Fastest journey10hr 6m
The night train from Lisbon to Madrid is one of Europe’s longest-standing overnight rail services. For more than half a century, this train – called the Lusitania – has been a mainstay of the timetables. Today the Lusitania is the only direct train between the two capital cities on the Iberian Peninsula.
The train leaves Lisbon running in tandem with the Sud Expresso bound for France, so it initially heads north-east. The two portions of the train are separated at Medina del Campo, and the Lusitania then heads more decisively towards Madrid. The train reaches the Spanish border just after two in the morning. The border formalities of yesteryear are long gone and you won’t be disturbed at all. Altogether, the journey takes 10 hours.
While booking for this train sometimes opens three months or even more in advance, that’s not always the case. There are times when bookings only open a few weeks prior to travel. To get a cheap ticket, book your night train journey when tickets first go on sale.
Lisbon to Madrid (night train)
Take a picnic and enjoy the evening ride along the Tejo Valley before turning in for the night. The Lusitania night train makes more than a dozen stops on its way to Madrid. The final 90 minutes of the journey take in some fine scenery as the train weaves its way through the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama before dropping down steeply past El Escorial to reach the Spanish capital.
In Lisbon you can board the Lusitania at Santa Apolónia station where it starts. If you prefer, you can also join it a few minutes later when it stops at Oriente station. Arrival in Madrid is at Chamartin station in the northern suburbs of the Spanish capital.
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Image credits: Royal Palace, Madrid © Lucavanzolini