Most visitors simply buy a ticket every time they travel

First-class is primeira classe or conforto, second-class is segunda classe or turística. Always turn up at the station with time to spare since long queues often form at the ticket office.

However, at small, unstaffed regional stations you can just pay the ticket inspector on board. Major stations have credit-card ticket machines for purchasing long-distance IC or AP tickets (on the day of travel or up to thirty days in advance); and you can also buy IC and AP tickets on the CP website.

Fares are extremely good value, even on the most modern services. A typical regional journey, across the Algarve from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António, only costs around e5. The Lisbon-to-Porto route costs around e20 second class/e30 first class by Intercidade, or around e30/40 on the fastest Alfa Pendular service. It’s cheapest on all services if you avoid travelling on Friday afternoons, Sunday afternoons, Monday mornings, national holidays and the day preceding a national holiday. There are fifty-percent discounts for children under 12 (under 4s go free), and thirty-percent for senior citizens (over-65s, ID required; ask for a bilhete terceira idade) and Euro 26 card-holders

but discounts aren’t given on AP trains, nor on some weekend IC trains. Seat reservations are obligatory on IC and AP trains, though they are included in the ticket price.