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Use Lisbon's public transportation like a local
A quick overview
What to do? Learn how the public transport system in Lisbon works.
Costs? Tickets are from € 1,65 and up.
Where? In Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.
Worth it? Yes! Travel like a pro at a fraction of the price of a taxi.
The public transportation system in Lisbon
You bet public transportation comes in handy in a city with seven hills! Lisbon is famous for its colourful trams and funiculars, but there are many 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 Lisbon metro
The metro network in Lisbon has four lines: blue, yellow, green and red. The Lisbon metro system comprises 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. It makes it one of the easiest ways to discover Lisbon!
Metro services, including weekends and public holidays, start at 6:30 AM and run until 1 AM. Just be aware that sometimes the metro operates with shorter trains 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. You can buy metro tickets at the ticket machines at the station.
- 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
Travelling from the airport to the city centre by metro
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 7 Colinas/Viva Viagem ticket. To read the complete guide about Lisbon Airport, please click here.
The red line connects the airport with the city centre, as the metro map shows. Taking the metro to your hotel is a good alternative to the more expensive taxis.
Suburban trains, buses, trams, and taxis in Lisbon
Getting around Lisbon is super easy, but you might be a bit confused when you first arrive. With these tips about transport in Lisbon, you´ll travel like a local in no time! Let´s learn more about the city’s trains, ferries, buses, trams and taxis.
Lisbon urban trains to Sintra, Cascais, Azambuja and Sado
There are 67 stations divided over four lines:
The train to Cascais
If you want to travel towards the west, to places like Cascais and Belém, it’s recommended to take the Cascais line. From Cais do Sodré train station, you can take a fast train that stops only at particular stations or a train that stops at every single station. Please be aware that your ticket might only be valid within specific parameters in the city center.
After Belém, you’ll need an extended ticket to travel to Algés, Oeiras or Cascais. Zone 1 is within the Lisboa district only, which you can see on the map below. Train tickets can be purchased at the train station at Cais do Sodré. If you bought the Navegante Viva Viagem reusable card for € 0.50, a single trip to Cascais will cost € 2.30. There are no round-trip tickets, but you can simply swipe your card again. It’s a 40-minute journey, and trains depart every 20 to 30 minutes.
The train to Sintra
From Rossio station or Oriente, you can make your way to the famous sights in Sintra. The Sintra line stops at multiple train stations, but most people will head straight to Sintra. The train journey takes around 40 minutes from Rossio station. Rossio is the most accessible place to board if you stay in Baixa, Alfama, or Bairro Alto.
From Oriente to Sintra, the trip takes just under 50 minutes. If you come straight from the airport, this line is super easy to use. A single journey costs € 2.30, and a return ticket € 4.60 (simply swipe again). I can’t pre-book these tickets, and there is usually enough space on the trains. They depart every 20 to 30 minutes.
Travelling to Azambuja
The Azambuja line runs between Santa Apolónia station and Azambuja. It will stop at Oriente Station, but otherwise, tourists don’t often use this line. The total trip takes around 1 hour.
The Sado line
The Sado line crosses the river Tejo. When you take the ferry from Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro, you can travel from the ferry port to Praca do Quebedo in Setúbal. You can buy tickets at all major train stations. This line is also much used by commuters, but Setúbal is a fantastic city to visit. There are also trains from Sete-Rios.
The bus in Lisbon
Carris is the bus company that will take you from A to B in Lisbons city centre. There are many different Lisbon buses, and the city is well-connected. For real-time information, you can use the Carris App. It will advise of waiting times and the nearest stops. Most buses run from 6 AM until 9 PM, and the busiest routes operate until midnight. There are also night buses between specific locations. You can find the bus routes here.
When entering the bus, you need to validate your ticket. Swipe your ticket in front of the machine until the light turns green. When you leave the bus, there is no need to swipe your card again. If you don’t have a prepaid ticket, you can buy a travel pass from the driver. You can use the bus with the Lisboa Card for free, but you’ll have to swipe it to validate your journey.
The bus to and from the airport
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 center. It´s the easiest way to travel by bus to your hotel. The buses will depart from the Arrivals Hall in Terminal 1. Besides Aerobus, you can also take the Carris bus to town. Line 744, for example, will pass by bus stops like Marquês Pombal, and there are many buses to the nearby Oriente Station. Click here to read more about Lisbon Airport.
The tramway network consists of six lines with a total length of 31 kilometres. The famous yellow trams in Lisbon started operating in 1873, and some trams are very historical, but modern trams run in the city as well. 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. There are several ferry stations in Lisbon. 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 center! This public transport service offers some of the most scenic routes in Lisbon!
Taxis in Lisbon
Lisbon taxis are widely available for those who want to skip public transportation altogether. There are ‘regular’ taxis covering every part of the city centre. Bolt and Uber are great alternatives and can often be a bit cheaper than the regular taxis in Lisbon. Download both apps before you travel and take advantage of the discounts they offer.
How to get tickets for public transport in Lisbon
Most metro stations have ticketing machines where you can purchase tickets 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.
NEW: Pay for single tickets with your debit/credit card
Since 2023, you can swipe your debit or credit card when entering the Lisbon trams, metro station, or Lisbon buses. You swipe your bank card at the fare gates and swipe again when leaving the station. Do you have your payment details on your smartwatch or phone? You can swipe those, too! So, you no longer need disposable tickets if you’re running to catch the metro. Single tickets for contactless transportation cost € 1,65. Visa, Mastercard, and V Pay are all accepted.
Lisbon Public Transport ticket price
A ticket from the ticket machines costs € 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 the Carris and Metro networks within that hour. Please be aware that it can’t be used for consecutive trips on the Metro!
Buying a day ticket makes sense if you use the public transportation system more than a few times daily. 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. For example, this is valid on all Lisbon buses and the metro line. What an easy way to see the entire city!
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 transportation in Sintra, which is perfect if you want to see Palacio da Pena! The commuter trains are within 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).
Zapping with the Viva Viagem card
When you travel regularly but on different days, Zapping is your friend! You can top up your pre-paid Viva Viagem 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. You then check out from the metro station and swipe again to enter the train.
The Viva Viagem card is the perfect Zapping card for occasional public transportation users, and you can buy the Viva Viagem cards 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.
There is a white Viva Viagem card and a green one. They look the same and work the same way but cover different transport operators. The white Viva Viagem card is not valid on Metro Transportes do Sul, whereas the green Viva Viagem card can be used with all operators.
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 train station or on the platform.
Funiculars and the famous Tram 28
Many visitors in Lisbon want to make a fantastic trip on the city trams or cable car, and some tickets are a bit different. There are a few exemptions to the rules as these means of public transportation can come with a higher price. The good news is that they will help you climb steep hills! The not-so-good news is that the price is €3.80 for a single journey! When you have the Viva Viagem card, you can use zapping tickets to lower the cost. With the Lisboa Card, you enjoy free unlimited travel for 24, 28, or 72 hours.
The tram services (especially Tram 28) and the funiculars are public transportation but are so popular that it looks more like a tourist attraction. You’ll see endless queues of passengers at the tram stops to get a seat on the crowded trams. The line can be well over one hour, and the chances of sitting down might be small! There is some standing room in the middle and the end of the tram.
Tips for riding Tram 28
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 transportation to go to work and travel home. If you don’t want to wait at the tram stops 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. Or follow the tramline of Tram 28 on foot instead! You’ll have plenty of time to take images, and it’s a beautiful route in the city.
The Santa Justa Lift
The same goes for the Santa Justa Elevator. The line to enter Elevador de Santa Justa is usually long, as it´s one of the main tourist attractions in the city. You even pay a higher fee if you purchase your ticket on the spot. A round-trip ticket with the elevator costs €5.30, but a single ticket is also available.
The good news is that 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 and easily travel uphill in Lisbon at no extra cost.
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 rides on the Lisbon public transportation network, you have free entrance to 35 museums, top monuments and attractions! This way, you can enjoy the main tourist attractions in Lisbon for a great price.
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 transportation 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!
Buying the Lisboa Card
You can order your Lisboa Card below online before your trip. When you arrive in Lisbon, you simply pick up your Lisboa Card at a ticket office. There is one at the airport, and there are many within the city centre also. The card will only be activated when you swipe it the first time. So you can pick up your Lisboa Card today and start using it tomorrow, for example.
Frequent use of public transportation in Lisbon
There is one last tip for people who stay in Lisbon longer. The Navegante Card is perfect for frequent public transportation 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 and use it as a prepaid card! Standard delivery costs are €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. You will be able to take unlimited rides for the month.
Travelling to other cities
From Lisbon, it´s straightforward to travel to other cities. The cheapest way to discover Portugal is by bus. You can make a reservation with Flixbus or Busbud, which generally speaking offers the cheapest tickets. Comboios de Portugal manages trains in Portugal. You can pre-book tickets on their site or easily compare and book tickets with Omio. You can even travel to other European cities such as Madrid and Sevilla.
Overall the transportation in Lisbon is well organised and on time—Metro's especially, run very often. Buses and trams might have more irregular times and might run late. Further west is no metro, but the city is well connected by bus and train.
You can pay cash with a debit/credit card or a prepaid card. With the Viva Viagem Card, you'll save money.
Yes, you can!
No, but it is very affordable. Single tickets start from € 1,65, and a day pass is only € 6,60 (2023 prices).
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!