Lisbon and Porto are two of the most popular destinations to visit in Portugal. Luckily for you, they’re also only about 186 miles (300 km) apart from one another! So, even if you only have a short amount of time in Portugal, it’s still really easy to see both cities in one trip. Personally, I’d recommend spending at least three days in Lisbon and two days in Porto. Whether you’re looking to travel by train, bus, car, or plane from Lisbon to Porto, I’ll be explaining all options in detail, step by step. Each method of transport comes with its own advantages and disadvantages with regards to trip duration, price, and comfort. So, it’s essential to take the time to evaluate your options before booking. In case you’re not interested in making the trip on your own, I’ll tell you how you can do a guided Lisbon to Porto day trip as well at the end of this post!
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Let me start by answering the question: is the train or bus the better option for traveling from Lisbon to Porto? Since prices are comparable, I’d personally recommend the Alfa Pendular (AP) train, which is the fast train. If you’re looking for an affordable option without sacrificing comfort, utilizing train travel is the way to go. Since travel between Lisbon and Porto is so common, trains run frequently and throughout the day with CP (Comboios de Portugal), the company in charge of passenger train services in Portugal. Moreover, the journey takes about three hours and will cost you somewhere between €25-45, in most cases.
However, if you’re in the position to book your tickets in advance, sometimes you can find promo tickets from €10-27 on CP’s home page. To take advantage of this deal, you’ll need to purchase tickets at least five days in advance. If you’re looking to be extra pro-active, tickets become available for purchase sixty days in advance.
Which train station do I go to?
Now, the question becomes: which train station do I go to in Lisbon and Porto? In Lisbon, you’ll be choosing between either the Santa Apolónia or Oriente station. If you’re staying in town, the Santa Apolónia train station will be the best option. For example, from the Alfama neighborhood, it should only take a few minutes to walk to this station. However, remember to take Lisbon’s hills into account when planning a time to leave! On the other hand, if you’re closer to the Lisbon airport, you’ll want to choose the Oriente station. The great news is that no matter which station you decide to depart from, they’re both easily accessible by the metro (the blue and red lines).
Now that you’ve chosen your departure station, you’ll notice that Porto has two options regarding train stations. Make sure to select São Bento! São Bento railway station is unexpectedly beautiful, covered in blue and white tiles. In Porto, you’ll arrive at the Campanhã station. Then, you’ll need to take another train from Campanhã to São Bento, in the historic center of Porto. Don’t worry, as this is 100% included in your ticket and very easy to do!
Pro tip: Make sure to enter “Lisboa” instead of “Lisbon” when attempting to search for the correct train station in Lisbon. This is the city’s name in Portuguese.
Taking the bus from Lisbon to Porto is another affordable option. Although the bus journey takes slightly longer than the train ride (3 hours and 30 minutes), it’s also a hair cheaper. Bus service from Lisbon to Porto is carried out by both Rede Expressos and Renex and frequently runs between the two cities. Tickets cost approximately €20 one way and can be booked online on the Rede Expressos website. I always recommend booking in advance if you’d like to travel on a particular day and time! You can purchase your bus tickets online up to 30 days in advance.
Which bus station do I go to?
This scenario is similar to the train stations. You’ll want to take the bus from the Sete Rios terminal (on the blue metro line) or the Oriente station (on the red metro line). I’d urge you to see which station is closer to your hotel in Lisbon and to book your bus tickets from that location. However, in most cases, you might be staying closer to the train station.
When you arrive in Porto, the bus terminal there is located on Alexandre Herculano street. Luckily, this is only a few minutes from the Bolhão metro station if you’d like to take public transport to get to your hotel in Porto. Nonetheless, with all of the hills in Porto, it might be easier to catch a cab–especially if you’re traveling with a large suitcase!
Let’s go ahead and knock out flying from Lisbon to Porto. By the time you travel to the airport, go through security, and wait to board, it’s significantly faster to take the train or bus instead of flying. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money too! However, if you have your mind set on this option, it’s good to know that both Lisbon and Porto have major airports and daily flights back and forth. Most of the time, these flights are with Ryanair or TAP Air Portugal, and the journey (once in flight) takes about 55 minutes. If you happen to find cheap tickets during a flash sale, it might be worth flying. Nonetheless, in most cases, it’s a much better option to take the train or bus. Keep this in mind: to get to the Lisbon airport from the city center, it’ll take 35 minutes by metro. On top of that, from the Porto airport, it’ll take another 40 minutes to get to the historic center via public transport.
Although there’s no particular need to rent a car to travel from Lisbon to Porto, it’s still a great option if you’re hoping to make stops along the way. The flexibility alone may make driving a perfect choice for you. Plus, driving is undoubtedly the fastest way to travel from Lisbon to Porto. You can find a plethora of rental car companies at the Lisbon airport and in town. Once you have your rental, it’ll take just under three hours to make the drive on the A1 motorway. However, be aware that you’ll have to pass through multiple toll roads on the journey. For example, you’ll most likely end up paying around €22 just in toll fares! If you feel confused about the toll roads, make sure to ask your rental car company to explain how the automated system works. You’ll want to ask for your car to include the Via Verde transponder. This machine will record your toll fees, which will end up being charged to your credit card.
Remember when making the rental reservation that you’ll need to request an automatic car if you’d prefer this over a manual car. For my fellow Americans, in particular, this is super important! Most rental companies will assume you’re okay with a manual drive car, unless you specify otherwise, as manual vehicles are more common in Europe. Furthermore, an automatic vehicle will come with a slightly higher rental price. Especially if you’re visiting Portugal during the summertime, it’s always a good idea to make your reservation in advance to secure a good deal on your rental.
What to see from Lisbon to Porto
If you do end up renting a car, this means you’ll be able to stop in other cities along the drive to Porto. The good news is that there’s plenty to see between Lisbon and Porto. On the other hand, the bad news is that you have a hard decision to make! Sintra, Óbidos, Alcobaça, Batalha, Leiria, Fátima, Coimbra, and Aveiro are all popular stops along the way. Plus, many of these destinations are close together, so it’s easy to stop in more than one place in one day of driving. Here are the main attractions to see in each popular stop:
- Sintra: Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Castle of the Moors
- Óbidos: Historic Óbidos, Óbidos Castle, and ginja (a cherry liqueur)
- Alcobaça: Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça
- Batalha: Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória
- Leiria: Castelo de Leiria
- Fátima: Santuário de Fátima
- Coimbra: University of Coimbra, Biblioteca Joanina, Igreja e Mosteiro da Santa Cruz
- Aveiro: Costa Nova, Aveiro’s Canals, Mosteiro de Jesus
After you make it to Porto, you may want to consider taking a day trip to the Douro Valley.
Lisbon to Porto day trips
If you don’t have much time in Portugal, don’t fret! It’s still possible for you to make a day trip from Lisbon to Porto. Especially if you plan ahead, you could make this day trip on your own without needing a guided tour. I’d recommend booking train tickets in advance on the CP website to leave early in the morning from Lisbon and to come back in the evening from Porto. The train ride will take approximately 3 hours each way. So, if you leave on one of the early morning trains from Lisbon, you could reach Porto by 10 A.M. This gives you plenty of time to explore historic Porto before having to hop on a train back to Lisbon in the evening. You can book train tickets up to 60 days in advance, so it’s not unreasonable that you could score tickets for a low price and at the exact times that you’d like to travel. If you don’t book your train tickets ahead of time, likely, some of the options will already be sold out.
Now, not everyone will want to plan a day trip from Lisbon to Porto on their own. If you’d feel more comfortable booking a guided day trip, this is a possibility as well! Plus, this option takes the stress out of trying to squeeze in a day trip from Lisbon to Porto. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out the options for guided tours from Lisbon to Porto below.
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