Transportation in Portugal

boats in Portugal
Updated 2021-09-23 14:35

If you are planning to move to Portugal, it is important to familiarise yourself with the various modes of transportation throughout the country. Portugal has a modern and well-developed highway and road network and is also serviced by a good bus and rail network, for both domestic and international routes. Here's an overview of transportation in Portugal.

Air travel in Portugal

Portugal is well connected to Europe and the world via its airports. The largest, Lisbon Portela Airport, services a wide range of domestic and international flights daily. Smaller airports can also be found in larger cities, including Faro, Porto, and Madeira. Portugal also has several airlines that offer domestic travel, including TAP Portugal, Portugalia, and Azores Airlines.

Taking the bus in Portugal

Traveling by coach for long-distance journeys, 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 in advance online or can be booked last-minute, and fares are reasonably priced. As an example, a coach between Lisbon and Porto takes approximately three and a half hours and costs around EUR 20. Popular bus companies include Rodonorte and Rede Expressos.

If you are staying in a large city, such as Lisbon or Porto, many main tourist attractions are within walking distance, so you may find walking a better and more efficient option than the local buses.

Traveling by train in Portugal

Trains in Portugal can be very scenic and are a good way to travel between major cities. However, the rail network is limited, with smaller towns not accessed as frequently, if at all, by the trains. Rail travel is reasonably priced and can be booked in advance or on the day of travel.

Portuguese trains are run by the Comboios de Portugal, and trains are modern and comfortable.

There are several types of Comboios trains:

  • R trains are regional trains that are slower and have a lot of stops.
  • IR trains are interregional trains that tend to be faster and skip most small train stations.
  • IC trains are intercidade trains (express trains) that only stop in big cities.

And then you have the Alfa Pendular Deluxe, which are even faster than express trains — but also pricier.

In addition to the commuter and long-distance rail services, you can also connect to the French and Spanish rail networks via the European rail network.

The fastest trains on the Portuguese network are the Alfa Pendular, which go between Braga and Faro, which includes Lisbon. You can also find inter-city, regional, and urban trains.

Taking the tram in Portugal

Trams in Lisbon and Porto are very popular with tourists and have become a sightseeing destination all in their own right. Hopping on the slow-moving train can be a great (and inexpensive) way to see the city. However, as trams are very popular — especially in summer — it is a good idea to secure a seat in the early morning hours.

Driving in Portugal

Portugal has a modern road infrastructure, with an easy to access highway and road system. Driving is done on the right side of the road, and speed limits are 50 kph in metropolitan areas, 90 kph on rural roads, and 120 kph on highways. It is important to familiarise yourself with all road rules before purchasing or hiring a car.

You must be at least 18 to drive in Portugal, or 23 (or 25, depending on the company), to hire a car. Drivers younger than 25 may have to pay an additional premium when hiring a car. Generally, if you are in the country for less than six months, you can drive or rent a car using your local licence and are not required to obtain a Portuguese licence.

In big cities, you can also rent a motorcycle or a scooter. These generally cost from 30 EUR to 60 EUR per day. Learn more about Driving in Portugal.

Bicycles in Portugal

Riding bicycles is very popular in Portugal — even though the infrastructure may not be fully there. There are not many dedicated cycling paths in major Portuguese cities and cycling conditions may not be perfect due to the large number of cobbled streets. With that, there are lots of great cycling itineraries in city parks — like the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês. You will also find local bike clubs in most cities that organize outings along picturesque routes.

Useful links:

Comboios de Portugal

Rede Expressos

Lisbon Airport


We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.