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Portugal train guide | how to travel portugual by train.

The Savvy Backpacker's guide to traveling Portugal by train


rail journeys in portugal

Portugal is quickly becoming one of the hottest destinations in Europe and one of the best ways to explore its amazing cities and towns is by taking the train. In this Portugal Train Guide, I’ll cover how to travel through Portugal by train—including how to buy train tickets, how to find the best prices on train tickets, and other helpful tips for using Portugal’s rail system.

How To Buy Train Tickets In Portugal

rail journeys in portugal

Ok, let’s start with how and where to buy train tickets for trains in Portugal.

Where To Buy Train Tickets in Portugal

rail journeys in portugal

Other than buying tickets at the train station (via the ticket window or automated ticket machines), there are only two ways to pre-purchase train tickets for trains in Portugal—either from the Official Portugal Rail Website ( Comboios de Portugal ) or through the third-party reseller Omio .

The Comboios de Portugal website suffers from some weird translation issues and some international users might have trouble making credit card payments so I recommend sticking to Omio .

Luckily, Omio is much more user-friendly than the Comboios de Portuga website, it accepts all international credit cards, it has a nice smartphone app (where your digital train tickets will be stored), it has a way better user interface, and it’s all in English. Omio sells tickets at the same price as the Comboios de Portugal website but they add a small service fee (around $2)—which I’d rather pay than deal with the Comboios de Portuga website.

Train tickets purchased via both Omio and Comboios de Portugal are digital tickets and can be accessed from their respective smartphone apps (they can also be printed at home). That’s why having a phone with reliable data is important. Check out my Guide For Buying A SIM Card and Mobile Data Plan in Europe to learn how to get affordable mobile data.

When To Buy Train Tickets To Get The Best Price

rail journeys in portugal

Train tickets in Portugal generally are available for purchase about 60 days before departure so there is no point in trying to book super far in advance.

Tickets for the Portuguese Alfa Pendular train (their high-speed, long-distance train which connects major cities in Portugal and international routes that connect to cities in Spain) are cheapest if bought a few weeks in advance—but generally buying 5-8 days is good enough.

For example, a ticket from Lisbon to Porto costs €16-€20 when bought a week early but sometimes they have extra cheap €10 promo fares. However, if you buy last minute, expect to pay €25-€35. Poke around Omio to see what you find to get a better idea of prices for your itinerary.

The route popularity can also have an effect on price so popular departure times are often slightly more expensive than less desirable times.

Pay Attention To Train-Type And Number of Transfers

rail journeys in portugal

When looking at potential train tickets, it’s super important to pay attention to both the type of train (AP high-speed, Intercity, local/regional, etc.) and the number of changes (direct, one change, two changes, etc.).

  • AP = Alfa Pendular high-speed train that goes up to 135mph. These trains generally only stop at major towns/cities.
  • IC = Intercity trains. These trains are still quick and hit speeds of 120mph but make more stops than the AP trains. Many IC trains will connect the same cities as AP trains but the journey will take longer.
  • All other trains are local/regional trains. These travel at much slower speeds and make very frequent stops as they’re designed to service smaller towns and villages.

Some train routes are direct and others will have a transfer (or multiple transfers) where you’ll have to change trains at a train station—these stopovers can be super quick (~10-15 minutes) but I’ve also seen longer 1hr+ waits. If possible, seek out direct trains since it’s much easier, quicker, and you don’t have to worry about missed transfers because of delays.

First-Class vs Tourist Class Train Tickets

First-class tickets on Portuguese trains generally cost 50% more than “tourist” class (i.e. second-class) tickets. The main perks are more legroom and larger seats. You can also order food but that’s extra. Seats are arranged in a 2+1 configuration—one row has one seat the other row has two seats.

Otherwise, the tourist/second class is perfectly comfortable. Seats are arranged in a 2+2 configuration—both rows have two seats.

The Types Of Trains In Portugal

Train Travel in Portugal

The Portuguese rail network is comprised of three main types of trains and each has its own quirks.

Alfa Pendular Train (High-Speed Train)

The Alfa Pendular Train (AP) is Portugal’s high-speed train that travels at speeds up to 135mph. These trains typically connect major cities and it’s also the train that connects to cities in Spain. If possible, always book these tickets because it’s a faster and more enjoyable experience.

The Alfa Pendular Trains are modern, have air conditioning, and have comfortable seats. Each train has 1st & 2nd class cars as well as a cafe/bar car. There is also free WiFi & power sockets at all seats.

You’ll want to book these tickets at least a week in advance for the best price but booking even earlier might result in even cheaper promo fares. Check Omio to see current prices.

Intercity Trains 

Next are the Intercity Trains (IC) and these also connect main cities as well as a few smaller cities. These trains can still reach relatively fast speeds of 120 mph but they make more frequent stops which means trips will take longer.

Again, trains are air-conditioned and have both 1st & 2nd class. Most trains also have free WiFi and a cafe/bar car. Don’t expect power sockets in 2nd class but many seats in 1st should have them.

You’ll also want to book these tickets at least a week in advance for the best price. Check Omio to see current prices.

Regional and Local Trains

All other trains are slower regional trains that reach out to small towns and villages.

These trains can’t be booked in advance and prices are always the same, so simply buy your tickets at the train station.

NOTE: Some popular day trip routes (like Lisbon to Sintra) attract tons of tourists so the ticket lines can get very long. Arrive well before your train’s departure or buy your tickets from the station a day before you travel to avoid missing the train you want.

Popular Train Routes in Portugal

rail journeys in portugal

Portugal is a fairly small country so most visitors stick to a few main train routes. I’ve listed a few of the most popular routes and listed some helpful information for each route.

Lisbon to Porto By Train (Around 2.5h-3h)

Traveling between Lisbon (Oriente Station) and Porto (Campanhã Station) by train is easy and there are multiple direct trains daily. The Alfa Pendular high-speed train will take around 2h40min and the slightly slower Intercity train takes around 3h10min.

Single tickets start around €32 but you can save 50%+ by booking early. Check prices at Omio .

Lisbon to Sintra by Train (Around 45min-1hr)

Sintra is a very popular day trip from Lisbon. It uses a local train that takes around one hour and costs €2.30 each way. There are multiple trains every hour—sometimes as often as every 10 minutes during peak travel times.

You can only buy tickets from the station. The ticket lines can get very long during the busy season so arrive early to avoid the lines.

Lisbon to Braga by Train (Around 3hr 16min)

Braga is a city in the far north of Portugal. Braga is about 3hr15m from Lisbon via the high-speed train and 40m from Porto via the high-speed train.

There are a few direct trains between Lisbon and Braga but most require a change in Porto (which can add anywhere from a 10-minute stopover to over an hour stopover). So look for a direct train for the shortest and most convenient route.

There are multiple daily departures between Lisbon and Braga and tickets cost between €30-€40 but can get down to €12-€15 if booked early. Check prices at Omio .

Lisbon to Coimbra by Train (Around 1h30min-1hr50min)

The riverfront city of Coimbra is about halfway between Porto and Lisbon so it makes a popular trip from both cities. Direct train journeys between Lisbon and Coimbra take between 1.5-2 hours depending if you take the AP or IC train.

Standard train tickets between Lisbon and Coimbra cost around €20-€26 or €10-€15 if booked early. Check prices at Omio .

Lisbon to Faro by Train (Around 3hr 30min)

Sunny Faro is the best-known city in Portugal’s famous Algarve region. The high-speed AP train takes about 3 hours and the IC train takes about 3.5 hours from Lisbon. Check prices at Omio .

More Portugal Train Travel Tips

rail journeys in portugal

Here are some more random things to keep in mind when using Portugal’s train system.

Double-Check Your Train Station Name

Many cities have multiple train stations that serve different parts of Portugal or other countries—for example, Lisbon’s main stations are Rossio, Santa Apolónia, and Campolide. Don’t make the mistake of going to the wrong station.

Give Yourself Time At The Station

It’s generally easy to find your train once you arrive at the station but give yourself some extra time so you’re not rushing through the crowded station to get to your train.

Don’t Freak Out If You Don’t See Your Train On The Board

You’ll find your train platform via the departure board at the train station. Don’t worry if you don’t see your train because they often only display trains departing within the next 15-20 minutes.

Arrive Early If Buying Tickets At The Station

Ticket lines at the train station can get very long so you’ll want to arrive with plenty of time so you don’t miss your train. If possible, buy your tickets online so you can skip the lines but many local trains can’t be bought online so doing it in person is your only option.

Self-Service Machines Are In English

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Portuguese because the ticket machines (and train station signs) are all in English.

Cheap Tickets Are Non-Refundable

One downside to cheap train tickets is that they’re non-refundable and can’t be changed.

Pack A Picnic

You’re allowed to bring your own food and alcohol on trains so bring some food along for those long train rides.

For more general trips about traveling by train in Europe, check out my Complete Guide To Train Travel In Europe . Also, check out my Guide To Using Rail Passes in Europe if you’re going to be taking multiple train trips as you travel.

More Europe Travel Tips From The Savvy Backpacker

rail journeys in portugal

Traveling to Portugal and beyond? Here are some helpful articles to help you plan your trip.

  • Lisbon Travel Guide : The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide to visiting Lisbon on a budget.
  • How Much To Budget For Lisbon : I do the math and break down how much it costs to visit Lisbon.
  • The Best Hostels in Lisbon : My guide to my favorite hostels in Lisbon for every travel style.
  • The Best Travel Backpacks : A list of my favorite backpacks that are designed for travel.
  • Backpacking Europe Packing List : What you should take (and what you should leave behind) when traveling to Europe.
  • The Complete Guide To Backpacking Europe : Just about everything you need to know about traveling Europe on a budget.
  • How To Buy Train Tickets in Portugal : More in-depth tips for buying Portuguese train tickets.
  • Recent Posts

James Feess

  • Backpacking Europe Packing List — My Europe Travel Packing Guide - April 6, 2024
  • Best eSIM For Europe Travel | Everything You Need To Know About European Prepaid eSIM Data Plans - March 24, 2024
  • Holafly eSIM Review | Testing The New eSIM Data Plan from Holafly - March 3, 2024

rail journeys in portugal

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Train advice from the Man in Seat 61...

The Man in Seat 61

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Portugal's most scenic route

Douro valley by train.

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Train travel in europe..., train travel in asia..., train travel in africa..., train travel in america..., train travel in australasia, porto to régua, pinhão & pocinho.

Portugal's most scenic train ride takes you along the Douro Valley from Porto (Portugal's second city) to Régua, Pinhão & Pocinho.  It makes a great day trip from Porto, although it's too far for a day trip from Lisbon.  The line currently ends at Pocinho, but over the next few years they plan to reopen the 28km from Pocinho to Barca de Alva on the border with Spain.  Indeed, until 1984 the line continued all the way to Salamanca.

Train times

There are 10-12 trains per day from Porto to Régua, of which 5 or 6 continue to Pinhão & Pocinho.  Porto-Pocinho takes around 3h25.

Check times from Porto to Régua, Pinhão or Pocinho using the journey planner at the Portuguese Railways website .

Or download a timetable in .pdf format at (please let me know if the link stops working).

You can catch any of these trains from the main Porto Campanhã station, but some start/terminate at the wonderful Porto São Bento station, located right in the UNESCO-listed old city and one of Europe's most beautiful stations.  Start from there if you can.

The best trains to take are the ones called MiraDouro, these use classic carriages built by Swiss firm Schindler, with wide opening windows.  There is a page about these services with a timetable of when this specific type of train runs at (please let me know if that link changes).  Some of these start at San Bento station.

How much does it cost?

Porto to Pocinho costs around €14 each way, Porto to Régua around €10 each way.  Fixed-price, unlimited availability, cannot sell out.

How to buy tickets

You can buy tickets at (in €) or (in €, £ or $) and print them out or show them on your phone, but as there are no reservations, tickets have unlimited availability and cannot sell out, you may as well just buy at the station on the day.

Travel tips

Start at Porto São Bento:   São Bento station with its classic wall tiling is a Porto attraction in its own right, so for the full experience take one of the morning trains that start at São Bento.

Which side of the train to sit?   The river is on the right hand side going east from Porto through Tua to just before Ferradosa, then on the left to Pocinho.  If the train isn't crowded, you can switch seats at Ferradosa. 

Food & drink:   The trains are inter-regional trains with no catering, so bring your own food & drink.

Combine train with river boat:   Any hotel in Porto can book you onto a river boat trip along the Douro, for example from Régua to Pinhão.  You can then take the train from Porto to Régua and Pinhão back to Porto, a DIY day trip from Porto by train & boat.  Indeed, you can find one-way river boat trips all the way from Porto to Régua which allow you to return to Porto by train, or vice versa.  Or cruise between Régua & Pocinho, with travel to and from the boat by train.  Try .

Short of time?   You'll still get a good appreciation of the wonderful Douro scenery travelling from Porto to Pinhão.  One correspondent recommends lunch in Pinhão at the Casa do Escritor restaurant, .

Porto São Bento station

Porto São Bento is a terminus located in Porto's UNESCO-listed historic centre.  Built between 1904 & 1916, the azulejo tiling in the main hall makes it one of Europe's most beautiful stations, and a Porto attraction in its own right.  Make sure you call in here!  It's not served by mainline trains to or from Lisbon, but frequent suburban trains link it with Porto Campanhã every 5-15 minutes, journey time 4 minutes.  A few Douro Valley trains start from here, before serving Porto Campanhã.  See larger photo of the interior .  See location map .  See Wikipedia page about Sao Bento .

Along the Douro in pictures

All but one photo in this section are courtesy of .

Heading east along the river on a morning train...

Regua station...

Alongside the river Douro near Tua.   Photo courtesy of

Between Tua & Pocinho, sometimes just feet from the river...  Photo courtesy of

Now on the way back towards Porto...

And relax...   If you return to Porto Sao Bento station, how about a beer & unique crispy hot dog or Portuguese sandwich at the iconic Gazela Cachorrinhos da Batalha snack bar 2 minutes walk outside the station?

What are the trains like?

Locomotive-hauled:   Some train are locomotive-hauled, with a mix of former Swiss Railways carriages or stainless-steel cars made in Portugal.  They're not air-conditioned, but have a major advantage - the windows open, for reflection-free photography.  All the trains are 2nd class only.

Air-conditioned diesel units:   Some departures are operated by diesel units, air-conditioned but without opening windows.  Below, this is the lunchtime train from Porto to Pocinho.  Photos courtesy of

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With our Portugal itinerary, you'll experience Europe of old and new, where youthful cultural scenes meet undisturbed, traditional life. Portugal has the oldest borders in Europe and retained a lot of its ancient architecture. Add to the mix the sun-soaked beaches and friendly, relaxed nature of the Portuguese and it’s a great place to kick-back and take it easy. The country is well connected by train and its modest size means you can experience all of its regions in just a few weeks. All train travel within the country is covered by the Eurail Portugal Pass .

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Cities visited on this trip:.

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Porto, Portugal

A port of call for historic maritime voyages, Portugal’s second city is the perfect place to begin your own adventure. Stroll along the quayside between the colorful ancient buildings of the Cais da Ribeira and traditional boats parked on the River Douro . A free walking tour, starting at Lion’s Square (Praça de Gomes Teixeira), provides a great introduction to Porto’s history and culture. Linger at the Ribeira Square (Praça da Ribeira) afterwards and you’ll realize why UNESCO recognized the Historic Centre of Porto as a World Heritage site.

Boats beside the Cais da Ribeira in Porto

From Porto to Pinhão

Travel time:

Porto São Bento

Pinhão, Portugal

Save yourself a day to take the Douro Line (Linha do Douro) from Porto to Régua. Start at São Bento Train Station , which alone is worth visiting for its 100 year old, beautifully tiled walls. Return later in the day to Porto Campanhã Train Station. Portugal’s most stunning train ride takes you through 20 tunnels and across 30 bridges along the Douro valley. Stop at the terraced vineyards of Pinhão on the way, to sample the region’s world-famous port wines – you’re in Porto of course!

View of Pinhão and the vineyards of the Douro Valley

From Pinhão to Coimbra

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Porto Campanhã

Coimbra, Portugal

Coimbra is home to Portugal’s oldest university and no fewer than 6 of Portugal’s kings were born here, including the first ruler Afonso I. No surprise then that the city is rich in history. Visit the tomb of Alfonso I at the Santa Cruz Monastery and don’t miss the Biblioteca Joanina , Coimbra’s extravagant 18 th -century library. Spend an evening at Fado au Centro for a thrilling live performance of Coimbra’s distinctive fado folk music.

Umbrellas hanging in a narrow street in Coimbra

From Coimbra to Lisbon

Lisbon, portugal.

Lisboa Oriente

Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal

As Europe’s second oldest capital city, Lisbon is bursting with historic charm. Take a classic yellow tram to the Moorish Castle of São Jorge for a hilltop view of the city. Then descend on foot through the narrow alleyways of the Alfama district for a taste of old-time Lisbon. Start your evening late, and make sure dinner in the lively streets of the Bairro Alto district in on your Lisbon itinerary. Look in the menu for bacalhau , one of Portugal’s national dishes made from dried and salted cod. For delicious cocktails and fine Portuguese hospitality, head to Bar A Paródia in the west of the city. This hidden gem is one of the oldest bars in Lisbon and one of the most atmospheric too.

A classic yellow tram in Lisbon

From Lisbon to Sintra

Lisboa Rossio

Sintra, Portugal

Be sure to add a day trip to Sintra to any stay in Lisbon. Natural and man-made beauty combine in this fairytale town. Climb the lush wooded hills to the spectacular Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena) with its vibrant turrets and arches in yellow and red. Nestled in the woodland you can also climb the ramparts of the brilliant 8 th century Castle of the Moors . Back in the main town, pop into the little shops and cafés along the narrow, steep lanes. Try ginjinha , a sour cherry shot that comes in a tiny chocolate cup. Look out for locals selling them from their windows.

Pena Palace, Sintra

From Sintra to Faro

Lisboa Entrecampos

Faro, Portugal

Faro is best known as being the provincial capital of the Algarve. Here you can chill by the sea, in one of the many waterfront cafés or beaches. A short bus ride will take you to the popular town beach, Praia de Faro , for soft sand, friendly vibes and a beautiful sunset. Choose to stick within the harbor and Old Town (Centro Historico) and you’ll find plenty of historic delights, none more so than the Igreja do Carmo church. Its eerie bone chapel has walls constructed of femur bones and contains 1245 skulls originating from the Carmelite monks who lived there.

Faro Marina in the evening

From Faro to Lagos

Lagos, portugal.

Lagos is a hotspot for backpackers who bring beach-party vibes and a lively nightlife. It’s also a place to relax to the max and find your personal beach paradise. The closest, Meia Praia , has a long stretch of golden sands, beach bars and water sports. For cliffs, caves and hidden alcoves, try the more secluded Praia do Camilo . For the best surf, take a bus to Sagres at the southwestern tip on Portugal. Further on, you can head to Cape São Vicente , which ancient Europeans perceived as being at the “End of the World”. On the way back, take a boat out to Ponta da Piedade and discover the spectacular grottoes and rock formations.

View of the cliffs and beaches from Ponta da Piedade

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The Most Scenic Train Journeys From Lisbon

Cross the bridge to Setúbal

No trip to Lisbon would be complete without a train ride into the diverse beauty of Portugal. Day trips on the Portuguese railway system are cheap and easy, offering a whole new dimension to your travels. Here are the most scenic routes on offer from the capital.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips , compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips .

Portugal’s railway network is cheap to use, and its trains are usually comfortable, making for journeys that are relaxing for both you and your wallet. With such a wide variety of scenic destinations in a relatively small country, there are plenty of opportunities to spend a few hours or a full day outside Lisbon – even on a short city break. Experiencing the natural beauty of the River Tagus or the architectural elements of the bridges and aqueducts is simplest by rail, so put your luggage on the rack, grab a seat by the window and let Portugal come to you.

Cross the bridge to Setúbal

A popular day-trip destination for Lisboetas, Setúbal is around an hour away from the Portuguese capital by train, and the journey is quick, cheap and scenic. You will cross over the Tagus on the Ponte 25 de Abril , which offers views of Lisbon, Belém and beyond. The Ponte 25 de Abril was constructed by the American Bridge Company, which also built the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge but, perhaps surprisingly, not the visually similar Golden Gate. It was first opened as the Ponte Salazar in 1966, but the train deck has only been in use since 1999. Over the bridge, you will see the giant Cristo Rei statue up close, before the train travels under the 18th-century Aqueduto das Águas Livres .

rail journeys in portugal

Unlike other lines in Portugal, the train to Setúbal is run by a private company, Fertagus , but you can still use your Viva Viagem card to get here (€4.55, or £4, one way). You can board at Roma-Areeiro, Entrecampos, Sete Rios or Campolide stations in Lisbon, and there is no need to book in advance. The trains are air-conditioned and have plenty of space for bikes and luggage if you avoid the rush hour.

Follow the Tagus to Cascais

Avoid the damp, sandy seats for this one because this short rail excursion reaches the beautiful beaches of Cascais , straddling the Tagus and passing under the Ponte 25 de Abril on the way, into and through Belém . You might also want to visit one of the other beaches on the route, such as Praia de Carcavelos. Try to get a seat on the left-hand side of the train for views of the coast.

The train to Cascais is fast and cheap, costing just €2.25 (£2) for a single journey of around half an hour. There are several trains every hour from Cais do Sodré, but they can get quite busy at peak times. Just turn up with some money on your Viva Viagem metro card and hop onto the first train available – as early as you can if you want a good seat.

Get out of the city centre and explore the beaches of Cascais

An ornate departure to Sintra

Sintra ’s castles, peaks and restaurants make it a popular destination, even for weekend city breaks. Unlike most trips, you might want to allow extra time before leaving to take in the Neo-Manueline architecture of Rossio station , an ornate building constructed in the late 19th century and adorned with sculptures, turrets and striking horseshoe entrances. The often busy commuter train starts with a speedy ride through a 2.9-kilometre (1.8-mile) tunnel, a technological marvel when it first opened in 1890. You will soon break through to the outskirts of the city and past the Aqueduto das Águas Livres towards the lush Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais.

Architect José Luis Monteiro designed Lisbon’s Rossio station in the Neo-Manueline style

There are trains to Sintra from Rossio every half hour, and it costs €2.25 (£2) each way for the 40-minute journey. As this is a commuter train, avoid rush hour and also factor in tourists at weekends, holidays and high season. Get your ticket on the day with your Viva Viagem metro card. Check the Comboios de Portugal website for timetables.

The Palacio Nacional da Pena in Sintra dates to the 19th century

Skirt along the Atlantic to Porto

The train ride from Lisbon to Porto offers some of the best views of the country. It passes through Coimbra – Portugal’s capital from 1131 to 1255 and still home to a Roman aqueduct and 13th-century university – and Aveiro, known sometimes as ‘the Portuguese Venice’ due to its waterways and boats. The train passes the 12km (7.5m) cable-stayed Ponte Vasco da Gama, the second-longest bridge in Europe, as it follows the Tagus, before entering the hilly landscape approaching the fresh breeze of the Atlantic coastline.

Coimbra was once Portugal’s capital

The slower and cheaper option is the Intercidades , which takes around three hours and costs €37 (£33) for first class or €25 (£22.50) for second class one way. If you want something faster with more comfortable seats and free Wi-Fi, try the two-and-a-half-hour journey by Alfa Pendular . This ticket costs €43.60 (£39) for first class or €31.20 (£28) for second class. Depart from Santa Apolónia or Oriente in Lisbon and get off at Campanhã in Porto. This route is a popular one, so book early .

Through the southern plains to Faro

Faro and the Algarve are often holiday destinations in and of themselves, with their sandy beaches bustling with tourists during high season. This journey is a longer one than the other trips mentioned, coming in at three to four hours, but it’s a comfortable ride and relatively cheap, zipping past the green-yellow fields as it goes south. The slower train is an Intercidades, which is marginally less expensive, or you can pay a little more for the high-speed Alfa Pendular, with Wi-Fi, comfy seats and a snack bar. You will notice the tilt of the faster train, and the smoothness of travel helps you forget that you’re travelling at up to 220 kilometres per hour (137 miles per hour).

Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal

You start at the modern, Gothic-influenced Oriente station. Whichever train you choose, book early . They can fill up fast during high season. A single journey on the Alfa Pendular costs €30.70 (£27.50) for first class (extra legroom) or €22.90 (£20.50) for second class. The Intercidades runs €28.70 (£26) for first class or €21.90 (£20) for second class.

This article is an updated version of a story created by Nina Santos .

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Trains in Portugal make exploring the country even the more beautiful. Routes take you along the Atlantic coast and down to the golden beaches of the Algarve . Ride comfortable trains through the green hills of Braga , to thrilling cities Lisbon and Porto and get connected with Portugal's unique, rich and glorious history.

Train types in Portugal

You can travel all over Portugal on trains run by the national railway company CP (Comboios de Portugal). With pleasantly modern and hassle-free train services, it's an experience that leaves you with fond memories of the country. Times of Portuguese trains are always available in the Interrail timetable .

  • International

portugal map sm

Regional and Intercity trains in Portugal

Regional (RE / TRN) and Inter-Regional (RE)

  • Trains connecting larger cities such as Lisbon and Porto to smaller towns. They make frequent stops over short distances. 
  • No reservation required.

Intercity / Intercidades (IC)

  • Faster trains connecting major towns and cities and making fewer stops along their routes. 
  • Reservations are required.

Urbanos (SUB)

  • Suburban commuter trains operating in and around Lisbon and Porto. 
  • No reservation needed. 
  • Lisbon to Azambuja, Lisbon to Cascais, Lisbon to Sintra (a traveller favourite!) and Lisbon to Sado 
  • Porto to Aveiro, Porto to Braga, Porto to Caíde/Marco de Canaveses and Porto to Guimarães

High-speed trains in Portugal

Alfa Pendular  (AP)

Domestic high-speed train connecting Guimarães, Braga, Porto, Coimbra, Lisbon and Faro.

Portugal's fastest train.

A reservation is required.   

International trains in Portugal

Celta (INT)

  • International train linking Porto (Campanha) with Vigo (Guixar) in Spain.
  • A cooperation between CP and RENFE of the Spanish railways.
  • A reservation is required (no fee at the railway station).

IC & Regional train (RE)

  • Lisbon/Porto – Entroncamento with connecting trains. 
  • Entroncamento – Badajoz. 
  • Badajoz – Madrid by IC. 
  • Reservation required for Lisbon/Porto – Entroncamento and Badajoz – Madrid.

Popular connections

  • Domestic routes
  • International routes

Here are approximate train times between Portugal's most popular cities by either high-speed or regional trains.  If you wish to take a high-speed train, you usually have to reserve your seat in advance.

By travelling with slower regional trains you do not need to make reservations. You'll need to change trains on one or more occasions, which will lengthen your journey time.

The following cities in nearby countries have rail connections with Portugal:


How can i make reservations for trains in portugal.

  • At local railways stations in Portugal. This is extremely easy to do. Make them up to 60 days in advance, from any of the CP Ticket Offices.
  • When you want to book a seat for an International train, this can only be done at an international train station.

If you require assistance, you can call CP on (+351) 707 210 220. You can also learn more about train reservations by reading our Reservation Guide .

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Tips and tricks for Portugal

What are the main train stations in portugal.

You can travel to all the main cities in Portugal as well as international destinations from the country's 2 hub stations:

Lisbon train station,  Santa Apolónia

Porto train station,  Campanha

Which station in Portugal is the most beautiful?

If you get the opportunity, don't miss checking out this railway station, known for it's awesome interior decoration:

São Bento  train station in Porto

What are the facilities like?

Train stations in Portugal range from small, beautifully tiled rural stations to well-equipped city stations, which feature:

Luggage lockers

Cash machines, bureau de change and tourist info

Restaurants or cafés

Elevators, escalators and disabled access

Are there lounges at Portuguese train stations?

Yes, there's a CP lounge at  Lisbon Oriente  station. If you have a train reservation for an Alfa Pendular you can access the lounge for free up to 2 hours before your departure.

Spelling of city names in Portugal

You'll usually find local spellings of Portuguese cities on trains in Portugal. Here's the name you'll probably need to know!

Lisboa = Lisbon

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Portugal’s Douro Line is a scenic train journey to “nowhere”

Austin Bush

Feb 8, 2023 • 5 min read

Pocinho train station

The antique wooden train station at Pocinho, the terminus of the Linha do Douro train route through northern Portugal © Austin Bush / Lonely Planet

Our slow travel series explores how you can take more-mindful journeys by train, boat, bus or bike – with tips on how to reach your no-fly destination, and what to see and do along the way. Here, Lonely Planet’s Austin Bush takes us along northern Portugal’s Douro Valley by train.

There isn’t much in the tiny town of Pocinho. But in the case of northern Portugal ’s Linha do Douro, the train line that connects this rural village and Porto , it’s more about the journey to get there. 

The Douro River bisects the top half of Portugal , carving a ragged gap from east to west. That glass of port you tasted in Porto? It got its start in the almost impossibly steep vineyards that frame the river valley. And while most visitors to Porto will experience the Douro River via a cruise, I wanted to do it by train.

Views of the Douro Valley

Many consider the Linha do Douro, the train line that follows the valley, one of the  most beautiful train rides in Europe . Under 125 miles (200km) long, the line terminates at Pocinho, just shy of the  Spanish  border. This means that the train doesn’t really get you anywhere in particular, and you have to return the way you came. But if done right, it’s possible to approach the Linha do Douro as a slow and contemplative – yet also occasionally dramatic – day trip, one that even offers a break for lunch and wine tasting. 

The retro interior of the train that runs the Linha do Douro, from Porto to Pocinho, northern Portugal, Europe

The departure

To ensure that you have time for lunch or (and?) wine tasting, it’s necessary to take the first train of the day, which departs from Porto’s legendary São Bento Station at 7:15am. I was obliged to change trains in the town of Ermesinde, just northeast of Porto, and it was here that I boarded my Linha do Douro train. The stock – made in Switzerland, painted a ’70s-era orange and virtually empty – could easily have featured in a Wes Anderson film.

The next hour, you’ll traverse Porto’s urban sprawl – predominantly gray, semi-industrial feeling suburbs. Your first tunnel (of 23 total) is in Caíde, which is also where the views start to become more rural. The town of Ribadouro offers your first glimpse of the Douro, and it’s from this point on that things get interesting.

Spending diaries: What I spent on a cheap-ish weekend trip to Porto, Portugal

Vineyards in the Douro Valley just east of Pinhão as seen from the train that runs the Linha do Douro, from Porto to Pocinho in northern Portugal

The train snakes along the river, with incredibly steep terraced vineyards and tiny villages clinging to hillsides rising on either side. Whistle-stop stations boast charming tiles; at some points the train tracks are virtually at river level. I did the trip in late January, and while mist and fog obscured the views they created an otherworldly, remote atmosphere. Be sure to sit on the right-hand side for the best views. You may be tempted to hop off in the large-ish city of Peso da Régua , but a wiser stop is Pinhão , where you’ll arrive at about 10am.

The interlude

The terminus for one-day boat trips from Porto, Pinhão is a funny little town, a mix of crusty old winemakers and wide-eyed tourists. It also offers enough to occupy you for a few hours. Take the obligatory photo of the tile murals at the station, and after a walk along the charming waterfront, start planning lunch. A handful of cafes and restaurants are in the center of town, with eateries such as Veladoura or Cozinha da Clara located a short walk away.

Pinhao train station tiles (1).jpg

Alternatively, Pinhão is also home to a legendary butcher, Talho Qualifer – Quinta das Barrocas, where you can taste smoked meats in-house or assemble a riverside picnic lunch. Of course, you’re in the heart of Portugal’s most prestigious wine country, so pencil in time for a tasting session. Several houses, including Croft , Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta do Noval are located right in town, and offer tastings of standard and fortified wines. 

Satiated and slightly buzzed, it’s time to continue to the end of the line: Pocinho. I recommend taking the train that departs at 3:43pm: this allows you nearly five hours to dine and wine in Pinhão, and also catch a not-too-late return train from Pocinho back to Porto. 

A typical station along the Linha do Douro, the train that runs from Porto to Pocinho in northern Portugal

The final hour that connects Pinhão and Pocinho is arguably the most beautiful section of the line – and the section that the day-trippers on boats from Porto miss out on. Outside of Pinhão, the Douro narrows and the scenery becomes more rocky, rugged and wild. At Ferradosa, the train crosses a bridge (one of 35 along the route) to the south bank of the river. Shift to the left side of the train to see tiny train stations – shelters, really – that link to trailheads, abandoned wineries and vineyards that extend right to the tracks.

As you approach the end of the line, the landscape abruptly widens into a broad valley studded with olive trees, a dam and power plant ominously looming in the distance. In Pocinho, the original wooden station is still intact, though there’s not much else to see or do here.

Stretch your legs, take a bathroom break and board the train (most likely the same one you arrived on) returning to Porto, which departs at 5:14pm. If there are no delays, you should arrive in Porto around 8:30pm, just in time for dinner.

A rainbow over a riverside village and vineyards in the Douro Valley as seen from the train that runs the Linha do Douro, from Porto to Pocinho in northern Portugal, Europe

Practical information about the Linha do Douro

Best time to go.

I did the trip in January, which meant the weather was particularly wet and misty. If you’re serious about clear views or photography – or simply want to take advantage of the long days to take a later train back – make the trip during the summer months.

Food and drink on the journey

Pinhão is your best bet for food and drink. Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, pack a lunch and a bottle of wine ahead of time and plan a riverside picnic.

I bought my tickets in advance, yet given how few people ride the Linha do Douro nowadays, you’d probably be fine buying your tickets at the station. A round-trip ticket costs just under €30; breaking the trip into bits and buying three separate tickets as I suggest here will cost a tiny bit more.

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Scenic Train Journeys in Portugal

Portuguese train routes offer a delightful escape into sun-kissed nature and heritage. Here’s how to take advantage of these scenic journeys.

Immerse yourself in Lisbon’s rich heritage on a full-day tour led by a local expert guide. Explore the Alfama district’s crooked cobblestone streets and stroll past grand cathedrals, before discovering Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower.

Porto to Pinhao

A full day trip from Porto to Pinhao allows you to experience some of the most beautiful scenery in Portugal. Traveling by train along the Douro River, you’ll see vineyards and villages clinging to hillsides and valleys with stunning vistas. You can also hop off at one of the many “miradouro” (viewpoints) and enjoy a lovely lunch overlooking the mountains.

The CP Douro line, which runs from Porto to Pinhao and back again, is renowned for its timeliness and comfort. The trains are modern and spacious with large windows, and the service is efficient. On-board amenities include free WiFi, power outlets, and comfortable seating. The Douro River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the views of the steep terraced vineyards are simply spectacular.

This scenic train journey is a great way to experience the Douro Valley, but it’s also possible to take a tour by bus or boat instead. Tours typically visit a number of wineries and offer tastings. They can be a great option if you’re interested in learning more about the region and exploring some of the most famous port houses.

You can book your trip with a guide or on your own. If you want to avoid crowds, we recommend booking your tour in advance and arriving early. This will give you plenty of time to explore the wineries and landscapes before catching the train back to Porto.

The Douro Valley is a gorgeous place, and it’s worth spending the extra time to get to know the region in depth. The best way to do this is by combining the train ride with a full-day tour that includes a visit to Mateus Palace, a traditional Portuguese lunch, a cruise on a rabelo boat, and wine tastings at amazing wineries. We can help you plan your trip to the Douro Valley and book your tours, hotel, and car rentals. Contact us now to get started.

Porto to Pocinho

The Douro Line, or Linha do Douro as it’s called locally, runs between Porto’s Sao Bento Station and the towns of Pinhao and Pocinho, with the last stretch from Regua to the Spanish border being hailed as one of Europe’s most scenic train journeys. The first hour of the trip, passing through suburbia and nondescript countryside, isn’t very exciting but after the town of Pala, the train begins to wind its way along the banks of the Douro, with the vineyards and vine-covered hills climbing up each side.

If you have time, sit by the window to enjoy the precious views of the hilly countryside and riverside villages, with a few windmills dotted about for good measure. This is the land where Port wine takes its name and a trip on the train is a great way to see it all, with the smoky, fragrant barrels of Port making their slow journey down the Douro in the flat-bottomed boats known as rabelos.

Once past the town of Foz de Douro, the landscape broadens into a vast river valley strewn with olive trees and flanked by a dam and power plant that loom ominously in the distance. This is a wild part of the Douro, where craggy rock formations and gorges cut deeply into the mountainside.

As you approach the town of Tua, the railway cuts through a series of tunnels and then up to a dam that’s the highest point on the line. This is where the scenery starts to really come into its own and once the train is over the dam, you’re in the final stretch towards Pocinho.

Many tourists take the entire trip all the way to Pocinho but it’s a bit of a long haul for a day trip from Porto and the village of Pocinho doesn’t have much to do other than walk around a little and have a drink or two. Instead, a more realistic option is to take the direct train to Pinhao which takes two and a half hours and then spend a relaxed afternoon in the pretty town exploring its streets, joining a short boat cruise or visiting the Miradouro de Casal de Loivos viewpoint.

Porto to Vila Real

If you’re looking for the perfect way to relax and enjoy a scenic train journey in Portugal, the Porto to Vila Real route is definitely one to consider. Starting from the dazzling tiled treat of Sao Bento station and heading through picturesque countryside, this trip offers plenty to keep you entertained along the way.

This route is served by a number of intercity and regional train services operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP). Train types include International trains that connect to Spain and France; Alfa Pendular, high-speed services between Porto, Lisbon and Faro; and Intercidades and Interregional, which are medium-distance options. The latter two operate in tandem with the International services, meaning you can easily switch between them to suit your schedule and budget.

When you arrive at Pocinho, the landscape widens into a lush valley studded with olive trees and a dam and power plant looming in the distance. Stretch your legs and take a moment to admire the stunning scenery before boarding the return train. If you’re feeling peckish, you can always grab a beer and unique crispy hot dog or Portuguese sandwich at the Gazela Cachorrinhos da Batalha snack bar right outside of the station.

Once back on the train, your journey begins to wind its way through the vineyards of the Douro Valley and up into the hills. The rolling landscape is a photographer’s dream, with the beautiful sunlight reflecting off the greenery. Whether you choose to sit in the front car or the rear, you’re sure to be impressed by the views as you head deeper into the heart of the Douro wine region.

Before your return journey to Porto, make sure you’ve visited Casa de Mateus, the 18th-century Baroque palace that houses some of the finest wine in all of Portugal. If time allows, don’t miss the chance to visit other enchanting historic manors like Quinta do Paco or Morao mountain, where you can marvel at the sweeping views over the region.

Your trip doesn’t have to end in Vila Real, as the local train service makes it easy to travel from here to popular destinations like Lisbon, Braga or Peso da Regua. Book your tickets and explore these amazing destinations with Omio today!

Porto to Sintra

The 167-mile (269 km) journey from Porto to Sintra is a scenic train ride in Portugal. The trip takes less than four hours by train and offers spectacular views of the Portuguese coast, forests, and countryside. The route passes through a number of beautiful villages and towns along the way.

The train is operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP), the national train company. The train leaves from the Campanha station in Porto, and arrives at the Lisbon Oriente station. From here, you can change to an urban train that runs to Sintra. This is a safe route, but you should always use common sense when travelling late at night and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid sitting next to people who look suspicious, and don’t show off expensive items in public.

Taking the train to Sintra is a great option for travelers who want to explore all of Portugal’s scenic railways without having to drive or rent a car. It is also a good choice for those who want to avoid traffic and parking problems in Sintra. The roads in the historic city center are narrow and steep, and there is very limited parking space. During the summer, this leads to traffic jams around the city as frustrated drivers try to find somewhere to park.

Buses are also a good option for getting to Sintra from Porto. There are direct routes offered by travel companies such as FlixBus and Rede Expressos. Direct services tend to save time and add convenience in terms of traveling, but they also cost a little more.

Regardless of the type of transportation you choose, it is always best to book your tickets in advance. Purchasing tickets at the last minute can be a hassle, and it may result in you missing your departure time. In addition, it is against the law to board a train without a valid ticket.

When booking your train tickets, be sure to select Comfort Class if you are looking for added amenities. This class offers reclining seats, power outlets, free WiFi, and a personal attendant who can assist you with any questions or concerns you might have. The class is also more spacious and comfortable, making it a great option for long trips.

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Suggested Day Trips in Portugal

The sights of Lisbon are fairly spread out so unlimited journeys on a hop-on hop-off bus is a good option here if your time is limited.

This full day tour from Porto includes wine, port and olive oil tasting, a traditional Portuguese lunch and a cruise along the Douro River in a Rabelo boat.

Enjoy a day trip to the 'Venice of Portugal' with its colourful buildings and canals. Your tour includes a criuse by traditional Moliceiro boat and a visit to Vagueira beach and lighthouse.

Allow a local guide to show you all the highlights of Faro including the best of local food and wine. You'll be treated to treats from the local market as well as a traditional lunch with wine pairings.

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Best Itinerary for 10 days in Portugal | Stories by Soumya

The Best 10 Day Portugal Itinerary By Train

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Soumya

Are you looking for an easy-to-do 10 day itinerary for Portugal ? Then I have just the thing for you.

Portugal is a beautiful country blessed with years of history, an interesting culture, and gorgeous golden sand beaches. If you are worried about how much you can see with 10 days in Portugal , then this itinerary is for you.

You will learn

  • Top places to visit in Portugal and how many days to spend at each location.
  • How to use public transport to see the best of Portugal in 10 days.
  • Practical information to plan your Portugal trip

This 10-day travel itinerary for Portugal is extremely flexible . Even though we went from north to south, you can easily turn it the other way round depending on where you arrive.

If you ever feel a little too overwhelmed with all the planning, feel free to check out some amazing guided tours that allow you to see the best of Portugal. Else, keep reading to plan your own, memorable 10 day Portugal itinerary by train and bus.

Table of Contents

What trains and buses to use for 10 days in Portugal?

Planning a trip to Portugal? We have the most epic 10 day Portugal itinerary for you. See the bigger cities, charming small towns, eat well, spot Azulejos, tour nature, and do much more. Come, spend 10 days in Portugal with us. #portugaltravelitinerary #portugaltraveltips #lisbon #porto #portugalitinerary10days #portugaldestinations #septembertravel

Please note: This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link on this post. This will be at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links help me keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support!

Since we don’t drive, our 10 day Portugal itinerary was completely done on trains and buses . And we found public transport in Portugal to be quite easy to use though a tad bit late sometimes. Within cities, we always used buses, metros, and trams. And they were super convenient.

For intercity travel in Portugal, we used the following.

  • Passenger trains in Portugal – It is easy to find out train timetables, ticket prices, and optimal routes on the Comboios de Portugal website .
  • Intercity buses – We also used Rede Expressos , a very reliable and convenient bus service.

The best 10 Day Portugal itinerary

We started our 10 days in Portugal in the north at Porto and finished in Lisbon . In between, we stopped in many different cities in Central Portugal.

I dreamed a lot about egg tarts (vegan versions also available), Azulejos, and picturesque Portuguese landscapes long before embarking on our trip. Needless to say, you will find tons about them in my 10 day itinerary for Portugal .

Plus, we have a lot of day trip options, heritage hotspots , and practical tips to help you plan your Portugal travel itinerary.

Many travelers combine Spain and Portugal together when they visit. If you wish to do that, you can evaluate Spain vs Portugal first and plan your trip accordingly. Our 10-day itinerary for Portugal will still help you sort your days in Portugal.

Read next: Curated List of the Top 17 Places to visit in Portugal

Day 1: Porto – The beginning of our Portugal 10 day itinerary [Reversible]

Azulejos in Porto | Stories by Soumya

Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. And to say the truth, it is as pretty as a picture.

Apart from being home to the world-famous Port wine, Porto is one of the best places to spot azulejos (blue and white ceramic tiles that depict life and culture).

We flew into Porto Airport on a Ryan Air flight from Brussels and spent two days sightseeing Porto.

On Day 1, we ticked off many highlights on our Porto bucket list such as climbing the Clerigos Tower, being stumped by the beauty of Palácio da Bolsa, walking the Porto Ribeira and strolling the Dom Luis I bridge.

Tips for visiting Porto

  • Stay in the historic city center if you wish to explore on foot.
  • If you are on a budget like we were, you can stay in the much cheaper area of Vila Nova de Gaia. We stayed at the Hotel Ibis and I would highly recommend it. The rooms are neat and comfortable. Their egg tarts are delicious. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Ibis Porto Gaia .
  • Get a Porto Card if you wish to save some money on entrance fees. A Porto Card makes a lot of sense for adults though not as much for kids under 12. Buy your Porto Card here.

Read our detailed review of the Porto Card with numbers.

Day 2: Day Trip to Douro Valley from Porto by train

Douro Valley | Stories by Soumya

On our second day in Porto, we took a much-awaited day trip to Pinhão and Pocinho from Porto.

The train ride through the majestic Douro Valley , a UNESCO Heritage Site, is extremely picturesque and well worth your time.

Douro Valley is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world and outright beautiful. Sprawling vineyards, fragrant orange groves, and sleepy villages dot both sides of the valley as Rio Douro snakes through in between.

A traditional Douro valley tour is highly recommended if you are looking forward to some great wine-tasting.

Tips for visiting the Douro Valley by train

  • Start early so that you can spend a good amount of time in Regua and Pinhão.
  • We would highly recommend you to go up to Pocinho and not just end your train ride at Pinhão. The scenery becomes more rugged and natural after Pinhão.
  • Refer to our complete Porto to Douro Valley train guide to plan your day.

Day 3: Porto

This was our second day in Porto. We spent a good amount of time Azulejo-spotting , tasting the best of Pastel de Nata, visiting the offbeat Tram museum, and taking a 6-Bridges Cruise down the Douro River.

Plus, we checked out some of the stunning churches such as Igreja de Carmo, Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, and Capela das Almas.

Read next: 17 Best Things to do in Porto .

Leaving for Coimbra by train

We left for Coimbra the same day. We took a late evening train to Coimbra from the Sao Bento Station in Porto. The train journey was a little more than an hour and included two easy changes.

Click here to check for trains from Porto to Coimbra.

Day 4: Coimbra and Conímbriga 

Coimbra Rio Mondego | Stories by Soumya

Coimbra is the often-ignored, culturally-rich cousin of Lisbon and Porto. It hardly figures on tourist itineraries. But once you get here, you will realize there are so many things to do in Coimbra .

Visiting one of the world’s oldest universities, having great family time at the miniature wonderland, and strolling through medieval streets resonating with Fado music are only a few of them.

You can also take a half-day trip to the Roman ruins of Conímbriga where you can see some wonderful floor mosaics from the Roman era. Use Transdev buses for the purpose. Refer to our guide on Conimbriga Roman Ruins for bus details.

Or do a full-day tour of Coimbra and Aveiro to get a flavor of Portugal’s canal town.

Where to stay in Coimbra?

In Coimbra, we stayed at Pensão Flôr de Coimbra, an extremely cozy place with a very friendly owner. The rooms are spotlessly clean and extremely comfortable.

Close proximity to the bus stop and the train station is an added advantage. They do not serve breakfast but we still recommend it wholeheartedly sans the breakfast. Break into a chat with the owner and he will be happy to indulge you. Book your stay at Pensão Flôr de Coimbra here.

Tips for visiting Coimbra & Conímbriga 

  • Take a morning trip to the Conímbriga ruins because it can get extremely hot in the afternoon and most of the ruins are out in the open.
  • Try the delicious Pastel de Tentugal at Coimbra.
  • Carry water and hat if you are hiking up to the university. It was really hot even in September.

Day 5: Leiria, Batalha, and Alcobaça

Our next stop on our Portugal 10 day itinerary was Leiria, another city in Central Portugal that does not see too many tourists.

Yet, it has some really interesting historic treasures such as the Leiria Castle, a 12th-century church, and the famous Rodrigues Lobo square – all doable in half a day.

When in Leiria, you can choose to stay at the impeccable, spacious, yet inexpensive Hotel D.Dinis that we really loved. Their breakfast cakes are drool-worthy. Book your stay at Hotel D.Dinis in Leiria here.

Leiria is also an easy gateway to the monastery towns of Batalha and Alcobaça which is another reason why we chose to stay here.

We got to Leiria from Coimbra on a Rede Expressos bus. The journey took an hour.

Batalha from Leiria – 15 minutes

The Unfinished Chapel at Batalha | Stories by Soumya

The Monastery of Batalha, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is a Gothic building with beautiful Manueline expressions. It is an absolute must-see heritage site when you are in Portugal.

While the main church is free to enter, you need to pay a small fee to see the beautifully-crafted cloisters and the melancholy but stunning Unfinished Chapel.

Alcobaça from Batalha – 30 minutes

After Batalha, we visited the Alcobaça Monastery yet another UNESCO Heritage Site in Portugal’s historic Estremadura Province.

The monastery houses the tombs of King Pedro I and his lover Inês de Castro. Theirs was one of the most tragic love stories in the history of Portugal, proof of which you can see on their tombs today.

Tips for Visiting Leiria, Batalha, & Alcobaça

  • Rede Expressos runs fast buses in the region. The local operator Rodotejo has more frequent buses. So, check them out too.
  • Try the delicious grilled seafood of Leiria and take time to appreciate the huge Portuguese pavements in the city.
  • Reserve at least 2 hours to see each of the monasteries.

Day 6: Day trip to Obidos

Obidos | Stories by Soumya

Many people prefer to do a full-day tour of Obidos, Batalha, and Alcobaça but we chose to reserve Day 6 for a trip to Obidos. This was because we were traveling with our 6-year-old and we wanted him to spend quality time climbing the city walls, enjoy looking at the flowers and colored houses and stroll the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Obidos.

Obidos is a charming village in Central Portugal that looks like it has jumped out of a postcard. It retains its medieval flavor with a number of old churches and bookshops peppered all over.

Obidos is also a great place to shop for colorful Portuguese souvenirs or take some really cool Insta-worthy pictures . When we were planning our itinerary for 10 days in Portugal, we were pretty sure we wanted to visit Obidos. And so we did!

Tips for Visiting Obidos

  • Getting to Obidos from Leiria can be a little tricky. You first need to take a Rede Expressos or a Rodoviaria do Lis bus from Leiria to Caldas Rainha (50 minutes). Then take a Rodoviaria do Oeste or Rodotejo bus from Caldas Rainha to Obidos.
  • Obidos gets pretty crowded during the day. If you are planning for a day trip, make sure you come really early. For those gorgeous Obidos photographs too.
  • If you are planning to stay in Obidos and are on a budget, stay outside the city walls.
  • There are a number of events and festivals going on in Obidos throughout the year. Check them out on Obidos’ Official Website to plan your trip better.

Check out 24 stunning pictures from Obidos to further inspire your wanderlust!

Day 7 & 8: Lisbon – The last stop on our 10 day Portugal itinerary

Out of our 10 days in Portugal, we spend the maximum time in Lisbon and for good reason. We were here for 4 days. Though we thought 7 would have been better since there is so much to see in this city.

Recommended: If you are here for a shorter time, have a look at our 2 days in Lisbon itinerary .

Since we were on a budget, we stayed a little further away from the city center at Hotel Ibis Lisboa Alfragide. There is a bus stop right next door and you can easily get to the city center from here in less than 15 minutes. Book your stay at Hotel Ibis Lisboa Alfragide here.

We spent the first two days exploring Lisbon’s best attractions , Portugal’s Azulejo history, riding an antique tram, hopping onto a funicular, and strolling through the Alfama district and unearthing its multiple treasures. Also took a short trip to the beach of Carcavelos and my little one really enjoyed it.

Southern Portugal has many natural landmarks including the beaches of Algarve, the islands of Madeira and Tenerife, and the Rota Vicentina and Fishermen’s Trail . Unfortunately, we did not have time for them this time. On my list for my next 10 days in Portugal.

Tips for Visiting Lisbon

  • Again take a Rede Expressos bus to get to Lisbon from Leiria. They have buses every hour. The journey takes 2 hours.
  • Get a Lisboa Card for sightseeing in Lisbon and Belem. It helps you save a good amount of money on entrance tickets. Plus, public transport is free. Buy your Lisboa Card here.
  • Tram #28 that runs between Martim Moniz and Campo Ourique and through the picturesque Alfama district is often a must-do item on everyone’s Lisbon bucket list . That is why it is extremely crowded during peak hours. My suggestion is to go really early or board from Campo Ourique to encounter fewer tourists.
  • Read up our guide on Lisbon off the beaten path and visit the less-crowded, beautiful places in Lisbon.

Day 9: Day trip to Sintra & Cabo da Roca

Pena Palace at Sintra | Stories by Soumya

On our third day in Lisbon, we decided to take a day trip to Sintra . We just took the train from Lisbon to Sintra .

Pena Palace and Quinta de Regaleira were the highlights of our Sintra day trip itinerary. And then, there were the famed travesseiros of Casa Pirquita. Delightful flaky, pillow-shaped pastries that you must absolutely try when in Sintra.

We then took a bus to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe. After this, we rode to the beach town of Cascais and enjoyed a hearty dinner there.

Tips for Visiting Sintra and Cabo da Roca

  • If you are taking the bus from Sintra station, I suggest you get off at Pena Palace (this is the last and highest stop) first and then walk your way down to other sights. It saves you a lot of energy.
  • When we visited in early September, the parks of Pena Palace were closed due to fear of forest fires! This is something you might have to consider when planning your trip to Sintra.
  • Carry a light jacket with you if you are planning to go to Cabo da Roca. It can get really cold and windy here even if the rest of Portugal is boiling.

Read next: Perfect 1-day itinerary for Sintra Portugal

Day 10: Day trip to Belem

Cloisters of Jeronimos Monastery at Belem | Stories by Soumya

On the last of our 10 days in Portugal, we chose to visit Belem. Belem is home to some of the most iconic tourist attractions in Lisbon such as the Belem Tower , the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Discovery Monument.

You can also try the famous Portuguese dessert , Pastel de Nata, at Fábrica Pastéis de Belém right here.

Tips for Visiting Belem

  • Crowds at the Jeronimos Monastery start to thin after 1 pm. So, the afternoon is a great time to visit and save yourself from the scorching heat at the same time.
  • Lisboa Cardholders can skip the line to enter the cloisters at Jeronimos.
  • Refer to our Belem Tower guide to plan your trip here.
  • Visit Fábrica Pastéis de Belém really late in the evening to avoid the crowds. They are open from 8 am – 11 pm every day and there is no queue after 9 pm.

Check out more amazing day trips from Lisbon.

This was how our 10 day Portugal itinerary by train looked like.

If we had some more time, we would have loved to visit the beaches of Algarve, the medieval city of Evora, and the heritage town of Braga . For the next time, then.

Are you planning to visit Portugal for 10 days or more? Need help with something? Drop us a comment below and we will get back to you.

More than 10 days in Portugal?

If you plan to spend more than 10 days in Portugal, refer to our amazing list of Portugal posts for more ideas and itineraries.

  • Top 17 Heritage places to visit in Portugal
  • What to do in Lisbon – Top 15 Lisbon attractions that you cannot miss!
  • 6 Amazing day trips from Lisbon
  • Best Lisbon itinerary for 2 days
  • Best Things to do in Porto
  • 8 Amazing day trips from Porto
  • Where to spot the best azulejos in Porto
  • How to spend a day in Coimbra?

Loved our 10 day Portugal itinerary? Pin it for later!

Planning a trip to Portugal? We have the most epic 10 day Portugal itinerary for you. See the bigger cities, charming small towns, eat well, spot Azulejos, tour nature, and do much more. Come, spend 10 days in Portugal with us. #portugaltravelitinerary #portugaltraveltips #lisbon #porto #portugalitinerary10days #portugaldestinations #septembertravel

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  • Best Things To Do In Coimbra Portugal In One Day
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  • Lisbon To Sintra By Train: All You Need To Know

rail journeys in portugal

37 thoughts on “ The Best 10 Day Portugal Itinerary By Train ”

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I haven’t been to Portugal but it looks like a small country for you to be able to navigate in 10 days! How are the public transport these days? This year, I always opt to rent a car and I feel like Portugal is a perfect start for a European roadtrip. Do you have any information on car rental or maybe buying an RV (and selling it after the Eu trip)? Thanks for the tips – will definitely follow this road!

Hi Cristina,

Portugal is definitely smaller than most other countries in Europe. However, even though, we were able to move from north to south of Portugal in 10 days, we would have loved to see more of the country along its breadth. If you look at my related post on the best places to visit in Portugal , you will notice that there’s so much one can do. Enough to spend a couple of days. Public transport is pretty good in Portugal. May not be on time always but neat, convenient, and cheap. We used public transport for our entire journey of 10 days. Many travelers do roadtrip through Portugal and prefer doing so. You will find various rental options on the official website of Visit Portugal.

I was planning for Portugal before Covid but have to postpone it and I am sure, I will be referring to your itinerary for planning my trip. You have good mixture of historical things to do and cultural things to do here. I am impressed by the architecture of Belem in Portugal.

Belem is definitely one of the highlights of Portugal. Speaks of so many years of Portuguese maritime history and that’s amply reflected in the Manueline architecture here.

Had I seen this plan two years back I would have probably traveled exactly the way you have. Ours was only a 5 day trip and could only experience Lisbon, Sintra & Olhao. Porto looks beautiful for sure. But next time I would love to visit Leiria, Batalha, Alcobaça & Belem to experience the real Portugal. Thanks for wonderful guide.

You are welcome, Subhashish. I am glad you found this useful.

It sounds a great idea to travel around Portugal. I’ve visited Lisbon twice but only for a day on a cruise. I agree that it’s a must to try the Pastel de Nata! Funnily enough, I visited the palace at Sintra when I was six, hopefully your child enjoyed it, I think I was quite bored at that age and didn’t appreciate it. So many great places for people planning a trip around Portugal.

My son loved the Pena Palace for its colors, thankfully. Otherwise I would have been one tortured mom. 🙂

Ah!!! This makes me want to go back to Portugal SO MUCH! I loved Sintra, Porto, Lisbon, and the Douro Valley wineries. I need to head to some of these other places, though. I was supposed to go this month, but the trip got pushed to April. I really hope it happens. I really want to get back!!

I hope the same too. Good luck for your next trip to Portugal.

This is a great, very detailed itinerary to Portugal. You have provided so many valuable tips which help planning a trip. I have only been to Lisbon, so I would like to use your recommendations for other places worth seeing in Portugal. On my list is the Monastery of Batalha, a UNESCO Heritage Site, Porto and Coimbra. Obidos seems worth visiting too. Thank you for sharing such a perfect itinerary!

You are welcome, Agnes. I am glad this was helpful.

Your 10 day itinerary for Portugal is spectacular! You really did not miss a single detail and make it extremely helpful for one to navigate Portugal in 10 days. Some of the spots you mentioned I had never heard of previously and extend thanks to you for showing me them. Coimbra in particular looks gorgeous and gives me serious wanderlust. The sights you highlighted look like an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing!

Glad you liked it, Rina. Coimbra is a beautiful UNESCO world heritage site but much lesser known than Lisbon and Porto. It’s a great place to add to your Portugal itinerary .

Ah, Portugal – what a fabulous country! I love this itinerary Soumya, as it covers many of the country’s most interesting spots. Porto is my favorite city and Jeronimos Monastery is definitely a must. I’ve never been to Obidos, but I’m taking note for my next trip, as it looks just adorable!

Obidos is so quaint and colorful, you will love it. And yeah, Porto is simply wonderful. I fell in love with the city.

Portugal is one of my favorite countries in Europe, the people there are really nice and the food is fantastic. Your iItinerary is very similar to the one I would have uploaded if I had made one. I am glad that you have Jeronimo’s Monastery as, in my opinion, it is one of the nicer places to visit in Lisbon.

That’s true, Ann. Jeronimos is definitely one of the prettiest places to visit in Lisbon as well as in Portugal.

Portugal is definitely one of the top countries in Europe that I want to visit. I have seen so many beautiful photos of Portugal online especially Porto and Lisbon. The only time I have tried and egg tart was in Macau and I’m sure the egg tarts in Portugal will be 5x better. I am currently planning a trip to Europe and this detailed itinerary and guide is really helpful for me.

Portugal is indeed a beautiful country. And those tarts are delicious. Even I tried my first egg tart in Macau and have been hooked ever since. Hope you have a great trip to Europe and get to see the beauty of Portugal as well.

I like that your itinerary is done by public transport. I typically travel using only public transport too so it is helpful getting tips on how to get from one place to another in Portugal. Looks like you were still able to get to a lot of different places in the country. Good to know that Leiria isn’t too touristy. I always like to include at least one place on every travel itinerary that is lesser-known and visited.

Agree. The real treasure lies in the lesser known places.

Portugal is definitely high on my list but I have not yet made it there. My favorite thing would probably be spotting the azulejus and riding the tram. Porto are is interesting too and looks beautiful. I would like to try some excellent porto wines.

Spotting azulejos is so much fun and riding the tram too. I hope you have a great trip when you get to Portugal

I have been to Portugal once but it was a really short span of time and I couldn’t see or do much of the things you’ve mentioned. I would like to go again soon someday and visit Douro Valley the view shot was awesome! The best fact for me in Portugal was that the houses were so bright and colorful.

Douro Valley is really pretty. And yes, those houses are so photogenic. Hope you have a great second trip to Portugal.

I always thought Portugal has Lisbon, Porto and Algrave as worth visiting places but reading your post now made me interested to other quirky places too. You have done lot of town or places in 10 days which is really appreciating. I am saving this detailed itinerary for my future visit to Portugal. Coimbra and Conimbriga though ignored by tourists looks my kind of place and I would surely go for it. The views of colorful houses here are stunning. Also it is great that you have listed all hotel stays in all these cities which makes me easier to plan my Portugal holiday.

Thanks for the kind words Yukti. I am sure you will love Coimbra and Conímbriga. And it easy to get to places within Portugal since it is not very big. Therefore, we could do so many interesting places. I would love to go back and experience them again.

I love Portugal but there’s so much more to see that I haven’t done yet. I’m getting some great idea here, Porto looks amazing so I’d definitely add that to the list. I absolutely loved the architecture of the monastery at Belem, such an evocative building with an interesting history.

Absolutely, Paul. Those monasteries are so unique and intriguing. I would highly recommend doing at least one apart from Jeronimos in Lisbon.

That’s on a perfect timing. I’m heading to Portugal soon, but only for 3 days, in and around Lisbon. Douro Valley looks gorgeous. Good to know that there are tours that include wine tasting as well. That gives a good reason to plan another trip to Portugal haha. Monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaça are important places that I’m missing in this trip as well. More reason to do another trip! Thanks for the tip about the best time to visit Jeronimos Monastery. Will keep that in mind. How much time did it take by bus from Sintra centre to Cabo de Roca?

Hey Bhushavali. Good to hear about your travel plans to Portugal. Lisbon is beautiful and there’s so much to do there. I am sure you will love it. The Sintra bus trip to Cabo da Roca took us 40 minutes. And you can board one right at the city centre.

I’ve been to Portugal 3 times and clearly really enjoy it! Reading your post brings back so many great memories that I think a fourth visit is in order 🙂 I much prefer the north, so Porto wins over Lisbon for me. I’ve not explore much of central Portugal or Leiria and Batalha so I’d love to explore these places the next time I return.

That’s lovely. Portugal 3 times. I would love that. And yeah, central Portugal is beautiful and less touristy. So the monasteries make for great additions to your 4th time Portugal itinerary.

10 days in Portugal sounds lovely! Porto and Lisbon are high on my bucket list, but there’s so much to see beyond those cities too. The monastery in Belem looks fascinating. I bet there’s so much history there!

There’s lots of history in Portugal. And I would encourage you to visit these smaller places as well for the real feel of Portugal.

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The World’s Best Luxury Train Trips: Portugal’s The Presidential Train

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Like the famous Orient Express, Portugal’s own The Presidential Train is a perennial member on the exclusive list of the world’s most luxurious train trips. Onboard, passengers are treated to world class dining prepared by a rotating cast of Michelin-starred chefs as they make the one day return trip from Porto to the Douro Valley wine region.

More than that, passengers get to experience riding on what was once a purpose built train to serve royalty. They will, decades removed, be in sitting in the same seats and dining in the same carriage that was once reserved for the likes of kings, queens, presidents, heads of states, and popes since 1890. It is history…unfrozen and untethered from time.

the presidential train pulling into Sao bento station

A Second Farewell For The Presidential Train

To say it was a privilege to be guests on this luxurious train journey would be an understatement, but the whole thing felt even more poignant after stepping on board and learning that we would be on one of the Presidential Train’s final trips (for a second time in it’s storied history).

A little backstory.

In 1970, the Presidential Train carried the body of Portugal dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, following his death, to his hometown of Vimiero. That was its farewell trip and would have been the end of the story, had the train not been restored in the 2010s by a Portuguese entrepeneur, Gonçalo Castel-Branco, to take a new list of guests on a world class culinary tour to the Douro Valley.

dining table on luxury train rides

For 6 1/2 years starting in 2016, the train welcomed world class chefs and lucky passengers on daily weekend trips from Porto to Quinta do Vesuvio and back.

On October 29, 2022, The Presidential Train welcomed 6 of the best Portuguese chefs to come aboard and create an unforgettable final dining experience. The train will then pull into Sao Bento station one last time and return, indefinitely (because who can say forever), to the National Railway Museum as part of its permanent exhibition.

Our own journey took place on September 11th, just a month and a few trips before the final farewell.

rail journeys in portugal

Bringing The Presidential Train Back To Life

But let’s rewind.

The story of how The Presidential Train was brought back to life goes something like this. After Salazar’s funeral journey, the train decommissioned, moved away and mostly forgotten about for decades.

Eventually, it found a home at the National Railway Museum in Entroncamento, where Gonçalo Castel-Branco happened upon it and immediately fell in love.

outside of the presidential train

As he tells it, “at dinner that night when I tried to share what I had seen with my family and said, ‘we must have an idea for this train!’ to which my 10-year-old daughter replied, ‘why don’t we make a restaurant on it?”

That idea stuck, and after years of restoration, pitching the idea to investors, partners, chefs and purveyors of Portugal’s finest products, permission to run the train on the historic Douro Valley line was secured and The Presidential Train was reborn.

Returning To A Different Era Of Travel

Practically speaking, those wanting to travel to the Douro Valley can take a train that goes from Porto to Pinhão or Pochinho for about 24 euros roundtrip. The journey is about 3-3.5 hours each way in a comfortable modern train.

black and white passengers waiting for train at regua station in Portugal

By contrast, The Presidential Train costs 750 euros. Simply riding on a historic train carriage, especially one without any modern facilities or amenities and costing hundreds more, would hardly seem like enough of an appeal to justify the price difference.

But sharing the same path is where the comparison ends.

entertainment salon carriage on the presidential train

In an age where speed and efficiency rules, one can easily question how some slow and old train trips that cost between $4000-$10000 and beyond can exist. And yet they do.

The Belmond British Pullman , the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express , and the Mahajaras’ Express are regularly sold out months in advance. The Cruise Train Seven Stars in Japan has a 4 day 3 night trip that works on a lottery application opened for just one month a year for trips in the following year.

The demand is there…because these train rides, the slower and longer they are, offer an nostalgic escape to a different time where traveling was mostly a privilege.

And those who could afford such travels, had the same taste for high class comfort and service on the road as they did at home. One can hardly expect Monsieur Hercule Poirot to dine on canned tuna when he ventures outside of England to solve a murder.

Michelin Starred Chefs…Aboard

With that in mind, the foundation behind Gonçalo’s The Presidential Train experience was one built around the senses and, of course, the stomach. And there’s no better way to provide high-end dining than to just bring on board a changing cast of Michelin-starred chefs to design a bespoke dining experience lasting from the first few moments you step onto the train and ending only when it returns to its station of departure.

woman holding glass of white wine on luxury presidential train

With the sheer number of different Michelin-starred chefs that have been invited to cook on The Presidential Train, I wonder if there’s anyone who’s more connected in the high-end Portuguese dining scene. And passengers on the train are the luckily beneficiary of that network.

On our journey, we had Chef Diogo Rocha, author of three award-winning books, and a holder of a Michelin Star since 2019 for his Mesa de Lemos Restaurant .

Paired with him was Chef Óscar Geadas, a member of the Portugal’s culinary society and known for his turn as a jury member on Masterchef Portugal. Geladas, too, has held a Michelin Star since 2019, for his restaurant, G Pousada .

In other words, we were in good hands.

entertainment salon carriage on the presidential train in portugal

Amuse Bouche

Our scheduled departure from Sao Bento station was 11:30 am. After checking in at 11 and being handed a welcome invitation reminiscent of old train tickets, we eagerly began to explore the different carriages.

invitation ticket for the presidential train in portugal

At 11:29 am, we were in our cabin just in time for a server to arrive with a bottle of sparkling 2016 Niepoort Spumante Olo. At exactly 11:30 am on the nose, I had the first, of many, glasses of wine in my hand.

server offering niepoort sparkling espumante wine to woman on the presidential train

A few minutes late, we were off and the same server came back with a little amuse bouche of cured tuna that just melted in my mouth. The sun was starting to warm up the day and our cabin as we followed the Douro River east away from Porto.

rail journeys in portugal

Let The Lunch Begin

A second appetizer of partridge terrine came out alongside a refill of our glasses, which I happily accepted. We had a chance to chat with the couple also in our cabin. The gentlemen was a food writer in Lisbon, so we shared a mutual appreciation for good eats and travel.

The cabin itself has the same look as it once did in the past, but with new interiors commissioned to be remade by the same company that made the original.

rail journeys in portugal

Shortly after 12, we were invited to take our seats in the dining carriage for lunch. Dining like this on an old train has long been one of my dream bucket list items. Everything was ready and neatly laid out. Crisp linen cloth, spotless glasses for the white and red wines and of course the menu.

rail journeys in portugal

A Culinary Showcase of Portugal’s Flavors (Part I)

First thing to note. Our waiter informed us that all the wine we’d be drinking on the train today was from the Niepoort Winery , a historic producer of port wine in Portugal since 1842. Their wines are considered to be some of the best in the country.

We started with a 2021 Douro Redoma Reserva Branco. Bright and fresh with a slightly dry finish.

It was served alongside the first course, Scarlet Prawn with White Bean. The prawn was from the southern Algarve region and the humble white bean is a staple in many of Portugal’s traditional stew.

Here, they are both presented very simply. The prawn was soft and sweet and the texture was so delicate, but still had a firm bite to it. The beans were prepared in a way that reminded me of risotto. I could have easily eaten a dozen more of these prawns.

rail journeys in portugal

Next was a 2018 Niepoort Vinhas Velhas Bairrada. I really liked this white and found it very crisp with both fruit and floral notes, acidic but not in an overly sharp way.

niepoort vinha velhas bairrada white wine bottle

The second course was a cod neck with “couscous.” Bacalhau (dried and salted cod) is a staple of a food as you can find in Portugal and can be prepared in so many ways that chefs have no shortage of methods of preparing and serving it.

The “couscous” of the dish was a take on the grain but in a very rustic and creamy way giving a bit of textural contrast to the more firm but melt in your mouth tender cod. The whole dish was topped with a savory foam.

Michelin Star preparation of bacalhau cod with sea foam

Using The Same Toilet As Queen Elizabeth

With a few glasses of wine already in me, it was time to excuse myself to visit the restroom. Relieving oneself on a moving train in an always too tight and always too dank smelling toilet is rarely something to look forward to, but not on The Presidential Train.

The toilet itself has a seat made of solid wood to match the interior of the restroom and train. Connected to the exposed water piping is a mechanical flushing lever with vintage plated signs pointing to “Fechada” for closed and “Aberta” for open. I love these details and it was very satisfying to flush.

The faucet and sink was unlike any that I’ve seen in my travels. What I thought was the lever to turn on the water was actual the spout itself. Swing it towards you and water comes out. I may or may not have stayed in the toilet longer than usual to admire all the little details.

And it wasn’t just the toilet. These original details were everywhere on the train and helped to really sell the feeling of traveling back in time.

vintage ventilation lever on the presidential train ventilacao

I definitely stood there imagining how Queen Elizabeth II probably once stood to wash her hands in the very same small restroom before making her way through the corridors back to her seat.

A Showcase of Portugal’s Finest Flavors (Part II)

For our third course, we had Kid Goat and Potato . This was my favorite dish of the meal. The meat was tender and rich with a jus that brought out the slight gaminess in the thin layer of fat on the goatling.

It was served with slightly sweet compote and…a piece of potato. Obviously, not just a piece of potato, as you can see, but an elevation of a simple ingredient into a realm where it could be a dish on its own.

Michelin Star kid goat recipe with potato spiral

In this case, it looks like a potato was peeled into one long and uniterrupted slice that’s then rolled into a tight cylinder, baked and then cut to form a beautiful medallion of potato that’s crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

The Wines Never Stop Coming

We had also moved to the red wines now with a 2019 Niepoort Charme. I found this wine to drink very much like some of my favorite Cabernet Francs in the way it’s complex but very smooth. A robust wine with notes of fruit, but not in a too sweet way.

The alcohol percentage is only 13.5% in this unfortified wine, so this would be a great red for day drinking. Not that I do that of course.

I noted that we each had at least 6 glasses of wine by this point and it was only 1:35 pm when we pulled in the town of Regua and the sort of halfway point before reaching Quinta Do Vesuvio.

It was also during our little stop that chefs Diogo and Oscar came out to mingle with the guests. I loved their playful energy and was glad to be able to personally express my appreciation for their dishes. It was also a nice little break before dessert.

chef diogo rocha and cesar geadas being playful on the presidential train September 11, 2022.

World Class Staff

I have to take a moment to remark on the rest of the staff. From my first conversation talking to The Presidential Train’s marketing liaison, Sofia Santos, to the moment I stepped off the train with a fully and warm belly, everything was so professional but warm.

That’s the best way to describe it. I’ve been lucky to experience some amazing world class service around the world, but in some places, it can feel very old-fashioned or formal or even cold.

Everyone we encountered on the train seemed very excited to be there and we felt the kind of hospitality you’d like to see as a regular rather than just purely professional service. The smiles felt genuine and everyone was eager to help us make the most of the experience.

woman taking polaroid photo for guests on the presidential train

This is very much a testament to the type of people The Presidential Train brings on board.

A Dessert To Pretty To Eat

São Pedro Velho Strawberries and Basil. The name gives only a hint to the composition of the dish, but what came out was a visual delight that equally teased the palate with so many different ingredients and flavor. Sweet, tart, creamy, refreshing, and crunchy only sort of describe how everything comes together.

This was a fun dish.

Michelin Star strawberry and basil dessert the presidential train

And it came out with, naturally, a port, a Niepoort Bioma Crusted. I don’t alway seek it out, but I always enjoy a good port that’s not too sweet when the opportunity presents itself.

I learned here that a crusted port is a blend 2-3 ports that are then matured. They compare well with vintage ports. Both leave sediments at the bottom of the bottle which adds to the character and profile of the wine. And both are rarer in production than your normal port.

server porting niepoort port bioma crusted wine

The Man Behind The Presidential Train

One of the unique aspect of the The Presidential Train is that man behind the whole concept, Gonçalo, goes on every journey with the passengers. Early on, he stopped by our cabin for a welcome onto the train introduction. During lunch, he was going between the two dining carriages and chatting with the guests.

Gonçalo castelo branco on the presidential train with guests

Though I knew the wines would still continue to pour, I thought we were done with the meal. I was wrong. A plate of petit fours with truffles and cookies came out to accompany an afternoon coffee. With the warm sun and the ample amount of wine, I was glad for a caffeine fix.

Moments later, we pulled up to Vesuvio station. The meal was timed to finish at the perfect moment. Here, I was actually relieved to get out and stretch the legs after a full 3 hour meal (we never actually returned to our cabin once lunch started).

Following Gonçalo, we get to a picturesque vineyard that could easily be straight out of Italy. Here, he gave us a little history about the train and the winery before taking us to the estate.

visiting quinta do Vesuvio vineyard

Experiencing Quinta Do Vesuvio

Home to the Symington family, whose been producing port wine in the Douro Valley since 1882, the Quinta Do Vesuvio is one of their finest estate and one that’s not usually open to the public.

quinta do Vesuvio terrace

Through The Presidential Train, we got the chance to visit this private working estate to enjoy a selection of wines and vintage ports (cigars and cocktails were also available) on their estate terrace that overlooks the adjacent chapel.

quinta do vesuvio port wine tasting table

For those interested, Gonçalo brought us to the stone lagares  to show where the grapes are still stomped by feet and the wine is still produced in the same original method every year following the harvest.

quinta do vesuvio guests visiting cellar laggers

UPDATE: Quinta Do Vesuvio is for the first time offering private tours to the estate that includes a tasting and lunch. This visit requires advanced reservation and costs between 450-500 euros per person depending on the group size.

rail journeys in portugal

At around 5:10 pm, we stood by the station tracks to await the return of The Presidential Train with its distinctive whistle. Then it was back on the train. This time, our table was on the opposite side of the carriage to give us a different view for the return journey. A thoughtful touch.

view of the duoro river from the window of the presidential train

There’s Always Space For Charcuterie

A new menu card was provided and a quick count revealed 15 different “dishes.” I had no idea how we would eat all of that if the lunch was anything to go by.

As it turns out, several of these items were all plated together into two “charcuterie” platter. The first I would call a meat and cheese plate.

  • 12 month aged Ilha cheese from Lactacores
  • Chiba goat and sheep cheese from the Queijaria Cheese Shop
  • Varanegra cured ham from Salsicharia Estremocense
  • Smoked sausage from Pinhao
  • Sweet red pepper jam from Jose Gourmet

charcuterie platter on the presidential train

The second was more of a seafood charcuterie plate.

  • Cod pate and cuttlefish and shrimp pate from Jose Gourmet
  • Trout with garlic and parsley and smoked sardines from Jose Gourmet

All of this was served with a selection of Niepoort wines and a very refreshing cold tea. At this point, I am admittedly a little more than tipsy, but the flavors of the never ending treats continued to deliver.

rail journeys in portugal

I slowed down on the wine and made we pretty much consumed all the bread alongside the charcuterie and cheeses to keep from getting drunk.

Slowing Down Time

As a photographer, I was compelled to step away from the table every few minutes to try to capture the magic of the fast changing sunset light and landscapes.

view of the duoro river from the window of the presidential train

Leaning out the window, with the feeling of the wind in my hair and the wine doing its thing, I was at peace. There was a happiness that begged for time to slow down, for the light to stay the way it was, and for the journey to keep going forever.

rail journeys in portugal

As we slowed to a station, I noticed a woman with a large basket of white bags expectantly waiting for the train. This image brought back memories of train travel through places like India or Myanmar, where each stop would offer passengers a chance to buy food and drinks from a chorus of vendors selling through the windows.

Next thing I knew, she was on the train going through the carriages and dropping off little white bundles on each table.

When I looked closer, it had a “The Presidential 2022 Edition” sticker on it. This small gesture left a deep impression on me since this was obviously pre-orchestrated to add another nostalgic element to the whole traveling on trains in the past experience. I loved it.

When we took off again, I used the last bit of light from golden hour to capture the many details that I had missed early in the day.

rail journeys in portugal

Room For Dessert

By this time, I had stopped drinking, despite the temptation. In between each plate, we walked around to the different carriages. Near the front, there’s a salon of sort with some comfortable vintage couches. The previously empty space was now occupied by a piano player who began to play a beautiful song for us when we entered.

We sat a while and just listened.

rail journeys in portugal

Whenever I saw servers moving along the corridor with a new dish, we promptly returned to our table. I definitely didn’t want to miss out on any of the many desserts that would come out wave after wave.

  • Yuzo and Cardamom Financier
  • Red Fruits Tartelette
  • Carob, Tonka Bean and Salted Caramel Cookie
  • Scones with Cranberries and Whipped Cream
  • Red Fruits Jam and Pumpkin Jam with Walnuts

It just was never ending.

red fruits tnrtelette on the presidential train

Portuguese Guitarra and Belgian Chocolates

While the piano music entertainment was obviously confined to the salon carriage, a Portuguese guitar player moved about and put on an evening performance in each of the dining carriages.

I recognized a couple of classical pieces that was being played on the traditional 12 string Portuguese guitarra and it was very relaxing to listen to while we digested our desserts.

rail journeys in portugal

Another beautiful detail that added to magic and experience of this type of travel.

And then as if all the desserts weren’t already enough, two servers came out carrying a beautiful wooden glass box that I initially mistaken from afar as a large cigar box. Close up, the content was instead columns of truffles and chocolates in all sorts of elegant and intricate shapes from Neuhaus , one of, if not the best, Belgium’s finest chocolatiers.

Neuhaus belgian chocolate truffle gift box

As we listened to all the different options, I was thinking aloud that it was so hard to choose while carefully narrowing down to 3 selections.

“Choose as many as you like.”

While that was tempting, I did stick with a more respectable 3 pieces and immediately wondered if I should have just listened instead.

Until The Train Pulls In

Portuguese caldo verde on the presidential train

As we neared Campanha station, the dining had yet to be concluded and one final dish was brought out – a traditional Portuguese Caldo Verde. My curiosity was piqued earlier when I saw that a soup would be the last course AFTER all the desserts.

And yet, somehow the slightly creamy vegetable soup just worked to close the entire meal leaving us with a warm feeling in our bellies as the train pulled up to Sao Bento station around 10 pm.

A Parting Well Made

While I could not have asked for anything more to the day, The Presidential Train did not let us go away empty handed. Instead, it sent us off with several parting gifts.

The first was a gorgeous hard cover booklet, beautifully designed inside and out, to give us the story and history of The Presidential Train along with a breakdown of each part of our journey, the wines, the meals, the chefs, the vineyard and more. A gorgeous memento to remember a once in a lifetime trip.

When we stepped off the train and walked towards the exit, the full staff of The Presidential Train was already lined up to offer bright smiles and a warm farewell.

And then, for one last surprise, we were given a gift bag to take home.

“So the culinary experience doesn’t end here.”

Amongst the treasure was a small bottle of Graham’s 10 Year Tawny Port in  a cute cylindrical packaging, a bottle of red wine, a beautiful artist sketchbook, and a bar of the wonderfully smelling bar of Portus Cale soap from Castelbel.

Was The Presidential Train Worth It?

At around 750 euros per person for a one day train journey, the price might seem a little daunting initially. But having experienced everything The Presidential Train offered, I have this to say.

Simply put, as far as luxury train rides in the world, The Presidential Train is far and away the most economical and value-filled trip that one can experience.

While I don’t know the exact economics of what putting together a trip of this caliber costs, I can say that Gonçalo and The Presidential Train spares no expenses in giving their guests the absolute best experience. And I have to speculate that this cuts incredibly deep in the profitability, if there’s any, of operating The Presidential Train.

From sourcing the train, pulling the Michelin-starred chefs away from their restaurants, bringing on board an endless supply of fine wines, procuring private access to Quinta do Vesuvio, and sending us off with all sorts of treats, the trip was worth every penny and more.

rail journeys in portugal

It feels like a deep passion project. A love letter of sorts to Portugal to showcase what the country has to offer in terms of history and culinary prowess. While the trips have come to an end, the memories imprinted on its guests over the years, will surely endure. I can’t wait to see what Gonçalo will set his sights on next.

If you’re looking for more quirky and interesting travel ideas, check out my bucket list for some inspiration and I hope to see you out there.

Updated on October 24, 2023

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Kien is an international photographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He captures his adventures on and believes in living for those moments that make the best stories, told or untold. He is working through his bucket list and wants to help others do the same. Follow him on Instagram @hellokien .


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