What's the Deal on Transport in Lisbon?
Public transport in Lisbon doesn’t work as efficiently as it should, you might be surprised by how it seems to move in slow-motion. Even though the underground is the most convenient (and cheapest) choice, it will probably take more than ten minutes to show up. If you’re on a leisure schedule, opt for public transport, but be warned about the random cancellations that can make moving around hectic.
As soon as you get to Lisbon, the best way to get from the airport to the city is by metro. Jump off close to your accommodation and avoid the unnecessary detours of taxi drivers. Buy a day ticket for Metro and Carris (buses) at any of the automatic machines. A day ticket will set you back €6.45 for the bus and metro, and €9.60 if you want to add a boat ride. But if you’re in a hurry, Uber or Bolt is your best option.
Travellers and tourists sure seem to prefer Uber and Bolt. Most fares around town are usually less than €10 and only rise if you’re going to check out the steel-and-glass Parque das Nações or exploring towns away from Lisbon like Cascais and Sintra (these fares are closer to €20 or €30). Taxi app fares are considerable for Portuguese budgets, but quite accessible to most tourists. To go to the beach, you can catch the train at Cais do Sodré and travel to Carcavelos in less than half an hour.
You’re going to want to snap a shot of the iconic yellow trams, but ride them for leisurely fun, not when you’re in a hurry. They are intercalated with modern trams, so it might not show up immediately. If you just want to ride around for the fun of it, go to Martim Moniz and catch the 28 Tram.
Taxi drivers have deserved their fame as extortionists, going on longer rides than usual with oblivious tourists in tow. Their taxis look very cool though, with the traditional mint-green on top of black. You can ride one around the city, but keep your eyes peeled for unnecessary detours.
Please be warned that while the two-wheel hype (that seems to hit travellers extra hard) can be practical and environmentally friendly, it can also be pretty dangerous. Lisbon is called the city of the seven hills, so prepare to sweat on the way up and expect a lot of extra speed on the way down. Reports of accidents aren’t uncommon, don’t let that be you. Ride around flat avenues like 24 de Julho (which takes you from Santos to Cais do Sodré) all you want, but maybe walk down Avenida da Liberdade so you can take in the views a lot better, while keeping your teeth intact.
On the other hand, you definitely have to cross the river in the old-style Cacilheiro boats. You can catch them at Cais do Sodré, a cool hood with plenty of places to grab coffee beforehand, and go straight to Cacilhas, a riverside district with mad views and plenty of cervejarias, as well as restaurants serving the freshest seafood. Portuguese people complain about how they should be modernised, but you should definitely go for a Wes Anderson-esque voyage, if only for just fifteen to twenty minutes. The view from Cacilhas shows Lisbon in all its glory, it’s worth the trip.
Walk around the city as much as you can and fall in love with the vistas, but be aware of sudden inclines. The city is built on seven different hills, which means that flat areas are limited to the riverside.