The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
Lisbon metro is inexpensive, safe and often the fastest method to travel around the capital. There are four metro lines, covering a total of 46km of track and served by 55 metro stations.
The first service of the day is at 6:30am and the last service of the night is at 1:00am (some minor stations close at 9:30pm). The frequency of services depends on the time of day and day of the week, but typically there is a departure every 6-12 minutes.
The metro is the recommended means of travel from Lisbon airport to the city centre, and it should be the preferred means of travel when exploring the city. This guide will provide an overview of the metro network, 2021 fares and a map of Lisbon Metro
Information: The metro covers the eastern and northern sections of Lisbon, but there are no services to the west. If you want to visit the Belem district, then the tram is the best option.
Related articles: Lisbon airport to city centre – Lisbon introduction
Lisbon metro is fastest way to travel round the city
There are two fare zones for Lisbon's metro, but all of the main tourist areas and the airport are within zone 1. The 2021 Lisbon metro fare prices are:
• €1.50 – Single Fare
• €6.40 – 24-hour unlimited travel, which includes all Lisbon buses and trams.
Note: There are no return tickets, but multiple single tickets can be purchased for return journeys.
The fare is charged to the reusable "Viva Viagem" card, which costs €0.50 for the initial purchase. This card can be used to store a range of metro tickets, including multiple single fares, the 24-hour pass or the "Zapping" credit.
Note: Each passenger requires their own Viva Viagem ticket.
The riot of colour which is Olaias metro station. There is nothing to see in the local area, but do visit just to see the metro station
The interactive map below shows the actual location of the metro stations in relation to the city.
Often in the historic area (Alfama/Baixa/Chiado) it is quicker to walk than to catch the metro.
The Viva Viagem card is used by all of Lisbon's urban and suburban public transport, and this includes the commuter ferries and trains to Sintra and Cascais. Any tickets stored on the Viva Viagem card are valid for 12 months.
Even though the card is used by all of Lisbon's public transport, it is only able to store one type of fare (for example, a metro ticket, a train fare or a 24-hour urban pass). It is unable to store multiple different fares; to use a Viva Viagem for various different priced public transport, the "Zapping" is used.
The metro ticket machines accepts coins, notes and cards
A zapping ticket allows credit to be charged to the Viva Viagem card, which can be used to pay for all public transport. This ticket is useful if you are using public transport, but are never going to use it enough to warrant the 24-hour unlimited ticket. The zapping fares are slightly cheaper than regular tickets; the metro is €1.40 instead of €1.50, the tram is €1.35 instead of €3.00.
The other use of a Zapping ticket, is to pay for fares on the suburban trains or ferries, without the need to purchase another Viva Viagem card. This avoids the long queues at the train stations, especially if travelling by train to Sintra. The Viva Viagem card can be charged with €3 to €40 at any metro ticket machine.
The ticket we use on the metro
When we are showing friends and family around Lisbon, we always purchase the 24-hour unlimited ticket (costing €6.40). This fantastic value ticket includes all bus, metros and trams, along with the funiculars and the Elevador de Santa Justa. A return on the Elevador de Santa Justa costs €5.50 and provides one of the best views of central Lisbon.
Lisbon metro is clean, safe and relatively modern
Tickets for the metro are purchased from either a ticket office or ticket machine. The ticket offices are always busy at the popular metro station (such as the airport or Rossio), or are closed at the quieter metro stations. The ticket machines are user-friendly, logical and provide instructions in multiple languages, including English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Metropolitano de Lisboa has created a very useful PDF showing all of the screens and stages to purchase a ticket from the vending machine, which can be seen here:
(link opens a new tab, and as its 1.4mb it may take a while to open…)
When a ticket is purchased from a ticket machine, a receipt is printed; always take this receipt in case there is an issue with your Viva Viagem card.
For each journey the Viva Viagem card is used twice; once to swipe into the metro station and for a second time on exiting the metro station. At the barrier place the Viva Viagem card on the sensor on the right side and the barrier will open.
As with all public transport in busy cities, be aware of your surrounds and do not offer thieves the opportunity to steal items. The amount of thefts on the Lisbon metro system is no worse than any other big city but always vigilant. If travelling late at night sit in busy carriages and away from dodgy looking people.
There are four metro lines and are conveniently coloured; blue, yellow, green and red. The green metro line connects the tourist areas around Baixa and the train station to Cascais.
The red metro line connects the airport and the Parque das Nações district to the other lines. The older yellow and blue lines follow Lisbon's main avenues heading north and north-west, and are of less importance for tourists.
One of the first journeys most visitors take using the metro is the onward journey from Lisbon airport. The airport is within the city limits and is only 7km from the city centre and main tourist area. The airport is connected to the red metro line and the station is just outside of the arrivals building – there is very good signage within the airport.
Most visitors are based near the Alfama or Baixa districts and this will need a connection to either the blue or green metro lines.
The distinctive entrance to the metro at Lisbon airport
Construction of the Lisbon metro was started in August 1955 and the first service was on 29 December 1959. The initial metro was just 6.5km long and connected Baixa to Jardim Zoológico. During the 1980s a loop of central Lisbon was constructed and in 1995 the network was split into two lines, the Blue Line and the Yellow Line.
In May 1998 a third line, the Red Line, was constructed to connect Alameda station to the exhibition grounds of Expo 98. In 2004 the Blue, Yellow and Green lines were further extended. An extension to Portela Airport was opened in September 2013 and connects the red line to the airport, which connects to all other lines. The Lisbon metro network is now served by 55 stations and covers 46 kilometres (25 miles).
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