The original, independent guide to Lisbon
Lisbon extends along the banks of the Tejo estuary, and the commuter ferries are an integral component of the capital’s public transport network. The ferry services provide an alternative means of travel from the residential districts south of Lisbon, which avoids the bottleneck of the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
For visitors to Lisbon, the ferries provide an enjoyable and inexpensive activity, with wonderful waterside views of the city, which are a fraction of the price of the expensive tourist boats. This article will provide a tourist guide to Lisbon’s ferries, including an overview of the major routes, fares and links to timetables.
The ferry to Cacilhas from Lisbon
There are five ferry routes, with three terminals in Lisbon and four terminals on the southern banks. The ferry routes are:
• Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro
• Cais do Sodré to Montijo
• Cais do Sodré to Seixal
• Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas (recommended)
• Belem to Porto Brandão and Trafaria (recommended)
In Lisbon, Terreiro do Paço and Cais do Sodré are major ferry terminals close to the city centre, while Belem is a lesser terminal to the west of the city. The busiest route is the Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas
Apart from the Cristo Rei statue, there are few tourist attractions on the southern side of the Tagus Estuary. The main attraction of the ferry ride, is the journey itself and the fantastic waterside views over Lisbon.
The two most scenic routes are Belem to Porto Brandão, and Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas. The Belem ferry provides wonderful views over the Belem district and of the suspension bridge. Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas offers views of the Baixa district and the bridge. The Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro route has good views of Baixa and Alfama, but the journey is much longer.
There is not much to see around the southern terminals, the only slightly interesting terminal is Cacilhas. This town is famed for its seafood restaurants and is the departure location for the 101 bus service to the Cristo Rei statue (details later on). All of the other southern ferry terminals serve residential districts, and have little appeal for visitors. Always plan your journey outside of commuter rush hour, when the ferries will be crowded.
The following list provides the cost of a single crossing; there are no return tickets and two single tickets must be purchased.
• Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro - €2.35
• Cais do Sodré to Montijo - €2.75
• Cais do Sodré to Seixal - €2.35
• Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas - €1.25
• Belem to Porto Brandão and Trafaria - €1.20
The ferry fares are charged to the Viva Viagem reusable card, which is used by the entire public transport network of Lisbon. The initial purchase of the Viva Viagem card is €0.50. The card can only hold one type of ticket at a time, for example if it is charged with a metro ticket you cannot add a ferry ticket to it.
The old ferry to Cacilhas
Lisbon ferries are an important means of transport for commuters and workers, so there are many hourly departures with services starting early in the day and continuing late into the night. There are more departures during the working week and less at the weekend. Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas is the busiest route, while the Belem route only has one boat and significantly fewer departures. The ferries of Lisbon are operated by Transtejo, and the latest timetables can be seen on their website:
Terreiro do Paço - Barreiro
Cais do Sodré - Cacilhas
Cais do Sodré - Montijo
Cais do Sodré - Seixal
Belém - Trafaria – Porto Brandão
(please note links open new windows and are PDFs, which may download on certain browsers)
Cais do Sodré ferry terminal is connected to the green metro line and is also a major train station with services to Cascais and the beaches. The actual ferry terminal is in a separate building, just south of the train station, and the exact GPS coordinates are 38.70514, -9.14511.
The catamaran ferry to Seixal
From Cais do Sodré there are three routes, to Cacilhas, Montijo and Seixal. The ferries to Montijo and Seixal use the modern catamarans, while the older, orange ferries cross to Cacilhas. Unfortunately, neither style of ferry has open-air viewing decks. Cacilhas is the better tourist route, as it passes close to the suspension bridge and only takes 15 minutes.
At Cacilhas there are many excellent seafood restaurants, and these are much better value than Lisbon. The other notable attraction at Cacilhas is the Dom Fernando II e Glória, the last sailing ship constructed by the Portuguese navy.
One of the main reasons for crossing to Cacilhas is to visit the Cristo Rei statue and the amazing viewpoint at the top of the monument. When at Cacilhas there are two possible routes to Cristo Rei, either by bus or the Boca do Vento Elevator and then walking.
The bus is the better option and is a must in the hot summer months. The 101 bus route, operated by Transportes Sul do Tejo (TST), departs from Cacilhas bus station and stops in front of the Cristo Rei religious complex. The fare costs €1.10 for a single and there are 2-3 departures every hour during daylight hours. The latest timetable can be seen on the TST website:
The alternative route to Cristo Rei is to walk along the waterfront to the Boca do Vento Elevator, which passes lively Cervejarias (beerhouses) and abandoned wharfs. The Boca do Vento Elevator ascends 50m and costs €1.50, but the final 2km walk to Cristo Rei is not very scenic, through dilapidated residential streets.
The Belem ferry departs from the western side of Lisbon and is a great activity for visitors who have more tiem to spend in the district. The main issue with the Belem ferry is the infrequent departures (as there is only one boat) and the return journey is much longer than all of the other ferry routes.
The Belem Ferry as it passes close to the suspension bridge and the Cristo Rei statue
The Belem ferry makes two stops on the southern bank, at Porto Brandão and then Trafaria, but there is nothing to see at either of these destinations. The Belem ferry departs from the Belem ferry terminal, (GPS 38.69493, -9.197757), and is half-way between the marina and the Museu da Electricidade (the old power station).
The Terreiro do Paço ferry terminal ferry terminal is on the southern edge of the Praça do Comércio, and is connected to the blue metro line. The Paço to Barreiro is the longest route and uses the faster catamarans. This route provides the best views over Alfama and the eastern side of Lisbon, but Barreiro is simply a ferry terminal and a non-descript town.