Portugal Rail Passes and Train Tips

By Rick Steves

Are rail passes a good value for Portugal?

For most travelers going to Portugal, a rail pass doesn't make much sense, especially for those not traveling beyond Portugal. Even if your trip extends into Spain, consider that Lisbon–Madrid connections leave just once a day and take at least 9 hours (many travelers find that flights are a better option on this stretch). Connecting Portugal and Sevilla is faster and easier by bus, which isn't covered by rail passes.

How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?

Train & Bus Fares: Portugal & Spain

Map shows approximate costs, in $US, for one-way, second-class tickets. For first-class fares, add 50 percent.

Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. Dashed lines show bus routes, which aren't covered by rail passes.

Also, follow the links below for:

More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
The basics on choosing among rail passes
More tips for getting the most out of a rail pass
General advice on deciding between first and second class
Fare-estimate maps outside Portugal & Spain
Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions

What are my options for rail passes that cover Portugal?

Portugal Eurail Pass

Eurail Global Pass (33 countries) → read more about this pass

Rail Europe shopping cart: Have an order underway? Review and complete it here.

Do I need to make seat reservations on Portuguese trains?

Reservations are required before boarding Alfa Pendular and Inter City trains (€5, sold only in Portugal); you also need seat or sleeper reservations on overnight trains into Spain. See our general advice on making seat reservations.

What do rail passes cover in Portugal?

Rail passes cover all travel on trains run by the national railway, Comboios de Portugal. Rail passes do not, however, cover buses, which offer faster and/or more frequent connections between some places in Portugal.

Any tips for connecting into Spain?

  • Lisbon–Madrid: Flying may be your fastest and even cheapest option, as plane tickets can go for just $40. Otherwise it's an 8–9-hour bus ride ($65, 2/day) or a longer, less convenient train ride ($70 without a rail pass, 1/day, at least 9 hours with two connections)
  • Lisbon–Sevilla: Without a rail pass, bus and train tickets cost roughly the same (about $50), but the bus is more frequent, and often faster (bus: 7–10 hours, 2/day including an overnight bus; train: 9 hours with two connections, 1/day)
  • Lagos–Sevilla: While regional trains connect many towns along the Algarve coast, they only connect to Spanish stations via Lisbon (and Lagos is the Algarve's westernmost station) — fortunately you can bus between Lagos and Sevilla ($25, 5/day in summer, 2/day off-season)

Get even more advice on Portuguese trains and buses in my Rick Steves Portugal guidebook.

What if I need help with my Rail Europe order?

All orders for passes and tickets are fulfilled by Rail Europe (not by Rick Steves' Europe). For customer-service questions, contact them online (or call 800 622 8600, but expect long waits and periods of unavailability at the call desk) — and keep in mind that refund options are fairly limited.