The easiest way to get from Faro to Portimão is by train. The train station in Faro is conveniently located near the center of town, on the bay overlooking the airport.
We took a taxi from our hotel (Ibis Faro) for an early morning train which cost about $4 one way. We could have walked the distance in about 25 minutes, but were unsure of the area and didn’t want to chance missing our train.
From the outside, the station looks like many small European train stations with its house-like facade and taxis parked out front. The area around the train station was nearly deserted. I am not sure if that was a function of the time of day, or the area in general.
How to Book Train Tickets
If you would like to book your tickets ahead of time and print them out at home, you can use the English language version of the Portugal train website here. Signing up for an account is straight forward, and I recommend doing so if you will be traveling around Portugal for any length of time. The booking and payment system is easy to use and understand.
Note: The online booking system indicates that the train leaves at 8:24 a.m. with a journey time of 1 hour and 53 minutes. However our train did not actually leave until 9:05 a.m. and only took about an hour and a half.
As you can see from the image above, there are only 3 trains that go from Faro to Portimao (on a Saturday). I looked at a weekday (Wednesday) and there is a fourth option that leaves at 17:56 from Faro for €10.15 for two passengers in second class.
Don’t worry too much about ticket prices online versus at the station. We didn’t book these particular tickets ahead of time and ended up paying €12 for two tickets at the station that morning. The online price says €10.15 for the same tickets.
Walk into the station and proceed to your left where you can buy your train tickets. The man at the ticket counter spoke English well and understood everything I asked. Many in Portugal have a strong grasp on English and are more than accommodating for us Canadian expats!
If you have time to spare, go back outside and around the corner into the small cafe attached to the station. You’ll know the one — it has a giant tropical looking tree growing up through the roof!
Keep a watchful eye on the trains coming and going from your coffee sipping, croissant eating perch at the station cafe.
Yes, that giant chocolate croissant is really as big as Meredith’s hand!
Watch out for black cats crossing the train track path. Meredith is a cat lover; she spotted this one and immediately wanted to bring the cat with us on our journey to Portimao.
Our train left from platform #4 (in Portuguese this is Linha 4), and was made up of only two carriages with padded seats that were comfortable enough. Don’t expect food or drink service on the train, the only person who will visit you is the ticket collector looking to see proof of payment!
The orange groves dotted the country side as we made the journey meandering west along the Algarve. Villas and houses can be seen throughout the entire length of the rugged countryside journey.
Our train ride took approximately an hour and a half in total. The train wasn’t packed at all and there was plenty of room to store larger luggage in the compartments. I suspect that given the time of year (November) that we are traveling, there aren’t too many tourists around to occupy the trains.
I did not venture into the bathrooms on board, but overheard a couple of older British tourists talking about the facilities. He laughed and told his wife that he looked through the toilet and could see gravel wooshing by beneath him — apparently the toilet hole goes straight through to the ground below! Fair warning 😉