The best independent guide to Porto
The best independent guide to Porto
Porto and Coimbra are both fascinating tourist destinations. Coimbra is the characterful university city of Portugal, while vibrant Porto is steeped in history.
Coimbra is 106km south of Porto, and there is excellent public transport linking the two cities. This includes the primary north-south railway of Portugal and the A1 expressway with its numerous express bus services.
This article will detail how to travel from Porto to Coimbra by public transport, and also includes how to travel from Porto Airport to Coimbra.
Related articles: Our guide to Porto – Our guide to Coimbra
The express train from Porto to Coimbra is the recommended means of travel. There are two classes of express train, the Intercidades (IC) and the Alfa Pendular (AP). The Alfa Pendular are the more modern trains, with a higher level of comfort and fewer stops, but are slightly more expensive.
The Alfa Pendular journey from Porto to Coimbra takes 1h05min while the Intercidades is 1h15min. The cost of a single adult fare on the Alfa Pendular from Porto to Coimbra is €22.40/€17.20 (first/standard) whereas the Intercidades is €17.70/€13.60 (first/standard).
There are 11 daily services with more Monday to Friday. The entire timetable can be seen on the Comboios de Portugal (CP) website:
(the above link is a PDF, so may download on certain mobile phones)
Tickets for all express trains need to be purchased before travel, and there is a limited number of seats. Each ticket is assigned a seat, so popular train services do sell out – never just turn up at the train station and expect to get a seat!
Tickets can be purchased from any train station or from the CP website. Tickets can be purchased for 30 days in advance and there can be very generous discounts for booking well in advance. In the previous summer, there were reductions of 50% on tickets purchased 14 days before travel. The CP website is: https://www.cp.pt
Note: there are many third-party train and bus booking websites, who make their money from booking fees. These types of websites will never be cheaper than purchasing directly with the train or bus company. (bus links are given later in this article)
The express trains do not stop in Porto or Coimbra city centres, but at Coimbra B and Porto Campanhã train stations. Coimbra B station is 2.5km to the north of the city and is a 3-minute train ride to the central “Coimbra” station. Porto Campanhã is to the east of Porto and requires a short train ride to the central train station of São Bento.
This means that for most tourists the journey from Porto to Coimbra requires three trains; the express train and two very short urban train rides.
Warning: Always confirm the departure train station in both cities. Tourists are frequently caught out by the Coimbra/Coimbra B arrangement when travelling north.
Advice: Campanhã station is connected to the Porto metro network, so sometimes it is easier to travel to Campanhã by metro instead of the train.
It is possible to visit Coimbra as a day trip from Porto, but we recommend at least a stay of 1 night in the city. There is a lot to see in Coimbra, and the city deserves more than one day of rushed sightseeing.
The other consideration when visiting Coimbra as a day trip by public transport, is that tickets must be pre-booked and there is almost no flexibility on return journeys. When you purchase the train or bus ticket for this route, you have to choose your return train/bus time and are assigned a seat number.
Related articles: The best day trips from Porto – 1 week in Porto
The main intercity bus company of Portugal is Rede Expressos, who provide 18 daily direct services between Porto and Coimbra. The journey takes 1h25min and a single ticket costs €11.90, or a return is €21.20. The latest timetable and ticket reservation can be made on the Rede Expressos website at:
In Porto, the Rede Expressos buses depart from the Campo 24 de Agosto bus station, which is to the east of the city (GPS 41.149892, -8.599015). The bus station is close to the 24 de Agosto metro station and is only a short walk across the Jardim do Campo 24 de Agosto Park.
Warning: The main intercity bus station in Porto moved in 2018 from the Batalha district (called the Garagem Atlântico on the Rua Alexandre Herculano) to the Campo 24 de Agosto bus station. Some outdated websites still refer to the Batalha bus station, so you should always confirm departure location on your ticket.
In Coimbra, the bus station is the “Terminal Rodoviario Coimbra” which is to the north of the city (GPS: 40.216269, -8.437316). The bus station is 1km from Igreja de Santa Cruz, 1.6km to the Largo da Portagem or a 1.7km uphill walk to the university.
Our opinion: We personally prefer travelling by train from Porto to Coimbra, but bus travel is as equally good, with modern coaches and reliable services.
Porto airport is the nearest international airport to Coimbra. A private transfer from Porto airport to Coimbra will cost around €125 for the 90-minute journey of 135km. The journey by public transport will be much cheaper (€19 per person), but the route is very time-consuming.
The best option for public transport is to travel by metro from the airport to Campanhã train station, and then catch the express train to Coimbra. The metro from the airport to Porto costs €2.00 (plus €0.60 for an Andante card), and there are departures every 20 minutes with a journey time of 40 minutes.
Related articles: Porto airport to Porto city centre
Due to possible flight delays, we suggest to never book an express train too early, and at a minimum give two hours from landing to reaching Campanhã train station. Another option is to book the first express train once at Campanhã, but this has the possibility that all of the seats are sold out…
Our key advice would be to always catch the earliest flight into Porto, which then provides the maximum amount of time for onward travel.