How To Get Around Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and is also the most populated with about two million people living here. It is one of the least visited capital cities in Europe, but people really have no idea what they are missing!
Filled with several steep hills giving you unobstructed views of the splendid ocean , cobblestone streets and winding alleys full of character and breathtakingly beautiful historical buildings, Lisbon is one of the best places to visit in Europe. Old-world charm meets modern technology and tourists will find it fun and exciting to make their way through the streets of Lisbon.
Learning how to navigate through this old city can be a bit tricky at times but if you take some time to learn about the different public transport that is available, you will be moving about like a native. To explore this marvelous city with ease, drop your bags and backpacks at a suitcase storage locker in Lisbon. See the sights without lugging extra things along.
Whether you are using the metro to get from place to place or looking for a less crowded mode of transportation such as a taxi or tram, you will be able to easily move throughout Lisbon once you are familiar with the many options.
How to get around Lisbon by train
Taking the train
Riding the train in Portugal is an excellent way to get from city to city but to travel throughout Lisbon, the train is probably not the best choice. The train network in Portugal connects the major cities and even some of the bigger towns and villages, and tickets are still relatively cheap. Passengers will find the seats are comfortable with plenty of room to settle in and enjoy the ride.
For example, while you are in Lisbon, you can catch the train at the Cais do Sodre station and head to Cascais to explore, about a 40-minute trip. This is a very popular tourist destination and is along the coast with breathtaking views. Or grab the train to Sintra which is only about a 45-minute trip and explore the city center and National Palace, both within walking distance of the train station.
Riding the metro
Lisbon has over 55 metro stations that connect four main metro lines. Lisbon’s metro does not operate 24/7. The larger stations run from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. while many of the smaller stations run from 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Many locals choose to ride the metro as a way to move throughout the city efficiently.
Each of the four lines is identified by a certain color: green connects you to the Baixa area and the Cascais station, red connects you from the airport to the Parque das Nacoes area, the blue and yellow lines follow the main roads in Lisbon and run from north to south.
Several of the metro stations display modern artwork from local artists. Even though the trains do not operate 24 hours a day, they still run late enough that if you are enjoying time out on the town at night, you can still ride the metro to get back home or to your hotel before it shuts down for the night.
Metro stations are kept very clean and it is a pleasant experience to visit one of the stations, however, during crowded times such as rush hour, you will want to keep a watch for pickpockets. Avoid having your money out in the crowd by buying your tickets online or purchasing a Lisboa Card.
Tram, funicular and lift
Lisbon is home to six different trams, one vertical lift, and four funiculars. Tourists love checking out Tram #28, which is the oldest tram in Lisbon and also the most popular one if you are touring the city. Get there early to avoid long wait times but if you must wait, the scenic views are well worth it!
The main transportation system into Lisbon is the Lisbon Tram Companhia Carris de Ferro Lisboa; however, to move around the city you will want to hop on and off the more modern Siemens Articulado trams. Using tram lines is a great way to get out and see more of Lisbon.
Lisbon is home to four funiculars. A funicular is a cable railway system that connects various points along a track on a steep slope. The funicular has two counterbalanced carriages that are attached to opposite ends. If you have a Lisboa Card, you are able to use the funiculars for free.
The Santa Justa Lift (in Portuguese the Elevador de Santa Justa) is a vertical lift that climbs some of the steepest hills in the city and is considered a national monument along with Tram #28. The lift is the quickest way to get up the steep hills and look out over the city for unobstructed views. You do need to purchase a ticket to ride the lift or you can use your Lisboa Card.
How do I ride a tram?
There are six trams that run on about 60 tramlines throughout the city, this includes both trams and trollies. The trams run on specific routes and it is actually pretty easy to navigate the different tram stations and stops and figure out which route you need to take. You do need a ticket or your Lisboa Card to ride a tram.
Each tram stop is marked with a small pinnacle or yellow sign hanging on lampposts. You can even catch a trolley or streetcar along the tramlines for a more nostalgic adventure through the streets of Lisbon. Check out Tram #28, the most popular tram for tourists, many times this tram is filled and is standing room only.
How to get around Lisbon by bus
Take the bus
When coming into Lisbon via the Lisbon airport, you will want to catch the Aerobus, a shuttle service that picks you up at the airport and takes you into the city. The cost per one-way ticket is relatively inexpensive. Aerobus does not take you downtown. If you need to go downtown from the airport, catch the Carris bus number 744.
Carris is the main public transport operator in Lisbon, but it does not run the subway system. There are several Lisbon buses that run during the day that will take you past fantastic landmarks and popular tourist spots.
Most buses generally run up to 11:00 p.m. but there are a few night buses and you can find the bus routes and times listed on the Carris website. Public buses are great when you need to go into a neighborhood that does not have a metro station or tram.
How to get around Lisbon by car
Car & motorcycle
With over 600,000 drivers on the streets of Lisbon, it can be difficult to navigate through the streets in a car or by motorcycle. For tourists, it is best to take advantage of the public transportation system and use the metro, bus, tram, funicular, lift, or even taxi to get to where you need to go in the city.
Lisbon only has about 200,000 parking spots, making it next to impossible to find suitable parking when you do drive through the city. Parking regulations also vary throughout the city depending on the neighborhood. Paid parking can be quite expensive but there are very few free parking spots to be found.
The cheapest car parks located near downtown Lisbon are Doca de Santo Amaro and Santa Apolonia. Free parking areas can be found in Campo Santa Clara located near Alfama and Cais do Sodre. There is also free parking west of Caisdo Sondre along Avenue 24.
During the times when the metro is not running or during flash strikes when the train network is down, finding other public transportation options is necessary when traveling through Lisbon. Taxis are a great way to get to where you need to go without having to have full knowledge of the streets or directions.
There is a steady service called Kiwi Taxi that offers to find taxis nearby and book the cheapest fare for you. It can sometimes be tricky to find a conventional taxi so you will want to take advantage of this service, especially if you are traveling from the airport.
Lisbon taxi drivers have earned a rather dubious reputation for trying to fleece tourists by adding surcharges to their fares. To ensure you are getting charged a fair price, you will want to download one of the Lisbon taxi apps such as the “Ask Me Lisboa” app. You can also find rideshare services on this app.
Can I get around Lisbon by foot?
Walking tours of Lisbon
Lisbon is filled with amazing old-world architecture that history lovers will fall in love with, but there are enough modern touches to make visiting the city feel a little more like home. Downtown is filled with towering skyscrapers, a thriving financial district, and booming government, but the surrounding neighborhoods are quainter and a lot more fun to explore.
There are several tour companies in Lisbon that offer themed walking tours with a professional tour guide. You can sign up for one or two and take a stroll through the streets checking out various landmarks. Your guide will regale you with stories of Lisbon’s past and introduce you to the city in a way you would not get without taking a walking tour.
You can also take a self-guided tour of the city by downloading a map of the city. Lace up your walking shoes and set out on a new adventure, exploring various neighborhoods of Lisbon. There are several free walking tours you can also sign up for with a tour guide or by using an app.
Depending on which neighborhood you are staying in, you can easily walk from place to place. But one must be aware that the streets are hilly and will be a good workout!
Unlike other European cities, getting around the city on bicycle can be difficult because of the cobblestones, hills, heavy traffic, and tramways. There are, however, several bike paths that wind throughout the city and you can use your bicycle as a mode of transportation when the weather is nice and you feel like getting out and pedaling.
Pedal over to the Rio Tejo and follow along the bike lanes that are over four miles long and the landscape is breathtaking. Purchase a bicycle map of Lisbon to find the great paths and learn how to get around the city without hitting too many hills or cobblestones. You can also download the Gira app with a Lisbon bike map, a bike path sharing app you will not want to miss.
Take the ferry
Lisbon boasts five ferry routes and three ferry terminals for the city with an additional four terminals located on the southern banks just outside Lisbon. If you are looking to take a ferry ride as a way to see more of the city and its landmarks, you will want to take the Bellem to Porto Brando ferry or the Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas ferry.
Ticket prices for the ferry service is cheap and a great way to spend time checking out the various landmarks throughout the city. The Lisbon ferry service does not offer roundtrip tickets so you will have to purchase two tickets if you are not disembarking at the next destination. You can also purchase tickets using the Viva Viagem mobile app.
Unlimited travel fun
Visitors to Lisbon may find it a bit intimidating to try to navigate through the city using the public transport system. However, it is not so difficult once you get the hang of how everything works – and then it can even be fun, especially when you travel via a funicular ride or on the busy metro network. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the Lisbon transportation system. You will find yourself moving through the city like a local!