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Lisbon to the Algarve to by train
The Algarve is the beautiful coastline of southern Portugal, while Lisbon is the vibrant and historic capital of Portugal. The Algarve coastline stretches over 150km, with numerous varied resort towns and stunning beaches. This guide will provide an overview of travelling from the Algarve to Lisbon by train and public transport.
The train to Lisbon in Faro train station
Lisbon to the Algarve an Overview
There are excellent public transport links from the Algarve to Lisbon in the form of express buses and rail services. There is a single train line that connects Lisbon to the Algarve and passes through the town of Tunes to terminate in Faro, which is the location of the main international airport of southern Portugal. Both towns are connected to the Algarve regional railway that extends from Vila Real, in the east, to Lagos, in the west. Most train journeys from the Algarve to Lisbon require a train connection from the regional service to the inter-city service.
All of the express buses follow a similar route, heading south from Lisbon along the toll A2 express way. All bus services from Lisbon to the Algarve are direct and do not require a connection, but some services make multiple stops and are thus slower.
Lisbon to the Algarve by train
There are two stages of train travel from Lisbon to the Algarve. The first stage is the fast intercity service between Lisbon and Faro (or Tunes), and the second stage is the slow regional service to the resort town. There are two standards of train between Lisbon and Faro: the more luxurious Alfa Pendular and the slightly cheaper Intercidades (intercity train).
The Ponta da Piedade near Lagos
The Lisbon to Faro route tickets must be pre-booked either from a train station or from the CP website (www.CP.pt). Tickets can and should be reserved up to 30 days in advance, since popular summer services do sell out. The Alfa Pendular trains provide a better level of comfort, free Wi-Fi and a buffet service. A single ticket from Lisbon to Faro for the Alfa Pendular costs €29.80/€22.20 (1st/2nd), and for the Intercidades it costs €27.80/€21.20 (1st/2nd) (correct Nov14); please note all tickets must be pre-booked.
All train services in Lisbon pass through the Oriente train station, with the majority of services departing from the Santa Apolonia train station. The two exceptions are the services from Porto, which only go through the Oriente station. The train ticket will clearly state the departure train station.
The Algarve regional railway
Santa Apolonia train station is in the Alfama district and is the suitable departure location for visitors based in Lisbon downtown areas (Baixa, Alfama). Santa Apolonia station is connected to the blue metro line and is the final stop on the line.
All Algarve train services pass through the ultra-modern Oriente train station. This station is only three stops on the metro (red line) from the airport and is the suggested connection point for visitors who are either flying in or out via the Lisbon airport. Opposite Oriente train station is the huge Vasco da Gama shopping centre, which offers numerous restaurants and cafes. Oriente station is our personal preferred departure location.
The second stage of the train journey uses the Algarve regional train to travel to the final destination. For visitors with a holiday to the east of the Algarve (Tavira, Monte Gordo, Olhao), the connection is in the city of Faro. For visitors with holidays in the western Algarve (Lagos, Portimão, Praia da Rocha), the connection is at the town of Tunes. For Albufeira, depart at Ferreiras station (the station after Tunes) and catch a taxi for the 6km journey to the resort center.
The Algarve railway is very slow, so it takes almost an hour to travel from Lagos to Tunes, or else 40 minutes from Faro to Tavira. Express buses from the western resorts (Lagos, Praia da Rocha) to Lisbon are much faster, but train travel is generally more enjoyable. Express buses from the far east of the Algarve (Monte Gordo and Vila Real) to Lisbon tend to stop everywhere and are of comparable length to train travel. Seats for the regional train service cannot be pre-booked, but there is always plenty of space. Departure times of the regional services align with the arrival and departure of the Lisbon express trains.
Tavira is a pretty traditional town on the Algarve
When heading west, the regional train does not pass close to any of the main resorts, so an onward taxi will be required. Praia da Rocha is 4km from the train station in Portimão, Silves is 1.5km from the train station and Carvoeiro is 6km from the nearest station. Lagos train station is situated close to the city and it is only a short walk to the main center. The towns to the east of the Algarve are located close to the train station and only a short onward journey is required.