There are only two options if you want to go to Portugal on the night train: from Madrid in Spain or from Irun in France. As my trip this summer took me from Barcelona to Lisbon, only the first one was an option for me. Read my travel report about the Renfe Trenhotel night train from Madrid to Lisbon here. For the “fast bookers”, these are the booking links for the night train: you can get tickets as e-tickets via ACPRail, Trainline or Renfe. Raed here, how to get from Barcelona to the starting point Madrid-Chamartin.
Ready to go
Just before boarding, our tickets are checked, then I start the search for my compartment. Two other gentlemen are already waiting in my compartment – I booked a shared four-bed compartment. These are only given to travelers of the same sex. Aside from that, here are also two-bed compartments without shower and two-bed compartments with ensuite shower, both of which can only be booked as a whole. There is no couchette car, but one with soft reclining chairs. But I prefer this sleeping car. My ticket cost around 50 euros, which is absolutely fine for one night in a sleeping car. Especially considering that it is going to cover quite a long distance. When booking early, you might even be able to score tickets for 33 euros in the sleeping car. Find out more about the individual categories and prices in this blog. Here, I would like to focus a bit more on my travel experience.
The evening on the train
Shortly after I got on, I noticed that I was in the wrong carriage. I had to move again. In the right compartment, I was greeted by two Portuguese and a Cuban who were also travelling to Lisbon that night. We quickly start talking, but I still really want to pay a visit to the dining car.
In the dining car I find an extensive offer of snacks, which range from sandwiches and chips to sweets and a large selection of drinks.
Prices are not ridiculously high.
As I haven´t had dinner yet, I check out the dinner menu. At first glance, you only have a choice between a simple main course and a large menu. However, you can choose the individual dishes yourself. I opt for the big menu and am handed a second menu from which I select starter, main course, dessert and a drink. 15 Euros for all that is a great deal.
Let´s get started with the first course. I´m having vegetable soup with bread for a starter. The taste is much better than expected. I’m excited!
My main course of rice with chicken and bacon.
For dessert I selected fresh fruit – which is, like the other dishes, prepared on the spot.
A culinary delight to round off my visit to the train restaurant of the Trenhotel.
Lastly, I take a short tour of the train.
After that, it has become quite late for my taste – time to go to bed. The dining car, though, was definitely worth it.
Compartment in the Renfe Trenhotel night train from Madrid to Lisbon
A bag of earplugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a bottle of water await me on my bed.
We have almost reached our first stop shortly after 11, when I go to sleep.
The berth in the Trenhotel night train to Lisbon is comfortable and I´m looking forward to getting a good rest.
Here are a few photos of our compartment:
By the time I fall asleep we are already past Medina del Campo, where our train is merged with the night train from Irun to Lisbon. Despite the border crossing you don´t need to worry about border controls and can just sleep through all of it. The only thing to be aware of is that the time changes as Portugal is in a different time zone. Watches need to be set back one hour. This also explains the seemingly early arrival time of 07:30 am. In Spanish time, this would be 08:30 am.
In the morning
My alarm rings at 6:30 am Portuguese time. One of my three fellow passengers has already gotten off. The others are going all the way to Lisbon with me. I’m going to the dining car, excited to see what breakfast will be like …
For 5.50 Euros I get a croissant, a toast and a bread with jam, honey and butter. It also comes with a cup of tea of your choice and a freshly squeezed orange juice. Again, it is delicious – I can highly recommend.
Best breakfast I have ever eaten on a night train – in the Trenhotel the Renfe
On returning to my compartment, I find that everyone has already gotten up. We decide to fold up the lower bed to bring out the seats.
After only a few minutes we reach Lisboa Oriente, the larger of Lisbon’s two train stations. The other Portuguese guy is getting off to change to a different train here. Most connections to other parts of Portugal can be reached easier from this station.
Only 10 minutes later we finally arrive. With a small delay of 15 minutes we arrive in Lisbon Santa Apolonia, not far from Tagus.
I´m taking a few more photos before I head into the city. There are several ways to do this: The station is connected to the metro and has several bus lines stopping in front of the building. For public transport I recommend the ViaViagem card for 6.80 euros for 24 hours. Those who, like me, are not yet familiar with the city, can also make a detour to the tourist information in the train station.
Around midday I check into the hostel “Lisbon Calling”. I´m greeted by very friendly staff and am told that I could have dropped off my backpack earlier no problem. Next time, I will certainly go straight to the hostel and spare myself carrying around a heavy bag for half a day. I have a bed in a 4-bed dorm which is 24 euros a night. A really good price for a great hostel with a great location on Cais Sodre, in the center of Lisbon. Below, I have attached some photos of the hostel “Lisbon Calling”. Find more photos under this link or make your reservations for this (or another) hostel.
Review of my trip on the Trenotel night train from Madrid to Lisbon
Riding on the night train not only saves time; by booking early via ACPRail, Trainline or Renfe you can also save some money. I really enjoyed my trip in Lusitania, not least because of the excellent dining car. The night train thus makes a really good option if you want to travel from Lisbon to Madrid or vice versa. If you prefer riding during the day, you will have to change a few times. Find out how it works here.
You can also get tickets via the booking links above. If you use our affiliate links to ACPRail and Trainline, you are supporting all the free content on rail.cc