When traveling from Madrid to Portugal, regardless of if your destination is Lisbon or Porto, you'll probably have to pass through Coimbra. The famous university town is well worth a stop.
Why Visit Coimbra?
Most of the attraction of Coimbra centers around its university, the soul of the town since the 13th century. Many of the most beautiful buildings in Coimbra are connected to the university.
The university also has its own version of Fado. Far from the mournful style sung predominantly by women in Lisbon, Coimbra's fado is humorous (erm, if you speak Portguese!) and sung by young male students.
There are also Roman ruins in nearby Conimbriga.
See also: Things to Do in Coimbra
And then there's the fact that it nicely breaks up the journey between Madrid and Portugal's top cities (as well as between Lisbon and Porto).
What's the Best Way to Get from Madrid to Coimbra
The train is the fastest and cheapest way to get from Madrid to Coimbra (seven hours versus the ten it takes by bus) but there is only one journey each way per day and they are both night trains.
Read more about Night Trains in Spain
If traveling by train, it makes sense to visit Coimbra on the way from Portugal to Spain rather than the other way around, as the night train coming from Portugal leaves in Coimbra at an ungodly hour of the night. However, if traveling from Madrid to Coimbra, you might prefer the bus.
There are no flights to Coimbra, but you could fly to Lisbon or Porto. Coimbra is then a good stopping point between these two cities.
Trains from Madrid to Coimbra
Trains from Coimbra to Madrid take around seven hours and cost 50 euros.
Stops from Madrid to Coimbra (and on to Lisbon)
In case you want to break up your journey further, here are the stops for the train from Madrid to Coimbra and on to Lisbon on the Trenhotel 332 train route (with departure times). Please make sure to consult current train travel tables for up-to-date times.
- Madrid Chamartín 21:50
- Ávila 23:11
- Medina del Campo 00:11
- Salamanca 01:00
- Ciudad Rodrigo 02:07
- Fuentes de Oñoro 02:30
Note that there is a time zone change between Spain and Portugal.
- Vilar Formoso 01:50
- Guarda 02:23
- Mangualde 03:25
- Coimbra (Coimbra B station) 04:54
- Pombal 05:22
- Entroncamento 06:06
- Lisbon Oriente 07:22
- Lisbon Santa Apolonia 07:30
Stops from Coimbra to Madrid
With previous stops from Lisbon on the Trenhotel 335 train route (with departure times).
- Lisbon Santa Apolonia 21:18
- Lisbon Oriente 21:27
- Entroncamento 22:24
- Pombal 23:03
- Coimbra (Coimbra B station) 23:30
- Mangualde 00:49
- Guarda 01:46
- Vilar Formoso 02:35
Note that there is a time zone change. Your clocks go forwards as you enter Spain.
- Fuentes de Oñoro 03:40
- Ciudad Rodrigo 03:59
- Salamanca 04:56
- Medina del Campo 05:56
- Ávila 06:40
- Madrid Chamartín 08:10
Buses from Madrid to Coimbra
Buses between Coimbra and Madrid are run by ALSA. The journey takes around 10 hours and costs 60 euros. At the time of writing there is only one bus per day, leaving Madrid at around 9 am (starting at Avenida de America bus station and passing through the main station (Estacion del Sur) half an hour later. You will need to change buses in Albergaria.