Soon, my wife and I want to travel from Faro to Lisbon by train and back a few days later. I have found this website: Comboios De Portugal.
A complication is that we are not exactly sure when we will get to Faro. So, if we book ahead then we will need to play safe and book a fairly late train. Alternatively, we could just turn up at the station and buy on the spot. My experience with UK trains is that this is a poor strategy as the prices will be bad and we might not even get seats. So, here is the question: which of these strategies?
Book ahead as the prices will be better and we will certainly get seats. Accept that we may need to hang around in Faro for a few hours.
Just turn up at the station. The prices will be the same or similar and there will be little danger of no seats.
Something else that I have missed.
The prices on the website seem reasonable and first class is not much more so we will probably go first class.
Update. I am on the train now. It was at the platform 30 minutes before departure and it departed exactly on time. Despite the booking site showing that it was nearly full, it is in fact almost empty. I guess that more may get on at intermediate stops. The carriage is nice: roomy, clean, and comfortable. Storage for large bags is not great. If it was actually full then it might have been a problem. However, it is at least as good as trains in the UK.
One minute late out of Loule and a few people got on.
7 minutes late out of Tunes and it is close to full now.
Final update after quite a few trips. Ticket buying is easy online for major routes and you do not need to print the tickets. You will be asked for an ID number, e.g. passport, but we never had this checked. Local trains may require old style paper tickets bought at the station. It is a good idea to book several days ahead in a busy season as the trains often sell out. Punctuality is erratic. It seemed good at first with delays of at most 10 minutes but later we had some trains 30 or 40 minutes behind schedule.