As a functional train station São Bento is ideally placed for tourists as it is located between the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the city centre. It's a hub for national and urban trains as well as a metro station. From here it's possible to take a train to other places of interest such as the beautiful town of Guimarães, or the historic city of Braga. A trip up the and down the dramatically beautiful Douro Valley is a popular day excursion. Or to travel further afield to Coimbra or Lisbon. Change at Campanhã to catch a train on the Minho line for the picturesque towns of Aveiro, Barcelos, Viana do Castelo, Caminha and Valença.
The Ticket Office is situated on the right-hand side of the station as you walk in from the street. Here it's possible to buy all train tickets as well as metro, bus and travel cards. The staff are well used to foreign customers and are very attentive. Queues can get long at peak times, so allow yourself plenty of time to make your purchase before the time of departure. If you're travelling on an Urban route (Urbano - Aveiro, Braga or Guimarães) you can buy your ticket at the ticket machines, which excepts both cash and card. Alternatively you can buy tickets online before hand; Click Here … and there's also a handy phone app; Click Here.
Daily: 06h40 – 20h35
The Estação São Bento is a tourist attraction in its own right and well worth a visit if passing by. Construction started in 1900, the first stone laid down by King Carlos I and designed by architect José Marques da Silva in the French Beaux-Arts style. Named after a 16th-century Benedictine monastery, which before a fire in 1783, stood on this spot. Stepping inside the atrium is mind-blowing. 20,000 azulejos adorn the walls depicting landscapes, ethnographic scenes as well as historical events like the Battle of Valdevez (1140), the meeting of the knight Egas Moniz and Alfonso VII of León (12th century), the arrival of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster in Porto (1387) and the Conquest of Ceuta (1415).
The azulejos tiles were laid down over 11 years between 1905 and 1916 by artist Jorge Colaço. Not all the tiles are blue and white. Running along the top of each wall is a colour frieze that depicts the history of transport.
Quintessentially Portuguese, Azulejo tiles can be found everywhere in Porto, on the walls of churches, restaurants and houses across the city and nationwide. The art of painted tiles on the Iberian peninsular date back to medieval times when the Moors controlled this land. The word Azulejo is derived from the Arabic word for polished stone: ‘az-zulayj’. Although known to Portuguese artists at the time, Azulejos became popular in the 15th Century after a visit to the Alcázar Palace in Seville by the Portuguese King Manuel I. He chose to decorate the National Palace in Sintra in a similar style, using tiles imported from Islamic Spain. It wasn't long until the Portuguese were manufacturing Azulejos for themselves. At first, the tiles had the same geometric arabesque patterns first introduced by the Moors. Over time their designs evolved and became more complex and pictorial. Their themes typically portrayed great battles, religious scenes and everyday Portuguese life. They were used extensively to adorn the façades of churches, palace interiors and public spaces. As well as their decorative qualities, azulejo tiles are employed as a means of temperature control.
They came in an array of bright colours such as sunshine yellow, deep greens and fiery reds. As with Dutch Delftware, the age of discovery and the influence of Ming Dynasty Chinese porcelain resulted in the iconic blue and white colouring becoming more dominant. Azulejos over time have gone in and out of fashion. Today they remain an important part of Portuguese identity and modern use of these tiles can be found in the Casa da Música, various Metro stations and much other public and private buildings.
• Linha de Aveiro (urban) Train Timetable
When the line first opened in 1887, this railway line was an engineering marvel. It follows the course of the river up through the dramatic landscapes of the Douro valley, where vineyards have been carved into terraces from the living bedrock over generations. Although the smaller lines branching off the mainline have all closed, the Linha do Douro continues to be very impressive and a great way to spend a day.
Regular trains leave São Bento and Campanhã and passes 20 tunnels, 30 bridges and 34 stations on it's route. The line becomes more dramatic after the town of Régua on to the pretty wine towns of Pinhão (one of the most beautiful railway stations in Portugal), Tua and terminating at Pocinho, (close to the Cão Valley rock art).
A picturesque steam locomotive runs along the Linha do Douro on Saturdays from June to October. Along with its five historical carriages chuffs along from Régua and Tua. More About [ ► ]