Public Transport in Lisbon

I’ve just returned from a 4-days vacation in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and I see the need of sharing some travel tips online.

My travelling norm is to have my major point-to-point well planned before my travel starts. From lodging, transportation to dining options (if reservations are needed), and I did the same for this little charming city. I realised part of my planning didn’t go as planned when I arrived due to peak time of Christmas and New Year Holidays (many travellers and timetable differs), landscape or could be the amount of preparation time.

We arrived at Terminal 1 of Lisbon Airport and took the Metro to our lodging place. At the airport arrival hall, keep right and follow the directions to Metro station. Before reaching the metro gate and platform, you will find sufficient ticket machines in front of you. Overall the facilities of Metro are good in terms of ticketing (languages), punctuality and frequency.

Do consider to purchase the Viva Viagem Travel Card with the option of 24hours for trams,buses, and metro for €6; or 24hours for tram,buses, metro and train for €10 due to the hilly landscape of Lisbon. It is convenient but read on to find out our experience with this card.

Instructions above the ticket machines at airport station

Note: Viva viagem card can only be loaded with the same type of tickets. You need to first use up all your loaded credit before the next load of different type of tickets from another transport operator. Sintra train is not included in that €6 ticket.

We didn’t know about this, so we bought this card at the airport station at €6 per person with first activation at 11:30 on Day 1 and we wanted to use the same card on Day 2 to Sintra at 11:00 of course with new credit but we couldn’t because there were still credits left inside the card. So we bought a new card for each of us with a new load of “Return Ticket from Rossio to Sintra” of €4.5 each person. A write up on travelling Lisbon-Sintra will follow.

I read that the buses from airport to the city are cheap €1.45 and convenient as well but our lodging was about 100m from Rossio Metro Station so we have chosen to travel with Metro. If you’re not sure which to take, always consult the  hotel/hostel’s website to check on the most convenient way and double check that with Google Map: Directions with Public Transport (picture below) with your preferred travel date and time.

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Google Maps Directions to Rossio from Airport

Tram 28
After a quick bite at a local standing bar, our first spot of Lisbon was Miradouro da Senharo do Monte. We saw a long queue slightly further up about 100m from Hotel Mundial, Lisbon (Martim Moniz) waiting for the postcard Tram 28 which passes by all major tourist attractions in Lisbon from  Martim Moniz – Graça- Se Cathedral-Santa Luzia-Baixa-Estrela, so we joined the line and left after slightly more than 30mins. Trams were less frequent (not as stipulated as every 15/20mins), small capacity and long queue.

We took the metro to Intendente station as an alternative. But as soon as we were out of the Intendente station we saw Tram 28and without thinking much we hopped onto it and after less than 10mins ride, we were sent back to the original point of where we just left the long 30mins queue. This is the funniest thing that happened to us in Lisbon. Seeing the queue for the second time, we decided to walk up. I wasn’t sure what came across my mind at that time that made me think that this tram was going to send me to my destination but opposite direction instead. Anyway, we had a good laugh and something funny to remember about the time spent in Lisbon.

Tram28- First Ride
After reaching Miradouro da Senhora do Monte by foot from Martim Moniz, we took a slow walk downhill and took Tram 28 for the first time with less crowd at Rua da Graça to Miradouro Santa Luzia. The tram was super packed and do keep an eye on your belongings. From Santa Luzia we took a slow hike up the hilly landscape and narrow alleyways to Sao Jorge Castle.

Tram 28

Bus 737
We were so happy to find out Bus 737 station right in front of Sao Jorge Castle sending us back to Rossio in the city center. When we looked at the map, all these points Miradouro da Senhora do Monte – Miradouro Santa Luzia – Sao Jorge Castle – Se Cathedral are walkable. But due to the hilly landscape and also shorter daylight in the winter, we were so happy with our decision of purchasing Viva Viagem Card 24h on buses, trams and metros which allowed us to have alternatives under different circumstances.

Viva Viagem 24h Travel Card


Train to Sintra from Rossio Train Station
After the funniest thing that happened yesterday about jumping into the wrong tram. We arrived to Rossio station on Day 2 with a buffer time of 20mins before the next train to Sintra and found that the station was flooded with people. It took us 45mins to get our tickets and obviously we had to take the next next train. If you’re looking at travelling to Sintra for a day trip, do allow sufficient queuing time. The queuing time didn’t stop here, more queuing in Sintra when bus 434 was not frequent enough (no buses for 30mins) to feed tourists to the major spots of Moors Castle and Pena Palace. In Sintra, do allow 1-1.5hours to get into the bus, or opt for alternatives tuk-tuks or cabs. Hope to share more about our experiences in Sintra in another post.

Tram 15 to Belem
Day 3 was spent in Lisbon itself. We activated our 2nd credit of 24h travel card long enough to cover our ride to the airport in Day 4 as well. Tram 15 ride was much more pleasant with large capacity but the frequency was not that much. We got into Tram 15 at Praça da Figueira 10:30 to Belem. We managed to grab our seats but later on the tram was jam packed again. Took a nice walk at Belem area and took a bus from Belem (in front of the famous pastry Pasteis de Belem) station back to the city with a quick stop at Time Out Market and took bus 758 (free with Viva Viagem 24h Card) up to Miradouro Sao Pedro and then the 45’degree funicular  (tram) da Gloria.

Tram 28 : Complete Ride
On Day 3, we managed to catch Tram 28 at Martim Moniz with lesser crowd at 17:00 after about 40 mins of queue and did a complete ride for about 1.5 hours back to the city. The ride can be considered as a sum up of our visit on the last day in Lisbon because we have visited most of the places during Day 1 and Day 3 (day time). It was an eye opening experience and was not bad at all but I found that it was slightly too long. In my opinion, having a short ride in between points are good enough for this legendary tram which passes through narrow and busy alleyways or hilly streets in Lisbon.

After the ride, I finally understand why Tram 28 are not on-time, streets are narrow and busy enough for the conductor.

All in all, after having doing a review by penning down our experiences with the public transport, I do think that Viva Viagem worths every euro and it also allows you to take other trams for instance Funicular da Gloria for free within that 24h and also special price/free for the Santa Justa Elevator. Single purchase is expensive.

Metro to Airport from Rossio Metro
We found that this metro station doesn’t equipped with a lift nor escalators for travellers with luggages and seniors. But airport station they do have lifts. Do check this out with your nearest station is needed. It was not a problem for us because we travel light with a max 8kg hand carry and Rossio is not a big station.

We hope that this write up is useful to other potential travellers to Lisbon and although crowds were everywhere, Lisbon indeed has its own charm. Obrigrado Lisboa.



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