Lisbon has a very efficient public transport network that covers the entire city in addition to the surrounding areas.
Metro and Buses
The extensive bus and electrico (tram) network is run by Carris. The best and, in many cases, the sole way to pay for city transport is buying a rechargeable green-coloured card 7 Colinas (Viva Viagem). It’s valid for metro, trams (electrico), urban trains, most buses and ferries. The exception is buses not run by Carris—other bus companies have their own tickets. The card itself can be purchased for €0.50 (this price doesn’t include any trips—add as many trips as you want), and remains valid for a year.
The Viva Viagem card can be charged in three different modes. You choose the mode when you charge the card. For example, you can choose the “single ticket” mode, and put €1.40 on a card (the machine will give change), and ride the tram to your hotel. Next day you wake up, and put €6 on the same card and choose the Day pass mode, making your card “Day pass” now. The modes are as follows:
- Single tickets for bus (€1.40; €1.80 if bought on the bus) or metro (€1.40). You put this exact amount on this card. Unlike Zapping mode, this ticket allows free transfers within one hour.
- Day pass for metro and buses (€6)
- Zapping. This is a ‘stored value’ mode, similar to the Oyster card in London. This mode also gives you slightly more credit than you pay for if you recharge more than €5 (for example, you will have to pay €10.00 for €10.75 of credit). The rates are also cheaper comparing to single ride: every journey costs €1.25, but the transfers are not free – although you get a small discount for two contiguous journeys, e.g., if you change from metro to bus. If you have a bit of unused money, it is wise to go to the ticket desk and there they do zapping for any amount. This way you can fully utilize your money on the card before going back to your country. You won’t be able to get the refund, so make sure you don’t put way more than you intend to spend.
Hop on hop off bus tours are another great option to explore the city. The service allows you to buy a one two or three day pass and then hop on and hop off the stroller accessible double decker bus at one of the many stops near the main tourist sights. This saves on having to navigate metro stations and allows you to relax a bit knowing you will not have any problem getting your stroller on and off the bus.
Think twice before using a car in the city unless you are prepared to spend hours in traffic jams and looking for parking space. The busy traffic and narrow streets with blind corners can be overwhelming to tourists. Also, due to lack of space and overcrowding, parking is difficult and annoying, as well as potentially dangerous – check the “Stay Safe” section below, regarding potential problems with criminals and homeless people who stand near parking spaces to “help” you park your car and then attempt to extort money from you. If you decide to drive in the city, remember to pre book a car seat for car rentals (See General Information for more details on driving in Portugal).
If your accommodation is in the centre of the city, walking is a great alternative, particularly if you have a stroller with you. Many of the attractions of the city, such as the Castelo and the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts, are within easy walking distance of the Baixa. If you become lost or cannot find the location you are looking for, try to locate the nearest Carris bus or tram stop. Most of these stops (not all) have a very good map of the city with your current location clearly marked on the map. All the prominent tourist sites in Lisbon are also shown along with an index at the bottom of the map.
Ferries connect Lisbon to the suburbs across the Tejo river in the south. Taking a ferry to Cacilhas is a good opportunity to see Lisbon from the water. A ferry is paid for just like a metro trip; you can even use your zapping Viva viagem card.