How To Spend 2 Weeks In Portugal By Rail
It’s easy to spend 2 weeks in Portugal by train. Its location on the Iberian Peninsula, with only Spain as its neighbor, has influenced many aspects of life. Fresh seafood, pristine beaches, fine ports and wines, interesting maritime history, and a young, creative population combine to make for fascinating adventures. It’s well set up for train travel, particularly if you combine it with a rail trip through Spain.
If you’re arriving by plane, then you’ll probably start and end in Lisbon. If you’re arriving from Spain, then you should follow a north-south or south-north itinerary. But either way, the country is small and easy enough to navigate by rail.
2 weeks in Portugal
- Days 1 – 3: Algarve
- Days 3 – 6: Lisbon
- Days 6 – 7: Costa do Sol
- Days 7 – 8: Óbidos
- Days 8 – 9: Coimbra
- Days 9 – 13: Porto
- Day 14: Return to Lisbon, or head north
Days 1 – 3: Algarve
The Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, and it’s best known for its beaches, resorts and golf courses. It’s also highly seasonal – in winter months many resorts and towns are all but totally abandoned. Still, if you’re looking for good beaches, some surf, and a laid-back lifestyle with a few peak-season parties thrown in, it’s a fantastic start to your 2 weeks in Portugal.
Faro is the easiest town to reach by rail, but head further west for a day or two for more remote towns and villages.
Don’t miss: The walled town of Lagos, and the nearby cliffs and beaches.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Faro from northern Portugal. If you’re coming from southern Spain, then there are several regular, cheap, and reliable bus services that will take you across the border.
Days 3 – 6: Lisbon
The Portuguese capital is a beautiful vibrant city that deserves as much time as you can afford to give her. Rolling hills provide impressive vantage points for you to view the city from, while the quaint Alfama district is perfect for an aimless wander. Nightlife, restaurants, museums, and numerous daytrips make this an ideal city to base yourself in for a few days.
Don’t miss: Once you’ve visited Lisbon’s top attractions, plan a full day trip to the mystical world of Sintra.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains between Faro and Lisbon – they take approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Days 6 – 7: Costa do Sol
Head west out of Lisbon to explore Cascais and its surrounds. This former fishing village is now a popular beach resort, but its narrow streets and small harbour are still cheerful and charming. There are also many small towns and villages nearby to explore, such as Estoril, if you’re staying overnight.
Don’t miss: Boca do Inferno, or Mouth of Hell, where the Atlantic pummels the shoreline.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains between Lisbon and Cascais that take approximately 40 minutes.
Days 7 – 8: Óbidos
The beautiful walled town of Óbidos is relatively easy to access by rail from Lisbon. Although it’s popular with day tourists who take the bus in from Lisbon, it has still managed to retain its appeal. Stay overnight in the town and you may just have the quiet cobbled streets and city walls all to yourself. If you’re a fan of big wave surfing, the town of Nazaré is also within reach.
Don’t miss: A walk along the city walls is free, thrilling, and offers dramatic views over the town and surrounding farmlands – particularly at sunset.
How to get there by train: Return to Lisbon, and then board a train for Óbidos. The route takes approximately 2.5 hours. The Óbidos train station is located out of town at the bottom of a hill, so speak to your accommodation provider about a pickup service if you have a lot of luggage.
Days 8 – 9: Coimbra
From Óbidos you can either head all the way to Porto or stop over in the town of Coimbra. Coimbra is the former capital of Portugal, and it’s an easy connection from Óbidos. It’s also home to the country’s most celebrated university and has an atmosphere to match.
Don’t miss: The university and its impressive library, Biblioteca Joanina.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains between Óbidos and Coimbra that require a single connection in Caldas da Rainha.
Days 9 – 13: Porto
Porto sits on the steep banks of the Douro Valley. Though not quite as famous as Lisbon, it’s fast becoming a popular stop for travelers. The atmosphere in the city is hard to beat, and the views, history, museums, beaches, and friendly locals can keep you entertained for several days. It’s also the home of port, and you can sample the wine at one of several lodges.
Don’t miss: Take a trip back in time on the wooden tram (Tram 1) that runs along the river all the way to the ocean.
How to get there by train: Trains between Coimbra and Porto run regularly and take just under an hour.
Day 14: Return to Lisbon, or head north
Porto is the gateway to the north of the country. It also offers easy access to the north western reaches of Spain – perfect if you’re combining the two countries with a Eurail Portugal-Spain Pass. The main Portuguese airport is in Lisbon, so you may need to return here if you’re leaving by plane. There are several low-cost airlines that service Lisbon Portela Airport, so for just a few euros you can catch a flight somewhere else in Europe to continue your adventure. After 2 weeks in Portugal, there’s still much more that you can see with a Eurail Global Pass!