Remember that when you are in Lisbon, you can’t end your sightseeing with just the old town and the city center. The Lisbon area also offers quite a few interesting, if not better, attractions! How to get around in and around Lisbon?
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Lisbon – public transportation
Our hotel in Lisbon was not in the very center, but on the airport-restaurant route. We decided to take the city bus to the hotel, because according to the Google Maps hint, it was twice as fast as if we had chosen the subway, and the only downside is that you have to walk a piece to the stop.
I’ll add that it’s a dangerous bit, because you go through a fairly busy traffic circle, no sidewalks, etc. And, guess who has to carry everything as they travel with a pregnant woman? ;)
By bus around Lisbon
This is how we started our adventure with buses in Lisbon, and we traveled several times.
In general, buses in Lisbon run as they please (in terms of hours) and it’s important to stock up on cash before you go! On buses you pay only in cash and it is best to have the amount deducted right away (drivers are not keen on looking at banknotes and possibly giving change).
As in England or Malta (we experienced this there too), if the bus is full (which is not hard to do) and no one at a particular stop wants to get off, the bus will simply not stop. While we don’t know if it’s the rule, it happened to us twice during those few days in Lisbon. So don’t stress if you have to wait a while longer :)
As for fare payment, things are even worse with the subway.
To ride it you need a cardboard ticket, which we can recharge (the cardboard itself costs EUR 0.5). Unfortunately, the machines do not accept payment cards from outside Portugal, and most of the machines do not accept banknotes larger than €10 (despite signs saying they do not).
The saving grace is to exchange your thicker cash for change, so always carry change with you as you move around Lisbon.
We our first metro trip started early in the morning, the lady in the information was unhappy with the fact that someone is asking her for help and still in English…. and on top of that they want the cash to be distributed to them. Let them look for something outside. That’s the lingo.
The Lisbon subway itself is quite simple, even trivial if you compare it to the Tokyo subway. It is only 3 subway lines (or as many as 3 as you prefer ;-)), which intersect in several places.
Two comments. The first: watch out for pickpockets. The second: in the evenings and on weekends, the carriages run half as long. Keep this in mind so that you don’t run half a platform as the train pulls up (especially with luggage on the way to the airport ;)). Yes, on the way back we already chose the subway instead of the bus. You can count on them more ;)
Streetcars (and elevators) in Lisbon
We’ve written about streetcars and elevators (Elevador’s) quite a bit already in our Lisbon coverage.
In short: streetcars should be divided into those typically touristic (historic), such as the famous line 28, and traditional ones, such as the line to Belem (one of Lisbon’s districts).
And then there are the elevators, which are shuttle streetcars that run up high and steep hills.
The same ticket works for most streetcar and bus lines (and the subway). So if you buy an all-day ticket (for €6) you can ride to your heart’s content on all these means of transportation.
Trains and suburban transport
It is also worth adding three words about suburban transportation.
We used suburban transportation and trains on our way to Sintra or Cabo da Roca. Aside from communication problems and scant information in English, it all works fairly well. On buses you buy a ticket at the entrance, and for trains you need a ticket bought at the ticket office at the station.
We wrote more about the trip to Sintra here, and about the trip to Cabo da Roca here:)
If you have any questions about getting around Lisbon, go ahead and ask in our comments below this post :)
We also recommend our entry: Lisbon – 3 places you must see!