How to go to Portugal by Train

Portugal is in the south-west corner of Europe, far from the more populated central area of the continent. This makes that travelling by train to the country is time consuming, and even became more time consuming and complicated recently.

Until March 2020 there was a direct night train (Sud-Express) from Hendaye, at the French-Spanish border, to Lisboa. However with the Covid-19 pandemie this train was suspended. Also the night train (Lusitania) between Madrid and Lisboa was suspended. With the most severe effects of the Covid crisis fading away, the Portuguese railways (CP) wanted to reinstate those trains, but the Spanish railways (Renfe) refused and took the opportunity to abandon all night trains and put the rolling stock out of service. As a result there are no direct train services anymore between Portugal and Madrid and the rest of Europe.

The only remaining options to travel by train to Portugal require several changes of train and staying overnight in at least one location en route. This article gives a summary of the current (April 2022) possibilities.

For travel planning and booking check the official sources!

There are daily direct High-speed trains from Marseille via Montpellier to Barcelona and Madrid, from Lyon via Montpellier to Barcelona and from Paris via Montpellier to Barcelona. From Paris there are daily multiple direct High-speed trains via Bordeaux to Hendaye at the Spanish border.

There are only three trains daily between Portugal and Spain. Twice daily there is a train connecting Porto with Vigo and once daily a train between Entroncamento and Badajoz. So any trip by train to Portugal must go via Vigo or Badajoz.

How to get to Portugal by train is essentially how to get from Barcelona or Hendaye-Irun to Badajoz or Vigo. Renfe train services most have low frequencies, sometimes only once daily, except for the Madrid-Barcelona route and a few other lines between major cities not on a route to Portugal.

Although the routes via Barcelona are longer as those via Hendaye-Irun, via Barcelona is faster because of the high-speed railway between Barcelona and Madrid. Between Irun and Madrid there is only a much shorter section of high-speed railway. On most of this route the trains still have to run on the classic railway, partly trough a mountain area with many curves in the route of the railway. Moreover the border crossing at Hendaye-Irun is a bit complicated and the French and Spanish trains are not scheduled for giving short transfers. Details are given more below.

The high-speed railway between Madrid and Galicia makes that travelling via Madrid is faster as using the cross-country route.

Renfe publishes the time-tables only one to two months in advance. So all information available is what’s at this moment (April 2022) valid, not for what’s valid in the future as the schedules aren’t known yet.

All the time-tables in this article for Spain are those as valid in APRIL 2022. For travel planning check the official Renfe sources!

To Portugal via Barcelona and Badajoz

TrainAVE
9731
TGV
9713
AVLO
6308
AVE
3180
AVE
9743
AVE
3202
AVLO
6310
TGV
9715
Paris Gare de Lyon10:1015:12
Lyon Part-Dieu|14:35|
Marseille St-Charles8:02|||
Montpellier St-Roch9:3913:4616:3218:46
Barcelona Sants12:5016:5417:2518:2519:3220:0021:1021:54
Madrid Atocha15:4519:5520:5523:1723:55
AVLO trains are the Renfe budget high speed trains with Economy class only. TGV 9715 runs Summer only.

Renfe runs daily at least about 20 trains in each direction between Barcelona and Madrid with travel times between 2h30′ and 3h30′ depending on the number of intermediate stops. Trains depart from the station Barcelona Sants where also the high speed trains from France arrive. Trains arrive on the station Madrid Puerto de Atocha, often just called Atocha. There are several competing operators on this route.

There are only a few connections between Madrid and Badajoz and daily only one train in each direction between Badajoz in Spain and Entroncamento in Portugal. This train needs 2h50′ for the 174 km distance, an average velocity of 61 km/h. The total journey time between Madrid and Lisboa is about 11 hours.

TrainRE
17014
AVE
3270
RE
17902
Avant
8100
RE
18770
Regional 5500IC 731/527Regional 4432
Barcelona Sants7:00
Madrid Atocha8:049:3010:1810:35
Puertollano||11:4812:00
Mérida12:4815:1515:25
Badajoz (Spanish time)13:2616:0416:24
Entroncamento (Portuguese time)18:1418:3018:44
Lisboa Santa Apolónia|20:20
Coimbra-B19:29
Porto Campanhã20:53
In Portugal it’s one hour earlier then in Spain. If travelling via Badajoz a night over in Lisboa is necessary to continue to the Algarve.

From Portugal via Badajoz and Barcelona

TrainIC
520
IC
541
Regional
5501
RE
18777
RE
17907
Avant
8191
AVE
3203
MD
17025
Porto Campanhã6:37
Coimbra-B8:04
Lisboa Santa Apolónia|8:15
Entroncamento (Portuguese time)9:009:2310:24
Badajoz (Spanish time)14:1414:3016:45
Mérida15:1415:2017:29
Puertollano19:02|19:15|
Madrid Atocha20:1020:2620:4021:45
Barcelona Sants23:55
If travelling via Badajoz a night over in Lisboa is necessary if coming from the Algarve. Connections in Atocha are not guaranteed.

Renfe runs daily at least about 20 trains in each direction between Madrid and Barcelona with travel times between 2h30′ and 3h30′ depending on the number of intermediate stops. Trains depart from the station Madrid Puerto de Atocha, often just called Atocha. Trains arrive on the station Barcelona Sants where also the high speed trains to France depart. There are several competing operators on this route.

TrainAVE
9736
AVLO
6301
AVE
3071
TGV
9702
AVE
3093
AVLO
6303
TGV
9704
AVE
9724
Madrid Atocha6:207:009:3010:3013:25
Barcelona Sants8:158:509:3010:0012:3713:1514:0016:36
Montpellier St-Roch11:2113:1317:1319:45
Marseille St-Charles|||21:26
Lyon Part-Dieu13:22||
Paris Gare de Lyon16:4720:48
AVLO trains are the Renfe budget high speed trains with Economy class only. TGV 9704 runs Summer only.

To Portugal via Barcelona – Madrid – Vigo

TrainAVE
9731
TGV
9713
AVLO
6308
AVE
3180
AVE
9743
AVE
3202
AVLO
6310
TGV
9715
Paris Gare de Lyon10:1015:12
Lyon Part-Dieu|14:35|
Marseille St-Charles8:02|||
Montpellier St-Roch9:3913:4616:3218:46
Barcelona Sants12:5016:5417:2518:2519:3220:0021:1021:54
Madrid Atocha15:4519:5520:5523:1723:55
AVLO trains are the Renfe budget high speed trains with Economy class only.

Renfe runs daily at least about 20 trains in each direction between Barcelona and Madrid with travel times between 2h30′ and 3h30′ depending on the number of intermediate stops. Trains depart from the station Barcelona Sants where also the high speed trains from France arrive. Trains arrive on the station Madrid Puerto de Atocha, often just called Atocha. There are several competing operators on this route.

TrainAVE 3662AVE 3092AVLO 6304AVE 3112AVE 3130AVE 3150
Barcelona Sants7:409:0010:0011:0013:2515:25
Madrid Atocha10:1011:4513:1713:4515:5517:55
This is only a selection of the Renfe trains from Barcelona Sants to Madrid Atocha.

The trains to Vigo depart from Madrid Chamartin. Transfers from Atocha to Chamartin can be done with the Cercanias (Renfe suburban trains). In Atocha these trains depart from the platforms 1 & 2 every 5 to 10 minutes. The journey takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Tickets can be bought from machines or the counter. When travelling with a Renfe long distance ticket, the Cercanias ticket can be gotten free.

TrainAlvia 4115Alvia
4145
MD
9183
Alvia 4165Alvia
4175
MD
9213
Alvia 4185
Madrid Chamartin11:2014:3016:0017:4519:15
Santiago de Compostela|17:4618:30|21;2821:4722:46
Vigo Urzaiz15:3819:2020:1222:5123:46
There are trains running earlier from Madrid to Vigo that are not in the table, but not early enough to catch the morning Celta 420 to Porto. The connection of MD 9183 on Celta 422 to Porto is not guaranteed. The later trains require a night over in Vigo.
TrainCelta 420IC 720Celta 422
Vigo Guixar (Spanish time)8:5819:56
Porto Campanhã (Portuguese time)10:2010:3821:18
Coimbra-B12:02
Lisboa Santa Apolónia14:00
In Portugal it’s one hour earlier than in Spain.

The trains from Madrid arrive in the station Vigo Urzaiz. The trains to Porto depart from the station Vigo Guixar. The walking distance between both stations is about 1.2 km. There is a direct urban bus, line L24, but this rides irregular with a rather low frequency.

From Portugal via Vigo – Madrid – Barcelona

TrainCelta 421IC 523Celta 423
Lisboa Santa Apolónia15:30
Coimbra-B17:30
Porto Campanhã (Portuguese time)8:1318:5219:10
Vigo Guixar (Spanish time)11:3522:34
In Portugal it’s one hour earlier then in Spain.

The trains from Porto arrive in the station Vigo Guixar. The trains to Madrid depart from the station Vigo Urzaiz. The distance between both is about 1.2 km. When walking from Guixar to Urzaiz keep in mind there is also a level difference between both of about 50 m with Urzaiz being the higher one.

TrainAlvia 4484Alvia 4254Alvia 4354
Vigo Urzaiz5:509:2013:20
Madrid Chamartin10:2013:4217:36
There are later trains from Vigo to Madrid, but not that late that they connect to the evening Celta 423 from Porto.

Transfers from Chamartin to Atocha can be done with the Cercanias (Renfe suburban trains). In Chamartin these trains depart from platform 8 every 5 to 10 minutes. The journey takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Tickets can be bought from machines or the counter. When travelling with a Renfe long distance ticket, the Cercanias ticket can be gotten free.

TrainAVE 3113AVE 3151AVE 3191
Madrid Atocha11:3015:0019:00
Barcelona Sants14:4217:3021:30
This is only a selection of the Renfe trains from Madrid Atocha to Barcelona Sants.

Renfe runs daily at least about 20 trains in each direction between Barcelona and Madrid with travel times between 2h30′ and 3h30′ depending on the number of intermediate stops. Trains depart from the station Madrid Puerto de Atocha, often just called Atocha. Trains arrive on the station Barcelona Sants where also the high speed trains to France depart. There are several competing operators on this route.

TrainAVE
9736
AVLO
6301
AVE
3071
TGV
9702
AVE
3093
AVLO
6303
TGV
9704
AVE
9724
Madrid Atocha6:207:009:3010:3013:25
Barcelona Sants8:158:509:3010:0012:3713:1514:0016:36
Montpellier St-Roch11:2113:1317:1319:45
Marseille St-Charles|||21:26
Lyon Part-Dieu13:22||
Paris Gare de Lyon16:4720:48
AVLO trains are the Renfe budget high speed trains with Economy class only. TGV 9704 runs Summer only.

To Portugal via Hendaye-Irun, Madrid and Vigo

On this route travellers must change trains on the French-Spanish border. There are direct TGV services from Paris to Hendaye on the border with a journey time of about 41/2 hour. The time-tables vary by day and season. Bordeaux and San Sebastian can be good places for a night over.

The transfer Hendaye – Irun

In the past the french SNCF trains ran to Irun in Spain and the Spanish Renfe trains to Hendaye in France. This provided easy change of trains at the border. Alas both SNCF and Renfe decided to discontinue this, which means that through train travellers need an alternative for the only 2 km wide gap between Hendaye and Irun. This alternative is the narrow gauge Euskotren. Elsewhere on this page is told how to use Euskotren for travelling between Hendaye and San Sebastian. Here is a description for those who want to continue with Renfe from Irun.

Hendaye – Irun

In Hendaye the Euskotren station is on the forecourt of the main station. Train departures are every half hour at -.03 and -.33. The station only has one platform and all trains go via Irun to San Sebastian. Leave the train at Irun-Colon, this is the second stop after departure from Hendaye and the trip takes five minutes.

When leaving the Irun-Colon station go to the right, after about 60 m use the pedestrian crossing, also cross the side street and continue to follow the busy road for one more block. (Red line on the map) You’ll come on a kind of square. Actually this is a very wide viaduct above the tracks of the Renfe. At the left you see a building, behind this building at the right side is an escalator down to the platform from where the long distance trains of Renfe depart. The track on the right is of the long distance trains. The left track is the normal gauge where in the past the SNCF trains arrived. On the platform is a station building with a counter and a vending machine for the long distance trains. The Renfe Cercanias (sub-urban trains) depart from the platforms at the right. The distance from the Irun-Colon station to the escalator is about 150 m.

Opposite direction. If you arrive on the Cercanias platforms leave the station building and walk straight ahead keeping the railway at your right hand until the busy road (dotted red line on the map). Turn to the right. The Euskotren Irun-Colon station is about 150 m further at the left side of the road where the bus stop is. If you arrive at the long distance trains platform, walk on the platform ahead to the escalator at the end of the platform. Go up and to the right. The Euskotren Irun-Colon station is about 150 m further at the left side of the road where the bus stop is. Euskotren trains to Hendaye depart every half hour at -.17 and -.47, the trip to Hendaye takes five minutes. In Hendaye the Euskotren station is on the forecourt of the SNCF railway station.

San Sebastian / Donostia

Instead of making the change between Euskotren and Renfe in Irun, it can also be done in San Sebastian, or called with its Basque name Donostia. The distance between the Euskotren station Donostia-Amara and the Renfe station San Sebastian is with about 800 m significant more than in Irun. However if a night over is needed, San Sebastian is the better option. To get to San Sebastian (Donostia-Amara) just take the Euskotren train departing every half hour at -.03 and -.33 from Hendaye. In the opposite direction the trains depart every half hour at -.15 and -.45 from Donostia-Amara to Hendaye. The trip between Hendaye and Donostia-Amara takes 40 minutes.

TrainTGV 8531EuskotrenTGV 8537EuskotrenTGV 8541Euskotren
Paris Montparnasse7:1110:1112:11
Bordeaux Saint-Jean9:2012:2014:20
Hendaye11:4712:0314:4715:0316:4717:03
Irun-Colon12:0815:0817:08
Donostia-Amara12:4315:4317:43
This is only an example of TGV trains TGV departing from Paris to Hendaye with Euskotren connections to Irun and San Sebastian (Donostia) in the morning or early afternoon on a working day in April 2022. For travel planning use the official SNCF sources as the time-tables differ by day and season.
TrainAlvia 4115Alvia 4086Alvia 4166Alvia 4166
Irun8:0715:32
San Sebastian8:5716:35
Madrid Chamartin11:2014:2816:0022:08
Vigo Urzaiz15:3820:12
TrainCelta 420IC 720Celta 422
Vigo Guixar (Spanish time)8:5819:56
Porto Campanhã (Portuguese time)10:2010:3821:18
Coimbra-B12:02
Lisboa Santa Apolónia14:00
In Portugal it’s one hour earlier than in Spain.

For travelling via Badajoz a night over in Madrid is required. See above for the time-table Madrid – Badajoz – Portugal.

From Portugal via Vigo – Madrid and Irun-Hendaye

TRAINCelta 421IC 523Celta 423
Lisboa Santa Apolónia15:30
Coimbra-B17:30
Porto Campanhã (Portuguese time)8:1318:5219:10
Vigo Guixar (Spanish time)11:3522:34
In Portugal it’s one hour earlier then in Spain.
TRAINAlvia 4087Alvia 4254Alvia 4166Alvia 4354
Vigo Urzaiz9:2013:20
Madrid Chamartin8:1013:4216:1017:36
San Sebastian13:3421:33
Irun14:3322:50
TRAINEuskotrenTGV
8534
EuskotrenTGV
8540
EuskotrenTGV
8544
Donostia-Amara8:4511:4515:15
Irun-Colon9:1712:1715:47
Hendaye9:229:3612:2212:5915:5216:12
Bordeaux Saint-Jean12:0815:4318:40
Paris Montparnasse14:2317:5320:58
This is only an example of TGV trains departing from Hendaye to Paris with Euskotren connections from San Sebastian (Donostia) and Irun on a working day in April 2022. For travel planning use the official SNCF sources as the time-tables differ by day and season.

Cross-country, not going via Madrid

Daily there is a train between Barcelona and Galicia. On Sunday, Wednesday and Friday the destination is Vigo. On the other days the train goes to A Coruña with in Ourense a connecting train to Vigo. In the opposite direction the train to Barcelona departs from Vigo on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. On the other days there is a connecting train from Vigo to Ourense where can be changed for the direction Barcelona. Travel time between Barcelona and Vigo is almost 14 hours. In Vitoria/Gasteiz can be changed from/to San Sebastian and Irun. Although by distance the shortest, this isn’t the fasted route to go to/from Portugal. Travelling via Madrid with use of the high-speed lines takes less time. Two intermediate night overs are required If travelling to/from Portugal with this cross-country train.

TRAINIC 281Alvia 622Alvia 626MD 12477
Barcelona Sants9:309:30
San Sebastian12:13||
Vitoria/Gasteiz13:5814:1614:16
Ourense21:2121:2121:31
Vigo Guixar23:1223:12
Alvia 622 on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday; Alvia 626 & MD 12477 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
TrainMD 12474Alvia 625Alvia 621IC 282
Vigo Guixar7:427:42
Ourense9:119:169:16
Vitoria/Gasteiz16:3316:3316:45
San Sebastian||18:35
Barcelona Sants21:3521:35
Alvia 621 on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, MD 12474 & Alvia 625 on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Have a good trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.