There are two options to travel from Spain to Portugal by train. I have already written a blog about the trip from Vigo to Porto. This time I want to focus on the two night trains connecting Portugal with Spain. The famous “Sud Express” runs from Irun on the French border via San Sebastian to Lisbon. The “Lusitania” connects the Spanish capital Madrid with its Portuguese counterpart. Tickets are available from 24,20€. Find more information about these trains in this blog post.
UPDATE: Read about the new daytime connection from Madrid to Lisbon here.
Talgo night trains to Portugal
The two night trains from Irun and Madrid to Lisbon are operated with “Talgo” articulated stock. Both trains consist of 2nd class coaches (“Turista”), a bar/restaurant coach, 4-bed sleeping cars (“Cama Turista”), 2-bed sleeping cars (“Cama Preferente”) and 2-bed deluxe sleeping cars with ensuite shower/WC (“Cama Gran Clase”). Although the trainsets are not the newest they are really comfortable and I always slept very well.
When travelling in a sleeping car you get a small amenity kit with earplugs, toothbrush and paste as well as a bottle of water. The 4-bed sleeping cars are available only for travellers of the same sex, unless you book the whole compartment. In the bar/restaurant car you can get freshly prepared dinner as well as breakfast for a very good price. You can have a look at the menu here.
Sud Express: Night train from Irun to Lisbon
The famous Sud Express night train once ran all the way from Paris to Lisbon. Nowadays the train starts at Irun on the French/Spanish border and a TGV service provides a direct connection from Paris and Bordeaux. UPDATE: Since 2018, the southbound train also starts at Hendaye and you can make the connection from your TGV at the station of Hendaye. The southbound train starts in the early evening at Hendaye, then also calls in Irun and San Sebastian before making its way across the Basque Mountains to Vitoria, Burgos and Valladolid. At Medina de Campo, the train is attached to the night train from Madrid and both trains run combined the remainder of the way to Lisbon. Read below for the onward trip to Portugal.
Lusitania: Night train from Madrid to Lisbon
The Lusitania night train connects Madrid and Lisbon overnight and is the only train connection between the two capitals. It departs from Chamartin station in the north of Madrid and runs via Avila to Medina de Campo. There, it is attached to the Sud Express and both trains continue to Lisbon. After stopping at the beautiful town of Salamanca the train crosses the border to Portugal in the middle of the night. Thanks to Europe’s open borders there are no border controls and you can sleep through the night.
In Coimbra you have connections to Porto however on the southbound services you have to get up very early. Personally I would prefer to travel all the way to Lisbon and then take a train to Porto. Finally the train arrives in Lisbon. It stops at Oriente station before its terminus, Santa Apolonia. I recommend to stay on the train until Santa Apolonia which is very close to the city centre. Also, don’t forget that Portugal is one hour behind of Spain, so you have to set your clocks accordingly.
The Sud Express departs from Hendaye at 18:35 and arrives at Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 07:30. In the opposite direct the departure from Lisbon is at 21:25. The train arrives in Hendaye at 11:33. You can find the detailed timetables for both directions on the rail.cc website: Hendaye – Lisbon | Lisbon – Hendaye
The Lusitania departs from Madrid Chamartin at 21:43 and arrives at Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 07:30. The return service leaves Lisbon at 21:25 and arrives in Madrid at 08:40. The detailed schedules are available at rail.cc: Madrid – Lisbon | Lisbon – Madrid.
Tickets and fares
You can buy tickets online from ACP Rail, Trainline, or GoEuro. Tickets are normally available at least two months in advance. However, Spanish Railways RENFE often open booking only a few weeks in advance. If you can’t find or book the train this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t run anymore.
To travel from the French/Spanish border to Lisbon search for “Irun” and “Lisbon”. To travel from Lisbon to the French/Spanish search for “Lisbon” and “Hendaye”.
Advance fares (called “Promo”) are available from 27,60€ in 2nd class and 37,60€ in a 4-bed sleeper on the route from Irun to Lisbon. On the train from Madrid, tickets in 2nd class are available from 24,20€ and 33,60€ in a 4-bed sleeper.
Connection from/to France: tickets from Paris to Hendaye and return are available via Trainline.
Full fare prices are as follows. Discounts are available for return journeys, for Youths (until 25 years), Seniors (from 60 years) and children (4 to 12 years).
|2nd class/Turista||4-bed sleeper/Cama Turista||4-bed sleeper/Cama Turista whole compartment for 3 or 4 passengers||2-bed sleeper/Cama Preferente double occupancy||2-bed sleeper/Cama Preferente single occupancy||2-bed ensuite sleeper/Cama Gran Clase double occupancy||2-bed ensuite sleeper/Cama Gran Clase single occupancy|
|Irun – Lisbon||69€||94€||240€||132,30€||182,30€||148,10€||198,10€|
|Madrid – Lisbon||60,50€||84€||210€||99,80€||145,80€||120,10€||177,60€|
Interrail and Eurail Reservations
If you are travelling with Interrail you need an additional reservation. All comfort categories can be used with 2nd class rail passes. Prices for seat reservations start from 7€ for a 2nd class seat. All reservation prices for the Irun – Lisbon night train can be found here. For the reservation prices for the Madrid – Lisbon night train click here.
Reservations can be bought online from ACP Rail or locally at a station. Alternatively you can also buy reservations at train stations. They are available in Portugal and Spain and are usually also available in other countries such as France, Germany or Austria.
Update: November 2018