Tourists who don’t arrive in Algarve by airplane, usually drive or take public transportation from Lisbon. By car, you can be in Tavira in about 2 hours and 40 minutes, but the bus or train journeys can take over 4 hours.
Bus from Lisbon to Tavira
Express buses depart from Lisbon’s Sete Rios terminal and Oriente Station to Algarve several times a day, stopping in Tavira. Some stop at several towns on the way, and can take as long as 4 hours and 40 minutes. Those that make fewer stops reach Tavira in 3 hours and 55 minutes. These services are operated by three different companies (Rede Expressos, Eva-Mundial Turismo and Renex), but they all belong to the same group, so departure times and ticket information for all three can be found on the same website -- rede-expressos.pt.
Regular tickets are 22 euros but can be much cheaper, as there are often big online discounts. You can also buy them at the ticket office at the station. When buying online, you need to provide your name, an email and an ID number (passport or national ID). If you purchase your tickets at the station, arrive some time in advance, as there are often long lines and wait times. You might also want to buy them at least 24 hours in advance in the summer, to guarantee a seat at your preferred departure time. Each passenger is assigned a seat number, which is printed on the ticket. All companies use modern, comfortable buses and the departures from Lisbon are usually on time. The bus station in Tavira is very central, just a 5-minute walk from the main square and the Old Town, where most hotels are located.
Train from Lisbon to Tavira
There is no direct train from Lisbon to Tavira. You have to connect in Faro. However, many people prefer it over the bus, as it offers more space and the route is more scenic. The length of the journey depends on the connection in Faro, but can take between 3 hours and 45 minutes and 4 hours and 30 minutes. The trains from Lisbon to Faro are of the faster Intercidades (IC) and Alfa Pendular (AP) services, which have assigned seats (the AP is the fastest and uses a more modern train). The train from Faro to Tavira is a slower regional service, and passengers are free to sit anywhere. There are three daily IC trains and two AP. The total price for the IC+regional train is €23.30, while for the AP+regional it’s €24.65. If you prefer first class, it’s €30.10 and €32.55 respectively. There isn’t much difference between the regular “second”/“tourist” class and first class, except for more space and the availability of power outlets in first. You can’t buy tickets onboard, you must buy them at the station or online at the cp.pt website. Keep them handy for inspection during your journey. In Lisbon, the trains depart from Oriente Station, which is just three Metro stops from the airport. Tavira’s train station is quite central, to the southwest of the Old Town, which is just a 10-minute walk away.