The Best Guide to Lisbon

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Santa Apolónia Train Station, Lisbon

Santa Apolonia is central Lisbon's main train station and from here the whole of Portuguese inter-city train network is accessible (but please note the few regional exceptions below). The other inter-city train station in Lisbon is the ultra-modern Gare do Oriente station but this is to the north east of the city in the Parque das Nações complex, therefore Santa Apolónia is more convenient for most visitors.

Santa Apolonia Station

The Santa Apolonia Station in Lisbon

This guide will detail the services and facilities found at Santa Apolonia and later explain the fascinating history of the station. For specific train routes:

For an in-depth guide to trains from Lisbon to the Algarve please click here.

For a guide about trains from Lisbon to Porto please click here.

For a guide about trains from Lisbon to Coimbra please click here.

For a guide to the regional service between Lisbon and Evora please click here.

Trains to Sintra (guide here) and Cascais/Estoril (guide here) do not depart from Santa Apolónia they depart from Rossio station (for Sintra) and Cais do Sodré (for Cascais). If you are catching a train directly from the airport it is advisable to travel from Oriente station (guide here), as it is only 3 stops on the red metro line.

Where is Santa Apolónia Station?

Santa Apolonia station is located in the Alfama district of Lisbon and is a 15 minute walk from Rossio square. The station is situated on the Av. Infante D. Henrique road and the thin strip of land between the banks of the Tejo estuary and the hills of Alfama. Santa Apolonia is the final stop on the blue metro line and the metro station is called Santa Apolonia. There are multiple bus routes which pass the station but for most tourists the metro is the easier way to reach the station.



Facilities in Santa Apolonia Train Station

Inside the Santa Apolonia train station there are the expected range of shops for a medium sized station, which includes a Pingo Doce supermarket. As the station is on the edge of Alfama there is a range of cafes, bars and shops within walking distance. The station only has six train lines so is very easy to navigate, with good visual announcements and clear signage.

Santa Apolonia Station

Trains waiting at the Estacao de Santa Apolonia

The ticket office is open 05:30 to 22:10 (Mon-Fri) and 06:15 to 22:10 (Sat-Sun). Tickets for popular routes during the summer season should be booked well in advance and all tickets must be purchased before boarding the trains.

To avoid going to the station before the departure tickets can be booked from the CP (Comboios de Portugal – the national train operator) at WWW.CP.PT. There is an English translation for WWW.CP.PT and, as this is the website of the train operator, the site always offers the cheapest prices. Train travel is very cheap in Portugal and sometimes inter-rail tickets (Europe wide travel tickets) can be more expensive.

Lisbon to Spain Train Services

The importance of Estação de Santa Apolonia will be for visitors who are planning to travel long distances by train as this is the terminus for many of the routes. There are two inter-county trains that depart from Santa Apolonia station and are the Sud Expresso and the Lusitânia Comboio Hotel.

Santa Apolonia Station

The Santa Apolonia Station in Lisbon

The Sud Expresso which travels to the French border town of Hendaye and has connections with the French TGV rail network. The train departs Lisbon at 16:30 and arrives at Hendaye at 07:10 the following day. Traveling the other direction the Sud Expresso departs Hendaye at 22:20 and arrives at Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 10:30.



The Lusitânia Comboio Hotel which is the night train between Madrid and Lisbon. The Lusitânia Comboio departs from Lisbon Santa Apolonia at 22:30 and arrives at Chamartin station in Madrid at 9:30. The reverse route departs from Chamartin Madrid at 22:25 and reaches Lisbon at 07:30. The discrepancy between length of the journeys is due to the different time zones of Spain and Portugal.

History of the Santa Apolonia Station

The station was built on the site of the old Santa Apolonia convent and the name was passed onto the station. The station was completed in 1865 and was based upon the traditional neoclassical style of the era but the station more reflects a grand government department than a major train station. The entire complex is 117 meters long but as located between the hills of Alfama and the River Tejo is only 25 meters wide.

Santa Apolonia Station

Trains waiting at the Estacao de Santa Apolonia

The initial conception of the Estação de Santa Apolonia was to be the main hub as part of a major rail network that connected Europe by rail to America by ocean liner. The 1844 plans had the station set next to the River Tejo so that passengers could exit the station to board waiting cruise liners bound for America and the pier was to be known as the America's Wharf.

The designs floundered and building work was only begun in 1862 by a construction company called Oppermann and lead by the chief engineer João Evangelista de Abreu. The Estação de Santa Apolonia was inaugurated on May 1 of 1865 and direct train services to Madrid and the rest of Portugal soon followed. The plans to connect Europe with American were never finalised but the deep docks are in use today as cruise ships bound for the Mediterranean make a first stop in Lisbon.


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The Best Guide to Lisbon