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See Portugal like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

Transportation in Portugal: A Guide

ViaHero
Updated December 15, 2020

You want to see everything Portugal has to offer—but you're not sure how to get around. No worries! We asked some Portuguese locals for their best transit advice. With their input, we created this guide to transportation in Portugal. 

Navigate with ease by having a local plan your trip. Our trip planners are Portuguese locals who can give transit tips *and* restaurant recommendations. Learn more

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Kate, Recent Traveler

Every major city is connected via the train system, Comboios de Portugal

Inter-Regional train in Portugal | Pablo Nieto Abad/Flickr

Locals tell us that the best way to explore all the incredible places to visit in Portugal will be through the national train system—Comboios de Portugal, or CP. Comboios de Portugal connects both major cities and local towns. 

Train tickets in Portugal are fairly cheap. For instance, locals say that you can get from the south of Portugal to the very north for around €30 if you book in advance. 

There are different types of trains

Portugal’s train network has four different types of trains for you to choose from depending on how you want to travel. Our trip planners explain:

  • Regional Trains (called Regionais) are for shorter distances, make lots of stops, and tend to be slower. 
  • Intercity Trains (or Intercidades) are ideal for going between major cities and towns; they make fewer stops, and they’re faster.
  • Urbanos are essentially subway systems within individual cities (more on that later). 
  • Alfa Pendular is a high-speed train that goes the fastest, connects all the major cities, and runs the length of the entire country from the north to the south. 
Local Tip:

The slower the train, the cheaper it is—but only the fast ones (Intercity and Alfa Pendular) require reservations. If you have to make a reservation, book tickets on CP’s website—if not you can always buy tickets in the stations.

You can also take buses from city to city

Taking the train may be simple, but locals tell us that figuring out Portugal’s bus network may require a bit more work. Run by multiple companies, buses are an efficient way to get between cities and other top places to visit in Portugal.

Locals note that Rede Expressos is your best bet for getting around the country by bus. This network operates out of Lisbon and can be one of your cheapest options for getting from city to city. A ticket to Porto from Lisbon will only set you back about €6.

Some other networks to consider are Rodonorte for northern destinations and Eva Bus if you’re sticking to the south. 

Regardless of what network you go with, locals say the best way for getting your tickets is online. If you go with Rede Expressos, you can use their app.

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Lisbon and Porto have efficient Metro systems

Metro in Lisbon | herr_muenchen/Flickr

Lisbon and Porto both have really well-run, safe underground metro systems (Metropolitano de Lisboa in Lisbon and Metro do Porto in Porto). Locals say they’re also pretty cheap! A one-way ticket in Porto is €1.20 if you’re in the central zone or Zone 2 (though Zones 3 and 4 are slightly more expensive). 

In Lisbon, a one-way ticket costs €1.45, and there’s no difference between zones. Benefit from local insider knowledge. Our trip planners in Portugal suggest taking advantage of the 24-hour pass—it costs €6.30 in Lisbon and €5.20 in Porto. Get your tickets from the machines inside the metro stations, grab a map, then go exploring!

Local Tip:

You can also take trams in Lisbon. It's a lovely way to see the city—and a fun thing to do in Portugal. You have to buy your tickets on board for €3 (exact change!). However, if you get a 24-hour pass the tram is included along with the metro and buses.

Buses are also great for getting around within cities

Buses can be really helpful for getting around larger cities like Lisbon and Porto.

Use local insights to navigate more easily. Our trip planners say that local buses can’t be booked in advance, which means you have to actually go to a bus stop to see the timetable and buy a ticket at the kiosk there. The tickets are really cheap; a one-way ticket only costs €1.50.

Most transportation in Lisbon (excluding the metro) is run through a company called Carris. Check their website for some help with bus routes.

Local Tip:

If you get to a bus stop and there isn’t a kiosk to buy a ticket from, go to the nearest cafe or corner store. They usually sell tickets as well

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Taxis are great (and affordable)

Most of the taxis in Portugal are beige—or occasionally green and black. Only trust taxis that have an official taxi sign on the roof and the driver's ID displayed in the cab. The good thing about taxis in Portugal is that they tend to be pretty fair and reliable. They always run on a meter, starting at €2.50, and they’re great if you’re on a time crunch. It’s probably a good idea to write down your destination on a piece of paper in case your Portuguese isn’t quite up to snuff. 

You can also use Uber

As in many European countries, Uber has had a rough history in Portugal. It was banned a while back, but for the moment it is up and running well. It’s not significantly cheaper than taking a taxi, but it can be helpful if you’re worried about being overcharged or not being able to speak Portuguese.

Local Tip:

Taxis can charge more if you’re carrying luggage or if you’re trying to catch one late at night. Just be prepared if the price goes up when you’re hauling a behemoth of a suitcase back to the airport—you’re not being ripped off!

Rental cars are best for cruising the countryside

Road in Portugal | Francisco Galvão/Unsplash

Portugal's big cities are spectacular. But there's so much to explore throughout the country! Don't know where to start? Get some local advice. Our trip planners tell us you can enjoy some spectacular day trips to the coolest places to visit in Portugal—like Sintra, to see castles, and Sesimbra, to enjoy a sea breeze.

Alamo, Budget, and Europcar are some of the primary car rental agencies in Portugal. If you’re planning on renting a car, definitely consider booking in advance to save some money.

Locals say that one downside of driving in Portugal is the tolls. You’ll have to pay if you want to take the fast highways (called autoestradas). The adventure is often worth it. 

You can also fly within the country

Portugal is pretty small, so you should be fine just sticking to the normal public transport options to get around. However, you may sometimes want to opt for a plane ride, especially if you’re trying to get between Lisbon, Porto, and Faro quickly—each one offers so many fantastic Portuguese activitiesPortugalia Airlines is a great airline for domestic flights, and has legs between Lisbon and Porto for as cheap as $70. 

There are 3 major airports to fly into

When it comes to flying into and out of Portugal, you essentially have three options.

  • Lisbon Airport (LIS) serves the central region of the country and is connected to the underground metro for easy access to and from the city.
  • Faro Airport (FAO) is your best option for flying into for the southern part of Portugal. It can be hard to get to and from FAO from the city using only public transit, but there are a couple of bus lines that run to and from it (lines 14 and 16).
  • Porto Airport (OPO) is also called Fransisco Sa Carniero and services the northern part of the country. It’s well-connected to the city center via Line E of the Porto metro, as well as STCP and Resende bus services. 
Local Tip:

In Portugal, you go through passport control after security (once your gate is announced). So when you’re flying out, get to your gate as soon as you know it!

Still have questions about travel to Portugal?
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You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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