Transportation in Lisbon and Porto
The first day we arrived, we used public transport in Lisbon and bought tickets from the driver.
We rode the bus, the train, tram and the old tram but if you buy single tickets on board you pay a lot more. We weren’t in the know.
Locals were using the better alternative, a travel card which they scanned when boarding buses and trams.
You can buy a travel card for 0,50 Euros, then top it up anytime at ticket machines.
To get a travel card, we went to Cais Sodre Metro Station (but I think most stations do the job).
At the ticket window we were informed about the price for a ride with a card, which was 1,40 Euros and I think it was double that without a travel card. To top the card up, you can either go to a ticket window at the metro station or do it yourself at the ticket machines. They do not work flawlessly nor take all bills/coins so be prepared to possibly encounter some troubleshooting.
Cais Sodre. Is also a pretty train station and a major transport hub where you can exchange various transport modes.
Because Cais Sodre (tram, bus and metro) Station was on the way to our apartment in Lisbon, it was also here that we often charged our cards – in the metro two levels down, and then rushed up to catch our ride. I liked this station because they also have a huge book stand underground, with really cheap fiction, artbooks and bestsellers.
But mainly, because of giant blue Alice in Wonderland rabbits painted over white tiles by António Dacosta, a Portuguese surrealist painter.
Metro walkway and mega bunnies. Very cool.
On a side note, you can only enter buses and trams at the front door and have to exit at the back. This is Cais Sodre Bus and Tram Station.
A ride with the pretty (rattling) old tram from Cais Sodre to Lisbon’s fortress Castelo S Jorge was 1,40 Euro.
The cards are not transferable and despite lacking personal identification you cannot scan one card for more than one individual.
It’s also a pity that it’s not possible to use these cards in other cities – it would have been so much easier to travel. Portugal couldn’t agree on a countrywide system, although the cards we were using in Lisbon, Porto and Madeira were using the same contactless technology.
Our train station in Belem.
But it was a bit far to the train station. Usually we took the old trams – which are so much fun to ride up and down the hilly and curvy streets of Lisbon! This was our stop.
One of Lisbon’s (milder) rollercoaster streets.
The quirky Elevador da Glória is taking on a much steeper path and a lot more tourists.
You can even use your card to ride the thin iron elevator Santa Justa.
If you use the metro you should scan the travel card before you enter the underground platform, whereas outdoor train stops will have a validation scanner right at the platform. After this point it is too late to validate your ticket.
The fines are horrendous but I have never come across a ticket inspector. (I am not suggesting anything either.)
No ticket? Pay 427,50 Euros. Where did they get that magic number?
No travel card? Pay 2,85 Euros for a ticket at the driver.
TRANSPORTATION IN PORTO
A similar travel card system applies in Porto, but as mentioned, the cards are incompatible in different cities. Which is why we bought another travel travel card for Porto at the ticket vending machines at the metro (which also runs overground).
Make sure to validate your ticket before you board. No machines in the trains.
“Saldo: 1 Viagem” – you can read how many more rides you have. That was my last one.
We enjoyed cheaper rides on the bus and trams with our andante travel card, than buying single rides on board.
The card is supposed to work on the old trams and funicular but somehow we had to buy separate, more expensive tickets for those.
So make sure you don’t overpay. Just scan your andante travel card and avoid 2,50 Euros for a ride.
We also used Porto’s modern metro.
Very new and pleasant. No urine smells nor graffiti smears.
There are even seats right in front of the train doors. Why? Because they could.
But Porto’s underground system is a bit strange in that all the lines run on the exact same section for a bigger part of the city and diverge into other areas for much shorter distances. To some of the sights we just walked or took a taxi (which is very reasonable in Portugal – if you are not cheated).
The metro got us to Casa da Musica, to the big Norte Shopping Mall but for other sights, like the Serralves Museum (Art Deco Villa, gardens and modern art) or to get to Foz (lighthouse, cliffs, big waves and suicidal fishermen), we had to take the bus (and I did not like the mouldy aircon systems in the buses much).
Airport transfer. We got picked up from the airport by our host in Lisbon but in Porto, a reliable airport shuttle service we used is bus4all. They picked us up from our apartment at 5 am sharp and drove to the airport for 6 Euros each. I thought that was a pretty good deal. Their number is 961 495 847 (just in case it is of use to anyone).
And they come with a van which fit our suitcases easily (always a challenge for taxis).
Because perpetual travelers only pack the absolute necessary.
And just for the fun of it, even if you are not going to travel by train, do yourself a favour and have a look at Sao Bento Train Station in Porto.
Huge traditional Portuguese tile work. Not bad for a train station.
Sao Bento Metro Station isn’t bad either.
Any more questions? Just read the travel guide signs in the metro.
A quick look at the pictures to the right and… all is clear!
The truth is, I don’t get Portugal’s zone system either. But in a few years time google maps will have Lisbon’s and Porto’s transport system covered which will make it easier to get from A to B.
Just make sure you don’t board a coffee shop by mistake!