101 Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, is in. The hospitality of its people, its low-cost compared to the other European capitals, warm climate, beautiful architecture, rich culture, and delicious cuisine have made Lisbon a hot destination for the last years. It is not just hype, this city is well-deserving of its status. But before purchasing that ticket, read this!

ARRIVING in Lisbon

Due to its geography, Lisbon is quite isolated for European standards. Therefore, unless you are coming from neighboring Spain or from Portugal itself, chances are that you’ll arrive by plane.


tap, aircraft, portugal

Talk in the streets is that a new airport will be built on the south margin of the river Tagus, on the town of Montijo, with operations expected to start at 2022. But until then, Lisbon has only one airport:

Lisbon Portela/LIS

The gateway into Portugal is not far away from the city center. That means that unless you arrive during rush hours, the taxi is a reasonable option by absolute value (10-15€). If you are used to European prices, everything in Portugal will be cheap for you.

If your plane lands on Terminal 2, there’s a free shuttle to take you to Terminal 1. Waiting time is maximum 10 minutes, and it runs from 3h30am to 1h30am. Journey time is only 3 minutes.

Lisbon Portela’s Terminal 1 is connected to the station Aeroporto, on the red line. You don’t need to buy any kind of supplement, as the airport is located within the urban area. If you are staying in the city center, you’ll likely have to make at least 1 change. But the good news is that all lines cross each other, making for easy changes. Read more about the transport system in the Getting Around section.


Train Station, Rossio, Lisbon, Portugal

International trains will arrive at Oriente and Santa Apolonia, usually stopping at both, so it’s just a matter of choosing which is more convenient for your onwards route. Both are also connected to the subway system, to homonymous stations.

Lisbon Oriente is located on the north of the city and connected to the red line, 3 stops away from the airport. On the other hand, Lisbon Santa Apolonia is located on the south of the city and connected to the blue line.


If you are brave enough to take on going to Lisbon by bus, you will likely arrive in Lisbon Oriente or Sete Rios. As mentioned above, Oriente connects directly to the homonymous subway station. Sete Rios is close to the Jardim Zoologico station, on the blue line. Therefore, whichever your final destination, you have easy access to the city center by the subway system.


A group of different companies operates the transport network in Lisbon, but they have agreements which allow you to use the same ticket during your stay.

The network is served by comboios (suburban trains), metro (underground), eléctrico (trams), autocarros (buses) and also barcos (boats), which are the most convenient way to cross the Tagus. Since the airport and all touristic spots are within Zone L (core), you don’t need to worry about supplements.

If you want to keep the flexibility of hopping onto any of those means of transportation as you wish, you can buy a 24h ticket. Prices vary for different coverages:

  • Basic (6.30€*): valid on metro, trams, buses and elevators;
  • Plus Cacilhas (9.35€*): valid on metro, trams, buses, elevators and the ferry crossing to Cacilhas (south of Tagus river);
  • Plus Trains (10.40€*): valid on metro, trams, buses, elevators and trains (Sintra, Cascais, Azambuja and Sado lines).

However, although it has the advantage of being worry-free, the 24h ticket for Lisbon is not worth the price tag, in my opinion. Using the Viva Viagem card (detailed below) for comparison, you would need to use the transport 5 times to have any financial advantage.

Viva Viagem Card

The single ticket (valid for 1h after validation, on metro, trams, buses and elevators) costs only 1.45€*. If you buy the Viva Viagem card (0.50€*), which you can reload over time with a minimum of 3€ at machines located at any station, you automatically get a 10% discount. That brings your single ticket price to 1.31€*. And as long as you have enough credit loaded, you can use it for metro, trams, buses, elevators, ferries, and trains to Sintra and Cascais.

TIP: Uber works really well here and it is cheap. Countless times, I chose to get an Uber because it would be cheaper or roughly the same as 2 single tickets to cover relatively short distances. Keep that in mind. 🙂

*Prices as of August 2018.

Lisbon Transport Network

See also:

Lisbon: Top 10 & Day-Trip in One Weekend

Day-Trip to Sintra: Moorish Castle & Pena Palace

Madrid 101: Arriving & Getting Around

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