Nadir Afonso artwork on the platform of Lisbon Metro Restauradores station
Lisbon Metro is one of a few underground systems in the world where art is best represented. In this photo, the artwork of the Portuguese painter Nadir Afonso is shown in the tile panels at Restauradores station on blue line.
Photo: Sightseeing Guy

Lisbon’s two biggest public transport operators are Lisbon Metro and Carris. Lisbon Metro runs four metro lines in Lisbon. Carris, a public transportation company, operates Lisbon’s 752 buses, 57 trams, 3 funiculars, as well as the Santa Justa elevator.

From Lisbon Airport, you can get to the city center by metro, bus, or even bicycle. If you have lots of luggage, a shuttle bus service, Aerobus, is also available. Aerobus is operated by Carristur, a subsidiary of Carris.

In my opinion, the best way to reach Lisbon’s city center from the airport is taking the metro. Once in the city, metro is the most efficient way to get around. For tourists, metro is also the easiest transport mode to navigate.

Lisboa Metro map
Lisbon Metro map. Illustration: Maximilian Dörrbecker via Wikimedia Commons

Lisbon Metro red line has a terminal station at Lisbon Airport. From there, it takes about about 16 minutes to Alameda station in the city center. Alameda, Saldanha, and São Sebastião are the last three red line stations; they also connect to green line, yellow line, and blue line, respectively.

Lisbon Metro red line stops and nearby hotels (to city center)
Aeroporto Encarnação Moscavide Oriente Cabo Ruivo Olivais Chelas Bela Vista Olaias Alameda Saldanha São Sebastião
Hotel Tryp Lisboa Aeroporto  

VIP Executive Art’s Hotel

SANA Hotels

MYRIAD by SANA Hotels

Hotel ibis Lisboa Parque das Naçoes

TRYP Lisboa Oriente Hotel

Tivoli Oriente

Hotel Olissippo Oriente

       

Altis Park

Pensão Fonte Luminosa

Hotel AS Lisboa

Residencial Saldanha

Nest House Lisbon Hostel

Pensão Residencial Pátria

Hotel Imperador

Residencial Canadá

Hotel Olissippo Saldanha

Hotel Principe Lisboa

SANA Reno Hotel

Hotel Alif Avenidas

Hotel Real Parque

                  Change to Green line Change to Yellow line Change to Blue line

Lisbon Metro is open every day from 6:30 AM to 1:00 AM. Trains run every five to eight minutes.

The red line's airport station, the Aeroporto station, is located at the southern edge of the Terminal 1 arrivals area. Fare vending machines are available at the metro station.

To figure out which ticket to buy, you need to know the Viva viagem card and how it works.

Viva viagem card

Viva viagem card front and back sides
The front and back of a Viva viagem card. Photo: Sightseeing Guy

The Viva viagem card is a reloadable card that holds electronic tickets and transit credits. The card itself costs €0.50.

I recommend getting this card. Not only because the card is convenient, it also saves money.

You can add the following fares to your Viva viagem card.

Fares

Single ticket

A single ticket allows one trip in the Metro and Carris networks. It costs €1.40.

Single tickets have different types: Metro, Carris (buses, trams, funiculars and lifts), among others. It’s important to note that your card can hold only one type of single tickets at a time. Should you wish to recharge your card with a different type of ticket, you must use up the original type first.

For example, suppose your Viva viagem card already holds five Carris tickets. You can't add a Metro ticket until all of your five existing Carris tickets are used.

One-day tickets don't have this problem.

One-day ticket

A one-day ticket allows unlimited trips in the Metro and Carris networks. Priced at €6, the ticket is activated upon validation.

One-day ticket is my favorite. Not only it's convenient, it's also more economic than other fare options if you make more than five trips within 24 hours.

Zapping

Instead of loading tickets, you can also load credits; the trip expenses are then deducted from your credits on the card. This payment method is called Zapping.

Zapping saves money because the cost of one trip is reduced to €1.25, compared to €1.4 for a single ticket. And, unlike single tickets, you don’t have to worry about the inconvenience involved when switching between different transport modes.

Carris bus stop and bus 720 near Pastéis de Belém
A bus stop near Pastéis de Belém, a well-known Portuguese pastry. In Lisbon, buses and trams are operated by the public transit company Carris. Photo: Sightseeing Guy

Purchase Viva viagem card and fares

Fare vending machines are available at metro stations.

If you don’t have a Viva viagem card, you need to pay an extra of €0.50 for the card.

For example, when I arrived to Lisbon, I paid €6.50 for a Viva viagem card with a one-day ticket loaded. After 24 hours, I loaded another €6 one-day ticket onto the card at a metro station.

Have cash ready

The fare vending machines don't accept foreign credit or debit cards. Therefore, it's important to have a few euros in your pocket before you travel.

A Multibanco ATM
A Multibanco ATM is the best bet for withdrawing cash with a foreign card. Photo: Sightseeing Guy

In case you need to withdraw cash, look for the ATMs with the "Multibanco" logo. Multibanco is an interbank network in Portugal. Those ATMs are more foreigner-friendly. Other local ATMs may ask for six-digit PINs. If that happens, simply enter your normal four-digit PIN and it should work.

What about Lisboa Card?

The Lisboa Card is a tourist pass of Lisbon. It covers public transit and many museums. It also offers discounts to some attractions.

The card’s transportation feature is interesting, covering Lisbon Metro and Carris networks, as well as trains to Sintra and Cascais.

The 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour Lisboa Cards cost €18.50, €31.50, and €39.00, respectively.

The card must be ordered online and picked up later in person at Lisbon Portela Airport, Lisboa Welcome Center, or Palácio Foz (Foz Palace).

Personally, I think the card is a bit expensive so I didn’t buy it. Nevertheless, the Lisboa Card can be an option if you plan to visit local attractions extensively.