Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal
The westernmost country in Europe, Portugal has a place to visit for every taste: the lush, green mountains of Minho in the North, the spectacular mountainous region of Trás-os-Montes in the center, the sun, sand and nightlife in Algarve, exciting city life in Lisbon, and coastal paradise in Porto. Your Eurail Portugal Pass will bring it all to you.
National pride in Lisbon
Be sure to stay several days in Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon (Lisboa). There’s plenty to see and do. The city is primarily walkable, but trams can help you get around. The Castelo de Sao Jorge is stunning, and rich with history. Check out the splendid fare at Ribeira Nova open market, take in a bit of shopping or a museum. But save some energy for the exciting nightlife. Lisbon comes alive when the sun goes down. View more things to do in Lisbon.
The Ribeira Nova open market is a 15-minute walk from Rossio Station.
Sample the splendid port wines in Porto (we recommend Solar Vinho do Porto for the best price/quality ratio), but try to save some room to drink in the atmosphere as well. Portugal’s second largest city boasts a gorgeous riverfront region (Ribeira), where you can take a river cruise, tour ancient cathedrals or meet the locals at the bar. Climb to the top of the Torre dos Clérigos for the very best panoramic view of the city.
The Torre dos Clérigos is a 5-minute walk from Porto São Bento train station.
Higher learning in Coimbra
Coimbra is home to one of the oldest universities in the world. Founded in 1290 by King Dinus, the university helped Coimbra become the center of prosperity in Portugal. Don’t miss the Old Catheral (Sé Velha), the New Cathedral (Sé Nova) and the 12th century Santa Cruz Monastery. The nearby towns of Conimbriga and Montemor-o-Velho are historical treasure troves. Like many ‘college towns’, Coimbra also has a spicy nightlife.
From train station Coimbra-A it's just a 5-minute walk to the Old Cathedral and Santa Cruz Monastery.
The magnificent Gerês
Nature lovers and outdoor adventurers shouldn’t miss the spectacular Peneda-Gerês National Park (known by locals simply as ‘Gerês’). The only official national park in the entire country, is teeming with wildlife, flora and fauna of all descriptions. See the famous Garrano wild ponies, trek through the massive oak forests, hike the Homem River Valley and climb 300 million year old granite rocks.
The park is in the northern part of Portugal, about a third of a mile from Braga Central Station.
Relaxation at its finest in Algarve
Use your Eurail pass to spend a few days in paradise. Portugal’s southernmost beaches, the Algarve, give you a choice – hidden beaches, sporty beaches, family beaches – and the weather allows outdoor dining all year round. Take in a game of golf or lounge on some of the world’s most perfect seaside spots. Check out the spectacular dance clubs and cafes. The people are friendly, the sun is constant and the view is unmatched.
The Algarve stretches from Lagos to Tunes to Villa Real de Santo António in southern Portugal. From Lisbon or Porto, the most direct route is via Funcheira to Tunes.
When to go
When is the best time to experience Portugal train travel? It’s a great year-round destination, but the summer months are peak tourist season, so expect crowds. If you want to experience Carnival or Easter-related events, February - April is an excellent time to go.
Throughout the year, Portugal enjoys more than its fair share of sunshine. The summer months are the busiest, and spring and fall are also spectacular for this region. It gets quite rainy November - January, but the skiing is excellent in the northern, mountainous regions of Portugal.
Festival dos Oceanos
- July 31 - August 14, 2013
Lisbon’s enormous nautical celebration includes regattas, watersport competitions, and everything maritime.
The festival site is located within walking distance of Lisbon’s main train station.
- March 24-30, 2013
The city of Braga celebrates Holy Week with color, costumes, and events, including a remarkable barefoot procession.
Braga is a less than 1 hour train ride from Porto. Holy Week festivities take place all over Braga and are within walking distance of the main train station.
- July 5, 2013
In Vila Franca de Xira, traditional celebrations of the mighty bull still take place. There are 3 days of flamenco, rodeo-like competitions, a running of the bulls and bullfights.
Vila Franca de Xira is a 10-minute train ride from Lisbon. Festivities take place all over the city and are in walking distance of the train station.
Festas dos Santos Populares
- June 12-30, 2013
Special celebrations of St. John (São Joâo – June 23-24) and St. Peter (São Pedro – June 28-29) can be found throughout Portugal. In Lisbon, they add the feast of St. Anthony (Santo António – June 12-13), the city’s patron saint.
St. Anthony festivities in Lisbon take place at Avenida da Liberdade, which is located within walking distance of Lisbon’s main station.
Festival do Vinho
- November 1-16, 2013
Although Porto makes the wine, Lisbon celebrates it. 2 solid weeks of wine, folk dancing, crafts and flea markets.
Festivities take place all over the city. Take a tram to the different festival sites and see something of Lisbon on your way!
Festa de São Joăo
- June 23-24, 2013
This is one of Europe’s most effervescent street festivals and is in tribute of Saint John the Baptist. A number of traditions embody the evenings events, including a midnight firework display, flame jumping and a lot of food.
The festival is held around the centre of Porto.