LISBON FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Both international and domestic flights land at Lisbon's Aeroporto de Lisboa, which is about 4 miles from the city center. Aerobus shuttles run between the airport and the Cais do Sodré train station every 20 minutes from 7:45am to 8:15pm. The fare is 3.50€ and there's no extra charge for luggage. City bus 744 (1.80€) departs every 15 to 30 minutes between 5:00am and 1:40am from the main road in front of the arrivals hall.

Taxis in Lisbon are fairly cheap, and with the airport so close to the city center, many visitors head straight for the cab queue located outside the arrivals terminal. The fare from the airport to central Lisbon is approximately 12€, but each piece of luggage is 1.60€ extra. To avoid any hassle over fares you can buy a prepaid voucher (which includes gratuity and luggage charges) from the tourist office booth in the arrivals hall. Expect to pay €10 to €20 to most destinations in the city center and around €40 if you're going to Estoril or Sintra.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

International and long distance trains arrive at the Estação da Santa Apolónia, near the Alfama district by the Tagus River. Gare de Oriente, which opened in 1998, is connected to the Metro system and is the hub for some long distance and commuter trains. Services to Sintra use Estação do Rossio, while trains to Cascais and Estoril on the Costa do Sol use the waterfront Estação do Cais do Sodré. For rail information call tel. 80/820-82-08 between 7am and 11pm daily.

Lisbon Train Stations: Oriente Station - Santa Apolonia Station

How do I get around using the Metro?

Lisbon's modern metro system is fast and cheap. A single ticket costs .80€ and a day pass costs 3.70€. Service runs daily from 6:30am to 1am. Although it misses many sights and gets crowded during rush hour, it is like visiting an impressive art museum with paintings, ceramic tiles and sculptures. Collections of contemporary art, including works by famous Portuguese artists such as Maria Keil and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva can be found in this underground museum. Station entrances are marked with a red 'M' and some of the finest displays can be seen at Cais do Sodré, Baixa/Chiado, Campo Grande and Marquês de Pombal. For more information, call tel. 21/350-01-15.

How do I get around the city using other public transportation?

CARRIS (tel. 21/361-30-00) operates the network of funiculars, trains, subways and buses in Lisbon. For all these forms of transport, paying as you go means paying much more (€1.80 a ride for the bus, €2.85 the tram, €3.60 for the funicular, and €5 for the elevator), in cash. It's better to purchase a bilhete de assinatura turístico (tourist ticket). A 1 day pass goes for 3.70€. Passes are sold in CARRIS booths, open from 8am to 8pm daily, in most Metro stations and network train stations. You must show a passport to buy a pass.

The city's buses and trams are some of the cheapest in Europe. The eléctricos (trams) make the steep climb up to the Bairro Alto and have become a major tourist attraction. The most interesting ride for tourists is on eléctrico no. 28, which travels through the most historic part of Lisbon. Buses and eléctricos run daily from 6am to 1am. A kiosk with schedules outlining the tram and bus routes can be found at the foot of the Santa Justa elevator, on Rua Áurea.

A modern electric train system connects Lisbon to the towns and villages along the Portuguese Riviera. There's only one class of service and the journey is fairly comfortable and inexpensive. You can board the train at the waterfront Cais do Sodré Station in Lisbon and head up the coast all the way to Cascais. The electric train does not run to Sintra. To get to Sintra, you must go to the Estação do Rossio station.

Lisbon has three funiculars: the Glória, which goes from Praça dos Restauradores to Rua São Pedro de Alcântara; the Bica, from the Calçada do Combro to Rua da Boavista; and the Lavra, from the eastern side of Avenida da Liberdade to Campo Mártires da Pátria. A one-way ticket on any of these costs 1.40€.

Ferries have crossed the Tagus River long before bridges were built. They are operated by Transtejo from ports at Belém, Cais do Sodre and Terreiro do Paço. Ferries depart Lisbon about every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day with a travel time of about 15 minutes. Many locals who live on the bank opposite Lisbon take the ferry to avoid the heavy bridge traffic during rush hour. The scenic views from the top decks are worth the trip!

Note: Avoid using public transportation, especially the no. 28 tram, during rush hours; and beware of pickpockets on crowded trains, buses and trams.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis in Lisbon are relatively inexpensive and are a popular means of transport. The basic fare is €3.25 during the day and €3.90 at night (9pm to 6am) and on weekends. The law allows drivers to add on supplementary charges for luggage (€1.60) or if you phone for a cab (€0.80). Tips (approximately 20%) for reliable drivers are appreciated. You may be able to hail a taxi on the street, but not always. There are taxi stands at most of the main squares. When the green light is on, it means the cab is already occupied. If you book a cab from a hotel or restaurant, have someone speak to the driver so there are no 'misunderstandings' about your destination and carry the business card of your hotel with you so you won't have problems getting back later. For a Rádio Táxi, call tel. 21/811-90-00.

Note: Drivers use meters but can take travelers for a ride, literally, by not taking the most direct route.

I will have a car in Lisbon, where can I park?

Driving in Lisbon is potentially dangerous because of traffic congestion and should be avoided if possible. The city has a very high accident rate, it always seems like rush hour and parking is next to impossible. If you drive into Lisbon from another town or city, call ahead and ask at your hotel for the nearest garage or other place to park. On the other hand, if you are planning on taking any day trips then we suggest you pick up your rental car as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses. Alternatively, you may consider renting the car in a town where you will be visiting and then traveling there by train and picking up the car once you arrive.

Is Lisbon a walking city?

Lisbon is best approached through its gateway, Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), bordering the Tagus. Streets rise and fall across the hills, sometimes dwindling into narrow alleyways. Central Lisbon is compact and best explored by foot. (That's virtually the only way to see such districts as the Alfama). Just be sure to carry a good city map before heading out. Maps with complete indexes of streets are available at most newsstands and kiosks. Those given out at the tourist offices and hotels aren't adequate because they don't show the labyrinth of little streets.

Is Lisbon a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Lisbon used to be one of the safest capitals of Europe, but unfortunately that is no longer the case. Criminals, who often work in teams, frequent tourist areas and major attractions as well as public transportation and ATMs preying on tourists and targeting wallets, purses and cameras. It's now quite dangerous to walk around at night with some travelers reporting being mugged at knifepoint. Travelers should exercise caution, carry limited cash and credit cards, and leave passports and personal documents in a safe location. In an emergency, you can call the police or an ambulance at tel. 112.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Portugal is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATM's can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I don't speak Portuguese. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

Where can I experience a port wine tasting?

Solar do Vinho do Porto (tel. 21/347-57-07), located at Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara 45, near the Glória funicular and the fado clubs of the Bairro Alto, is a fabulous venue devoted exclusively to the drinking and appreciation of port. The lista de vinhos includes more than 200 types of port wine in an astounding variety of sweet, dry, red and white. A glass of wine costs 1€ to 25€. The club is open Monday through Saturday from 2pm to midnight.

What is fado? Do I need to make reservations to a fado club in advance?

The nostalgic sounds of fado, Portuguese 'songs of sorrow', usually tell of unrequited love, jealousy or a longing for days gone by. Fado is Portugal's highest art form, and Lisbon attracts the greatest fadistas (fado singers) in the world. The traditional performers are women, often accompanied by a guitar and a viola.

Authentic fado clubs are clustered in the Bairro Alto and in the Alfama between St. George's Castle and the docks. Reservations for dinner are essential, but you are not required to dine at the club in order to enjoy the performance. If you just want to have drinks, you may have to pay a minimum consumption charge (around €10). The music begins between 9pm and 10pm, but it's usually better to arrive after 11pm. Many clubs stay open until 3am while others stay open until dawn; and you can 'fado hop' between the two quarters. No visit to Portugal is complete without at least one night spent in a local tavern listening to this traditional folk music.

Note: Fado etiquette is strict on one point. When the singing starts, all conversation must stop!

What are the best areas for shopping?

Small family owned shops are common in Lisbon, especially in Baixa, where Portuguese handicrafts can be found as well as regional cheeses and wines, including port, one of Portugal's major exports. Baixa is also a good place to look for jewelry. Rua Áurea (Street of Gold), Rua da Prata (Street of Silver) and Rua Augusta are Lisbon's three principal shopping streets.

Trendy Bairro Alto is another district full of little crafts shops with stylish, contemporary items. It's also one of the shopping hubs of Lisbon's flourishing fashion scene. Rua Garrett, in Chiado, is where you'll find many of the high end shops. And Praça de Londres and Avenida de Roma offer haute couture stores and fashion outlets. International luxury brands are also found downtown on Avenida da Liberdade.

Portuguese baskets and a fine selection of Nazaré style fisherman's sweaters can be purchased at the Feira da Ladra.