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Use Lisbon's public transport like a local
A quick overview
What to do? Learn how the public transport system in Lisbon works
Costs? Tickets are € 1,65 and up
Worth it? Yes! Travel like a pro at a fraction of the price of a taxi
The public transport system in Lisbon
You bet public transport comes in handy in a city with seven hills! Lisbon is famous for its colourful trams and funiculars, but there are other easy ways to get around the city.
The transport system in Lisbon includes buses, trains, metro, trams, funiculars and ferries! The stations are overall very well connected, and it’s pretty easy to get around.
The metro in Lisbon
Lisbon has four different metro lines; blue, yellow, green and red. The metro system consists of 55 metro stations, and the track length is 46 kilometres long. You never have to wait long as the following metro usually departs within 6 or 7 minutes. Metro services, including weekends and public holidays, start at 6:30 AM and run until 1 AM. Just be aware that sometimes the metro is shorter at night, so it’s recommended to wait at the platform’s lefthand side (in the direction the metro travels). The metro runs in the north and east of the city.
Blue line: between Reboleira and Santa Apolónia
Yellow line: between Odivelas and Rato
Green line: between Telheiras and Cais de Sodré
Red line: between Aeroporto and São Sebastião
Lisbon Airport Humberto Delgado is very well connected to the city centre. Aside from a taxi or private transport, you can travel to the centre by bus or metro. The metro station is located at Terminal 1, and once you’ve taken the escalators downstairs, you’ll see the ticket machines where you can purchase your ticket. To read the complete guide about Lisbon Airport, please click here. The airport is at the end of the red line, as seen on the metro map.
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Trains, buses, and trams in Lisbon
If you want to travel towards the west, to places like Cascais and Belém, it’s recommended to take a bus, tram or train. From Cais do Sodré, there are many options to travel west. You can take a fast train that stops only at certain stations or at every station. Please be aware that your ticket is only valid within specific parameters in the city. You’ll need an extended ticket to travel to Sintra, Amadora, Oeiras or Cacilhas. Zone 1 is within the Lisboa district only, which you can see on the map below.
Carris is the bus company that will bring you from A to B in Lisbons city centre. There are many different services, and Lisbon is well-connected. For real-time information, you can use the Carris App. It will advise of waiting times and the nearest stops. Aerobus is the bus that will take you from Lisbon Airport to the centre. It stops at many major stations, hotels and key parts of the city.
The tramway network consists of six lines with a total length of 31 kilometres. The tram in Lisbon started operating in 1873, and some trams are very historical. The cable tram is perfect for conquering the steep slopes, and Tram 28 has become an actual phenomenon to ride! The current network is as follows:
✓ 12: Praça da Figueira → Miradouro de Santa Luzia
✓ 15: Praça da Figueira ↔ Belém ↔ Algés
✓ 18: Cais do Sodré ↔ Cemitério da Ajuda
✓ 24: Praça Luís de Camões ↔ Campolide
✓ 25: Praça da Figueira ↔ Campo de Ourique (Prazeres)
✓ 28: Praça Martim Moniz ↔ Graça ↔ Estrela ↔ Campo de Ourique (Prazeres)
The ferry in Lisbon
A fun way of discovering Lisbon is to take a ferry! Lisbon lies on the banks of the river Tagus, and you have a magnificent view of the bridge Ponte 25 de Abril from the water. From Cais do Sodré, you can take a ferry to Cacilhas to enjoy a romantic dinner at the river. From Terreiro do Paço, there are ferries to Seixal and Barreiro. Or take the ferry from Belém to Porto Brandão and Trafaria to enjoy the river views over the city!
How to get tickets for public transport in Lisbon
Most stations have ticketing machines where you can buy a ticket to use public transport in Lisbon. You can either pay cash or with your debit/credit card, and the devices will state clearly if it is one or the other. On buses and trams, you can buy your tickets when entering, but you can save a few bucks by getting your ticket beforehand. More on that later!
If you need help buying your ticket, Metropolitano de Lisboa created a helpful PDF showing you how to buy a ticket at a vending machine.
Lisbon Public Transport ticket price
The price for a ticket is € 1,65 for a single journey. This ticket is valid within Zone 1 (Lisbon) for 60 minutes following the first validation. You can make unlimited journeys on Carris and Metro networks within that hour. Please be aware that it can’t be used for consecutive trips on the Metro!
If you use the public transport system more than a few times daily, buying a day ticket makes sense. This pass is € 6,60 within Zone 1 for 24 hours. The time starts at first validation and can be used for unlimited journeys on Carris and Metro networks.
When you also travel to Cascais, Sintra or, for example, Cacilhas on the same day, the extended day pass for € 9,70 is the best value. This pass is also valid for public transport in Sintra, which is perfect if you want to see Palacio da Pena! The commuter train is the CP Urban Services (Comboios de Portugal) network. The price of this day pass is € 10,70 (all tickets are Lisbon Public Transport prices 2023).
When you travel regularly but on different days, Zapping is your friend! You can top up your pre-paid travel card with €3, €5, €10, €15, €20, €25, €30, €35 or €40. The price of a single journey drops from €1.65 to €1,47, and the cost is automatically deducted from your card balance. When you change transport operators, you’ll need to zap again! For example, you take the metro to Cais do Sodré and change onto the train to Belém.
The Viva Viagem is the perfect Zapping card for occasional public transport users, and you can buy them at the Ticket Vending Machines and Ticket Offices. The Viva Viagem card costs only €0.50 and is perfect for your holiday in Lisbon as it can be reloaded unlimitedly! Everyone needs their own Viva Viagem card, as it can’t be shared.
When you enter the metro station, you can swipe your card once. When you exit the station, you’ll swipe your card again. Please note that some stations don’t have barriers, but you’ll still need to check in with your card. You can find check-in poles at the station or on the platform.
Funiculars and the famous Tram 28
Many visitors want to make a fantastic trip on the city trams or funiculars, and some tickets are a bit different. There are a few exemptions to the rules as some means of public transport come with a higher price. The good news: they will help you get up the steep hills! The not-so-good news is that the price is €3.80 for a single journey!
The trams (especially Tram 28) and the funiculars are public transport but are so popular that it looks more like a tourist attraction. You’ll see endless queues of passengers to get a seat on the tram. The line can be well over one hour! When you decide to take the tram, please also be careful of pickpockets, as this is their hunting ground! Lastly, please be considerate to commuters as the local Lisboetas rely on public transport to go to work and travel home. If you don’t want to wait but still enjoy a ride on a historic tram, booking a tour with a guide or buying a ticket for the Hills Tramcar Tour might be more suitable.
Tip: follow the tramline of Tram 28 by foot instead! You’ll have plenty of time to take images, and it’s a beautiful route in the city.
The Santa Justa Elevator
The same goes for the Santa Justa Elevator. The line is usually long, and you pay a higher fee. A return ticket with the elevator costs €5.30, but a single journey is also an option.
The good news, a day pass will circumvent the higher fees, and for only €6.60, you’ll see the whole city on a budget! Do you have the Lisboa Card? Then you can ride to the top for free. You also have the option to walk around the elevator and reach the Santa Justa Elevator for free from Largo de Carmo (uphill!).
One more secret: many elevators and escalators in the city are 100% free! Click here to read more.
Hop-on-hop-off bus in Lisbon
If you’re short on time and like to see as many sights in a day as possible, the hop-on-hop-off buses might be ideal for you. Prices start at €21 for 24 hours, and different combi-tickets are available. Find out more about the hop-on-hop-off tour buses in this article.
The Lisboa Card
Last but not least, the Lisboa Card. This is THE travel card for Lisbon. Aside from unlimited travel on the Lisbon public transport network, you have free entrance to 35 museums, top monuments and attractions!
There are three options: 24, 48 and 72-hour passes. The price for 24 hours is € 21,00. A ticket for 48 hours costs €35,00, and 72 hours costs €44,00. So you can use public transport in Lisbon and visit places like Jerónimos Monastery, the Belem Tower and Ajuda National Palace for free!
Did you get a little tired after visiting the sites? The Lisboa Card also offers discounts to restaurants and shops!
Frequent use of public transport in Lisbon
There is one last tip for people that stay in Lisbon longer. The navegante is perfect for frequent public transport users and can be used for Zapping, and you can top the card up with travel passes.
It takes about ten days to get your card, but there is an express service if needed. The standard delivery is available from the stations Colégio Militar/Luz and Jardim Zoológico (blue line), Marquês de Pombal and Campo Grande (yellow line), Baixa-Chiado and Cais do Sodré (green line) and Oriente and Aeroporto (Red line). At Marquês de Pombal and Campo Grande, there is a 1-day turnaround service for express tickets.
You’ll need to fill in an application form and provide an Identity Card, Passport or Residence Permit. You’ll also need an original passport photo in colour as the navegante will have your picture on it! Once you have the card, you can top it up with travel credit! The price for standard delivery is €7 and express services are €12.
Navegante Municipal will let you travel within Zone 1, and for one month, you pay €30. Navegante Metropolitano gives access to Lisbon’s Metropolitan Area and costs €40 per month. Children, families and senior citizens pay a discounted price.
Hopefully, this article was helpful and set you up for your long or short trip to Lisbon! Getting around is pretty straightforward, and you’ll find the map of the stops on your line on the buses and trams. Of course, there are also other means of transport, such as taxis and bikes. Uber and Bolt are widely used, as well as regular taxis. Or book a fun bike tour with Baja Bikes, for example! Besides that, Lisbon is a great city to explore on foot! Do you have any tips to add? Reply in the comments!
This is incredibly helpful. Public transportation is usually a little intimidating in a new place so it’s awesome to be prepared ahead of time. Saving this for later. Thanks!
Wow! This guide is incredibly helpful. I’m hoping to plan a trip to Lisbon next year. Saving this for then!
This is so helpful! I always want to take advantage of public transport when I travel (especially in Europe) but hesitate because I don’t know what it looks like beforehand. So this is perfect for when we get to Portugal!
Thank you for such a comprehensive guide. It would have come in handy when I visited Lisbon 12 years ago. But until next time! Planning on going there next year 😀
Wow this is a great guide! I’ll definitely save this for later as I’m planning a trip to Portugal soon =)
I didn’t quite make it to Lisbon, so I had no idea how complete their transit system was. I definitely would park the car and take transit while visiting.