbon to Lagos takes around 3h37. The slowest is a little under 4 hours.
      You will have to change, but that change takes place at Tunes and not Albufeira. Tunes is a very small station, so you won’t have any problem finding the other train.

      As for high speed? Well, it’s the fastest one on that route but it’s not like what you’d find in other countries like France and Spain.

      I’d probably recommend bringing your own refreshments. Some of the trains (see the article above) have refreshments like soft drinks and snacks, but they’re quite basic.

      Tickets can be bought from cp.pt

      You’ll find information about refunds (in English) here: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en/passenger-information/Useful-information/refunds
      It depends on which train you take, but generally you will be able to get most of your money back (minus an admin charge) if you ask for the refund before the train journey.

  4. really helpful. thanks.
    ive walked so much on thebeach the last few days i have blisters so taking a trip along the algarve coast – hopefully with a bik today.

  5. Great website and information. So just booked a train from Lisbon – Santa Polino to Tunes in June and just realized that I have to switch trains from a regional to an IC at Oriente station to catch my train to Tunes. Couple questions 1. The connection time is only 10 minutes in Oriente is that enough time. 2. Can I just not use the first part of my ticket for the Santa Paolino – and just go straight to the Oriente staion to catch my train to Tunes.

    Thank you

    • Hi Mark,

      It should be enough time, but I can understand that this could quite stressful and it may not be something that you want hanging over you.

      I don’t know if there are any rules preventing you from doing what you’re suggesting, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be doable. Unlike the metro, there are no ticket barriers at the train station so you won’t have any issues there.

  6. Hi-

    Thanks for the helpful site.

    Looking at cp.pt for a trip from Tomar to Coimbra. The best timing for us is to take a regional train from Tomar to Entromcomento, then an IC train from Entroncomento to Coimbra-B. The cp.pt site lists the first regional train but under the “Buy Tickets” section does not list that regional train for purchase.

    I have read that you can’t book regional trains in advance-is that true? If so, can I reasonably rely on getting on that regional first train? Would buying a ticket in Tomar the day before the train ride
    make any difference?

    Thanks for the help-much appreciated!

    • Hi Sam,

      It is true that you can’t buy regional train tickets in advance (although often it’s possible if it’s part of a longer journey like the one you’re doing). This means that you wouldn’t be able to buy them the day before either: only on the day at the train station (if there’s a ticket office) or on-board (if there isn’t a ticket office at the station).

      I don’t think you need to worry about not getting a seat but, if you are concerned, take a slightly earlier train just to be on the safe side. It looks like there are a lot of journeys on that route, so it wouldn’t add too much time onto your trip.

  7. Hi, My friend and I are going to be based in Lisbon for 6 days of travel to other towns and cities and I saw the One Country Ticket by Interrail on line which quotes Eu236 to cover the 6 days to go anywhere. It LOOKS like a really good deal having seen the prices for daily normal ticket prices, do you recommend it please?

    • Hi Carol,

      I don’t think it’s a good deal for Portugal if it’s just for one person. Maybe for other countries where train travel is more expensive, but here train travel is quite cheap.

      A single ticket from Lisbon to Porto costs around €30 (but could be as cheap as €16 if you go for the slower train and book in advance). Even at €30, and even if you travelled every day, it would still cost you less than the Interrail ticket.

      Work out your itinerary and use cp.pt to get an estimate of how much it’ll all cost, but I can’t imagine 6 days of train travel coming to more than €236 unless you were travelling extremely long distances every day.

  8. I booked an overnight train from San Sebastián to Coimbra because Renfe would not let me book into Porto (or our eventual destination Pinhao). We arrive 4:45am. I see on the CP website that there is an IR train 5:10 to Porto-Campanhã and 7:14 IR train onward to Pinhao daily but no way to purchase a ticket. Are these not able to be purchased in advance? And if not, will the ticket office be open at 4:45am when we get into Portugal?

    • Yes, some journeys can’t be booked in advance.

      I don’t know if the ticket office will be open at that time, but I’m guessing not. In that case, you’ll be able to purchase them on the train.

  9. We will be travelling from Lisbon airport to Porto (Sao Bento), and were wondering which Lisbon train station is closest to the airport? What is the best way to get from airport to train station?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Karen,

      The nearest train station would be Oriente, which is in Parque das Nações. It’s about 3 stops away on the metro.

      I would either take the metro or a taxi/uber.

  10. Can you get on and off the train with one ticket from Porto to Lisbon? Or would we have to have tickets for each destination?

    • Hi Lor,

      I’m pretty sure you would need to buy multiple tickets for several smaller journeys.

      You’re reserving a seat (e.g. seat 10) for a specific time e.g. the 9 am train to from Porto to Lisbon. If you get off for an hour and get back on another train, it’s not the 9 am train anymore but the 10 am train and someone else will probably have reserved seat 10.

      If you want to hop on and hop off, you’ll either need to break the trip up into several trips or rent a car.

  11. Be aware that if you want to book Lisbon – any location in the Algrave, the connecting R train is usually the next available one to your final destination. It is not possible to choose which R train connection to select. For instance, I wanted a 3 hour connection in Faro (to eat lunch). The only option for this particular Lisbon train connection is only 11 minutes. I have to book Lisbon-Faro instead and then buy the connecting R ticket at the station.

  12. We’re traveling from Porto to Viana do Castelo on 12/09/19. I was hoping I could order the tickets 60 days in advance but September 12 is disabled on the schedule. Is this trip considered a local – buy the day of travel?
    Thanks, really excited to be going to Portugal.

    • Hi J. Bradley,

      It does look like it’s a local train and that you won’t be able to buy the tickets in advance (I tried some dates next week, and it wasn’t possible to buy tickets either).

      Where are you headed to in Portugal (apart from Viano do Castelo and Porto)?

      • Hi James, we’re going to Lisbon and Evora, and some side trips to Pinhao and Aveiro. I was able to buy the tickets today to Viana, though they are two part tix. Short ride to Nine on the AP, and seats are reserved. Then change to a regional train. Seats aren’t specified, and there was no seat selection for the regional train portion of the journey. Does that mean you just take any seat that’s available on the regional?
        Thanks,
        Janice

  13. Good Afternoon,
    If we are purchasing tickets to Sintra at Oriente Station, do we have to purchase the Viva Viegem Card and if so, is it a one stop purchasing event at the ticket counter? Thanks

    • Hi Maryann,

      Most people just buy the Viva Viagem cards from the automatic machines, which you’ll find in all the metro stations around Lisbon as well as the train stations. They cost €0.50.

      You don’t buy a ticket for Sintra (or anywhere else you’re using the card), but preload it with credit. The cost of the journey is then taken off. For Sintra, I think it’s around €2.25 at the moment. You’ll also need to come back, which will cost another €2.25 (there isn’t a return ticket for this journey) so you’ll need to have at least €4.50 on the card. You can top up with €5, so you’ll pay 0.50 for the card and €5 for the credit for a total of €5.50 and there’ll be 0.50 left on the card.

      Unless Sintra is one the first day of your trip to Lisbon, I would recommend buying your card (and topping it up) in advance. Reason being that the train station will be quite busy with other people going to Sintra and, if you already have your card, you’ll be able to go straight to the train.

      It’s not a big deal, but it’ll save you a little time.

  14. Hi, I was looking into urban train ticket from Aveiro to Porto that only costs 3.35Euro from the cp.pt website. However, there’s no option to buy this ticket online. Do we need to buy this ticket at the station on the day off? Isn’t it risky in case the train is full? Please advise. Thanks

    • Hi Tracey,

      Yes, this usually means that it has to be bought on the day (and not online).

      You’ll be able to get a seat. That route also has very frequent trains, so worst case scenario you’ll need to get on the next train.

  15. Hi James,
    I’m booking tickets for my son, wife and 2 yr old daughter from Lisbon to Porto (fast AP trains both ways) and choosing first class as a treat. When I look at the “change seats” option, it’s not clear if there are tables for the passengers to sit round together, or are they just where shown as a grey block? (Only a small number in each carriage)
    Very grateful for any help
    Tony

    • Hi Tony,

      Just so you know: First Class isn’t that much of a treat in Portugal if you’re coming from the UK. It’s definitely better than Second Class, but it’s not the same as First Class on many train lines in the UK (and other countries).

      As for the table, it is the grey block and, yes, there aren’t that many of them surprisingly.

  16. Hello, I am traveling with a group of 13 senior citizens from Porto to Lisbon on Aug. 17. Want to do the Alfa Pendular, but not sure how to book? Also which station in Lisbon to get off? Staying in Liberdale area. We will be arriving in Porto by boat and will take taxis to correct?, station. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Roni

    • Hi Roni,

      You’ll find the largest number of options if you choose Porto – Campanha to Lisboa – Oriente.

      The metro goes to Campanha in Porto (there are also taxis of course).
      From Oriente, you can get a metro station to one of the stations nearest your accommodation (Avenida station maybe?).

      Hope that helps.

  17. Hello. Thanks for the info in the article. I have an additional question – we would like to travel from Porto (Campanha) to Aveiro. But it seems we cannot buy online ticket for many from the trains marked “U”. Does it mean, we have to buy them at the station? They are significantly cheaper than AP and IC trains, which have the possibility to buy a ticket online.

    • Hi Petr,

      Yes, thanks for pointing that out. Those tickets can only be purchased from the ticket offices on the day. They aren’t available to buy online.

  18. Thank you for the reply.
    Are the “U” and “R” trains ok?
    We would like to use them for trips Porto-Miramar (20 min), Porto-Aveiro (1 hour) and Aveiro-Coimbra (1 hour).

  19. Hello James, we are arriving to Lisbon on Aug 23rd at 17.40 and want to take a train to Porto immediately. Should I buy a ticket in advance? I dont see any discount on the cp.pt for the trains we would need. Or is it OK just to come to the station and buy tickets there? I am also not sure, if we are able to make it to the train at 18:10, or rather 19:10.

    Thanks for your advice 🙂

    Kristina

    • Hi Kristina,

      It’s up to you, but you can do either.

      If there aren’t any discounts available, the only reason to buy in advance would be to make sure you get a seat (especially together as you said “we” rather than “I”).

      I probably would buy in advance just in case tickets sell out for some reason. It’s up to you, though.

  20. On 20 October 2019, my wife and I (both over 60), leave a cruise at Porto.
    We want to go by train to Faro.
    1. Which station do we leave from?
    2. When will tickets be available?
    3. Can we get concessions?

    • Hi Stanley,

      All trains go through Porto Campanhã, so that would be the one to aim for (esp if you’re getting public transport to the train station). However, I think the cruise port is a little bit outside of Porto so you could get a taxi to a train station like Ermesinde and start your journey just outside of Porto.

      Tickets are available around 60 days in advance, so you should be able to buy tickets for October 20th in the next few days. There are often discounts for buying in advance, so it’s worth doing this.

      Concessions are available, yes (both online and in person).

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