The best independent guide to Porto
The best independent guide to Porto
The Algarve is the beautiful coastal region of southern Portugal, boasting glorious beaches and vibrant resort towns. Porto is a charming and historic city in northern Portugal, offering a varied array of sights and activities without the hecticness of Lisbon.
Porto and the Algarve are almost at opposite ends of the country, with a distance between them of over 520km. However, it is possible to make the journey by public transport in a single day.
Travel options include express trains, intercity buses, and - if you prefer to drive - a fast route along the A1 and A2 expressways. These public transport options also include direct services, removing the need for a connection or overnight stop in Lisbon.
We would always recommend travelling by train for this long journey between the Algarve and Porto, due to its level of comfort and spacious seating. The exact time and cost of the journey will depend on where you are heading to/departing from in the Algarve, but as an example, the fastest train from Porto to Faro takes 5 hours 58 minutes and costs €57.40. The express buses are significantly cheaper than the train, with fares as low as €18.99, but the comparable direct bus service between Faro and Porto takes 7 hours and 30 minutes, which is a very long time to be sat on a bus.
This article will provide an overview of travel between Porto and the Algarve, including links to transport companies and some useful travel tips.
Related articles: Porto guide
The express train service between Porto and the Algarve is fast and modern.
The Algarve is a large and diverse region, with many towns and villages spread along the coastline. The exact travel details will depend on your destination, but a general overview is:
Driving along the A1, A2 and A22 expressways
The quickest driving route between Porto and the Algarve follows the A1 (Porto to Lisbon) and the A2 (Lisbon to the Algarve) expressways. At the southern end of the A2, it merges with the A22, and this expressway extends along the whole length of the Algarve. This is a fast route to drive, taking (for example) only 4 hours 45 minutes to drive the 526 km from Porto to Albufeira. However, the tolls are surprisingly expensive, costing €48.75 for the Porto to Albufeira route. When fuel is factored in, the journey costs almost the same as two train tickets.
Warning: If travelling by car, please be aware of tolls and how to pay them. Details are provided at the end of this guide. The company that manages the roads has recently discovered that foreign tourists are a great source of funds and is quick to issue fines.
Train - Comboios de Portugal
The most comfortable and recommended means of travel from Porto to the Algarve is by train. There are two daily and direct services between Porto and Faro on the Alfa Pendular (AP) trains, and the journey takes 5 hours 58 minutes and costs €57.40.
In the Algarve, the express train connects to the regional railway at Tunes and Faro. From here, the slow regional trains stop at many of the Algarve’s larger coastal towns, including Lagos, Tavira and Portimão.
Along with the direct services, there are other Intercidades (intercity) and Alfa Pendular options that require a connection in Lisbon’s Oriente train station. These connecting trains are slightly cheaper at €53.45. Full details can be seen on the Comboios de Portugal website: www.cp.pt/
Bus - Rede Expressos
Rede Expressos is the main intercity bus company of Portugal. It provides many routes between the towns of the Algarve and Lisbon, where you can connect to an express bus service from Lisbon to Porto. Bus travel is much cheaper than train, but journeys are always longer, and you will have to make a connection in Lisbon with Rede Expressos.
For full details, see the Rede Expressos website: www.
Note: In Lisbon, Rede Expressos uses both Oriente and Sete Rios bus stations, so always check departure locations before booking tickets.
A low-cost bus company that has significantly driven down the prices of bus travel in Portugal. This is the best option if you are a budget traveller, with fares from €18.99, but it only serves the larger towns in the Algarve, such as Faro, Albufeira, Lagos and Portimão.
The main downside to FlixBus is that their low-cost business model needs the buses to be nearly full, and they will often have at least 80 per cent of the seats sold. Being crammed on a bus for over seven hours can feel like a very long time. For bookings, see their website FlixBus
Combination of train and bus
The express trains and buses take the same time to travel from Porto to Lisbon, and most services depart/terminate in Lisbon from the Oriente bus/train station. This gives options if you’d prefer to save money (such as taking a FlixBus bus from Lisbon to Porto) or convenience if travelling to the western side of the Algarve. There are direct buses from Lisbon to Lagos or Portimão, which removes the need for the Algarve’s slow regional trains.
There are flights between Porto and the Algarve (landing at Faro Airport), which are faster than the train, while the low-cost airlines mean fares are only marginally more expensive than the train. Considerations for flying are that prices quickly ramp up when luggage fees are factored in (typically €40 per 18kg bag), and travelling through airports is always much more stressful than train stations. We can’t really recommend flying based on environmental concerns and with the train being such a suitable option.
A private transfer is the most expensive option and not really a sensible choice when compared to the train’s comfort and speed. Few drivers will want this long journey, as there would be no return ride for them, and it will therefore be priced accordingly. A sensible option may be to book a private transfer between your accommodation in the Algarve and the train station at Tunes or Faro, where the express trains depart from. For this journey, the ride-hailing apps of Uber or Bolt could be a good choice.
Advice: Whichever option you choose, it always makes sense to book directly with the transport company, instead of third-party ticket resellers. Buying directly will reduce booking fees and ensure each company is more accommodating if there are issues with connections or late running services.
Comboios de Portugal - www.cp.pt
Rede Expressos - rede-expressos.pt
Flixbus - FlixBus
Rede Expressos and FlixBus services at Oriente bus station in Lisbon.
The express train and bus services only make limited stops in the Algarve.
The express trains only stop in Tunes, Faro and Albufeira-Ferreiras (7km north of Albufeira), and for most journeys you will need to catch the slow regional train – full details later in the guide. The express bus services serve many more towns in the Algarve, but you will often need to make a connection in Lisbon.
Insight: If you are in the early stages of your holiday planning, we would suggest spending one night in Faro, either before or after your train (or bus) to Porto. Faro has a pretty historic centre and is convenient after a long train ride.
Related articles: Faro guide
The Algarve train waiting at Tunes station.
When travelling this long journey, we would always recommend train travel over bus or driving.
The Alfa Pendular trains are direct, luxurious and spacious, and this is important considering the journey will take around 6 hours. The downside is that one departure is very early in the morning, while the second arrives late in the day. For more convenient times, you will have to take the Intercidades trains, but these need a connection in Lisbon (full details later in the guide).
If you are a budget-conscious traveller, the express buses are significantly cheaper than the train, and FlixBus offers the lowest fares.
The Intercidades (intercity) train to Faro pulling into Oriente Station in Lisbon.
If you take just one thing from this article, it should be to book your tickets (for both the train and bus) well in advance of your journey. Booking beforehand not only saves money but also secures seats, as popular services will sell out in the peak season.
The express trains between Porto and the Algarve have only a limited number of seats, and once they are all sold, there will be no more space available. There is no standing allowed on the Alfa Pendular or Intercidades.
Buses between Lisbon and the Algarve can get extremely busy during the summer, and popular services - such as on Friday evenings and at weekends - will sell out.
Both FlixBus and Rede Expressos use dynamic pricing, where seats purchased well in advance or on low-demand services will be inexpensive. Tickets purchased last minute or on popular routes will cost significantly more. FlixBus is usually cheaper than Rede Expressos during the summer, but it is always worth checking both websites.
The Algarve and Porto railways are operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP), the national train company of Portugal.
There are two stages of train travel from Porto to the Algarve. The first stage is the express train between Porto and the Algarve. The second stage is the slow regional train from Tunes (for the western Algarve) or Faro (to the east Algarve).
For the express train from Porto to Tunes/Faro, there are two types of trains - the Alfa Pendular (AP) and the Intercidades (intercity – IC). The Alfa Pendular is the more modern train, while the Intercidades is slightly cheaper, but both provide a high level of comfort. There are two direct Alfa Pendular services from Porto to Faro each day, and the latest timetable can be seen on the CP website:
(The link opens a PDF, which may be downloaded on mobile phones)
To purchase tickets, it is advisable to book through the CP website: www.cp.pt/
There are reductions for children (50 per cent discount), under 25s (25 per cent discount), seniors 65+ (50 per cent discount) or when buying a return ticket (10 per cent reduction). These age-related discounts can be applied when purchasing online, during the ‘options’ stage of the booking process. If using any age-based discounts, always travel with valid ID to prove your age.
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.
Insight: It is a large step down from the carriage to the station at both Tunes and Faro. If you have mobility issues or are travelling with young children, it is advisable to chat with the guard if help or extra time is needed.
The Alfa Pendular is the express train of Portugal.
All trains to or from Porto depart from Campanhã train station, which is to the east of the city, GPS 41.151, -8.582.
Most visitors to Porto have accommodation close to the historic centre, and this area is served by the São Bento train station. However, the Lisbon to Porto express trains do not stop here. There are regular urban trains from Campanhã to São Bento, and this six-minute journey is included in your ticket.
For convenience, you may wish to take an Uber, Bolt or taxi for this short journey from Campanhã train station to your final destination. An Uber fare from Campanhã to the centre of Porto typically costs only €4 to €5.
Campanhã train station lies on the main express railway
São Bento train station with its beautiful tile paintings lies in the centre of Porto
The second stage of the train journey uses the Algarve regional train to travel to your final destination. If you are heading to the east of the Algarve (Tavira, Monte Gordo, Olhao), the connection is in the city of Faro.
If travelling to the western Algarve (Lagos, Portimão, Praia da Rocha), the connection is at the town of Tunes. For Albufeira, depart at Ferreiras 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 or Uber will be required.
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.
The train stations in the Algarve are much smaller, often with two platforms and a handful of services per day. Most stations have a ticket office, a café and not much else.
The regional Algarve train as it passes through Faro.
Bus travel in Portugal is safe and inexpensive, and the coaches used by Rede Expressos and Flixbus are smart and modern.
Rede Expressos is Portugal’s main inter-city bus company, covering many routes throughout the country. It is a conglomerate of lots of smaller bus companies, and the Lisbon to Algarve services may be provided by Renex, Mundial Turismo or Rede Expressos.
FlixBus is a low-cost bus company that provides services along many of the more popular routes in Portugal. Since it started operating, the price of bus travel has significantly fallen and is now much cheaper than train travel. FlixBus services will be cheaper when booked in advance, but its services will sell out during popular times. Also, expect FlixBus to be much busier than the Rede Expressos equivalent.
Rede Expressos - rede-expressos.pt/
Flixbus - FlixBus
Both bus companies use dynamic pricing, with the cost of the ticket increasing closer to the departure time and with demand.
In Porto, the intercity bus terminal is the Terminal Intermodal de Campanhã, often abbreviated to TIC or simply referred to as Campanhã. It is situated east of the city centre at GPS 41.151, -8.582 and is connected to the Campanhã train and metro station. Both FlixBus and Rede Expressos depart from and terminate at Campanhã.
Campanhã bus station
The journey by car from Porto to the Algarve follows the A1 and A2 expressways, while the A22 is the expressway of the Algarve. All of these roads have tolls, and the cost will be almost the same as the train.
The tolls are paid by the Via Verde transponder, which you should ask for if you are renting a car in Portugal. Full details are provided on their website:
If you are planning on driving a foreign registered car, please see this website:
It is highly recommended to have a Via Verde transponder while driving in Portugal, as many expressways only have automatic toll collection. To estimate the cost of tolls in Portugal, use the website:
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