To use night trains in Portugal and Spain or not?

Jeroen started his Iberian rail adventures being nostalgic of night trains in his youth. He explained how difficult it can be to book night trains with Renfe, Spain‘s railway operator.

Jeroen rode from Lisbon in Portugal through Spain to Hendaye in France and from Barcelona in Catalonia to Vigo in Galicia.


“If you like to try something new, then the night train certainly is an option”, Jeroen says. “The price can be high, but it depends on the journey and the class.”

“Also, the price doesn’t tell everything”, argues Jeroen. “Don’t forget you move while you sleep, so you don’t lose time during the day. You thus win a travel day and you save on hotel accommodation.”

Something we at Trip By Trip experienced in the United States with the California Zephyr and the Coast Starlight and on the Austria‘s ÖBB Nightjet.

“Is the night train that expensive?”

Way of travel

But it’s the singularity of the experience which charmes Jeroen most. “Changing clothes, and sleeping at 160 kph (100 mph), waking up in the morning in another setting. For me it’s a real experience.”


“Will you sleep well? You can’t predict. Sleeping in a real bed on firm land will be more comfortable, but some will like the rocking sensations of a moving train.”

For some it’s advantageous to have extra day hours in town, just like having a late evening flight. “Others won’t know what to with luggage. But most hotels offer to keep them while you’re out.”

And obviously, some stations have lockers, such as Lisboa Santa Apolónia.

¿Habla español?

Jeroen warns travellers for language issue. Spanish is absolutely the lingua franca in Spain, even for tourists. “It’s not obvious to communicate in English, French or German. People are friendly and helpful though and will use signs or drawings if necessary.”


“The Portuguese seemed more proficient in English and more accessible. So if your train guard is from the Portuguese railway operator Comboios de Portugal (CP), the odds are bigger you will be helped in English.”

“Either way: enjoy the night and enjoy the journey!”

We will.



Photos provided by Jeroen.

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