How to Use Public Transport in Lisbon – The Complete Guide

One of the best ways to discover Lisbon is on foot, and is often more stimulating to walk from one attraction to the next than use public transport.

Still, most travellers will end up taking the metro, riding trams and climbing funiculars, if only for the fun of it, and probably getting the train to Sintra or Cascais, or the ferry to navigate Lisbon by water.

So, it’s useful to familiarise yourself with public transport options, so that when you visit the city you can get around with zero stress.

Lisbon’s transport system consists of metro, trams, funiculars, buses, commuter trains and ferries. Taxis complement the offer.

It’s fairly simple to use and generally safe. The one thing that some travellers find confusing is the Viva Viagem card. But once you get the hang of it, it’s surprisingly easy to use and journeys are quite affordable.

Keep reading our complete guide to learn how to navigate the Portuguese capital’s transport system, including tips for riding and advice on the best tickets to load your Viva Viagem card. We also include information on new forms of mobility available in the city, such as electric scooters, bikes, tuk tuks, and ridesharing services.

How to Ride Lisbon Metro

Restauradores station

Lisbon metro is modern, has air conditioning, and is usually the fastest way to travel around the city. Some stations are equipped with an elevator to the train platforms.

  • The metro has a total of four lines identifiable by colour and end-of-line names, which help you figure out what direction you should be heading to:
    – green line (Telheiras – Cais do Sodré)
    – blue line (Reboleira – Santa Apolónia)
    – yellow line (Odivelas – Rato)
    – red line (Aeroporto – São Sebastião)

  • Don’t worry if you take the metro in the wrong direction. Just get off at the next station and cross over to the other side of the train platform (usually by taking the stairs).

  • Use the metro map to locate the station you want to go to. You may need to make a line transfer. For example, if you take the metro from the airport to your hotel, say, in the Baixa/Chiado area, you need to transfer from the red line to the green one at Alameda station. In that case, just follow the green line signs. Make sure you don’t exit the gate though.

  • To use the metro, you need a Viva Viagem card. Refer to our section below.

  • Every station has an “M” that marks the entrance.

Hours of Operation

The metro service runs from 6.30am to 1am every day.

The metro usually runs all night long with trains stopping in certain stations for a few events, such as the Feast of St Anthony and New Year’s Eve.

Accessibility

Only some Lisbon metro stations are accessible, equipped with an elevator to the train platforms. Check the metro map for stations marked with a wheelchair accessible sign.

Trains have priority seats for pregnant women, passengers travelling with small children, elderly passengers, and travellers with disabilities. So, don’t hesitate to ask for a seat if you need one, and remember to offer yours to travellers with difficulties.

How to Ride the Tram, Funicular and Lift

Tram 28 starting point in Martim Moniz

Lisbon had a tramway system, three funiculars and a lift set up in the 19th century. While most of the tramway system was replaced by the metro, a total of six trams, the three funiculars and the lift still run today, mostly in the historic and hilly parts of the city where the metro doesn’t go.

  • Trams, funiculars and Santa Justa lift are operated by Carris, the company that also runs buses in Lisbon.

  • While Santa Justa lift has become exclusively a tourist attraction, trams and funiculars are still used by locals, sometimes being their main transport in the city.

  • Do not confuse the red trams used for the Hills Tramcar Tour, a hop-on hop-off tourist service, with the public transport service provided by the yellow trams.

  • While you can buy a ticket from the driver, it’ll be more expensive than using your Viva Viagem card.

  • The vintage tram 28 is the most popular of the six tram lines, offering a scenic view of the old Lisbon. Being popular also means that you’ll likely stand in a long queue in Martim Moniz, where tram 28 starts, before you can ride.

  • Tram 15 goes to Belém, a flat part of the city, and unlike the other tram lines, the ride is usually on a modern cable car.

  • To learn about the routes, refer to our page on Lisbon’s Trams, Funiculars and Lift: Where They Go, Which One to Ride

Safety

Pickpockets have been known to strike on crowded trams, in particular aboard trams 15 and 28. So, never drop your guard and always pay special attention to your belongings.

How to Ride the Bus

Bus stop in Marquês do Pombal

The bus can be more scenic than the metro. It also has air-conditioning and wifi. Additionally, it can get you to where the metro and trams don’t go.

  • With a total of 172 routes, the bus will take you to a variety of destinations, including those you can get by metro and tram. It will usually take longer than the metro.

  • Lisbon buses are also yellow and lines are identified on the front by the line number and end-of-the-line stop name.

  • Bus stops are found all around the city, often with maps and timetables posted. Some are equipped with an electronic system that tell you the waiting time. There’s also an app that tells you when to expect the next bus.

  • It is customary to wave to stop the bus so it doesn’t drive past you.

  • While you can buy a ticket from the driver, it’ll be more expensive than using your Viva Viagem card.

  • Get on the bus using the front door and simply swipe your Viva Viagem across the yellow reader located by the driver. Get off using the centre door.

Hours of Operation

Major lines run from 5am to 11pm at intervals of 15 to 30 minutes. There are night buses that run in the main city areas.

Accessibility

As far as accessibility is concerned, check out Carris reduced mobility page to learn which lines have room and are prepared for passengers with reduced mobility.

Buses have priority seats for pregnant women, passengers travelling with small children, elderly passengers, and travellers with disabilities.

How to Ride Lisbon’s Commuter Train System

Rossio station

Lisbon’s commuter train system consists of five lines that travel to greater Lisbon:

– Sintra line operated by CP
– Cascais line operated by CP
– Azambuja line operated by CP
– Sado line operated by CP
– Setúbal line (North/South Railroad) operated by Fertagus

  • Sintra and Cascais lines are of interest to the tourist. The train to Setúbal may also be useful for those planning to visit the town of Setúbal, or to get the ferry to Tróia Peninsula, known for its beautiful beaches extending for about 25 kilometres (16 miles).

  • The train that connects Lisbon and Cascais departs from Cais do Sodré station. The trip to Cascais offers beautiful views of the coastline. Trains run every 10-30 minutes, and the trip takes approximately 40 minutes. Refer to How to Get from Lisbon to Cascais.

  • Train services to Sintra depart from Rossio station. Trains run every 15-20 minutes, and the trip takes about 45 minutes. Refer to How to Get from Lisbon to Sintra.

Hours of Operation

Operating hours vary according to the line but on average trains run between 6am and 1am.

Accessibility

As far as accessibility is concerned, visit CP’s page on Customers with Special Needs and Fertaugus’ page on Accessibility .

Safety

Riding the train during the day is usually safe.

How to Ride Lisbon’s Ferry System

Transtejo ferry boat

Ferries connecting Lisbon and the Tejo south bank are operated by Transtejo. Several connections per day are available from different riverfront terminals:

– Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas (15 minutes), Montijo (30 minutes) and Seixal (30 minutes)
– Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro (30 minutes)
– Belém to Trafaria and Porto Brandão (20 minutes) with bus connections to Costa da Caparica beaches

  • The ferry from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas might be of interest to the traveller who wants to visit the statue of Christ. Refer to How to Visit Cristo Rei, Lisbon’s Statue of Christ.

  • Those seeking to go to Costa da Caparica’s beaches can take the ferry from Belém to Trafaria and from there get the bus to Costa da Caparica.

Viva Viagem Tickets: What Kind Should You Buy?

To ride public transport in Lisbon, you’ll need to buy a non-refundable Viva Viagem card, which costs €0.50. Do not confuse the Viva Viagem paper card for the occasional traveller with the Lisboa Viva plastic monthly pass used by locals.

You can buy and load your Viva Viagem card in any metro station from an automatic distributor. While this is the best place to buy it, the card is also available at selling points around the city and at commuter train stations from automatic distributors.

Note that Viva Viagem card can only hold one kind of ticket at any one time. So, depending on the length of your stay, how much you’re planning to use public transport, and whether you’re going to other places such as Sintra, Cascais, or to visit the statue of Christ, you’ll need to choose between:

  • Single tickets: good for one metro or bus ride within Lisbon, for example from the airport to your hotel, provided you don’t plan to use any other public transport on that same day.
  • 24-hour tickets which come in three options: the best option if you’re planning to travel extensively, for example riding several trams and funiculars, and don’t want to worry about tracking tickets or Zapping money.
  • Zapping: pay as you go money that you load into your card and can use to ride the metro, tram, funicular, bus, commuter train, and ferry.

For the current tickets, fares and details on how to use the card, see Viva Viagem Card: Use it on Metro, Bus, Tram, Ferry & Train.

Taking a Taxi in Lisbon

Taxi rank in Lisbon

You won’t usually need to take a taxi in Lisbon, except perhaps to get from the airport to your hotel, if you have limited mobility, or if you’re returning late to your hotel after a night out.

Lisbon taxis are usually black and green. They are not expensive when compared to taxi fares in other European cities. However, depending on when and where you want to go, it may not be an option that will take you there faster (and it may not be that cheap).

The taximeter is displayed during the entire ride, and it includes the start fee (€3.25 from 6am to 9pm, €3.90 at night). While many taxis accept cards, you should ask in advance if you can pay by card.

Other Ways of Getting Around Lisbon

Tukk Tuk

Tuk Tuk in Lisbon

By electric scooter: Like many cities, Lisbon has now dockless electric scooters readily available all over the city. They are fun, fast, and tourists also use them to explore the best the city has to offer.

By bike: With a network of bicycle lanes opening up around the city, Lisbon has become a much more bike-friendly place. And with e-bikes now widely available, what better way to explore the city than by two wheels? See All About Bike Rentals in Lisbon to learn about your options.

By tuk tuk: It turns out that the tuk tuk be a very convenient means of transport for getting around the steep and narrow streets of Lisbon. Refer to Tuk Tuk Tour – The Fun Way to Explore Lisbon.

Hop-on hop-off tour: Hop-on/hop-off buses can be a good choice if you’re trying to get a broad sense of the available tourist attractions in the city. There are also hop-on, hop-off cruises and other boat tours in Lisbon.

Using Uber, (Bolt) Taxify, Cabify and Kapten: Several ridesharing services are now available in Lisbon. You need to download the smartphone app which allows you to book a car and pay for it without cash exchanged with the driver. Cars from ridesharing services are identified by a TVDE sticker placed on the front and rear windows of the driver’s side.