An overview to Lisbon’s public transport system
If you’re planning a visit to Lisbon, then you will be very happy to hear that it is a rather compact and easy to get around in type of city. The public transport system is in my opinion uncomplicated and compared to other European cities, actually rather cheap!
In this quick guide, I am going to highlight all the essential information you need to navigate through Lisboa and getting you from A to B in no time at all.
Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Portugal Travel Essentials:
- Search & Book flights here on Skyscanner
- Book your car rental through AutoEurope
- Search hotels here on Booking.com, or on VRBO for apartment-style stays
- Click here to browse & book bus and train tickets
- Lastly, don’t forget about travel insurance for your trip!
Pssst…Don’t forget to read our Portugal packing list post to ensure you’ve got all your travel essentials packed and ready for your holiday to Portugal!
Overview of Lisbon’s transport system
Lisbon’s transport system covers a large route network across the city and consists of a metro, bus, trams and even a couple of elevator services. I will elaborate on each one in a bit more detail:
The Metro Lisboa has four different lines which are all colour coded. The red, yellow, green and blue lines cover most of metropolitan Lisbon and generally speaking, you can actually get by, with only using the metro. Especially if you are on holiday and staying centrally.
If travelling to or from the Lisbon airport (Aeroporto) then you simply catch the red line into the city and it will only take around 30 mins to get to the more central zones, in order to connect with any of the other lines if needed.
The metro operates from 06:30 am to 01:00 am every day, including weekends and public holidays.
Check out the metro map below or click on this link – metro map.
The bus service in Lisbon covers a vast route network, so I won’t link the network map on here.
But thankfully you can download the very easy to use Carris app onto your phone to help you plan your route when wanting to take any bus in the city.
The app is brilliant as it’s also in English and you can enter your destination as well as your current location and it will tell you exactly which bus stop to go to, that is nearest to you, which bus to catch and how long it will take. Easy peasy!
Trams & Elevators (Funiculars):
Apart from the bus and metro, Lisbon’s public transport system also offers up the use of either trams or funiculars that amble up some pretty steep hills.
Unfortunately both trams and elevators have become somewhat of a tourist attraction, often resulting in endless queues of visitors trying to get their spot on the famous Tram 28, for instance. This is much to the dismay and horror of many local Lisboetas (local Lisbonites), who rely on these forms of transport for their daily commute.
Top tip: Take this point into consideration before hopping onto these trams, especially if it’s purely seen as a sightseeing mode of transport. There are in fact dedicated tourist sightseeing trams (there’s both a red and green one operated by different providers), and they are less crowded too! A much better option. Of course these do come at an additional cost and not included in the normal transport card.
Types of passes and which to buy
This all leads us to the numbers game. With different passes and cards on offer it’s now time to crunch the numbers to determine what option will work best based on your travel plans.
Viva Viagem rechargeable card:
The first option you have available would be to buy a rechargeable Viva Viagem card. It’s reusable paper card that you can keep topping up at the ticket machines for specified amounts. The card costs only 0.50€ and you can then continuously re-load money onto it, example 3€, 5€, 10€, 15€ etc.
If you use this method then a single journey on the metro would cost you 1,33€ (as of May 2019 when this article was written). By a single journey, I am mean, from the point you tap in through the booths till when you tap out of the booths. In other words, if you are travelling and have to connect to another line, it still counts only as 1 journey. It’s only when you exit through the booths that the journey closes.
The next alternative is to purchase a day pass for 6,40€ that would allow you unlimited travel on the metro, buses, trams and elevators within the Lisbon metropolitan zone for 24 hours.
In other words, you have to take at least 5 journeys within a 24 hour period to really benefit from this price point.
The third option would be to consider the official Lisboa Card which has a 1-day (at 20€), 2-day (at 34€) or 3-day (42€) options available.
This pass will not only give you free access to the public transport network within the Lisbon zone, but also has other benefits such as free entrances into selected museums and attractions, as well as offering up a host of other discounts. This option would really only be beneficial if you plan to do a lot of travelling and sightseeing.
But it’s definitely worth doing some extra research and pin pointing the exact sights you absolutely have to see. Then add up their entrance costs together with your travel projections to see if this may benefit you. For more info check out the Visit Lisboa site for more on the Lisboa Card.
Cab Hailing Services: Uber, Lisbon (and others)
My final tip regarding public transport options in Lisbon, is not to discount taxis and cab hailing services. Especially if you are two or more travellers travelling together.
Taking an Uber in Lisbon may work out surprisingly cost effective too. You will not only find Uber in Lisbon, but other operators such as Bolt and Kapten are also available in the city.
Go ahead and read my post on my top money saving tips for travelling in Portugal where I also share a list of my discount codes (if you haven’t already signed up for these operators).
In a nutshell, because Lisbon is so compact, you may actually find that a journey may work out cheaper if you use a cab hailing service. Especially if you are two or more passengers.
There you have it! Lisbon is compact and quite easy to get around in, and in this quick overview guide, I hope you gained all the info you needed. Getting around should really be the least of your planning stresses.
As always, if you have any other golden tips for me that I may have left off, feel free to share in the comments below as I’d love for others to have access to them too!