How to Travel From Salamanca to Lisbon by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

Salamanca, Spain from above

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If you're doing the grand tour of Europe, you'll probably travel from Spain to Portugal at some point, and when you do, you should definitely go by way of Salamanca. Home to one of Spain's most beautiful plazas, Plaza Mayor, and a lively tapas scene, Salamanca is a nice break from the major tourist destinations. And getting to Portugal from here is relatively easy. Salamanca is 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the Portugal border and 291 miles (469 kilometers) from the capital city, Lisbon. You can either catch a flight from the airport in Madrid (two hours and 15 minutes away) or take a bus, car, or train.

  Time Cost Best For
Bus 7 hours, 15 minutes from $23 Minding a budget
Train 7 hours, 30 minutes from $35 Traveling overnight
Plane from Madrid 3 hours, 35 minutes from $43 Arriving on a time crunch
Car 4 hours, 30 minutes 291 miles (469 kilometers) Exploring the local area

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Salamanca to Lisbon? 

The cheapest way to get from Salamanca to Lisbon is by bus. ALSA and Eurolines both operate routes that take seven hours and 15 minutes minimum and usually include transfers in either Covilhã or Coimbra. Buses depart from the Salamanca Bus Station several times per day and arrive at Sete Rios in Lisbon. Tickets start around $23.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Salamanca to Lisbon? 

Technically, the fastest way to get to Lisbon from Salamanca is to fly, but when you factor in traffic and wait times at the airport, you may be better off driving. Flying is not only one of the most expensive options; it's also one of the most complicated, seeing as Salamanca doesn't have an international airport of its own. The nearest one is in Valladolid, but there are no direct flights to Lisbon from there. Instead, you would have to travel all the way to the Madrid–Barajas Airport and catch a one-hour-20-minute flight via TAP Air Portugal, easyJet, or Iberia, and according to Skyscanner, it will cost you a minimum of $43. Despite the price, the commute from Salamanca to Madrid (two hours, 15 minutes by car or three hours by train) is the major deterrent here.

How Long Is the Drive?

It's a 291-mile (469-kilometer) trip that takes about four and a half to five and a half hours in average conditions. The most direct route follows A-62 to the Portugal border, then follows A23 to E1, which leads right into Lisbon. Travelers should note that while Via Verde motorways (clearly marked with green lanes) operate on a traditional pay-as-you-go toll booth system, many Portuguese roads now have electronic tolls. These are marked with signs that show a car with infrared waves and a money sign and can be paid with an EASYToll account that links your credit card to your license plate number. ViaMichelin estimates the tolls for this route to cost about $25.

How Long Is the Train Ride? 

Besides driving, taking the train is the most direct way to get to Lisbon. If you're eager to save a buck on accommodation, this may appeal to you, too. The only direct train that goes from Salamanca to Lisbon is a night train, departing at 1 a.m. and arriving at 7:30 a.m. It's operated by Renfe and takes approximately seven hours, 30 minutes, but for a $35 ticket (the earlier you book, the cheaper), you'll get a night of lodging, too. According to Renfe, the Trenhotel 313 features Grand Class and first class sleepers (private, lockable berths) and a buffet car that serves breakfast. You can book tickets through Rail Europe.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Lisbon? 

Whereas summertime beckons steamy weather and hordes of tourists, the spring and fall are delightfully warm—i.e. still beach-worthy—but much quieter. "Quieter" often translates to "cheaper" as hotels, flights, and other public transportation tends to offer lower prices in the shoulder season. As far as transportation from Salamanca goes, you might be better off taking the night train if you want to save money. It's slightly longer than the most direct bus ride, but it's much cozier and will save you a night in a hotel.

What’s the Most Scenic Route to Lisbon? 

If you have some time on your hands, go the long way around for some sightseeing along the way. First, just south of Salamanca is the old city of Caceres (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the Roman ruins of Merida. Even those who don't have access to cars can catch a bus to both. From Merida, buses run all the way to Lisbon. You could also stop by Evora, in Portugal's Alentejo wine-producing region

If you're taking the train, you may want to eschew the night ride altogether and instead catch one to Coimbra to explore Portugal's historic university city before continuing on to the capital city of Lisbon.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Lisbon? 

Portugal and Spain are both included in the Schengen Area, Europe's collection of states that have mutual borders. U.S. passport holders may visit this area of Europe for up to 90 days without a visa.

What Time Is It in Lisbon? 

Salamanca is one hour ahead of Lisbon. Spain operates under the Central European Time Zone (with France, Germany, Italy, and much of Scandinavia) while Portugal is in the Western European Time Zone (with the UK and Iceland).

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport? 

From the Lisbon Airport, you can take the Aeroporto – Saldanha Metro line right to the city center. It takes 20 minutes and costs $1.50 for a single trip. If you have limited baggage and you're staying on the outskirts of the center, then the public bus may be a better option for you. Several Carris buses stop at the airport and go to different parts of the city, again for $1.50 per single ticket.

What Is There to Do in Lisbon? 

Lisbon is as suited for solo travelers as it is for big groups and families. It's a cultural, culinary, architectural hub that stuns with its colorful, colonial scenes. The sunshiny yellow tram zips through the city center, offering picturesque contrast to the rainbow-colored buildings. You could spend hours just walking around, looking at things, but when you're ready, be sure to visit the historical sites: the 16th-century Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and São Jorge Castle. The Praça do Comércio is an expansive square in the town center that offers countless cafés and shopping opportunities.

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