The Presidential Train

Porto, Portugal | C.1890

Photo Credit: Marta Leão

An icon of Portuguese railway history, train that once carried royalty has transformed into a traveling culinary experience thanks to a bright ten year-old girl.

Constructed in 1890 to transport the likes of King D. Luis I, Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Paul VI, the train was originally known as the Portuguese Royal Train. Almost a century later, it would retire under a new name – The Presidential Train – and receive a new post at the National Railway Museum, that is until a businessman and his daughter came along.

On a visit to the museum, Gonçalo Castel-Branco took an interest in the train, and was determined to give it another life. When his ten-year-old daughter suggested that the train should be converted into a restaurant, he was initially quick to dismiss the idea. However, he soon realized the brilliance of her concept.

After two years of restoration and the approval from the national railway company, the train – still equipped with some carriages dating back 120+ years – was ready for its first run as a traveling restaurant.

To preserve the integrity of the engines and structure as a whole, the train is limited to 30 excursions each year. But each time, a different chef takes the reigns as passengers enjoy the 125 mile trip from Porto to Quinta do Vesuvio & back again.

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