Public transport

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Flights within mainland Portugal are relatively expensive. PGA Portugália Airlines(218 425 559) and TAP Air Portugal(707 205 700) both have multiple daily Lisbon to Porto and Lisbon to Faro flights all year round, taking less than one hour. For the Azores and Madeira, flights leave from Lisbon. There are internal flights between the islands of the Azores, and between Funchal and Porto Santo.

Taxis in urban areas charge according to the meter. Outside these urban areas the charge is per kilometer and includes the cost of the return trip. Luggage over 30 kilos is charged at a fixed rate. All taxis drivers will have printed rates in two languages.


Metro systems are in operation in Lisbon and Porto. In Lisbon there are four lines: purple for Linha da Gaivota, yellow for Linha do Girraso, green for Linha da Caravela, and orange for Linha do Oriente. Tickets are inexpensive and are purchased before entering the station barriers. The Porto network consists of 6 lines: Line A (blue line), Line B (red line), C (green line), D (yellow line), E (violet line) and Line F (orange line). The system uses the ‘Andante’ ticketing system, and these are bought at machines in stations, and can also be topped up at Multibanco ATM terminals. Both systems are open from 0600 to 0100.

The Portuguese railway system is State owned. If you can match your itinerary to a regional service, travelling with Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (CP; phone 808 208 208 or 213 185 990, outside Portugal) is cheaper than by bus, although the trains do tend to be slower than long-distance buses.

There are three main types of long-distance train services: regional trains (marked R on timetables), which stop everywhere, reasonably fast interregional (IR) trains, and express trains, called rápido or intercidade (IC). Alfa Pendular is a deluxe, marginally faster and pricier express service on the Lisbon – Coimbra – Porto main line. International services are marked IN on timetables.

There is an InterRail One-Country Rail Pass available for three, four, six or eight days in one month within Portugal. This pass offers significant rebates, for instance to travellers under 26 years, children etc. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064 in the UK).

Trains are much cheaper than in the UK, and there are further discounts for children under age twelve and senior citizens - 50%, group travel (10 or more people) 20%, return tickets 10% and youth travel (Cartao Jovem or Euro 26 cardholders) 30%. Family rail cards and rover tickets are also available. Tourist tickets (Bilhetes turísticos) are valid for seven, 14 or 21 consecutive days and available from main railway stations.

The train service is more reliable than its British counterparts, but trains are less common so it is important to plan ahead.

There is the national coach network, run by Rodoviária Nacional (RN), and competing private operators who run quick non-stop services on the more popular routes, often to destinations not covered by trains. The RN tends to be slower but its prices are lower. Many private operators offer more facilities on longer journeys such as toilets, video, air-conditioning etc. 

Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa (Carris) buses provide an efficient way of getting around Lisbon. A number of small private bus operators run a network of services across the country, and among the largest of these are Rede Expressos (phone 707 223 344), Rodonorte and the Algarve line Eva(phone 289 899 760).

Bus services are of three general types: expressos are comfortable, fast buses between major cities, rápidas are quick regional buses, and carreiras, marked CR, regularly. Some companies also offer a fast deluxe category called alta qualidade.

Even in summer you’ll have little problem booking an expresso ticket for the same or next day. By contrast, the local bus services are very irregular on weekends, especially in summer when school is out.

Under-26 cardholders receive a discount of around 20%, at least on the long-distance services. Senior travellers can get up to 50% off. Most bus-station ticket desks will give you a computer print-out of fares and all services.

Tramways have become rare in Europe, but there are still five working trams (eléctricos) left in Lisbon. Built in the early 19th-century, they are a distinctive yellow colour, and run on thick iron rails set into the city's steep, cobbled streets. Tickets can be purchased from the tram driver. However, you can save money with a Viva Viagem travel pass, which allows unlimited travel on trams, the metro, buses and elevadores for 24 hours from the time of purchase. These passes are available from metro and train stations and from some newsagents and cafés in Lisbon. You can also take special tours of Lisbon in historic restored tramcars. Carristur runs tours every 20 minutes between 10pm and 7pm June - September and every 30 minutes October - May.

And of course there is the zany, unusual ‘transport’ option that only Portugal can provide:

Lisbon's elevadores, or funiculars, all lead to fine viewpoints over the city. Some were built as early as 1902, by a student of Gustave Eiffel (who built the Eiffel Tower), and they can be a lot of fun! For instance, right in the centre of Lisbon's Baixa district sits a giant steel elevator that takes people from the Rua do Ouro up to the Convento do Carmo 45 metres up, home to a café and some great views over the city. Other well-known elvadores include:

 

  • Elevador da Glória, in Restauradores Square, just around the corner from the tourist office in Palácio Foz. This takes you up to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, a wonderful look-out point with a statue-lined terrace and plenty of photo opportunities. 
  • Elevador da Bica takes you up from Rua da Moeda behind Lisbon's central market (Ribeira) to the trendy Bairro Alto, through narrow and interesting streets. A short walk will take you to the Miradouro de Santa Catarina. 
  • The Elevador da Lavra runs from Largo da Anunciada up to the Travessa do Torel. Here you will find Jardim de Torel, renowned for its views of the city.

 


Further reading for Living In Portugal

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Finding work in Portugal

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in Portugal.
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Social life in Portugal

The best way to get settled in Portugal is to find out as much as you can about your new community.
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Heathcare

One of the first things you need to do once you arrive in Portugal is find out where your nearest hospital is.
Read more...

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Education in Portugal

Are you emigrating to Portugal with school-age children?
 

Read more...


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For more information on buying in or making the move overseas, contact the Portugal Buying Guide Resources Team on 0207 898 0549 or email them here.


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Don't forget to download your own copy of the Portugal Buying Guide, your guide to successfully purchase a property in France
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