This section is for information on planes, trains and ferries – options on getting your bike to Portugal and transporting it around once you’re here.
Different airlines have different rules regarding carrying bikes and – as airlines and their policies change over time – it will be safest if you check with the individual carrier.
British Airways will let you take a bike for free as an item of luggage, as long as it is no more than 190cm in length, packed in a protective bag/box and you notify the airline at least 72 hours in advance. For full details of conditions relating to bike transport, click here.
easyJet – who fly several UK to Portugal routes – will take bikes if in boxes or bags. For further details see here.
RyanAir charges €60 euros to carry bikes if booked online in advance. For their terms & conditions, click here.
As of 2018, Portugal’s national carrier TAP carries bikes (including tandems) as long as they are less than 32kg / 70lbs. Charges range from €50 to €150. For more information see this page on the TAP website.
It might also be worth looking at this page from Britain’s national cycling charity, the CTC – who sell a polythene bike bag for the grand sum of £6.50. One possible advantage of using a clear plastic bag rather than a box is that baggage handlers can see what it is and – hopefully! – won’t pile other heavy items on top of it.
However, ordinary (non-folding) bikes are not allowed on all services/lines so check before booking any tickets or assuming you can use the trains. The number of spaces for bikes on each train is also limited.
In general, bikes are allowed on urban and most regional services, plus some long distance services and always go free. Full details (in English) can be found on CP’s Bike Transport page.
For a summary of the rules see below:
- Lisbon and Porto urban services: bike transport is free on all trains
- Alfa Pendular (fast long distance trains): bikes go free but only if “disassembled and properly packed as luggage that is no larger than fits in the luggage rack or under the seats”
- Intercity – UPDATE – As of March 2018, 2nd class carriages on ALL intercity trains have spaces to take two bikes – rules permit one bike per passenger (max 15kg).
- Regional/inter-regional/Coimbra urban services: bikes are allowed if there is space. However “temporary restrictions” introduced in September 2016 severely limit the transport of bikes on some lines. Restrictions may depend on the time of day, the day of the week and the particular train. See the CP website for full details. Previous restriction on the Minho and Douro lines appear to have been lifted.
- Sleeper trains: up to two per compartment if the whole compartment is booked.
- Celta line (Porto to Vigo in Spain): up to three per train or “bikes can be carried so long as they are disassembled and properly packed so they can be taken as hand luggage, only one per passenger and the do not measure more than 1.20x90x40cm”. Shows as IN on timetables.
CP has a good website for buying tickets or checking times. For English, click on the UK flag icon.
See below for some more general comments on the different types of train services:
Intercity: The good news is that these are pretty cheap. For example, the 3-hour intercity service from Lisbon to Porto costs between 24 & 30 Euros in 2nd class.
As mentioned above, the good news is that Comboios de Portugal (CP) now allow up to two bikes in all second class carriages.
Regional: Passengers are allowed one bike each – although CP say you are responsible for not blocking access and should ask the ticket inspector if there is room before boarding. Trains on the Algarve line have a dedicated compartment with special hooks for holding bikes.
The other advantage of regional trains is that they’re often 25-50% cheaper. Be aware though that while some lines have plenty of regional services, other are much more limited.
Departure times are also not always that convenient. There are only two regional trains from Porto to Lisbon – leaving at either 20.00 or 01.30!
Urban: These services may be useful if you don’t fancy riding into either of these cities. Same rules for bikes apply as with regional trains. The Porto network connects with Braga, Guimaraes and Aveiro, while Lisbon’s network can get you out to Cascais, Sintra or Setubal.
Portugal has a number of bus/coach companies carrying passengers between most towns – and across the border into Spain.
Fares are normally quite reasonable and buses often a better bet than trains for frequency of service, faster journeys and more convenient departure times.
However, different companies will have their own rule on carrying bikes.
Rede Expressos is the biggest bus company and operates across the country. According to their website, they only take folding bicycles and passengers are allowed luggage up to 20kg in weight, which “does not include sports equipment, guitar cases or any other unusual shaped items”.
However, they will take bikes! Fellow cyclist Raj Kumar flew to Lisbon with easyJet in March 2014 and took his bike in its 25kg EVA box on the bus to Évora – and wasn’t even charged anything extra.
EVA Transportes (not to be confused with the bike box makers) operates in the southern half of Portugal with connecting services to Seville. In an email to one customer inquiry, they said that they do carry bikes if properly packaged.
If I find details of any other companies that carry bicycles, I will update the package. Alternatively, if any other riders can help expand this section then please share your knowledge!
The airports at Porto and Lisbon are both connected to metro systems. If you’re flying in and need to get into town, this is probably the cheapest and simplest option – although note that bikes have to be put into the rear door on the metro.
Both metro systems are quite new, efficient and cheap. The only issue may be that not all stations have escalators so you may end up having to carry your bike/box.
Algarve: The only place you’re likely to find a ferry into Portugal is right down in the south where you can cross the Rio Guadiana from Ayamonte in Spain to Vila Real de Santo Antonio. It’s a passenger ferry but also takes bikes.
Lisbon: Ferries can be a very useful way of getting in and out of Lisbon. I’m not sure it’s possible to cycle either the Ponte 25 de Abril or the huge Ponte Vasco de Gama but neither would be a pleasant experience even if allowed.
However there are various ferry routes across the Tejo. These include the car ferry across to Cacilhas, plus passenger ferries to Seixal, Barreiro and Montijo. (None of these places is particularly special but it won’t take too long to leave the urban sprawl behind.)
As of March 2014, bicycles are allowed – free – on all ferries operated by TransTejo and Sofulsa. The company’s website lists various conditions but it basically boils down to there being space and the bicycles not causing an obstruction – and you’re not allowed to leave grease or debris on the decks!
In 2005, my wife and I got a tandem and trailer (plus bags) onto the passenger boat from Seixal across to Lisbon. We got some curious looks but it didn’t cost us anything extra and took us right into the heart of the city. (We also managed to escape the Lisbon traffic and had a lovely ride out along the waterfront to Cascais by leaving early on a Sunday morning.)