All aboard! Time to take the train from Lisbon to Porto, and see just what an experience on the trains of Portugal is like! And back again for good measure! Today’s amazing train journey sees me travel from the station of Santa Apolonia, in Lisbon, up to Campanha Station – the main train station in Porto, a little over 300 kilometres north of the Portuguese capital.
The Santa Apolonia station was in fact well positioned from where we were staying, at an Airbnb in the Alfama district of Lisbon. It was down the hill, around a number of winding alleyways. It was around three days before the journey that I walked down there and bought the tickets, return in this case – although we would alight when we returned to Lisbon at the Oriente station to transfer to a local line to take us to Quelez, where we were spending our final night in Portugal.
The ticket was 51 Euro return. Just over 600 kilometres, so that’s a little more that 10 kilometres per Euro, which I don’t think is bad value. The return train was not the same sort of train as the one we would take to Porto, this was the ‘premium’ train I guess, it was faster than the normal train taking slightly under 3 hours compared to three and a half and some trains take over four hours. This obviously doesn’t fit into the category of ‘high-speed’ rail, however, when you consider we made around 10 or so stops over the journey (maybe slightly less) it’s not bad and the train reached speeds of comfortably more than 100 km/h.
The ticket itself was sadly disappointing – regular readers of my blog know just how much I adore a nice ticket, preferably printed on cardboard, and so to get a ticket which was something akin to a receipt was definitely a bit of a downer for me. The station was pretty quiet when I bought the ticket, there were a number of trains per day on the route, I would say at least half a dozen, and buying a ticket three days in advance assured us of reserved seats in what I think was second class but I admit to not really getting a full handle on classes on Portuguese trains.
To get down the hill the morning of our train we had a lift organised by the kind Sarah who ran our Airbnb. With little wheels on the bags, cobblestones are not your friend. We were well in advance for the departure, and so we discovered a little almost ‘Soviet’ café hidden inside the station and we able to wait there for over an hour, buying a roll for lunch which I had on the train (not the world’s greatest or indeed softest roll I must say!) but it was good to have a little space to get the diary in order before we left.
The train looked quite new, which I must admit surprised me! I don’t know why, the metro trains I’d taken were a little worn and I had in my head to expect something similar from the intercity trains, but actually it was comfortable, with a tray on the back of the seat in front so I could write or use my laptop. It wasn’t a great deal of space, but I’ve had much worse and the legroom was good.
We left the Santa Apolonia station on time, which was very nice, and were soon on our way. We stopped at the ‘Oriente’ station, which is good for transfers to other lines and also to the airport line, but this is also where the bulk of the passengers got on. There were hardly any passengers starting from Santa Apolonia. The design of this station is modern with a sort of glass structure acting as a roof over the platforms. The intercity and local lines are at the top, there’s a sort of concourse on ground level and then below are the metro lines.
Suddenly, our train was basically full and we were off to Porto. It’s a pretty enough journey, and there’s a few bits and pieces I filmed on it to form the video below. Over a few bridges, through the countryside, the sun was aimed at us for much of the journey. I had the blind down for that very reason, but the people in front could also operate it and we had a brief war because they liked it up. It didn’t come to blows – basically, they won and I gave up!
Arriving in Porto, the station was quite big considering the size of the city. Quite a few platforms, and to get to the local metro/tram system was a bit of a walk from the intercity platforms, and then a little tricky to work out how to buy a ticket on the machine, and then to locate the correct platform. We did manage though and enjoyed our stay in Porto.
This post presents my Porto Vlog – Prosperous Porto
On the way back, the train was not quite as nice as the one we had taken up. It was around 30 minutes late too, and very long and so when it arrived there was a massive rush to find the carriage and door, and a bit of a fight to get on too. People made the situation worse by choosing to get on the nearest door and then work it out, and hence as people were boarding others were streaming in both directions down the carriage aisles trying to find their carriage from the inside. It slowed everything and everyone down and was very nonsensical to say the least.
The slightly slower return from there on in was fine, not quite and comfortable or slick, but nothing to complain about. Both trains were very well patronised, which means trains are a very popular way of getting around Portugal. Well, of course they are – they are TRAINS after all!
Thanks for dropping by today wherever you may be in the world! Take care and May the Journey Never End!