Known as the ‘City of Seven Hills’ along with Rome and Istanbul, Lisbon has a steep and varied landscape. Miradouros or viewpoints are strategically placed around the city enabling people to look out across the city to the Tagus River whilst capturing various photos of cityscapes and famous landmarks. Whilst some are more popular than others, all are guaranteed to offer something unique.
With the streets covered in a mass of black and white mosaic cobbles however, wandering around this Portuguese hub with its many Moorish characteristics, is often taxing on your legs. Add to this the steep gradient of the hillsides, and many who visit simply opt out of climbing the almost perpendicular slopes.
So How Do People Navigate Lisbon?
No matter which city you visit there will always be an abundance of different ways to travel around and whilst there are a number of knowledgeable walking tours available both night and day in Lisbon if you don’t fancy the strenuous hikes there are other, informative ways to sight-see.
#1 Tour Buses
Increasingly popular with tourists who enjoy seeing and understanding more about each city they visit, these tour buses all come with in-coach audios providing a history lesson as you sit in comfort. The hop-on, hop-off aspect of these tours mean that at each stop, should you wish to jump off and explore you can do so. Once you are ready, you then simply wait for the next bus to arrive and continue on your tour. The only difficulty you will have is choosing from the large number of companies now providing this service. Many companies offer a 48 hour ticket, meaning that you have plenty of time to see not only the central parts of Lisbon but also those districts further afield. You also gain several other perks with many tour operators including discounted entry to museums and monuments, money off at several shopping outlets and restaurants plus fully active Wi-Fi.
One of the most comprehensive tours is provided by Grayline. They offer four different tour routes both inside and outside of the city, travelling as far as Cascais on the coast, all available on the same 48 hour ticket costing €25 per person.
Probably the most popular tram route in the city is Electrico 28. This vintage, wooden yellow tram transports you across the city from Praça Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique and allows you to jump on and off as you please. With over 30 stops this is a great way to explore the city in a traditional manner without costing a fortune. A shorter route around Alfama and Baixa is also available via tram 12 or if you want to travel further afield to the district of Belém to explore the Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) and the Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) take Tram 15. Whilst Tram 15 is not classical in design, and always crammed full of tourists heading in the same direction, this is a great way to travel around.
Top Tip: If you intend to use the tram system for more than one journey in the course of a day, utilise the Public Transport Pass for only €6.00 which can also be used on the buses, funiculars and the metro as well as the Santa Justa Lift . One journey is currently €2.85 if purchased directly from the driver.
As national monuments these are a must for everyone that visits Lisbon. With three in total, these funiculars climb up the steep hillsides allowing you to reach different vantage points around the city. The Lavra funicular is the oldest in the city, dating back to 1884 and carries you up to a quiet, almost tourist free area of the city whilst the Gloria funicular is probably the most widely used and leaves from Praça Dos Restauradores taking you up to the Miradouro de Sāo Pedro de Alcântara where you can sit, have a glass of wine and take it the fantastic vistas of the city and Castelo de Sāo Jorge on the opposite hillside. The final funicular, Bica, can be found at Rua de Sāo Paulo and is considered by many to the most picturesque of all journeys with views including that of the Tagus River as you progress up to the Bairro Alto district.
A single ticket costs a hefty €3.60 so consider purchasing a daily transport pass so that you can incorporate the funicular trips with your tram rides.
A new green way to explore the city’s narrow streets, this electric story-telling car, is similar to a go-kart and guarantees a fun-packed day of exploration. With either preset routes or the option to programme your own individualised tour GoCar allow you to travel around the city and along the narrow streets that other transport cannot reach. Unlike other options, you are in full control so should you wish to stop for photos, coffee or lunch you can do so without worrying about timetables and full to bursting trams. With tours lasting between 50 minutes and 6 hours you have full flexibility to explore as much or as little of the city as you wish. It may not be the cheapest way to see the city, but it will be tailored to you which is somewhat lacking in the other travel options already mentioned.
Alfama 1 hour tours start at €29 for two people whilst a 6 hour tour of the entire city with set you back €89. Interested? Then visit the GoCar Website for more details.
If you don’t like the idea of self-drives but want a more personal experience then hiring an eco-friendly Tuk-Tuk could be for you. With many different circuits to choose from, each of the major districts have been included, if however, you have somewhere specific you would like to visit and it is not covered on an already prepared route, don’t worry, this can also be incorporated.
With several companies in the city to choose from you will have plenty of choice. Each Tuk-Tuk is uniquely decorated so if you haven’t booked ahead of your visit perhaps the best way to choose will be through design alone – which one catches your eye the most?
Whether you are after a short ride or a longer tour both companies are happy to accommodate your needs meaning each trip is personal and therefore, pricing will vary. Tuk-Tuk’s can accommodate up to 6 people making this a great way for a family or group of friends to see the city.
Of course, if these options don’t interest you then you also have the extensive metro system at your finger tips, several walking tours and even a Segway tour to help you navigate your way around the heritage of this old city.
Given the choice, how would you travel around Lisbon?
However, when planning a trip to Lisbon not only do you need to consider how you will travel around this hilly city, you also need to think about which of the many areas you would prefer to stay in. So to help you make an informed decision, why not check out this article about where to stay in Lisbon.
Disclaimer: We were provided with free tickets to explore the city although all words and thoughts are our own.