Comboios de Portugal, commonly called CP, is the Portuguese state railway that handles most of the important rail transport in country. It connects the two most prominent cities, Lisbon and Porto with each other, and with other cities in towns across the country. To this end it operates both urban and regional connection lines, going as far as Beja, Faro in the Algarve, and Madrid and Vigo in Spain. You can also take train trips around the extended Lisbon metropolitan area using a private train company, Fertagus. Together they offer comprehensive coverage for train journeys in Portugal.
Using Omio you can quickly compare prices for train trips in Portugal. It’s a simple matter of entering your departure and arrival cities and the dates on which you’d like to travel, and you’ll see a full list of the available trains. You can compare prices and travel times of the different trips for the day to find the cheapest or fastest train trips. Then simply click to book. You’ll instantly receive an e-ticket with a QR code, which is securely saved in your profile on Omio. You can also print your ticket if you prefer, either directly off our platform or using a station ticket machine and the card you used to buy your ticket.
Comboios de Portugal was founded in 1951. As the state railway company it owns the majority of the rail network in the country. It offers short commuter trips within major Portuguese cities, regional train routes, and long-distance travel. Its Longo Curso service is dedicated to international travel in Europe, which mostly provides trains from Portugal to Spain. Its fleet also comprises Intercidades (inter-city) trains, and Alfa Pendular express trains. The latter travel at over 180 mph (300 km/h), primarily connecting Lisbon with Porto, Faro and Braga. Fertagus trains are only available in the greater Lisbon area – it’s the main competitor to CP on these routes.
Happy girl at the train station. Source: Shutterstuck
The most important international train connections to and from Portugal use the largest train station in Lisbon, Santa Apolonia. These are mainly trips from Madrid and vice versa. You can book day and night trains on this route through Omio – your total travel time will be an average of about 3-4h. There is also an express train from northern Spain in the French border area that travels via San Sebastian and Salamanca, arriving in Lisbon. Porto, in the north of Portugal is even better situated as a destination for train trips to Portugal from Spain. CP partners with the Spanish national train service, Renfe on these train journeys.
When you arrive by train in the main Portuguese cities, like Porto and Madrid, you can usually connect with other parts of the city by boarding a metro train at your arrival station. Tickets are available at the prominently-located vending machines. A tip is to get rechargeable cards, as these make train travel in Portugal a little cheaper. Popular tourist landmarks to see include the Sé Cathedral in Lisbon, or the serene banks of the Douro River in Porto. Traditional Portuguese food is a highlight of any visit to the country. Breakfasts are particularly mouth-watering, such as mince and eggs served in a bowl (bolo) of sweet potato bread.
As mentioned, Comboios de Portugal operates the vast majority of train routes in Portugal. In the greater Lisbon area you’ll have the alternative of using Fertagus, a smaller transport company that operates double-decker urban trains. CP handles two of the busiest high-speed intercity routes, from Lisbon to Porto, and from Lisbon to Faro. You can also travel on regional routes, from Faro to Sagres, for instance. Another popular route is from Vigo in Spain’s Galicia to Porto. Comboios de Portugal also operates Oporto urban trains – buy a Siga card and use it to load train trips if you intend to make a few.
The main train station in Lisbon is Santa Apolonia, which is the terminus located in the city centre. It is connected to public transport via the Metro Station of the same name, on the Blue line. The station is used for urban and regional trains, as well as serving longer routes, for example from Salamanca, Madrid, Porto and Braga. The Oriente West Train Station in Lisbon has become the city’s second main station, mainly serving trains coming from the north. Both stations are well-equipped, with numerous restaurants and other food and drink kiosks. In Porto you will mostly use Porto-Campanha station for regional and cross-country journeys. You can get there from Sao Bento in the city centre. Faro's main train station, Estacao de Faro is much smaller, with basic commuter amenities.
By far the most popular train route in Portugal is from Lisbon to Porto. CP will get take you between the cities in about 3h 30min, with tickets costing about £28. You can also travel from Porto to Braga; the trip takes from 4-5h, and the cheapest tickets cost around £24. To visit the nearest beach resort, take a train from Lisbon to Faro, on the beautiful Algarve coast. The journey will take around 3h 30min and cost about £23. Or travel to smaller inland towns. You can get from Porto to Coimbra in about 1h 30min at a fare of roughly £8-12, and from Lisbon to Evora in around 2 hours for about £11.
International trains from Portugal connect with major cities and towns mainly in Spain. You can travel from Porto to Barcelona in about 1h 45min, and it will cost you about £47 on average. The countries’ capitals are directly linked by train on the Lisbon to Madrid route. These trains take between 8h 30min and 9h 30min on average, and tickets can be had for roughly £17. Another very popular route is from Lisbon to León, this takes from around 20 hours to 24 hours and costs about £45. You can also travel from Lisbon to the small town of Badajoz, just over the border in about 4h 30min, with tickets costing around £15-19. From Porto you can also take a train to Ourense in Spain in roughly 13 hours. Fares are around £14.
Night trains in Portugal are primarily international trains. The Lusitania line is particularly significant. This line takes you from Lisbon to Madrid in about 3-4h. The Sud-Express is starts in the north of Spain, passing through major cities in the Basque Country, then taking you to Salamanca and finally to Lisbon. You'll travel for about 6h overnight on this train.
Travelling by train in Portugal allows you to get around inexpensively and sustainably. Train trips emit less CO2 than bus trips or driving. The ability to move a large group of people around in a single trip, rather than everyone travelling individually, also makes a huge difference. Modern trains have also become more energy-efficient.
Most train tickets in Portugal are issued digitally. You don't need to print them out – just show the conductor the QR code when you board. With suburban trains you sometimes have to scan the ticket on the platform. You’ll find clean toilets on board and you can use the free Wi-Fi service. On-board meals are not always available, so it’s advisable to buy snacks and drinks at the country's train stations before you travel.
Backpacker at the train station. Source: Shutterstuck
Lisbon and Porto are two major world tourist cities. They inspire with their proximity to the sea and the melancholy fado music that you’ll hear all over. In Lisbon you can stroll through the historic old town of Alfama, where you can hear the singing from almost every window. They also accentuate relaxed evenings with wine and bacalhau. Fantastic viewpoints await you in the higher elevations above Alfama. From here you can see the relatively young lower town. In Porto, the Douro bank is one of the highlights. You can dine here in one of the many restaurants and gaze at the traditional boats carrying wine barrels from the port factories on the south side of the river.
If you’re looking for outdoor relaxation, head to the beaches in the south of the Algarve. For more ideas, read the Omio online travel magazine, the Window Seat.