If you’re a newcomer in Portugal or are yet to come to work or study, and you seek to understand the Portuguese transport system, then this article can help you with valuable tips!
This guide will cover the metropolitan area of Lisbon and surroundings. But first, you need to find an area you would like to live in (we have published an article on how to find a house in Lisbon and Oporto), in accordance with your expectation on what to experience in Portugal. You will find information on how to get a travel card, how it works, the costs, how the transport works on holidays, what is the best transport according to your needs, and much more.
How Does Public Transport Work in Lisbon?
Public transport in Lisbon includes lots of options such as: metro, train, bus, tram, and last but not least, the boat (river transport).
The metro is the preferred transport in Lisbon: it’s practical and quite simple. In normal conditions, it operates from 06:30 to 01:00 (including weekends and holidays). A metro trip costs 1.65€ and must be loaded onto a VIVA card that costs on average 0.50€. With this card you validate your trip when entering and leaving the metro. It’s important to be aware of these validations, or you may have problems with the metro controllers.
With this ticket, you can leave the metro and get on a Carris bus without paying for another one, as long as you don’t exceed one hour since the first validation. However, if you need to return to the metro, you will need to pay for a new trip. There are also available daily tickets that work for 24 hours.
An alternative to a single ticket is Zapping, which allows you to load your VIVA Card with money instead of trips. Since you’re paying in advance, you will have discounts on the trip. Each trip will cost an average of 1.47€ that will be discounted each time you use the loaded card. You can purchase these tickets at the stations, ticket offices, or automatic machines available on site.
There are 4 metro lines: blue, yellow, green, and red and they cover a significant part of the metropolitan area, making it quite popular.
There are two train options in Lisbon: CP and Fertagus, which connect with the main stations and other transports, such as metro, bus, and boat.
In CP, the stations are organized in 4 lines: Sintra line, Azambuja line, Cascais line, and Sado line. The process is similar to the metro: you need to buy the ticket or load the trips on the Viva card, but the cost of the train trips depends on the number of zones you will travel. If you go through 1 zone the cost is 1.35€; 2 zones is 1.65€; 3 zones is 1.95€; 4 zones is 2.30€, and 5 zones is 2.60€. If you take a trip between Sintra and Rossio, for example, you’re going through 4 zones, so it will cost you 2.30€.
Fertagus connects Setúbal to Lisbon and Coina to Lisbon through the 25 de Abril bridge. Its terminal station is Lisboa Roma-Areeiro, thus sharing with CP the stations of Campolide, Sete-Rios, Entrecampos, and Roma-Areeiro. The trip prices are different from CP. In Fertagus, the journeys on the north bank of the Tagus River costs 1.65€. If you cross the 25 de Abril bridge then the price varies per station: for example, going from a station in Lisbon to the first station after the bridge costs 2.20€; from Lisbon to Setúbal the cost is 4.85€.
For both companies, travel tickets can be purchased at the ticket offices or at the vending machines on the stations.
Another way to get around in Lisbon is by bus. The companies that operate buses in Lisbon are Carris, Vimeca/LT, Rodoviária de Lisboa, and TST, each with its particularities. Unlike the metro and trains, bus trips can be purchased on board.
Carris has an urban and suburban service. It allows you to travel in combination with the metro. The price varies between 2€, when paid on board, and 1.65€, with the Viva card. You can also load your Viva card up to 40€ with zapping: this way each trip costs 1.47€. Tickets for travel can be purchased at metro machines and MOB points.
Vimeca/LT operates in the area of Sintra, connecting Lisbon to this region. The cost on board varies from 2.40€ to 4.35€, and tickets can be purchased at Vimeca stations or authorized agents.
Rodoviária de Lisboa is another way of getting around in Lisbon, Loures, Odivelas, and Vila Franca de Xira. The fares on board can vary from 1.00€ and 4.80€, since some trips are cheaper, and you can opt for zapping as well.
TST mainly operates in the district of Setúbal, but also connects to Lisbon through some suburban routes. The fares on board can vary from 1.40€ to 4.80€, and tickets can be purchased at sales points.
The tram is operated by Carris, in Lisbon, and has 12 routes. It costs 3.00€ on board and the tickets can be purchased just the same as Carris buses.
Besides working as a transport, it is also a tourist attraction. The first trams appeared in Lisbon in 1901 and were renovated in 1995, but its rustic and old style has been preserved.
There are six tram lines in Lisbon, lines 15, 25, and 28 are the most touristic.
Line 15 leaves from Praça da Figueira and finishes in Algés, goes through Praça do Comércio and the Jerónimos Monastery. This line also goes through the famous neighborhood of Belém, a very charming tourist spot in Lisbon!
Line 25 has some interesting points. Beginning at Praça da Figueira, it goes to the Prazeres Cemetery, passes through Praça do Comércio, the neighborhood of Santos, and finishes in the Garden and Basilica of Estrela.
Line 28 is the most notorious and famous. It begins in Martim Moniz Square and goes to the Prazeres Cemetery. During the tour you get to know the neighborhood of Graça, the Church of São Vicente, the Miradouro das Portas do Sol, the Lisbon Cathedral, the neighborhood of Chiado and Praça Luís de Camões, the Basilica and the Jardim da Estrela, and the Prazeres Cemetery.
The Boats connect the south and the north banks of the Tagus River. The connections are as follows:
Barreiro – Terreiro do Paço for 2,65€.
Cacilhas – Cais do Sodré for 1,40€.
Tafaria – Porto Brandão – Belém for 1,30€.
Montijo – Cais do Sodré for 3.00€.
Seixal – Cais do Sodré for 2,65€.
Travel tickets can be purchased at the river terminals and at the automatic machines available on site
The Navegante Pass is a monthly travel card that allows you to ride all transports, with a monthly value of 40€ per person. The Navegante Metropolitano pass allows you to travel throughout the metropolitan region of Lisbon, in all the operators mentioned in this article.
There is also the Navegante Municipal pass, but it only works within Lisbon. Its cost is 30€ per month, and you can also use all operators.
There are some benefits and discounts, such as: seniors over 65 years old only pay 20€ per month; students of non-higher education, up to 18 years, and university students, up to 23 years, can have discounts of 25% to 60% on Navegante passes; for children up to 12 years the passes are free; for family members the maximum value for 2 monthly passes is 80€, regardless of the number of people. If a family has 4 people, for example, the maximum value is 80€ for the Metropolitan pass and 60€ for the Municipal pass.
The monthly pass is valid from day 1 to the last day of each month. It must be charged every 1st day of the month, and it expires on the last day. It is not cumulative: if you recharge on the 20th day, for example, on day 1 you will have to charge it again, and if you try to use it after day 1 and forget to load it, it simply won’t work.
This card can be requested at a transport service desk, with a cost of 7€. It takes up to 10 days to be ready. You also have the option to request an urgent monthly pass: for 12€ it’s ready on the spot or within 24 hours, maximum. After the monthly pass is ready you can load it at the automatic machines, ticket offices, and ATM.
You can request the monthly pass at the metro stations of Campo Grande and Marquês de Pombal, at the Carris shops of Santo Amaro and Arco do Cego, at the CP station of Santo Amaro (Cascais line), at the Fertagus station of Pragal, and at the Transtejo/Soflusa river terminal of Cais do Sodré.
Tickets Sold at Lisbon Airport
Here’s a final tip that will help you save on transport tickets once you arrive in Portugal: there is a ticket vending machine at the airport but if your final destination is outside Lisbon, be aware that you will need to buy another ticket to reach, for example, the south bank.
So, our tip is: if you are going to buy your ticket at the airport, buy a single ticket, to be used within Lisbon. Then, buy your second ticket at the machines and ticket offices directly at the stations.
Transport System in Lisbon: Final Considerations
Public transports in Lisbon are fast, resourceful (metro, train, bus or tram) and very affordable. The Navegante monthly pass covers the entire metropolitan region of Lisbon. For 40€ per month, you can travel in as many public transports as you need, within an extensive area.
You’ll soon realize that public transports in Lisbon are way less tiring when compared to other cities, such as in Brazil, for example, and that contributes a lot for one’s quality of life!
I hope you found this article useful and that you can use it as a guide when you first explore public transport around the Portuguese capital. Good luck!