Driving in Lisbon is not for the faint-hearted! The streets in the older part of town are narrow and often cobbled with typical calçada Portuguesa cobblestones and cobwebbed with tram tracks and one way systems, so, in all honesty, getting around in Lisbon is easier and less stressful to catch a cab or use public transport.
If you really want to rent a car, be aware that many of the historic areas are open to cars belonging to residents and are blocked off by electric bollards. Parking is a form of organised chaos in Lisbon, but if you do find a legitimate spot on the street, you can pay at a meter. There is a chain of underground car parks across Lisbon called Empark, which are clean and well lit and, depending on location, costs from €1 per hour.
In Lisbon itself, there is no congestion charge, but when you leave the city and head out along the coast to Cascais or to Porto or the Algarve, you will be subject to motorway tolls. The automatic pay system ViaVerde can be bundled with your rental car, or you can pay at the toll gates with cash or a card.
Top Tips Getting Around in Lisbon
Public Transport In Lisbon
The Viva Viagem card is the easiest way to pay for all public transport trips in the city; it can be used on the train, bus, metro, ferry, and even the funicular railway. You can buy your Viva Viagem card at any ticket office in a metro, ferry, or train station, or you can use the automated ticket machines. Each person must have their own separate card, and you can’t load up two fares on one card, apart from under 4’s who travel free with a paying adult. The card itself will cost around 50 cents, then you can charge it in one of three ways at a ticket office or machine in the station.
- A single ticket to pay for a specific journey valid for one hour 1.50
- A 24-hour ticket which is activated by the first journey and which come with various options for travel zones
- The Zapping option allows you to simply put credit on the car to be used as you need it.
Train travel is cheap and easy in Portugal; you can travel from Lisbon to the picturesque seaside town of Cascais from Cais de Sodré station in under an hour. You can also check out the must-see sights of Sintra by train from Lisbon, by hopping on the comboio from Rossio station in the city centre, which takes 40 minutes.
If you’re planning to journey farther afield, then the alfa-pendular trains are a great way to travel long distances. You can travel to Porto in under three hours from Estação do Oriente on the east side of Lisbon and down to Faro in the Algarve in three hours. You must book your tickets in advance online or at the train station, and trains are often busy at peak times.
The Aerobús is the shuttle service between the city centre and Lisbon Airport and is fast and frequent. There are two lines, one runs from Praça do Comércio, and the other runs from Sete Rios to the airport. You can buy tickets at the airport or online, and adult return is €5.40.
In the city, the easy way to travel is by metro, but if you prefer to go by bus routes 26B, 400, 708 and 728 connect the city centre with Parque das Nações and Estação do Oriente.
Uber and Taxi
Uber is popular in the city, and many people use the app for both long and short journeys, and licensed taxis are plentiful and available via app, phone, or at taxi ranks.
Taxis are inexpensive, and all have fare metres visible in the front, where the driver should also have their photo ID on show. Taxis in Lisbon are back with a green roof or cream-colored. In 2019 the basic fare is €0.47 per km with a minimum of €3.25 and increase by 20% between 9 pm and 6 am. You will also be charged a supplement for large luggage of €1.60 and €0.80 for telephone bookings. The scale of fares is displayed on the cab window if you need to double-check anything.
Ubers are popular in cities throughout Portugal and are marked with a TVDE sign in the window.
Try Out an Electric Scooter
The new thing in Lisbon is the electric scooter, and they are super popular with locals and visitors alike. The scooters (trotinettes in Portuguese) are easy to unlock with an app downloaded on your phone, and there are often reps near the main scooter parks who will give you a discount code to hit the open road. Be very careful where you ride and park up, though, although you can rent a scooter on the river walk near the Time Out Market to scoot on up to the city centre Praça de Comercio, you cannot park in the city and will incur a fine if you do.
One of the best ways to travel in Lisbon. A favourite symbol of Lisbon is its iconic yellow trams or electricos as they’re known in Portuguese, they are all over the city and are great fun to ride. The classic rollercoaster-esque ride up and down the hills of the city is the number 28 tram, but it can get crowded. Be especially aware of pickpockets on crowded trains or trams, which pickpockets are now targeting.
My tip for Tram 28 is to get the metro or walk up to the top of the line at Campo de Ourique and head right down into the city towards the Martim Moniz stop. Most visitors get on at Martim Moniz as it’s closer to the historic centre so if you do the reverse, you’re almost guaranteed to have a seat to enjoy the fantastic view.
Tram 15 is the best way to travel from the centre of Lisbon out Belém to the west of the city. This route has the modern bendy trams which leave from Cais do Sodré station.
Lisbon is on the banks of the Tejo river and ferries are a common way to travel for commuters who want to avoid the crush of the bridges. The ferries are cheap and a fun and scenic way to visit Cristo Rei or the beaches of the Costa de Caparica. The main fluvial terminals are at Terreiro do Paço square and opposite Cais de Sodré train station.
Heading To Lisbon? Also See:
- The Best Restaurants In Lisbon’s Pink Street
- Where To Stay In Lisbon
- Essential Accessories For A Trip To Europe
- The Best Cafes In Lisbon
- Guide To The Best Places To Visit In Sintra
- How To See Lisbon In 3 Days
- Why You Shouldn’t Miss Carmo Covent In Lisbon
- The Best Brunch In Lisbon
- Tips For Visiting Pena Palace In Sintra
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