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The seven hills in Lisbon

How to navigate and walk the seven hills in Lisbon without exhaustion

Lisbon is built on seven hills, and in the city you may wonder how to get up and down the hills all day. Thankfully there are many shortcuts, and many are for free! There is not even a need to take the public transport if you want. Let's discover the shortcuts in Lisbon!

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Discover the Seven Lisbon Hills with ease

The seven hills of Lisbon

The Portuguese city of Lisbon was built on seven hills. This results in incredible viewpoints but also some steep stairs up the hills. And although Lisbon might not be the most walking-friendly city at first sight, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get around without exhaustion! Thanks to the fantastic trams and buses, we easily explore the seven hills of Lisbon.

The seven hills that Lisbon is famous for, are São Jorge, São Vicente, São Roque, Santo André, Santa Catarina, Chagas e Sant’Ana. The seven hills were first mentioned in a book by São Nicolau de Oliveira (O Livro das Grandezas de Lisboa), but the writer made one tiny mistake. He forgot to mention the 8th hill! The hill of Graça lies just behind Castle São Jorge and is even the highest hill of them all! The hill of Graça is 200 meters tall, and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is the highest viewpoint in the city.

Public transport

Thankfully Lisbon has an excellent public transport system, and it’s easy to move between the hills. As a matter of fact, the city is pretty famous for its trams, funiculars, and elevators. They became top tourist attractions, and most tourists will take a ride with Tram 28, one of the funiculars, or the Santa Justa Elevator

The public transport system is the easiest way to get up and down the hills, mainly in Alfama and Moreira. Especially in the summer heat, a walk uphill on cobblestones can be challenging. Before you know it, you’ll spot another massive set of stairs to conquer, which is far from ideal! A downside is that the trams and buses can get very full. Specifically, Tram 28 and the Santa Justa Lift are often fully packed, and you’ll have to wait for quite some time to enter. It doesn’t take away the fact that riding these modes of transport are very iconic, unique, and memorable!

All trams, funiculars, and buses are part of the Lisbon Public Transport system. But when you enter a Tram 28, a funicular, or the Santa Justa Lift, you’ll pay a higher fee (€3.80 one way or €5.80 return). To avoid this, you can purchase the Lisboa Card, which also gives you access to over 39 museums, monuments and famous sights in the city. Another way is using the Viva Viagem travel card, which costs only €0.50. You can top this card up (zapping) to pay for public transport. You can also buy a 24-hour ticket with Viva Viagem for only €6.45.

A Tuk-Tuk Tour in Lisbon

A favourite way to explore Lisbon’s hills is by tuk-tuk. It’s a fantastic way to see the city, especially if you’re short on time. All tuk-tuks in Lisbon are electric, which makes them even more climate-friendly and sustainable! A tour guide will drive you to all the major sights in a tuk-tuk, saving you a lot of walking! There are even special interest tuk-tuk tours, such as street art tuk-tuk tours and tuk-tuk tours with snacks.

Lisbon Hills Tramcar Tour

Another fabulous way to discover the hills by tram is by taking the Lisbon Hills Tramcar Tour. This allows you to explore Lisbon at your own pace, as the ticket is valid for 24 hours. The best thing? It’s not overcrowded, and you can get on and off whenever you want. Remember, Tram 28 is part of the public transport system, whereas the red Historic Hills Tram is an actual tour. So although you pay more, you also enjoy more comfort, an actual seat, and fewer waiting times for the tram. Besides, audio guides are available in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish!

A ticket for the Historic Hills Tram also includes the following:

✓ Valid for 24 hours

✓ Free access to the Santa Justa elevator

✓ 24-hour access to Bica, Glória and Lavra funiculars

✓ 24-hour access to the red ‘Yellow Bus’ trams

✓ Free access to the regular yellow Carris trams

✓ Free ‘Yellow Bus’ discount book 

Please note: Tram 28 is NOT included on this ticket.

Free escalators and lifts in Lisbon

Lisbon is also a very walkable city; the seven hills shouldn’t scare you off! Good walking shoes are, however, advisable. Especially if it rains, the Portuguese pavements (Calçada Portuguesa is the typical walkway with a black and white pattern on the streets) get pretty slippery. Thankfully there is an entirely free way to navigate through the city! On the hills are, after all, many sights to visit that shouldn’t be missed. You can conquer these hills without too much effort by means of escalators and lifts. Below you’ll find the entry points of the escalators and elevators, including Google Maps links.

At Martim Moniz Square, an escalator will take you all the way to Moreira. Escadinhas da Saúde 2 is close to the Tram 28 boarding stop.

As the name suggests, Elevador Castelo will bring you pretty much all the way to Castle São Jorge. The first elevator will take you from Rua dos Fanqueiros in Baixa half way up to Rua da Madalena. When you exit the elevator, it’s only a short walk to Elevador da Baixa on Largo Chão do Loureiro, which will take you very close to the castle. The lifts are next to the supermarket Pingo Doce. From Lift Castelo, you walk around 5 to 10 minutes to the castle, but don’t forget to have a look at the stunning view! You can use the elevators daily between 7 am and 9 pm.

The Elevador de Santa Luzia will take you from a lower point in Alfama to the famous Santa Luzia viewpoint and Portas do Sol. It might not be the longest walk, but it’s definitely a shortcut, and you won’t be out of breath.

Baixa is one of the lower-located neighbourhoods, and getting to Bairro Alto can be a challenge. The easiest way is to enter the Metro station Baixa-Chiado and take the escalators inside to the top. You don’t need a metro ticket to just cross the station, which will save you many steps!

Between Rossio and Restauradores Metro station, you’ll find a stunning building where a Starbucks chain is located. Within Estação do Rossio is also a set of escalators which will take you to Calçada do Carmo. A quick but sweet shortcut that gets you halfway up!

If I’ve forgotten any shortcuts, please let me know in the comments! 

What to do on the seven hills

Walking up the seven hills may not be worth it if there isn’t anything to see or do. And boy, is it worth getting up those hills! São Jorge is probably the most famous hill, and here you’ll find sights like São Jorge Castle, Miradouro Santa Luzia, Portas do Sol and the Cathedral Sé. The districts Alfama and Mouraria are fantastic to walk around, and you’ll discover plenty of small streets and fado restaurants.

Behind the castle, you’ll find Santo André close to the Graça district. It’s the perfect spot for a lovely sunset over Lisbon.

São Vicente lies on Alfama’s outskirts; famous sights are the Monastery São Vicente de Fora and the National Pantheon. Every Tuesday and Saturday, you can visit the flea market Feira da Ladra.

São Roque is the opposite hill close to Elevador da Glória. On top, you find the fabulous neighbourhood Príncipe Real with plenty of concept stores, restaurants and bars. It’s also worth it to visit the Botanical Garden in Lisbon.

Chagas is the home of the Carmo Convent, and it’s where the Santa Justa Elevator will take you. If you want to skip the queue, you can take the escalators in the metro station Baixa-Chiado as mentioned above.

Further west, Santa Catarina is a hilltop with a lovely view from Miradouro Santa Catarina. Around the viewpoint are plenty of restaurants and the bustling nightlife is one of the highlights of Bairro Alto. At the bottom of the hill, you’ll find Pink Street and Cais do Sodré.

Hidden spots in the city

Sant’Ana might be less known and, therefore, a perfect hideaway if you’re looking to chill. Visit Jardim do Torel for a fanatic view or discover the lovely and quiet restaurants in the parallel streets of Avenida da Liberdade. Favourites are Zenith for brunch and Sr. Lisboa for dinner.

And don’t forget to discover the lower parts of Lisbon also! Baixa, Cais do Sodré, Belém and Oriente are just as charming and well worth a visit! These neighbourhoods are flat and it’s a fantastic location to cycle along the river Tagus!

Conclusion

I hope this post will help you navigate the hills of Lisbon. As you can see, there are many free ways to get to the top. And if you like, you can take some iconic trams or funiculars that will make your city trip to Lisbon complete.

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

10 Responses

  1. Lisbon looks like a beautiful city and one I would love to explore! It looks so lovely to walk around, but so good to know that there are trams as well. This is especially helpful for the hills!

  2. I am big into exercise, so the cool thing about the stairs and huffing it up to the top is that you would get your exercise in for the day while sightseeing! Perhaps if I made the trek two times in a day I would take the “transport” the second time. (Love the pic of the trolley)

  3. I would love the challenge of climbing the stairs (Makes the view at the top all the more worthwhile). It’s good to know that there are alternate routes for those who aren’t able (or don’t want) to climb.

  4. Lisbon is such a beautiful city and I am glad that I was able to cover most of the spots during my visit, although I missed a few. So much useful info and after all the huffing and puffing I enjoyed climbing so much stairs.

  5. First off, Miradouro da Graça at night – WOW! So stunning! Lisbon is very high on my list, and it’s great to know all the options to get around the city easily. I love taking the train or public transit when I travel, which is extremely helpful. I also loved all the hidden gems you shared 🙂

  6. Lisbon looks like a lovely place to visit. The entrance of Estação do Rossio is stunning! I bet it would be knackering to climb up those stairs but such a rewarding feeling once you are at the top!

  7. these alternatives are super useful – i’m so bad with slopes and stairs, i imagine this will come in handy when portugal makes it on my plans! (hopefully soon! 🤞)

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