Planning a trip through Europe is a daunting and exciting endeavor, especially for someone who's never visited the continent. Choosing which cities to visit, what routes to take, and how to travel between them can be overwhelming even to the most seasoned travelers. When picking cities, Lisbon and Paris are two of the most popular destinations in Europe. Travelers fall in love with Lisbon's colorful streets and Mediterranean climate, while few places in the world are as iconic as Paris.
Travel options across Europe abound, but the trip from the Portuguese capital to the French capital thankfully has only one obvious choice for transit: flying. Taking a plane from Lisbon to Paris is by far the cheapest and fastest option, although it is by no means the only one, especially if you want to explore destinations in between. Portugal and France both have much more to offer than just their biggest cities, and a flight also skips over the entire country of Spain. If you have the time, explore other options to see as much of southern Europe as you can.
How to Get from Lisbon to Paris
|Flight||2 hours, 35 minutes||from $16||Arriving fast and cheap|
|Train||19 hours, 45 minutes||from $60||Making a pitstop in Basque Country|
|Bus||24 hours, 30 minutes||from $68|
|Car||16 hours, 30 minutes||1,078 miles (1,736 kilometers)||Taking your time and exploring|
Without a doubt, flying is the option that makes the most sense in almost all cases when traveling from Lisbon to Paris. The flight is only two and a half hours and if you're flying in the off-season, one-way flights can be found for under 20 euros. Even when flying in high-demand times such as spring break or summer vacation, flights rarely rise above $100.
Lisbon only has one airport but Paris has three, so pay attention to which airport you're flying into before purchasing your ticket. The cheapest flights are usually with the airline RyanAir, which deviously flies to Paris Beauvais Airport an hour and a half outside of the city of Paris. The only transit option for getting to the city center is a shuttle that will set you back an additional $18, so factor in the extra time and money when booking your flight. Other airlines will take you to Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports, both of which have public transit options into the city.
Even though the train takes much longer and will most likely cost you more than a flight, there's something undeniably romantic about taking a train across Europe. Whether you're looking for the quintessential Euro-trip experience, you've already purchased a Eurail Pass, or you're an environmentally-conscious traveler, there are plenty of reasons to use the train when traveling from Lisbon to Paris.
Despite being a huge distance, the trip only requires one change of trains. The first leg of the trip is an overnight ride that brings you from Lisbon to just over the French border to the small town of Hendaye. Since the majority of the trip is through Spain, the ticket is purchased through Spanish train operator Renfe, and tickets start at $32 for a reclining chair or $42 for a bed in a four-person compartment (choose the bed). More expensive private room options are also available. This daily train departs from Lisbon in the evening and arrives in Hendaye the following morning.
From Hendaye, you'll embark on the second leg of your journey through the French train operator, SNCF. The journey is about four and a half hours and will bring you directly to the Montparnasse Station in central Paris. Tickets start at $28 if you buy them in advance, but they rise in price as your travel date gets closer.
If you're taking the train, make the most of the trip and spend a couple of nights in Hendaye or nearby San Sebastian in Spain before continuing on to Paris. Both cities are located in the Basque Country, a region known for its breathtaking scenery and mouthwatering food.
Budget travelers usually opt for buses around Europe because the prices are so cheap that it's worth the extra travel time, but that isn't always the case. It takes over 24 hours to travel by bus from Lisbon to Paris, and prices are usually the same or even higher than a flight or train. Since the least expensive bus route is direct, you can't even spend a night in a city along the route to break up the trip. Other bus rides include a stopover in Toulouse, but they're more expensive and take even longer. After spending more than a full day sitting upright and without decent sleep, you'll arrive in Paris exhausted, cranky, and wondering why you didn't book that flight that was even cheaper than the bus.
The drive from Lisbon to Paris takes nearly 17 hours if you drive directly, but passes through several cities in Portugal, Spain, and France that are worth stopping in to help break up the trip. Valladolid and Salamanca are both historical centers of Spain, and the Basque Country at the Spanish-French border is an area you won't regret stopping in for a night—or several. In France, you'll drive right through the port city and wine powerhouse of Bordeaux. Not to mention the countless charming and quaint towns you'll drive through in each country, each with its own character, foods, and traditions.
Driving is a fun way to explore Europe that gives you the freedom to go where you want, but remember that when renting a car, you'll likely incur hefty fees by picking up the car in one country and dropping it off in another. You'll also have to take toll fees into account, which will add up on a trip as long as Lisbon to Paris.
Things to See in Paris
Whether arriving from a short flight or long train ride, take your time in Paris to truly get a feel for this magical city. If it's your first trip to Paris, there are a few must-see attractions that you shouldn't miss, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the winding cobblestone streets of the artsy Montmarte neighborhood. But Paris is a city that is so expansive and has so much to see, there's no possible way to experience everything on one trip. You can keep coming back to Paris again and again and always find a new neighborhood to explore, a new art exhibit to take in, or a new bistro to savor.