Fastest journey10hr 30m
The night train from Madrid to Lisbon 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 sole surviving direct train between the two capital cities on the Iberian Peninsula. It initially runs north-west from Madrid to serve Avila and Salamanca, only then turning south-west and heading more decisively for Lisbon. The train reaches the Spanish-Portuguese border just after two in the morning. The border formalities of yesteryear are long gone and you won’t be disturbed at all.
While booking for this train sometimes opens 3 months or even more in advance, that’s far from being always the case. There are times when bookings only open a few weeks prior to travel. To get a bargain fare, book your night train journey when tickets first go on sale.
Madrid to Lisbon (night train)
On a moonlit night the first part of the journey on the Lusitania night train out of Madrid is exceptional as the train climbs up over the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama to reach its first stop at Avila. The train then makes a dozen further stops on its overnight journey to Lisbon. The last hour of the journey down the Tejo Valley to Lisbon in the morning has a pacific beauty about it.
Like all night trains from Madrid, this service departs from Chamartin station in the northern suburbs of the Spanish capital. The following morning, the train stops first at the modernistic Oriente station in Lisbon and then continues to Santa Apolónia station where it terminates.
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Image credits: Railway station, Lisbon © Serban Enache