I usually recommend walking like crazy and getting lost as the best way to get around any new city. That way, you stumble across the best hidden gems down charming alleyways (it’s worth keeping your comfy shoes on). I recommend the same when asked how to get around Lisbon.
Although be warned that it can be quite steep in places, with some stairs here and there, as Lisbon has plenty of hills. It can also get quite hot in summer – which makes the hills even harder to accomplish!
The trams are often the more convenient option as they let you get around Lisbon quickly and easily – whether you’re just going from A to B or exploring more distant Lisbon neighborhoods.
Another option is to take the metro if you’re in a rush – it is noted as one of Europe’s finest public transport systems, after all. You can also take advantage of Uber, Bolt, a private cab or tuk-tuk services for a speedy ride.
Exploring the city by car may not be ideal as the streets can get rather congested and steep. And finding parking spots is no fun. However, a car can come in handy when taking day trips from Lisbon.
There are several alternatives to choose from when wondering how to get around Lisbon! You can even hop on a tram for an audio-guided tour of Lisbon’s greatest attractions. For destinations further away such as the airport, buses, cabs and even Uber services provide convenient options too.
The best way we found was often to mix things up: walking around town with occasional help from metros or Ubers when returning home later in the evening!
See also: Exploring Lisbon in 2 Days
Here is an overview of how to get around Lisbon:
How to get around Lisbon
For starters, get the Lisboa Card
The Lisboa Card is an easy and perfect way to explore Lisbon!
This 3-in-1 transport card, museum pass and discount card gives you access to the best the city has to offer. The package also includes a free map and small travel guide, so you can make the most of your time in Lisbon. With this card, visitors save both time and money while enjoying everything that Lisbon has to offer!
To make the most of your sightseeing in Lisbon, pick up a Lisboa Card.
This popular card allows you to choose between 24-, 48- or 72-hour options and grants unlimited use of public transportation – including the iconic wooden tram 28, as well as “elevadores” like the Santa Justa elevator – plus a free train ride to Sintra and Cascais.
The card also provides free admission to top attractions like Torre de Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery among others and along with additional sweet discounts.
See also: Sintra Guide: A Day Trip from Lisbon
Prices of the Lisboa Card
24 hours: €21
48 hours: €35 (€17,50 per day)
72 hours: €44 (€14,67 per day)
24 hours: €13,50
48 hours: €19,50 (€9,75 per day)
72 hours: €23 (€7,67 per day)
You can buy it online here.
Is the Lisboa Card worth it?
Whether the Lisboa Card is worth it depends mainly on your travel plans and need for convenience. If you’re planning on squeezing in the best Lisbon experiences in a short amount of time, then it’s definitely worth it. The Lisboa Card is a good deal if you plan on traveling by public transport and visiting various museums and attractions.
Keep the below in mind if you´re considering buying the Lisboa Card:
The cost of the card:
The only way to be sure the Lisboa Card is worth the investment is to go through your plans and work out how much it would cost on entries, tours and transport. Compare the total with the costs per day of the Lisboa Card and see if the card is a good deal.
Keep in mind that the 72-Hour card offers the best value per day.
Freedom and flexibility:
In many cases, the Lisboa Card sells on convenience. It lets you do what you want, whenever you want it without having to worry about buying extra museum or transport tickets.
If you’re visiting Lisboa on a shoestring budget, do the math and see if the cost vs. the savings are worth it. If you value freedom, flexibility and convenience, then the Lisboa Card is a good choice.
Good to know:
- The card is activated on the first use, so no need to worry about the card expiring before you arrive in Lisbon.
- It’s valid for a full calendar year after its purchase date.
- Your online ticket needs to be swapped for the actual card at one of the five Ask Me Lisboa offices.
- There is a free cancellation included! You can cancel it for free until 23:59 on the day before your visit.
Go “Zapping” in Lisbon
How do you use the Viva Viagem Card?
The viva viagem card is an electronic smart card that is validated by approaching the card to the contactless validators. It is specially designed for non-frequent customers (occasional journeys).
This electronic smart card makes taking public transportation a breeze! Simply approach your card to the contactless validator and you’re good to go.
You can also use the Viva Viagem card for “Zapping”.
Zapping is a great way to get around Lisbon and the surrounding area. You can use your Viva card with several different operators, and your fare will be deducted from the remaining balance on your card. This makes it easy to get where you need to go without having to worry about carrying cash or buying tickets each time you ride.
You can check the balance of your card or the number of tickets you have at Metro machines and points of sale.
Where can I buy the Viva Viagem Card?
The Viva Viagem card is available for purchase at vending machines and points of sale in the metro.
Just in case, better keep the store receipt of your ticket and bring it with you in case you need to exchange or if there is an error on the card.
Extra tip: Take a photo of the receipt. That way you can access it quickly via your phone and you don’t need to worry to loose it.
How much does a Viva Viagem card cost?
A Viva Viagem costs €0.50 (this must be added to the fare) and you can use the card a whole year. You can then top up the card depending on how many trips you plan on taking.
What are the types of Viva Viagem tickets can you buy?
- Zapping Metro journey: €1,35 (valid for a single journey on the Metro network)
Each zapping journey refers to one operator only. Every time you change transport operators, an additional fare is deducted from your card, according to the conditions of the operator.
The following amounts can be topped up: 3€, 5€, 10€, 15€, 20€, 25€, 30€, 35€ e 40€.
- Day ticket Carris / Metro: €6,45 (valid for unlimited journeys on Carris and Metro, networks during 24 hours following the first validation.)
- Day ticket Carris / Metro / Transtejo (Cacilhas): €9,60 (valid for unlimited journeys on Carris, Metro and Transtejo (Cacilhas river connection), during 24 hours following the first validation.)
- Carris / Metro / CP: €10,70 (valid for unlimited journeys on Carris, Metro and CP (Sintra, Cascais, Azambuja and Sado lines), during 24 hours following the first validation.)
Go Zapping – If you like to explore a city on foot, you might still take one or other public transport in between.
Zapping is always a little cheaper than buying a single ticket. For example, a single Metro ticket costs €1,50 and zapping €1,35. Let’s say you go for 3 rides, this will cost you around €4 per day with zapping.
The other option is to get the Lisboa Card, which includes unlimited use of public transportation and many other extras, which you might use too.
The Metro in Lisbon – Metropolitano de Lisboa
The Lisbon metro runs every day from early in the morning (6:30 am) until late at night (1 am), including weekends and holidays.
- The Blue Line runs from Santa Apolónia station to Reboleira.
- The Yellow Line runs from Rato in the old town to the suburb of Odivelas.
- The Red Line goes from the airport to São Sebastião.
- The Green Line runs from Cais do Sodré to Telheiras.
Visitors on the way from the airport to the old town of Lisbon have to change trains once in Alameda.
You can buy tickets for the metro either at a ticket machine or at the counter. The counters are sometimes closed, but don’t worry, the ticket machines are easy to use. Plus, the individual steps are presented in several languages.
Trams in Lisbon
The trams are the personality and spirit of Lisbon. Riding the tram at least once is an absolute necessity for your vacation in Lisbon.
In addition to their extraordinary appearance, trams are also a very practical means of transportation, making it easy to reach the highest points of the city without getting out of breath.
It feels like there’s a tram stop on every street corner in Lisbon, which is great for getting around the city without having to use the metro.
The trams keep going Monday to Friday from 6am until 10:30pm and the intervals between each one are about four in an hour.
You may have a difficult time finding somewhere to sit during peak times (around 9 am and again between 5 – 7 pm), however, if you’re wanting guaranteed comfort (a seat) hop on at either of its endpoints!
Good to know:
To use the tram, look for stops that are marked with a sign that says the word “paragem” and usually also shows the line number.
To stop the tram, signal with your hand. The destination of the tram is written on the front. You board the tram through the front door and pay or show your day pass.
You then exit through the rear exit. To stop, press one of the red buttons; a flashing light with the word “parar” appears.
There are two types of streetcars in Lisbon. The streetcar network was established in 1901, so there are still a few historical trams that are older and more charming, and modern ones.
The historic trams were given a complete overhaul, making sure to preserve the exterior and interior characteristics of the old streetcar.
The tram network covers many of the city’s historic areas and they connect the lower parts of the city with the higher parts. There is the old-fashioned cable cars in Gloria, Bica, and Lavradores, as well as the Santa Justa elevator.
The most well-known tram of Lisbon is definitely the tram 28. This line has gradually become a tourist attraction itself.
In most pictures or postcards taken by tourists, the tram 28 crosses the historic center of the city and connects the main tourist attractions in Lisbon. It’s an interesting way to discover the city, but not a daily means of transportation since it often gets crowded.
Tram 28 is also so popular by visitors, as it passes many sights.
Top sights along the tram 28 route:
- Basilica da Estrela
- Assembleia da Republica
- Praca Luis de Camoes
- Rua Augusta
- Praca do Comercio
- Igreja de Santo Antonio
- Se de Lisboa
- Portas do Sol
- Mosteiro Sao Vicente
- Castelo de Sao Jorge
Good to know:
Tram 28 departure times are for reference only and are very rarely accurate. That’s because of the traffic in the city. So it’s best to simply wait a few minutes at a stop and hop on when it’s there.
The Start and Final stops are Campo de Ourique and Martim Moniz. The complete tram 28 route is: Campo de Ourique, Estrela, Sao Bento, Chiado, Rua Conceicao (Baixa), Se Cathedral, Portas de Sol (Alfama), Graca, Martim Moniz. Once it reaches the end, it will turn around and drive the same way back.
You can use the Viva Viagem card by loading your “zapping” budget. Or you can also buy the tickets on board the tram, but this is the more expensive solution (€2.80 for a one-way ticket vs. €1.35 when zapping).
The Lisboa Card includes the tram 28 ride.
Buses in Lisbon
The buses in Lisbon are excellent. There are around 150 lines and 750 buses in Lisbon, which cover a distance of over 670 kilometers. Those take you everywhere, even to the most remote corners.
The buses are reliable and often a good alternative to the metro or streetcar.
The bus is an excellent mode of transportation especially for the parts of the city without subway access; especially because these areas are located on the hills of Lisbon. This means that you can explore the city as well as make trips to the countryside using this method of transportation.
It can sometimes be difficult to find the right bus in the direction you want, but with a little help, you will find your way without any problems.
To plan your bus journey, you can use the Carris website or the Lisboa Viagem app (Android / IOS) or you simply use Google Maps. 😉
Lisbon is a city full of charm and culture!
With its winding streets, quaint cafes and stunning views, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Lisbon is the perfect destination for those looking for an unforgettable experience. From its vibrant nightlife to its amazing cuisine, you won’t be disappointed with your visit to this beautiful city.
So start planning your trip today – you won’t regret it!
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