Getting around Lisbon is not complicated. Of course, it all depends on who you talk to, or what type of information you are given. For example, if you talk to the locals, they will talk about congestion and packed buses, trains and metro. But that, unfortunately, happens in every country, it’s called peak hour.
Lisbon is called the 7-hills city and everywhere you go you will need to go up or down at some point. It can be a challenge if you want to walk, but it is not impossible. I’ve done it many times. But they have a relatively good public transport network, so there’s always an option for you.
Most of the city is covered by an extensive bus network operated by Carris. There are also private companies operating in suburban areas. Like in any other part of the world, these are the less effective transport options because they are dependent on the traffic. Over the years BUS corridors have been added, but in a city as old as Lisbon, where you have narrow streets everywhere, it is sometimes difficult to get that sort of solution. But it exists in the city centre, where the roads are wider.
Carris also operates the iconic tram that travels along its hills and a few funiculars in the city.
I’ve lived in Lisbon for 30 years and I have to say this is my favourite transport. Fast, reliable and efficient. Unfortunately, after I left Portugal, lots of my friends complained its service has been declining over the years. Some wait more than 15 minutes for a train. I never waited more than 5 on a weekday. But is still the best. Operated by Metropolitano de Lisboa. It started with only 2 lines and today it covers almost the entire city. Now it even connects to the airport, so it is a great option to get you from the airport to the city centre in a few minutes.
Unlike cities like Sydney, Lisbon doesn’t have a train network in the city centre. That is covered by the Metro system. Both Metro and buses connect to the main suburban train stations so if you come from the suburbs you always have an option. They are operated by two main companies CP and Fertagus that operate the services to the South of the city.
If you want to cross the river and visit the suburbs to the south, you can also take a ferry. Transtejo Soflusa operates services from Lisbon to Barreiro, Cacilhas, Seixal and Montijo. It is a nice way to explore Lisbon on a sunny day.
There are several options. But if you are staying for more than just a few days and you really want to explore the city, the Navegante Metropolitano Card is the best. It costs 40€ ($61,47) per month and it allows you to go from one side of the city to another, using any transport available. There’s also Navegante Metropolitano Family, for €80 ($123) that covers 2 adults and children, independently of the number of children. Both valid for all companies in the public sector. All information is provided in the Viva Card. There are other options available for shorter trips or daily passes.
So, don’t be put off by the hills or pay a rip off in a cab. Come and visit Lisbon!