Making your holiday in Portugal a twin centre by visiting both Lisbon and Porto is really easy and fun. Here’s how to make it happen.
How many days should I spend in Lisbon and how long in Porto?
Lisbon is much bigger and more spread out, plus there are big sights like Belem and Sintra that you won’t want to miss and which need a day trip to do properly. Four full days in Lisbon is probably about right; a day each for Belem and Sintra and two days to see the city centre.
Porto is compact and dense with sights – if you stay in the centre you’ll probably have seen a lot by the end of your first day. Two days is enough to see the city centre, do a river cruise under the bridges and visit a Port wine lodge, while a third gives you time to get out to further-flung (by Porto standards) sights like Serralves and the coast at Fez.
How should I travel from Lisbon to Porto?
By far the easiest way to get to Porto from Lisbon is the train. There are direct trains from the Santa Appolonia and Oriente stations in Lisbon which will take you to Porto Campanha on the edge of the city. From there it’s just a few minutes on a local train to Porto São Bento station which is in the middle of Porto.
We bought our tickets online at the official Portugal Railways site cp.pt. Bookings open 8 weeks in advance and to get the cheapest fares it’s best to be ready to buy as early as you can. Our tickets cost €31 for both of us for the 2 hour 35 minute journey from Lisbon Oriente to Porto Campanha.
When booking tickets on the cp.pt website you’ll need to use the Portuguese versions of the station names, even if you’re using the English language version of the site. For Lisbon use “Lisboa”.
When you book tickets online you’ll have the chance to choose between AP (Alfa Pendular – fast, comfortable tilting trains) and IC (slightly slower, taking around 30 minutes longer to reach Porto but still comfortable). We traveled on an Alfa Pendular train in 2nd class and were impressed with the leg room and the comfortable seats. Seat reservations are taken care of as part of the online booking process so you’ll be guaranteed a seat, and there’s a cafe bar and toilets available on the train.
There’s no need to worry about picking up tickets or having them sent by post; simply print them out from the confirmation email. You might be asked for ID so keep your passport handy on the train.
Stopping off en-route
There are a couple of interesting places to break your journey en route between Lisbon and Porto. Coimbra, an hour and a half from Lisbon, was Portugal’s capital for a hundred years and is home to the oldest university in Portugal.
Aveiro, which the train reaches half an hour before arriving in Porto is a small town sometimes called the “Venice of Portugal” because of its canals, brightly coloured houses and traditional boats. I really wanted to visit Aveiro because of this blog post, unfortunately we didn’t manage to get there on our trip but it’s on my list for a return trip.
Arriving in Porto
Don’t miss the approach into Porto; the train swings over the Douro river on a high bridge and has a lovely view from the left of the train over the river in its deep valley and the Ponte Dona Maria bridge which was built by Gustave Eiffel and is a near-twin of the more famous Dom Luís I Bridge.
You’ll leave the train from Lisbon at Porto Campanha station on the edge of the city. From there, local trains make the 5 minute journey to Porto São Bento every few minutes.
When you arrive at São Bento, take some time to admire the lovely azulejo tile work in the vestibule. Step out of the door and you’re in the middle of Porto. Enjoy your trip!
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