21 Nov Exploring with the Lisbon tourist card
Portugal’s capital Lisbon is a city full of winding cobbled streets, bright yellow trams, wide piazzas, historic buildings and UNESCO treasures. Picture medieval towers, dome-roofed monasteries, baroque palaces and ornate churches. If, like us, you have just a few days to explore the city, it could be worth getting a Lisbon tourist card which grants you discounts, free travel and entry to top attractions.
How does the Lisbon tourist card work?
So how does the Lisbon pass actually work? When you buy one you’ll receive free travel throughout the city on buses, metros and trams, as well as free entry to many museums and attractions and discounts on tours. Here are the Lisboa card prices as of 2017:
- 24-hour Lisbon Card – €19 adults, €12 for kids aged 4-15.
- 48-hour Card – €32 adults, €18 for kids.
- 72-hour Card – €40 adults, €21 for kids.
The card is valid for a year after you buy it and is only activated once you use it for the first time. You can buy yours online or from a Lisboa welcome center, there’s one down in Praca do Commercial. We bought our 24-hour Lisbon tourist card in advance via Get Your Guide, which also offers tours in Lisbon. Buy your Lisbon Card or tour online by clicking one of these options:
Top tip: avoid using your card on a Monday, as many of Lisbon’s sites and museums are closed on this day.
Top things to see with the Lisbon city card
Lisbon is a busy city that’s frequented by cruise ships and is currently experiencing a bit of a tourist overload. We visited at the beginning of October and had to queue for up to an hour at some of Lisbon’s top attractions. So, to make the most of your Lisboa pass, start early in the day and prioritise the things you want to see. Here are the top sites we managed to cram in with our Lisbon one day pass.
Elevador de Santa Justa
This skinny iron elevator is one of Lisbon’s most unique sites, built in 1902. Ride the Santa Justa elevator to the top of the 45-metre-tall tower which offers sweeping views of the city and out to sea.
Torre de Belem
Just west of central Lisbon you’ll find Belem, an area that boasts some of the city’s most impressive sights. The UNESCO-listed Belem Tower was built between 1514 and 1520 to defend the coastline. Inside, you can climb the medieval-style fort for panoramic views.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
Jeronimos Monastery is another UNESCO site located in Belem. Built in 1501 in a mix of late gothic and renaissance styles, the building is famed for its ribbed dome roof, peaceful inner courtyard and ornate carvings.
Lisboa Story Centre
Back in Lisbon’s Commercial Square, we visited the Lisbon Story Centre to learn about the history of the city through interactive displays, videos and audio guides. One of the best parts was the ‘earthquake room’ which told the story of the devastating quake, tsunami and fires that reduced the city to rubble in 1755.
More free sights with the Lisbon city pass
Sadly, taking into account queuing times, that was all we had time to see with our Lisbon one day pass. If you’re more efficient with timing, get lucky with queues or opt for a 48 or 72-hour card, here are some other top sights you can check out for free.
Arco Monumental da Rua Augusta
You can’t miss this grand archway as it sits right at the heart of the city in Commercial Square and was constructed after the fatal 1755 earthquake. The Rua Augusta arch was closed when we tried to go up, but if you make it to the top you can get 360 degree panoramic views over Lisbon.
Museu Nacional dos Coches
Located in Belem, the national coach museum has a wide array of stunning carriages and coaches that were once used by Portuguese royalty.
Palacio Nacional de Mafra
This collection of marble, Baroque buildings include a basilica, royal palace and convent. Don’t miss the infirmary and huge library, which once held 34,000 books.
Sintra Mitos e Lendas
If you have time, take a day trip from Lisbon to the nearby ancient city of Sintra, which lies just forty minutes away by train. We spent an afternoon there exploring yellow palaces and medieval castles. If we’d had our Lisbon cards that day we could have visited The Sintra Myths and Legends interactive centre that explores the history of the town.
Is the Lisbon card worth it?
So, is it worth buying a Lisbon Card? Although we only managed to visit four attractions with our 24-hour card, we still saved money by paying just €19 for the card rather than the following prices for the individual attractions:
Santa Justa elevator – €5
Belem Tower – €6
Jeronimos Monastery – €10
Lisbon Story Centre – €7
Total = €28
We also used our Lisbon tourist card on the trains and the number 28 tram, so it also saved us around €10 per person on transport. So, price-wise I’d definitely say the Lisbon tourist card is good value for money. To make the most of it though, make sure you prioritise the attractions you most want to see and factor in where they’re located and queuing times, which can be heavy in peak periods.
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Have you been to Lisbon, did you use the Lisbon tourist card?