There’s no doubt that Lisbon is an easily navigable city, historic in a sense but modern in so many ways. It’s one of Europe’s oldest cities, and yet enjoys a solid, contemporary infrastructure, a well-connected international airport, an extensive network of transport options that makes travelling an ease in and around Lisbon.
However, it’s always a challenge when you’re visiting a place for the first time, as you’d have to navigate your way around local systems and city practices. Although Lisbon is a reliable, affordable city to move around, it’s absolutely worth knowing such vital information to ensure that you won’t be overcharged on a taxi ride, you make the most of your transport tickets, and that you skip unnecessarily long queues along the way! We also cover things like whether it’s a safe city, is it child-friendly, and a little bit of local pleasantries to get along with the Lisboetas.
So sit back and go through our essential tips in how to get around Lisbon like a pro, so there’s less stress and more fun and enjoyment in this beautiful, sunny city.
From the airport
As soon as you land Lisbon, you’d ask yourself: what’s the best way to get to our suites? From our view, Uber is the best way. It’s the easiest, most reasonable and affordable direct mode of transport from the airport our Cheese & Wine hotel suites in Santos, and our several apartment locations around the city centre. For approximately €12, you’ll be driven directly to our suites, without you having to worry about carrying your luggages up and down Metro stations, and changing lines, too. Especially if you’re travelling as a couple or with family, it works far better than taking the Metro. Remember, Uber pick-up location at the airport is at the departure area, so as soon as you exit the terminal, turn right towards the escalator and go out to the departure parking area.
We do not recommend taking the taxis, as they have a bad reputation. In our experience, taxi drivers tend to overcharge the clients and take longer routes. So you’ll have a much better experience with Uber, as it’s reliable and they offer better cars and better drivers, too. If you want a more exclusive service, we can also organise airport transfers for you. Contact us to book a transfer.
Viva Viagem card is a must
Getting a Viva Viagem card, or the green travel card, is an absolute must-have in Lisbon. Since the Metro has already phased out individual tickets, travellers are now required to purchase the magnetic card for €0.50, which you can load up as you wish. You can procure this on all subway stations, on vending machines, and in some kiosks and stationary shops in the city. You can then use this card on any mode of transportation, such as the Metro, buses, train, trams, ferries and some funiculars and elevators.
We recommend to our guests to load your card according to the number of trips you’re going to make, so you don’t end up with unused money on your card at the end of your travel. For example, most of the city’s historic centre is very walkable so it doesn’t make much sense if you load your card with a day pass that costs €6.40. Otherwise you’ll have to make sure you take transport 3 or 4 times to make the most of it. So if you plan to only take one or two transports per day, especially for those lovers of walking, we recommend loading up on the vending machines only if you need to take the trip from A to B. Take note: it always works out cheaper when you zap with the Viva Viagem card. For example, if you buy a ticket on the tram with cash, it will cost €2.90. Whereas with the green card, it’s only €1.25.
Apps that helps in ease of travel
Part of how we truly care for our guests, during your stay at Cheese & Wine, you’ll be provided with a GuestU smartphone that’s available in all our suites and apartments for you to use during your travels in Lisbon. It comes with 4G internet and free international calls so you’ll always remain connected, and with plenty of applications to help you navigate yourself around Lisbon easily, comfortably and sensibly.
Nowadays, there are now plenty of smartphone applications for the tech savvy to help users and travellers in your journeys in cities. Lisbon, as an entrepreneurial tech hub, has plenty of smart ways to assist tourists and visitors in getting around the capital. Citymapper is a fine example It helps you calculate the easiest, most convenient, even the cheapest and greenest route to your destination, giving you options of all modes of transport, from metro, bus, trams, bikes, and even taxi or Uber, which is fully operating in Lisbon. It even tells you the weather, not that you need that as you’re in a predominantly sunny city! Google Maps is also incredibly handy and another great way to look up locations, mode of transportations, and even looking up restaurants! It’s super comprehensive, extremely reliable and very easy to use to help you navigate your way around the city. All of this, you can find in our handy GuestU smartphones.
Take the historic 28 tram with less queues
This is one of the most overlooked fact in Lisbon – there is a way in which you can avoid long queues when taking the iconic Number 28 tram. Most people head to the super busy Martim Moniz square, where there’s an invincibly long line of tourists waiting to get on board the vintage yellow eléctricos.
For an alternative route, go to the other side of the city, in Prazeres, where there are less tourists. From our Cheese & Wine Suite, take No. 25 tram to Prazeres, and then change to the No. 28 there. This corner has less people, and you’re more likely guaranteed with a good seat, and therefore more enjoyment. This will then take you across the major districts of Lisbon, such as Cais do Sodré, Baixa-Chiado, and then climb up on the historic hills of Alfama and Graça for your sightseeing tours. Don’t forget to tap with Viva Viagem card as it’s much cheaper.
Lifts and funiculars
You can also access the city’s famous lift, Elevador da Santa Justa for a return ticket of €5.15. If you’d like to avoid any fee and still getting the lift views from up above, we recommend walking through Rua Garrett, and then up to Largo do Carmo. Beside the Convento do Carmo is a little pathway that leads to the same platform as Santa Justa. No fees, no queues, and you’ll get to enjoy the same view of Lisbon.
For funiculars, Lisbon has three of them: Elevador da Bica, Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Lavra. Take note: before you take the funiculars, it’s better to load your Viva card in a nearby station with the exact funicular trip you’re going to make, and each way costs €1.45. And then it’s as easy as zapping your card and hop on. Otherwise, it’s €3.80 for a return trip if you pay cash on board.
Ferries across the Tagus
For ferries, especially if you wanted to explore the other side of the Tagus River, it’s for an incredibly reasonable price of €1.27 if you zap with the Viva Viagem card, each way. We recently recommended this in our latest Lisbon guide to visit the district of Cacilhas, as taking the ferry would give you great views of Lisbon and experience the waterfront restaurants such as Ponto Final. To go to Cacilhas, ferries depart from Cais do Sodré.
Getting to Belém
We highly recommend going to Belém, this wonderful museum district lined with a stunning waterfront, the Jéronimos Monastery, Torre de Belém and Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Check out our Belém guide here. You’d need to take the suburban Estoril-Cascais railway line. It departs from Cais do Sodré, and Belém is the 3rd stop. It will cost you €1.25 each way, so make you load your card with 2 trips to return to Lisbon’s main terminal.
Getting to Sintra
You must have heard of Sintra by now. This romantic, lush, ever-green historic town just 25km from Lisbon. The best and most reasonable way to get there is by the CP train, which departs from Rossio railway station. It’s the one with the magnificent Moorish-inspired building. A single fare costs €2.25, and children are discounted half-price. It’s an incredible train price for a beautiful day trip in the countryside, for you to experience the magical Palácio da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio do Monserrate, Palácio Nacional de Sintra and so many more. Another tip to avoid long queues in the Rossio station is to load your Viva Viagem card in advance, in the vending machines in metro stops. This way, you skip all those ridiculous line, zap your card on the train barrier and enjoy the journey to Sintra, hassle-free.
If you prefer a full guided tour of this magical, romantic place, we organise a day trip in Sintra, Cascais and Estoril. It’s a full day tour with a local guide and driver, as you’ll experience Sintra’s incredible palaces, parks and breathtaking views, and then followed by a walk along Sintra’s beaches, stand at Europe’s westernmost point, Cabo da Roca, and visit the town Cascais and Estoril on a scenic drive back to Lisbon. It costs €55 person, and you can book your experience with us here.
Exploring the beaches
For lovers of the sea and the coast, fortunately Lisbon has a wonderfully easy access to the some of the great beaches in this side of the Atlantic. In approximately 20 minutes from Cais do Sodre, when you take the Estoril-Cascais railway line, you’ll discover places such as Carcavelos Beach, and further on, the excellent coastal towns of Estoril and Cascais, offering relaxing seaside life and getaways. Getting there covers a four-zone fair, so that sets you €2.25, each way. Do remember, children under 3 years old are free. And children between 3-12 years old are discounted at half the price.
To explore the beaches located across the Tagus delta, the popular Costa da Caparica, you have the option of taking the ferry from Belém to Trafaria (the second and final stop after Porto Brandão), which is only €1.25 each way. And then from Trafaria, either take an Uber from there, or the bus, which takes you to Praia de São João in roughly 5 minutes. Just remember, ferries on the Belém to Trafaria route are quite limited with a ferry every hour, and last departure from Trafaria is at 21.00. If budget is not as issue, we recommend Uber, priced at approximately €14 each way.
Is Lisbon a safe city?
Yes, delightfully so. Lisbon is renowned as one of the safest cities in Europe. Meanwhile, as a country, Portugal has been recently voted as the 3rd most peaceful country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. Lisbon has a very low crime rate and is quite safe in many respects. Yet with most capital cities, petty crimes such as pickpockets are unavoidable, especially in crowded areas like trams and public transportations and very touristy places. So it’s best to be wary and take precautions. Look after your belongings carefully.
Beyond that, it’s a friendly, warm and welcoming city. Lisbon is known to be progressive, tolerant and liberal. It’s considered a very safe city for anyone: for families, for solo travellers or female travellers, It’s also gay-friendly and absolutely welcomes everybody in all walks of life. Nightlife here is also considered one of the most peaceful in Europe, and you can walk around and be very comfortable with Lisbon’s safe atmosphere. And like most cities, it’s best to use common sense and you’ll enjoy the city a lot.
Is Lisbon a child-friendly city?
Portugal has a family-oriented culture, and Lisbon is the super safe, child-friendly capital. The city has excellent infrastructure for kids, including indoor and outdoor activities, as well parks and restaurants that cater for the young ones. Lisbon Cheese & Wine boutique hotel is a great example of a guesthouse with a family-oriented approach, with rooms that cater for family with kids, There are even splendid sights in Lisbon, such as the Oceanarium, and in front of it,Pavilha da Ciência e do Conhecimento and there’s the Lisbon Zoo that will surely delight your children. Watch our Cheese & Wine video guide to Lisbon that offers plenty of ideas on how you can enjoy the city with your children.