Lisbon is a beautiful hilly city, but those hills can make getting around extra tiring if you aren’t prepared. Thankfully there are a lot of ways to get around in Lisbon. My best advice is using a combination of transportation that way you get to see the most of Lisbon with your time there.
Getting from the Airport
Lisbon’s airport is located 20 minutes by car from the center of town. You can take an Uber, Taxi, or public transportation to get there. Each method of transportation has it’s pros and cons. It’s up to you and your schedule to decide what will work best.
Uber was what I used most. I used it for getting from the airport and getting around to areas further out. From the airport the 20 min ride cost me about €8. I walked the majority of the time, so when I was tired I would just Uber back to the Airbnb. I didn’t use one often maybe once a day so it was affordable for me. I didn’t have a lot of time, and I didn’t want to waste it waiting. Lisbon is pretty compact and it’s easy to see most of it on foot. Uber is great when you don’t speak the language since everything is booked online. The rate is set and it’s harder to be taken advantage of. Portugal also has A LOT of hybrid or electric Uber vehicles, so you can get Uber Green here.
Lisbon’s metro might be one of your best choices for getting to and from the airport. Since you can transfer lines without paying extra it is cheaper than using the bus system. A ride from the airport to Baxia-Chiado station is
€1.50 euros and takes only 30 minutes. Just watch out for pickpockets. There are warnings in the stations in English and Portuguese to mind your belongings. You can look up routes and rates here. If you are wanting to purchase a 24 hour transportation pass you should get it while you are in the metro station. These all day passes cost €6.30.
If you are getting a day or multiple day bus pass then taking the bus from the airport might be a good option for you. The bus is affordable but you must zap your card every time you switch buses. Unless you are taking a direct line with no transfers then it will be more expensive than the metro. A single ride one way on the bus is €1.85. If you are already paying for a full day however it doesn’t matter how many transfers you make. Day passes are €6.30 and allow unlimited travel over a twenty four hour period on buses, trams, and metros.
If you like the idea of a personal driver picking you up from the airport this is your best option. No dealing with taxis, tickets, or route maps. The driver will be waiting to greet you when you arrive. Most of these companies use luxury cars. For two people from the airport to the city center it costs about €105-116. Large groups may consider hiring a large van or bus, but you will need to call for pricing and availability.
Getting Around the City
The bus, Uber, and the metro lines are still the best options for getting around once you’re in Lisbon. They are super convenient, and pretty easy to navigate if you have a smart phone and a map app. Google maps will tell you exactly which lines or bus you need to get on. It will also tell you how much an Uber should cost and how long it will take you to reach the destination. If you are planning on getting around on the public transportation the majority of the time you are there you may want to get a prepaid card for the amount of days you are in the city. The Lisbon Card is also a great idea if you are also planning on visiting most of the museums it includes in the price. If you are walking or only taking a bus like twice a day you are probably better off just paying as you go.
Walking is my absolute favorite way to get around a new city. You see more when you are walking. You can stop and take pictures, you can wander down alleyways, and it’s free! Even when the weather isn’t great I just carry an umbrella, rain jacket and waterproof shoes with me. No big deal! The other great thing about walking a city is you don’t have to feel guilty about overindulging on all the amazing food there. I typically put in about seven miles a day everyday on vacation. I also LOVE to just pick a direction, and wander as far as I can. Once I get tired I just get an Uber to take me back to the room. I have found the most incredible spots doing this, so try it!
The bright yellow Lisbon trams are famous. While they are helpful for getting up hills they tend to be quite crowded. I know a lot of people recommend taking one when you are in Lisbon, but I opted out. When you see the line for tram 28, the most famous one, you’ll probably reconsider going on it too. I went in February which is the off season and they were always busy. The thing is there are tons of other options that are less crowded! Putting yourself in a crowded place invites pickpockets, and I avoid that as much as possible. NOW if you have always dreamed of taking a tram in Lisbon by all means DO! You do you! A single ticket purchased on-board the tram costs €2.90. The trams are included in the all day public transportation ticket, so you can use those.
Just like the ones in Asia these odd little vehicles are great for zipping around a city. You will see them parked in the main squares and streets. They are great for sightseeing. Expect to pay €40-70 for an hour ride. Most Tuk Tuks can hold up to six people. You can make reservations ahead of time if you want to book a sightseeing tour.
Hop on Hop off Bus Tours
If you want a tour, but still want a lot of flexibility to get off and spend time in certain places a hop on and off bus tour may be a good choice. These buses allow you to get on and off at preset locations around the city. Typically these spots are the most popular sights. You can just ride the bus around the city if you don’t feel like getting out and walking. These bus tours start at around €24 per day. You can also get passes for two days or more.
Hiring a driver
This is your most pricey option, but it is certainly the most enjoyable. You can hire a personal driver and your own private tour guide to take you around the city. You tell them exactly where you want to go and they help make a route for you. No driving, no parking, no headaches. If you just want to relax the whole time it is worth the money. Since Lisbon is cheaper than a lot of major European cities it might be one of the most affordable to hire a driver. Just make sure you look up the credentials of the company first and make sure the vehicles are up to par. You will want to book this well in advance to ensure you get a knowledgeable English speaking driver. Half day tours cost around €400, and Full day tours cost about €475.
Want a little more freedom to move around the city or make day trips to places like Sintra? Renting a vehicle might be worth it to you. Mopeds are your best bet if you only have one other person travelling with you, the weather is good, and you are experienced with driving one. They have the benefit of being easy to park. Once you get to Lisbon you’ll realize parking is a luxury. Mopeds are easier to squeeze into the odd places cars can’t. Mopeds are also pretty fun to drive! They will run you about €30-80 per day depending on which kind you rent.
If you are with a large group of people and still want to rent a vehicle, then a car might be best for you. It is also a better idea when the weather isn’t good like in the winter. The streets of Lisbon are narrow like most old cities, and they are not the easiest to park on with a car. Most hotels will not include parking either. They may just say street parking is available. Places like Sintra are even harder to park in. There are so many people there for day visits that you will be circling for awhile most likely. I would personally only rent a car for the days you are actually travelling. dealing with parking in the city center is a huge pain. A rental car will start around $12 per day and go up from there. If you can only drive automatic cars you will have to pay a little more in Europe since they aren’t as common. I would recommend booking them ahead of your trip so you can reserve the car you want especially if you can’t drive a manual.
I hope this guide helps you decide which method of transportation works for you and your travel style. I think the best way to explore is by using multiple methods. This isn’t every option possible, but it is a list of the most popular methods. Please keep in mind the time of day you are traveling makes a difference in availability and pricing. Trips to the airport in the middle of the night cost more than in the day. Bus routes might not run 24/7. Just make sure you look at actual routes on the official websites before you make reservations.