Porto, the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, is known for its port wine production, massive bridges, and impressive architecture, and if you want to travel to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, you can get there by bus, train, car, or plain—though each of these options comes with its own set of challenges.
Because Santiago de Compostela is a much smaller city in terms of population, it can be a little tricky to get to this capital of northwest Spain's Galicia region directly from Porto, though all forms of travel should get you there in under a few hours.
The only direct method of travel between these cities is by bus or by car. However, there are a number of train transfers and flight connections you can make to add additional cities to your itinerary to explore more of Portugal and Spain.
By Car: Drive Yourself
Although renting a car in Spain or Portugal can be quiet expensive, it allows you the most freedom on your travel between these two popular tourist destinations. Plus, the travel time is much quicker by car—the 230-kilometer (143-mile) journey from Porto to Santiago takes about two hours, 15 minutes.
If you want to drive directly, get on A-20 in Porto and follow it to A-3/E-1, and stay on this to Rúa do Viaducto da Rocha in Galicia, Spain, where you'll transfer to the A-55 for a few kilometers before exiting to E-1/AP-9, which takes you northwest to Santiago de Compostela. Be sure to check a full map before you depart as these directions only include the major highways involved.
You might consider making a stop along the way if you have a little more time for your Portugal to Spain drive, and the most popular stop en route between Porto and Santiago de Compostela is Braga in Portugal. Home to the wonderful Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary, visiting Braga can be a quick way to get a bit more out of your journey.
By Bus: Take a Tour
The cheapest and most direct way to get from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain are booking service on one of the buses run by Flixbus, Alsa, Eurolines France, Eurolines Switzerland, and Inter Norte.
Several buses depart from Porto at different times from the early morning through early afternoon, depending on which bus service you select, but no matter which one you take, travel time will be between four and five hours.
Prices range from 25 to 34 euro one-way, but some of the bus services do offer round-trip tickets at a discounted price.
By Train: Make a Transfer
Although there are no direct trains from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, you can take a train to a few Spanish cities with transfers to your destination. You can purchase your tickets at Campanhã Train station in Porto, but it's easier to book rail tickets in Europe online.
Service on the train operated by Renfe costs 24 to 35 euro and departs from Porto's Campanhã station at 8:15 a.m. before arriving in Vigo's Guixar station at 11:35 for a six-hour layover. The next train departs from Vigo at 6:20 p.m. and arrives in Santiago de Compostela at 7:56 p.m.
Alternatively, you can also use the ALSA train service, which costs a few euros more and departs from Porto's Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) station at 1:25 p.m. and arrives at 5 in the Avenue de Antonio Palacios station in Vigo; then, you'll need to catch the Renfe service listed above from Vigo to Santiago de Compostela.
If you have a bit more time in Spain, Vigo is a great stop-off destination where you can take a short boat ride to the Islas de Cies or stay the night to explore this city's culture—you can even book individual tickets from Porto to Vigo and Vigo to Santiago to give yourself more time.
By Plane: Catch a Connecting Flight
There are no flights from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, but you could make a connecting flight through Lisbon or Madrid, though these layovers could add considerable time to your trip. Total flight time from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, including the layover in Madrid, generally takes between five and 12 hours to complete, but only costs about $120 to $200 roundtrip.
Keep in mind that Santiago de Compostela has a relatively small airport, so flights into this popular destination may be limited and sell out quick; make sure you book in advance to save yourself a bit of money and a lot of headaches when you're ready to go.
Passport Information for Portugal to Spain Travel
As both countries are in the Schengen zone, Europe's border-free zone, there are no standard border controls between the two countries. However, there at times can be random checks, so make sure you have your passport or other national identification with you.
By a similar token, your visa or permission to stay in Spain or Portugal is valid for the whole of the Schengen zone. This means that if (as is usually the case for non-EU visitors) you have the right to remain for three months out of six, you can stay in the whole Schengen zone for this time, but you cannot cross the border and return to have your three months reset.
It's also worth noting that even if you were to leave the Schengen zone—such as into Morocco, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom—this does not reset your three-month permitted stay. The three months are in a rolling period of six months: You can leave and re-enter as many times as you want, but you cannot stay more than 90 days out of a 180 day period.