A few steps from the Porto Cathedral and the Clerigos Tower, the Sao Bento Railway Station ( Estação São Bento in Portuguese) is one of the city’s most iconic monuments. Follow the guide!
💡 The good plan 💡
Want to know more about the history of Porto? Captain Ulysses warmly recommends this free guided tour of the city. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Brief history of the São Bento railway station in Porto
The origins of the Sao Bento Station
In the 19th century, the railway developed throughout Portugal. The city of Porto therefore decided to build a station right in the historic center, on the site of the Benedictine Convent of São Bento de Avé Maria. This convent – which was pretty much abandoned at the end of the 19th century – was destroyed to make way for the city’s brand new railway station.
São Bento Station started operating in 1896, although the building the hall of the railway station was completed twenty years later, in 1916.
the Portuguese architect José Marques da Silva, who was in charge of the construction work, intended to build an architectural masterpiece… so much so that he completely lost sight of reality and simply forgot to include counters in the original blueprint of the railway station!
He was withdrawn from the project in 1909…
Visiting the Sao Bento Railway Station in Porto
The facade of the train station
The imposing facade of the Sao Bento Station, flanked by two side towers, stands a few steps from the Cathedral of Porto, at the corner between Praça Almeida Garrett , Rua da Madeira and Rua do Loureiro.
This vast three-story-high u-shaped building is a prime example of architectural rigor and symmetry and was largely inspired by the “Beaux-Arts” style which was in vogue in France in the 19th century.
The vestibule aka the “Hall of Lost Steps”
The railway station is mainly famous for its sumptuous vestibule. Covered by almost 20,000 polychromatic tiles, the station is a masterpiece of azulejo art.
It took a total of 11 years (from 1905 to 1916) for the Portuguese painter Jorge Colaço to complete this monumental work.
The azulejos of the station represent scenes of daily life in the North of Portugal, as well as major moments in the country’s history. A colored frieze also retraces the history of the different means of transport in Portugal.
The station platforms
Before leaving the station, don’t forget to take a look at the impressive glass roof above the platforms.
Train journeys from Porto’s São Bento Station
São Bento Station is not Porto’s main station – Campanhã station is – but it is nevertheless served by a handful of trains to/from major cities in Minho and Douro (Aveiro, Braga, Bragança, Guimarães…)
The station is therefore quite handy if you’re planning day trips in the surroundings of Porto. You can book your tickets at the counters on site (on the right when you enter the station) or online.
Getting to the São Bento Station in Porto
There’s a metro station on site. The nearest tram stop is Praça da Liberdade (line 22). Buses 1M, 11M, 500, 900, 901 and 906 also stop at the Estação São Bento bus stop.
The Batalha funicular is located a 5-minute walk from the station.
The Sao Bento railway station is open all day, but warned as tourists tend to flock in the vestibule in large numbers. If’d rather be able to quietly admire the station’s stunning azulejos, Captain Ulysses recommends going either early in the morning or late at night.
Visiting the São Bento station is free. Trains to the main cities in Douro and Minho are generally very cheap.
Looking for tips to plan your vacation in Porto? You might find these articles of interest:
👉 A Guide to Porto: the best things to do
👉 Day-tours around Porto
👉 Visiting Porto with children
👉 Where to eat in Porto? The Captain’s restaurant recommendations
You can also find all of the Captain’s articles on Porto’s must-see sites and monuments here.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!
Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: to book your accommodation in Porto, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Booking.com. From youth hostels to luxury boutique hotels, there’s plenty to choose from! The Captain particularly recommends:
– youth hostels: The Passenger Hostel and Urban Garden Porto Central Hostel
– budget and mid-range hotels: Decanting Porto House and Porto Charming Hotel
– high-end hotels: NH Porto Jardim and the Yeatman.
🎟️ Activities: museums, monuments, guided tours, boat tours, excursions… there’s plenty to do in Porto! To avoid wasting time in endless queues, especially during high season, the Captain strongly recommends that you opt for skip-the-line tickets and book your activities in advance. You can book all your tickets and tourist activities on GetYourGuide and Civitatis.
⛵ Cruises: Porto is undoubtedly synymous with Douro! It’d be a shame to leave the “Capital of the North” without embarking on a Douro river cruise. If you’re only staying in Porto for a long weekend, the Captain recommends the six bridges cruise. If you have more time, then he highly recommends the Douro Valley cruise with wine tasting & lunch.
🎫 Citypass: valid from 1 to 4 days, the Porto Card includes unlimited access to city transport (including to get to/from the airport), free entry to 6 museums and a selection of discounts in museums, attractions, Port wine cellars and shops.
🚐 Transfers: you can take the metro at the airport to get to the city center (1/2 hour). But if you’d rather avoid public transport, you can also book a shared or private transfer at very reasonable prices.
🚌 Local transport: you’ll propably quickly tire of Porto’s steeply sloping streets and might be tempted to take local transport instead of walking. The public transport network is convenient and easy to navigate. You can buy your tickets directly at metro stations and bus stops (be careful, you will need to take 1 Andante card per person).
You should also know that access to public transport is included in the Porto Card. Otherwise, the hop-on hop-off bus tours are great options to explore the city. You can also opt for a pass including access to hop-on hop-off buses, the funicular as well as tramways.
Among other means of transport, you can also try the bicycle, the electric bicycle, the segway, the tuk-tuk, the small train …
✈️ Flights: to book your flights to Porto, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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