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Where can I find information about international train travel in Europe for European citizens? I'm planning a train trip from Rome to Lisbon, if possible in stages to see the sights.

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    Have you looked at Interrail? interrail.eu/en
    – canonacer
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 6:41
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    InterRail is mostly not the cheap option, but can be fun.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 10:08
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    Unless they're going to eastern europe or countries with expensive mandatory seat reservations (Spain, France), Interrail is usually by far the cheapest option – even in case of the latter it often still is. (Especially for youth and seniors.)
    – FDMS
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 15:51
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    If you can buy cheap advance tickets, they mostly beat InterRail for price, on the other hand, a rail pass does often give a lot more freedom.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 16:16
  • @FDMS It depends very much on how many hours per day you expect to spend on the train. If OP is not eligible for any discounts and just going from Rome to Lisbon and return 3 weeks later, single tickets are probably cheaper.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 6:13

3 Answers 3

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My starting point for such information is Seat61, a human-written website with recommendations on train travels throughout Europe and in the entire world.

In Europe, it has tailored connections for many European city pairs.

For example, for Rome to Lisbon, it suggests, as of July 2023:

Option 1, Rome to Lisbon via Madrid...

  • Day 1, travel from Rome to Marseille, stay overnight, then take the morning AVE high-speed train from Marseille to Madrid on day 2 as shown in the Rome to Madrid section above.

  • Stay overnight in Madrid. The classic Hotel Mediodia is across the road from Atocha with good reviews, or try the NH Hotel Madrid Atocha or Only YOU Hotel Atocha, also across the road from the station.

  • Day 3, travel from Madrid to Lisbon by daytime trains as shown on the Madrid to Lisbon page.

Option 2, Rome to Faro & the Algarve using a bus from Seville...

  • Day 1, travel from Rome to Barcelona as shown above.

  • Stay overnight in Barcelona... The Hotel Barcelo Sants is the top choice here, it's part of Barcelona Sants station so easy to use when arriving & departing by train, with great reviews & good feedback from Seat61 users. See other suggested hotels near the station.

  • Day 2, travel from Barcelona to Seville by AVE-S112 high-speed train leaving Barcelona Sants at 07:32 and arriving Seville Santa Justa at 13:54.
    Fares start at around €45.
    Book this at www.raileurope.com (easiest, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or www.renfe.com (much more fiddly, only in €, may reject some overseas credit cards). Booking for Spanish trains normally opens 60 days ahead, but this varies. You print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, travel from Seville to Faro by bus. Buses run from Seville Plaza de Armas to Faro several times daily, journey time around 3h40, fare around €16-€20.
    Buses are run by Damas, Eva-Bus & Alsa amongst others, you can check times & buy tickets for various bus companies all in one place at Omio.com. You print your own ticket.

Source: Seat61, trains from Rome. Last updated: July 2023.

Train connections between Spain and Portugal have become quite poor since the night trains were cancelled indefinitely in 2020.

Travel planners such as the one from Deutsche Bahn are useful, but for multi-day journeys they rarely result in the journey that is the most comfortable (who wants to change trains in the middle of the night?), unless you do a lot of tweaking (for example, try "via Barcelona" with a 10-hour change, and you might just get a comfortable 2-day option). It's also incomplete when you get far from Germany, which might mean that the best alternative might not be shown. And for some connections a section by bus can save a lot of time compared to going all the way by train — usually bahn.de is not aware of those buses.

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    In fact, seat61.com has some concrete, tailored suggestions for most European city pairs (!), including the one you mentioned: seat61.com/international-trains/… . Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 15:03
  • @IliaSmilga Right — I've added the relevant excerpt to the answer.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 6:08
  • Note that the Marseille-Madrid train was suspended after the end of the SNCF-Renfe cooperation, and is progressively being reintroduced from end of July (a few days per week) and then September (full service).
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 7:34
  • @jcaron Good! Such changes are why OP and others should consult Seat61, because it is likely that Mark Smith updates his website accordingly, whereas this answer may be out-of-date soon. The part of OPs journey with the biggest need for improvement, however, is Madrid-Lisbon.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 8:04
  • How sad it is that "human written website" is useful information.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 20 at 7:34
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As well as Seat61, you might also find it useful to check out the products of European Rail Timetable, who produce monthly PDF (and twice-yearly printed) timetables covering all of Europe. They also sell a lovely map, which makes for a nice poster.

no affiliation, just a satisfied customer

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  • PDF timetables are aimed at very experienced train travelers.
    – FDMS
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 15:53
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    Assuming the PDFs are basically the same as the printed book about 20 years ago when I used it to plan a month long Interail trip (oh, to be a student again!), then you don't need to be experienced, but you need to take time and it won't do any hand-holding for you. I think the only mistake I made was to forget I needed time in Chartres and leaving on the next train didn't make sense! But definitely Seat61 is a very good starting point now.
    – neil
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 19:57
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    If the pdf timetables are like the printed timetables of 30 years ago it will miss out on more of the local trains than the German rail planner mentioned in the other answer. But I still loved the use of a printed timetable as it works different from planners.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 20:29
  • PDF timetables are great fun for train and travel geeks, and I personally love them, but for most regular people they're probably not the best alternative, as it can take a long time of careful looking figuring out connections and mistakes happen easily. The audience of frequent answerers on Travel SE, in particular those frequenting the trains tag, is not representative.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 8:08
  • Instead of PDF or printed timetables, I use the Eurail / Interrail Rail Planner App: play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.eurail.railplanner (iOS version also exists) Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 8:08
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I've used trains for international travel within Europe, but haven't attempted a multi-country trip like Rome to Lisbon. For planning my trips on the train in Europe, I usually use TheTrainLine website at this link: https://www.thetrainline.com/en-us/train-times/rome-to-lisbon. Direct services do not exist, so you must change 10 times to go from Rome to Lisbon; however, it is a simple journey. If you book train tickets early, it can be cheaper. After such a long journey, relaxation in Lisbon is definitely deserved! This article https://gowithguide.com/blog/lisbon-tourism-statistics-2022-5192 can help you plan your Lisbon activities in advance.

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    By "you must change 10 times" you of course mean "you must change 2 times" seat61.com/international-trains/…. If you have an association with that blog then you should disclose it.
    – AakashM
    Commented Apr 19 at 9:47
  • And even when you change 10 times, that can be ten cities you visit for no extra travel costs.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 19 at 11:21
  • @AakashM Seat61 indicates 4 changes. Still, much less than 10.
    – Berend
    Commented Apr 19 at 20:08
  • @Berend Rome - Marseille - Madrid - Lisbon, I count two changes?
    – AakashM
    Commented Apr 19 at 20:41
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    @AakashM Madrid to Lisbon has two more: seat61.com/trains-and-routes/madrid-to-lisbon-by-train.htm
    – Berend
    Commented Apr 20 at 5:53

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