Transport in Portugal

boats in Portugal
Updated 2023-11-01 11:42

If you are planning to move to Portugal, it is important to get to know your transportation options throughout the country. Portugal has a modern and well-developed highway and road network and is also serviced by a decent bus network, though the rail is seriously lacking when compared to its southern European counterparts.

Air travel in Portugal

Portugal is well connected to Europe and the world via its airports. The largest, Humberto Delgado Airport – in Lisbon – services a wide range of domestic and international flights daily. Smaller airports can also be found in the likes of Faro, Madeira and the Azores, while Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport – in Porto – though not as busy as Lisbon, also services an ever-growing number of international destinations.

Inter-city bus travel in Portugal

Traveling by coach for long-distance journeys in Portugal, or buses for inter-city travel, is an easy and affordable way to get around if you prefer not to drive. Portugal's rail network is limited, so for some destinations, coach travel is the only way to get to certain areas via public transportation.

Tickets can be booked online and fares are usually cheap if booked in advance. For example, a coach between Lisbon and Porto takes approximately three and a half hours and can cost anywhere between 5,00€ and 20,00€. Popular bus companies running nationwide include Rede Expressos, Flixbus and Gipsyy.

Train travel in Portugal

Trains in Portugal can be quite scenic and a very pleasant way to travel between major cities. However, the rail network is limited, with smaller towns having little to no access. Plus, the system is often plagued with structural problems, delays and staff strikes. Plus, and though visitors from other parts of Europe may find it reasonably priced, it is nonetheless more expensive than taking the bus.

Portuguese trains are run by Comboios de Portugal, and though not state-of-the-art material, the vehicles are usually clean and comfortable.

There are several types of Comboios trains:

  • R trains are regional trains that are slower and stop very frequently;
  • IR trains are interregional trains that usually skip most of the small train stations;
  • IC trains are intercidade trains (express trains) that only stop in big cities;
  • Alfa Pendular, the only high-speed service in the entire network.

Unbelievably, there is one direct train between Portugal and Spain. Connecting the cities of Porto and Vigo, the Celta stands (for now) as the only direct service between the two neighboring nations. Currently, there are plans to establish a faster, direct route between Lisbon and Madrid, though no such plans are expected to be completed before 2030. For now, if you want to travel between the two Iberian capitals, you'll still have to endure a 10-hour trip across 3 different trains.

Driving in Portugal

Portugal has a modern road infrastructure, with an easy-to-access highway and road system. Driving in Portugal is done on the right side of the road, and speed limits are 50 kph in metropolitan areas, 90 kph on secondary roads and 120 kph on highways.

You must be at least 18 In order to drive in Portugal, while the age limit to rent a car in the country – depending on the company – ranges between 21 and 25. Drivers younger than 25 may have to pay an additional premium when hiring a car and have a valid driver's license for at least 3 years. If you are in the country for less than six months, you can drive or rent a car using your local license or an International Driving Permit, depending on the country you come from.

In big cities, you can also rent a motorcycle or a scooter. These are usually available from 30€ to 60€ per day.

Bicycles in Portugal

Riding a bike is quite popular in Portugal — even if the dedicated infrastructure isn't quite there yet. Though the biggest Portuguese cities have been implementing cycling paths in the past few years (aside from Lisbon, whose local authorities have been actively removing them), cycling conditions may not be perfect due to the large number of cobbled streets and restrict number of pathways/bike lanes.

Useful links:

Lisbon Airport

Porto Airport

CP - Comboios de Portugal

Rede Expressos


Gipsyy Bus

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