The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
The Algarve is the beautiful coastline of southern Portugal and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Lisbon is the vibrant capital city and is the location of the main international airport of Portugal.
Connecting Lisbon and the Algarve are frequent and inexpensive public transport services, and this includes the modern Alfa Pendular train. This article will detail how to travel from the Algarve to Lisbon by train, and includes fares, timetables and useful tourist advice.
Note: The main airport of the Algarve is Faro Airport, but routes are predominantly European, if you are flying to Portugal from outside of Europe you will generally land at Lisbon.
This article is for general advice for travelling from the Algarve to Lisbon. We have written more specific guides for the major resort towns of the Algarve; the guides are for:
Lagos to Lisbon – Tavira to Lisbon
There is a single train line that connects Lisbon to the Algarve, an intercity route that passes through the town of Tunes before terminating in Faro. Tunes and Faro are connected to the Algarve regional railway, which extends from Vila Real de Santo António in the east, to Lagos, in the west. Therefore, most train journeys from Lisbon to the Algarve require a connection from the inter-city service to a regional train.
The express buses follow a similar route, heading south from Lisbon along the toll A2 expressway, and then heading either east or west. All bus services from Lisbon to the Algarve are direct and do not require a connection, but they tend to only stop in the larger towns.
This is probably the most important question to consider when travelling from Lisbon to the Algarve or vice-versa. Generally, we recommend train travel over bus, as it is more comfortable and spacious, but there are two issues that should influence your choice.
No train journey is direct, and a connection from the regional train to the express train is needed, but if you follow one of the timetabled routes the connections are not difficult.
Most bus journeys are direct, but times between train and bus are comparable, for example; Lagos-Lisbon 3h52 train and 3h45 bus and Tavira-Lisbon, 4h02 train 4h15 bus. (Note; these are the fastest daily services there are much slower services!).
The second point, is your proximity to a train station. Some of the popular resort towns are a very long distance from a train station (Albufeira 7km, Vilamoura 5km), and you may prefer just to catch the bus instead of paying for a long taxi fare.
Note: The Lisbon-Algarve express bus services do not serve Alvor, Carvoeiro, Armação de Pêra and Ferragudo, for these you will need to take a taxi, Uber or local bus to the nearest train (or bus station). For these destinations, we would recommend taking the train.
If you do decide to take the bus over the train, the main intercity bus company is Rede Expressos and their website is https://www.rede-expressos.pt/en
The remainder of this article will detail how to travel from Lisbon to the Algarve by train.
The Algarve to Lisbon train services are operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP), the national train company of Portugal.
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 your resort town.
There are two standards of train between Lisbon and Faro: the Alfa Pendular, which is more luxurious, while the Intercidades (intercity train) are slightly cheaper and slower.
The Lisbon to Faro train tickets must be pre-booked, as each ticket is designated a seat, and the number of seats is limited. Tickets for the entire journey can be purchased from the Comboios de Portugal website (https://www.cp.pt) or from any train station. Tickets can be reserved up to 30 days, and over the last few years there have been substantial savings (up to 50% off) when booked well in-advance.
Warning: Popular summer services do sell out, it is not advisable just to turn up at the station shortly before the departure time and hope that there are still seats available for the express train.
The Alfa Pendular trains provide a better level of comfort, have free Wi-Fi and a buffet service. A single ticket from Lisbon to Faro for the Alfa Pendular costs €30.70/€22.90 (1st/2nd), and for the Intercidades it costs €28.70/€21.90(1st/2nd) (correct May19). There is only a single class of train which operates along the Algarve railway, the slow regional train. Seat are not reserved on this class of train, and it can be best described as basic.
For a summary of the train services from Lisbon to the Algarve, which usefully includes connections to the regional railway, please see this timetable on the CP website:
( Note: This is a pdf, so may download on certain mobile phones, and may take a little while to download)
For train bookings use the Comboios de Portugal website: www.cp.pt/
Note: There are many third-party websites selling train tickets, but they may have additional booking fees; it always makes sense to book directly with Comboios de Portugal. On the same theme, the main intercity bus company of Portugal is Rede Expressos and their website is https://www.rede-expressos.pt/en
All trains to the Algarve depart from the Estação do Oriente in Lisbon.
Oriente station is to the north-east of the city (GPS: 38.768586, -9.098835), and is in the Parque das Nações district. The Estação do Oriente is connected to the red metro line, and this metro line also serves the airport.
Oriente is a busy transport interchange with metro, bus and train station, but is easy to navigate around, with clear signage and plenty of lifts. Opposite the station is the modern Vasco da Gama shopping centre, where there are numerous restaurants and cafes.
Faro and Tunes train stations are tiny in comparison, being little more than a platform and ticket office. Faro train station (GPS: 37.019691, -7.941046) is a 200m walk from the intercity bus station (GPS: 37.016996, -7.937422) or a 300m walk to the city centre. Tunes station (GPS: 37.165733, -8.257292) is 8km inland from Albufeira, in the small town of Tunes, and not close to anything of interest to tourists.
Our opinion: Faro is the historic regional capital, and is highly recommended for a day trip during your stay in the Algarve.
Related articles: Estação do Oriente – Faro city guide
There are two daily direct train service from Faro to Porto, and Porto to Faro, which also connects to the Algarve regional train.
The Faro-Porto journey takes 5h50min, and the tickets for Alfa Pendular service cost €59.30/€42.90 (1st/2nd). The train is always the recommended means of travel for such long distances, and the timetable for trains between Faro and Porto can be seen here:
You may not have considered Porto as part of your holiday, but it is a fascinating city and is as good as Lisbon (but has fewer tourists!)
Related articles: Our Porto guide
The second stage of the train journey uses the Algarve regional train to travel to your final destination. For visitors heading to the east of the Algarve (Tavira, Monte Gordo, Olhao), the connection is in the city of Faro.
For visitors travelling to 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 centre.
The Algarve railway is very slow; it takes almost an hour to travel from Lagos to Tunes, or 40 minutes from Faro to Tavira. Departure times of the regional services align with the arrival and departure of the timetabled Lisbon express trains.
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 it’s train station, and Carvoeiro is 6km to the nearest station (Estombar-Lagoa GPS: 37.143376, -8.485717).
Lagos train station is situated close to the city and it is only a short walk to the main centre. The towns to the east of the Algarve are located close to the train station and only a short onward journey is required.