The best independent guide to Coimbra
Coimbra is a charming and historic university town that lies 200km north of Lisbon. Coimbra is halfway between Lisbon and Porto, and makes for an interesting overnight destination to break the long journey. There is excellent and inexpensive public transport between Lisbon and Coimbra, and this guide will explain in detail how to travel between the two cities.
Pretty and historic Coimbra
The reliable public transport of central Portugal means that there is no need to hire a car to travel between Lisbon and Coimbra.
The expensive and overly complicated toll road network actually makes the journey by car more expensive than traveling by bus, which is the cheapest option. Driving in Lisbon is difficult due to the erratic nature of Portuguese drivers and parking is horrendous in both cities. Our advice is catch the train or bus.
The train is the fastest option between Lisbon and Coimbra but is more expensive than the bus. The Alfa Pendular train takes 1hour 30 minutes and costs €22.80, the intercity train takes 1h50 and costs €19.20, while the bus takes 2h20 and costs €13.80. We recommend the Alfa Pendular train when traveling to Coimbra, due to the reduced journey time and high standard of comfort (including free WIFI).
The following section will explain in detail how to travel from Lisbon to Coimbra, by first train and then intercity bus.
Coimbra is located on the main north-south railway that connects Lisbon to Porto, which means that there are many fast and direct services. There are two standards of train that connect Lisbon and Coimbra, the Alfa-Pendular and the intercity.
The Alfa-Pendular trains are faster and offer a higher level of comfort (better seats with more leg room) along with free WIFI but are slightly more expensive than the intercity services. The Alfa-Pendular trains take 1 hour 30 minute while the intercity takes 1 hour 50minutes.
Train tickets must be purchased before boarding the train and can be booked either from the station ticket office or online at www.cp.pt .CP is the national train operator of Portugal and stands for Comboios de Portugal. Online tickets can be purchased up to 30 days in-advance and the website has an English language section.
A single from Lisbon to Coimbra by the Alfa-Pendular (AP) train costs €32.80/€22.80 (1st/2nd) while the intercity (IC) costs €24.30/€19.20 (1st/2nd). There are twenty daily departures Monday to Friday with less at the weekends, for the exact timetable visit the CP website or collect a timetable from any station. Each train ticket reserves a seat on one of the carriages (which are individual number) and the seat number is clearly displayed on the ticket.
The train to Coimbra
All trains from Lisbon to Coimbra stop at the Oriente train station, while most (but not all) stop at Santa Apolonia. Oriente train station is to the east of Lisbon and is connected to the red metro line and is three stops from the airport.
Oriente station is large, modern and easy to navigate around, there are excellent facilities close by as across the road from the station is the Vasco de Gama shopping centre. Santa Apolonia station is on the edge of the Alfama district so is closer to the historic and main tourist areas of Lisbon. Santa Apolonia is connected to the blue metro line and is the final metro station of the line.
Coimbra has two train stations, simple referred to as Coimbra A and Coimbra B. Coimbra B station is on the main Lisbon to Porto train line but is 1.5km from the city centre. Coimbra A is in the city centre but the intercity trains do not stop there. It is advisable to catch a taxi to the centre of Coimbra instead of waiting for a connection by train or bus. The taxi fare will be less than €5 to the city centre and can avoid the walk up the steep hill from Coimbra A station.
Oriente station in Lisbon
The train offers a much faster option of traveling to Coimbra but bus travel is significantly cheaper and the main bus station is in the city centre. The main intercity bus company is Rede Expressos and they operate a regular service between Lisbon and Coimbra. Portuguese intercity bus travel is safe and inexpressive and Rede Expressos buses are clean and modern.
The intercity buses are modern and comfortable
The bus journey depends on the route but varies between 2 hours 20 minutes and 2 hours 40 minutes. A single fare from Lisbon to Coimbra costs €13.80/€6.50/€10.90 (adult/child/senior), whereas a day return is €24.60. Round trip tickets (a return on a different day) are available and cost €24.60/ €13.00/€20.40 (adult/child/senior). There are over 25 daily departures between Lisbon and Coimbra, seven days a week, for the exact timetable please see Rede Expressos online timetable, or pick-up a timetable from the Sete Rois bus station.
Tickets need to be purchased before boarding the bus, either from a ticket office in Sete Rios bus station or on line at www.rede-expressos.pt. Online tickets can be purchased 30 days in-advance and a passport number is required to complete the transition. Each bus ticket is allocated a seat and the seat number is clearly displayed on the ticket. Large or heavy luggage is stored in the luggage compartments on the side of the bus.
Sete Rois is the main terminal for Rede Expresso buses
Sete Rois is the main hub for intercity buses in Lisbon and is a big, busy bus station. Sete Rois is located to the north of Lisbon and the nearest metro is Jardim Zoological on the blue line. The bus station is opposite the main entrance and is well signed from the metro platforms. In the bus station there is a ticket office, multiple shops and cafes. Buses for Coimbra start in Lisbon therefore departure times are prompt and on time, it is always advisable to be at the bus station 15 minutes before the departure time.
The ticket office and concourse in Sete Rois