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

Lisbon cityscape featuring Castelo Sao Jorge
Luis Veiga / Getty Images

With Spain and Portugal sharing a border, it makes sense to hop from one to the other for a brief visit. You could even make an epic road trip of it by driving from Barcelona on the east coast of Spain to Lisbon on the west coast of Portugal, hitting Madrid and Salamanca or Valencia along the way. The most direct driving route is 776 miles (1,249 kilometers), which takes about 12 hours. If you're not up for that much time behind the wheel, you can also take a plane, train, or bus to get to Lisbon.

  Time Cost Best For
Bus 20 hours from $25 Minding a budget
Train 14 hours, 30 minutes from $83 Making stops along the way
Plane 2 hours from $30 Arriving on a time crunch
Car 12 hours 776 miles (1,249 kilometers) Exploring the area

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

If budget is your primary concern, you might want to consider taking the bus from Barcelona to Lisbon. FlixBus offers a direct connection between the two cities, with tickets starting at $25. However, the ride takes about 20 hours as opposed to a 12-hour drive or a two-hour flight. Buses typically depart from Barcelona Nord and stop at Gare do Oriente and Lisbon Sete Rios in Lisbon.

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

The fastest way to get there, if you don't mind paying a bit extra, is by flying. According to Skyscanner, Lisbon is a two-hour flight from Barcelona and there are four airlines that connect the cities directly, with TAP Air Portugal being the most popular. Planes typically depart from Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport and arrive at Humberto Delgado Airport, which sees 29 million passengers per year. At the lowest, you may be able to snag a one-way ticket for $30, but they often cost upward of $100, especially during peak travel season.

How Long Does It Take to Drive? 

It takes about 12 hours to drive the fastest route—776 miles (1,249 kilometers)—from Barcelona to Lisbon. It certainly isn't the quickest or most economical way to travel, with ViaMichelin estimating about $57 in tolls, but this coast-to-coast route does, indeed, make for a great road trip. The most direct route follows the AP-2 to Zaragoza, then the E-90 to Madrid, which makes for a good mid-way stop, then follows the A-5 to the Portugal border and the A6 almost all the way to Lisbon.

How Long Is the Train Ride? 

Unfortunately, there is no direct train from one to the other, but there are a few that go from Barcelona-Sants to Madrid-Atocha Cercanias, Badajoz, and Entroncamento, from which you can catch a direct train to Lisboa Santa Apolonia. The trip takes a minimum of 14 hours, 30 minutes, including the transfer, and costs $83 at the cheapest. Because it's one of the more time-consuming options and the most expensive, taking the train is often a last resort when traveling from Barcelona to Lisbon.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Lisbon? 

The best time to travel to Lisbon is during the shoulder season, March to May or September to October. During the summer, this sunny sliver of Europe becomes jam-packed with tourists, making it difficult even to explore a single city, much less travel between one end of Spain to the other end of Portugal. This is when you'll find booked-up flights, buses, and trains, and congested highways. Go either before or after the busy season instead.

What’s the Most Scenic Route to Lisbon? 

The most scenic way to get from Barcelona to Lisbon is perhaps to go through Madrid, then veer north to Salamanca, known for its picture-perfect sandstone architecture and Celtic history. Getting off the major highways is a great way to see the Spanish countryside, too. Better yet, you could go by way of the coast. Take the E-15 south from Barcelona—the stretch between Castellón and Valencia is famously pretty. You'll have views of the Mediterranean on one side and colorful orange groves on the other. From Valencia, the route juts inland and goes through Ciudad Real and Mérida before entering Lisbon from the south. Both these detours tack on about an hour to the trip.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Lisbon? 

Portugal and Spain are both included in the Schengen Area, a collection of countries that have invisible borders. U.S. passport holders can visit this area of Europe for up to 90 days without a passport.

What Time Is It in Lisbon? 

Portugal is in the Western European Time Zone whereas Spain is in the Central European Time Zone, which means that Portugal is always an hour behind Spain.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport? 

The Lisbon airport is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the city center, which takes about 15 minutes to drive. Instead of taking a taxi—which can be unnecessarily expensive—you can take the Aerobús, a shuttle that costs about $4 for a single trip, or the Metro, which costs less than $2. There are also five bus routes that go to the city center, but they cost slightly more than the Metro and take longer, too.

What Is There to Do in Lisbon? 

Lisbon is best known for its recognizable architecture—colorful, stacked buildings with terra cotta roofs—and its Colonial history. Portugal's capital is bursting with culture and it has a reputation for being an inexpensive place to visit, too. Famous attractions here include Belém Tower, a 16th-century fortification that was erected during the Portuguese Renaissance; Jerónimos Monastery; the hilltop Castelo de S. Jorge; and Praça do Comércio, a beautiful public square where you'll find a plethora of shops and cafés. You may even run across some traditional fado music there, too.

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