Porto -> Lisbon by Train?

Old Sep 2, 16, 11:53 am
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Question Porto -> Lisbon by Train?

Heading from the US for October trip to Porto then Lisbon then Spain.

We arranged our flights to fly into Porto and then from LIS->BCN, assuming we'd take the train from OPO->LIS based on our research.

We're not backpackers, so we'll each have a roller, a personal bag (purse and laptop-sized), and a large suitcase. Obviously, we're American tourists in terms of packing habits but not in ignorant behavior. I'd appreciate your help with a couple of questions:
  1. Is carrying these bags on board practical? I'm sure it's done frequently, but I'm not assuming it's easy.
  2. Since the suitcase and perhaps the roller are unlikely to be in reach from our seats, are stowed bags safe from pilferage or outright theft? Relatively speaking, of course - anything bad can happen to any traveler at any time anywhere.
  3. What's the best and safest way to get to and from this train from the hotels? With pickpockets molesting visitors right outside the airport these days, it's better to ask you experts unabashedly!

Despite the short duration of a similar flight, I imagine the total airport, flight duration, and hotel transfer isn't shorter than the train's elapsed time.

Thanks for helping a first time visitor to the region!
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Old Sep 2, 16, 5:40 pm
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1. As opposed to what? Shipping your bag? Of course you carry it on. There are luggage racks at the end of the cars for larger suitcases, and the smaller stuff can go above you or at your feet. You have elevators/escalators both at Porto-Campanhã and at all Lisbon train stations. Mind the gap between the train and the platform, it will be a small step up into the car.
2. If you're very concerned, bring a cable and a lock. IIRC Alfa Pendular has a luggage rack with wire that you can pass through the handles and a lock (image). There have been cases in early 2015 of people stealing bags, then they were caught in mid-2015, I haven't heard anything since, but YMMV.
3. Define best? You have many options on both ends: metro, buses, taxi, uber, ...
For whatever reason, I haven't seen pickpockets or bums outside Portuguese train stations or airports.

The only reason to take Ryanair is if you're really sensitive to price (there's very little reason to take TAP, unless you're going to/coming from somewhere close to Porto Airport). The train is faster door-to-door from city center to city center.

I will also mention that there are buses, which cost a bit less than the train, but take more time.

Also, read the sticky on PT trains in this forum. If you buy your tickets online a few weeks in advance, you can usually get a nice discount (10-15€ instead of 25-30€ each way).
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Old Sep 3, 16, 6:40 am
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Thanks, Palal. Very helpful.

We're not paranoid people, but understand that, to first-time travelers to this region, all the information about street and public-transport pick-pocketing and petty theft is overwhelming - from all kinds of reliable sources. To be fair, the focus is more on our final destination of Barcelona than Portugal!

I've bookmarked the excellent sticky note about the trains.

For Portuguese local and long-distance train/metro transport, do automated machines accept chip-and-signature credit cards, not just chip-and-pin?

Thanks again.
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Old Sep 3, 16, 6:56 am
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Originally Posted by esfox View Post
Thanks, Palal. Very helpful.

We're not paranoid people, but understand that, to first-time travelers to this region, all the information about street and public-transport pick-pocketing and petty theft is overwhelming - from all kinds of reliable sources. To be fair, the focus is more on our final destination of Barcelona than Portugal!

I've bookmarked the excellent sticky note about the trains.

For Portuguese local and long-distance train/metro transport, do automated machines accept chip-and-signature credit cards, not just chip-and-pin?

Thanks again.
You are going to Portugal, which is a perfectly normal EU destination in Western Europe. You're not going to Nigeria or something, stop panicking so much about thefts and pickpockets. The risk will be at least as large, if not larger, in many US cities as in Portugal.

From LIS, you can take the metro to the important Lisbon train stations. The metro costs only one euro or so. It might be annoying with your luggage, but you'll survive I think. If you really don't want to drag your luggage everywhere, just take a taxi; more expensive but still manageable.

Indeed you can take a train to Porto, it will be no problem. You can buy the tickets right there. Research beforehand from which lisbon station it departs (I think appolonia). I don't know about credit cards, but keep in mind that creditcards without chip/PIN are less commonly used in Europe (we prefer to use debit cards). So you might want to bring a normal visa or mastercard that does have a pin.

Oh I see now that you fly directly to port and so will only have one train ride in the direction of Lisbon. Well within Lisbon it's easiest to use the metro which costs only 1 euro or something per ride (no matter how far you go, except to some of the remotest suburbs but you probably won't go there anyway). The metro runs all the way to the airport. If your hotel is too far for a metro station, just take a taxi, they are cheap there.
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Old Sep 3, 16, 6:59 am
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The only specific 'threat' to Portugal that I haven't seen elsewhere is the drug dealers, which will approach you openly right in the middle of even the most touristy squares selling you weed etc. Just shrug them off and they will stop bothering you.

Now I don't think you are the type to be actually interested in drugs, but if you are: don't buy it. The openly dealing dealers all sell phony fake stuff. If the police catch them, they will only get a small fine and will start dealing their fake stuff again (they can't be caught for actual drug dealin because what they are dealing is fake).
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Old Sep 3, 16, 7:01 am
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How long will you stay in Lisbon? It's a wonderful city, and so is prto.

If you are taying a bit longer, make a day trip to Sintra which has a plethora of beautiful sights. If you want to go to the beach, you could go to something like Cascais or Oeiras. Keep in mind that though it's very hot outside, the water is ice ice cold (well for me it is, but I am half brazilian haha).
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Old Sep 3, 16, 9:30 am
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Originally Posted by esfox View Post
Thanks, Palal. Very helpful.

We're not paranoid people, but understand that, to first-time travelers to this region, all the information about street and public-transport pick-pocketing and petty theft is overwhelming - from all kinds of reliable sources. To be fair, the focus is more on our final destination of Barcelona than Portugal!
DO be careful with pickpockets in Barcelona. In Lisbon, the biggest threat of pickpockets is on the historic trams where they do exist in nonzero quantities. Otherwise, unless you're prone to attracting them by the way you look and act, I'd say your chances of getting pickpocketed is marginally smaller than in more established tourist destinations, though unfortunately with the influx of tourists to Portugal in the last few years, this situation may change for the worse (though I hope I'm wrong!).

Also, compared to Barcelona, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the number of people speaking English in both Lisbon and Porto.

For Portuguese local and long-distance train/metro transport, do automated machines accept chip-and-signature credit cards, not just chip-and-pin?
Portugal has its own payment system called Multibanco, and all machines take that. When it comes to taking Visa/MC/Amex, it varies. Local metros do not accept international cards, however the train ticket machines (and ticket windows) do take Visa/MC. You'll also find that many family-owned restaurants may take multibanco but not visa, though acceptance rate of visa/mc is increasing.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
You can buy the tickets right there. Research beforehand from which lisbon station it departs (I think appolonia).
The OP

The OP is taking the train going the other way. All trains stop at Lisboa-Oriente, and then continue either to Lisboa-Entrecampos (if the train's continuing to the Algarve) or Lisboa-Santa Apolonia (if the train's terminating in Lisbon). Oriente is on the metro red line, Santa Apolonia is at the end of the Blue line, and Entrecampos is on the Yellow line.

If you want flexibility, purchase the tickets right before departure, but do take note that trains can and do sell out. Also ticket queues can move slowly at ticket windows and at ticket machines.

Originally Posted by Bakpapier View Post
The only specific 'threat' to Portugal that I haven't seen elsewhere is the drug dealers.
They're harmless and they seem to be disappearing (a few raids by the immigration police have thinned out their ranks).

P.S. there's also an PT/ES/Gib forum that will have many useful threads for you on both Spain and Portugal.
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Old Sep 23, 16, 3:04 pm
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Since one can select seats while buying online, which seats are better or worse in Alfa Pendular 1st class, e.g., leg room, and why? I see that only some rows provide power outlets. Please advise.

Also, where are the luggage racks located in the car? Thanks!
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Old Sep 23, 16, 4:39 pm
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Luggage racks are at each end of each car.
Leg room is the same everywhere and all seats slide forward to tilt. Obviously if you're seated at a table with 4 seats, you can't stretch out your legs. If you need a power outlet, pick a row with one. The refurbished Alfas will have an outlet at each seat.

Personally, I prefer to stay away from seats at the end of the car, as the ride is smoother in the middle and there's less noise from doors opening and closing as people move from car to car.
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Old Oct 18, 16, 4:08 pm
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Originally Posted by esfox View Post
Since one can select seats while buying online, which seats are better or worse in Alfa Pendular 1st class, e.g., leg room, and why? I see that only some rows provide power outlets. Please advise.

Also, where are the luggage racks located in the car? Thanks!
If there are two of you I would recommend two single seats facing each other over a table, assuming they are available.
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Old Oct 19, 16, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by BahrainLad View Post
If there are two of you I would recommend two single seats facing each other over a table, assuming they are available.
Those would be in first class only.
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Old Oct 20, 16, 11:17 am
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
Those would be in first class only.
Considering the price of train tickets in Portugal you would have to be on an extremely tight budget to travel in standard class.
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Old Oct 21, 16, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by BahrainLad View Post
Considering the price of train tickets in Portugal you would have to be on an extremely tight budget to travel in standard class.
There are relatively few advantages for travelling in first.
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Old Oct 24, 16, 9:33 am
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
There are relatively few advantages for travelling in first.
Apart from, if you are a couple, you can sit opposite each other at a single table and not have to sit next to anyone else.
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Old Nov 30, 16, 7:03 am
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I took the Alfa Pendular from Lisbon Oriente to Tunes (in the Algarve) a few weeks ago, the 1824 departure from Lisbon.

I paid €17 one way in First Class, booked in advance on cp.pt. I received a SMS message as my ticket (UK mobile phone number) which I showed to the ticket inspector on the train. All very seamless.

There is a lounge at Oriente in Lisbon. It has chairs, a coffee machine, some newspapers and a couple of TVs showing rolling news. And a departure board. There was wifi I think but I didn't use it.

Onboard, after we left Entrecampos (the last Lisbon stop before heading south over the bridge), the staff came around with newspapers and then a trolley serving tea, coffee, water and juice. About 20 minutes after that they came through with the pre ordered hot meals (and I think you could have asked and paid for one on the train without ordering in advance). I didn't see what the food looked like but it smelled very good!

I sat in a table of 1 facing, but there was nobody opposite me. I had my own 2-pin plug to run my laptop and charge my phone.

The buffet car was a short walk away, and a 250ml bottle of red wine was a couple of € (3? - can't remember but it was cheap!)

We reached speeds of 221km/h on the line south of Pinhal Novo, but most of the journey was slower than that.

We left late, but arrived on time. The train was about half full in first, second looked quite busy.

All in all it was a perfect journey and a very good value way to travel.
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