I have come across a lot of city cards in my travels. It often seems like a good idea to get one if you’re thinking of doing some sightseeing. But sometimes, when you actually do the calculations, you realise that maybe buying one wasn’t such a great idea.
So, the question in this case is: Is the Lisboa Card worth it?
The answer is easy. Yes! A big yes!
I don’t think I’ve ever used a city card that offered such amazing value. No matter how you look at the Lisboa Card, it is worth getting for at least some of your time in Lisbon.
Having said that, there are a few different ways that you could use it – and getting the best value from the Lisboa Card will depend on what you would like to do during your visit to Lisbon.
Let me take you through my advice to help you plan.
What is the Lisboa Card?
Firstly, let’s make sure you know all the basic facts about the Lisboa Card. It is the official tourist card that you can buy for a certain period of time that offers you free entry to a range of sights in Lisbon – and discounts at other attractions and local businesses.
You also get free public transport during the period that the card is active. There are a few other benefits that I’ll mention as we go along.
How much is the Lisboa Card?
There are three options for the Lisboa Card, depending on the length of time that you want to be able to use it.
- A 24 hour Lisboa Card costs: €19 for an adult and €12 for a child.
- A 48 hour Lisboa Card costs: €32 for an adult and €18 for a child.
- A 72 hours Lisboa Card costs: €40 for an adult and €21 for a child.
A child, in this case, is defined as being between the ages of 4 to 15 (inclusive).
And also note that the card is done by hours, not days. So, for example, if you start using it at 10:00 on a Tuesday, it will be valid until 10:00 on the Wednesday.
Where do you buy the Lisboa Card?
There are three places in Lisbon where you can get a Lisboa Card.
- The Lisboa Welcome Centre (which is the main tourist office at the large Comércio Plaza at the waterfront in Baixa).
- Foz Palace (which is the tourist office next to the Rossio train station, which takes you to Sintra)
- Lisbon Airport
I would recommend buying it in advance – it’s much more convenient and will save you some time. You can then just pop in and pick it up at one of these locations. Try to do it at the airport if you are flying into Lisbon, because that’s the easiest option.
The time limit on the card begins from the first time you use it, not when you buy it or pick it up. So you can get it at the airport and then not start using it until the next day or the day after, for example.
How to use the Lisboa Card for the best value?
The exact way you’ll use the card will depend on how long you have and what your interests are. But let me give you a few options.
Using the Lisboa Card for one day
If you are using the card for just one day, I would suggest spending half the day at Belém, to see some of the most important sights in Lisbon.
Definitely visit Belém Tower (normally €6) and Jerónimos Monastery (normally €10), which together make up a World Heritage Site. There are a lot of other museums nearby that are included and you should have time to see one or two. I would suggest the National Museum of Coaches (normally €8) and/or MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) (normally €9).
With the other half of the day, I would suggest you do some of the main museums and sights in the historic centre of Lisbon.
Depending on how fast you would like to see things, you should be able to see the National Museum of Ancient Art (normally €6), the Lisboa Story Centre (normally €7), the National Pantheon (normally €3), and go up the Pilar 7 Bridge Experience (normally €6).
All the public transport between these places is also free with the card, including the train to Belém. For the purposes of calculating the savings, I’m going to use the cost of an unlimited public transport card for a day, which is €6.
The cost of doing all of these things is €61. The 24 hours Lisboa Card is only €19.
So that’s a saving of €42 in just one day!
Of course, it will be a busy day to do all of these things but it is possible. More likely, you’ll skip one or two sights based on your own preferences – but it’s still great value.
Using the Lisboa Card for two days
If you’re using the Lisboa Card for two days, then here’s how I would suggest getting the best value.
With your first day, I would focus on the area around Belém. It’s one of the most important historical parts of the city and there is plenty to see there in a day.
I mentioned some of the sites in my tips for using the Lisboa Card for one day, but there are some other ones I would recommend.
With one day at Belém, you can see Belém Tower (normally €6), Jerónimos Monastery (normally €10), The Berardo Collection Museum (normally €5), Ajuda Palace (normally €5), National Museum of Coaches (normally €8), MAAT (normally €9) – and even have time to do the Pilar 7 Bridge Experience (normally €6) before you finish your day of sightseeing.
I have put together a detailed guide on spending one day in Belém that will give you all the information you need.
With your second day, my suggestion is to focus on the sites in the main tourist part of Lisbon around Baixa. There is lots to see here that you’ll probably be interested in anyway and using the Lisboa Card for all the ones that have free entry is a great way to see lots and save money on the one day.
My tips for the must-see sites to visit are the National Tile Museum (normally €5), the National Pantheon (normally €3), the Lisboa Story Centre (normally €7), the National Museum of Contemporary Art (normally €4.50), the National Museum of Ancient Art (normally €6) and the Rua Augusta Arch (normally €2.50).
The other sites that are nearby and are worth seeing because you’ll get free entry with the Lisboa Card are the Roman Theatre Museum (normally €3), the Saint Anthony Museum (normally €3), and the Santa Justa Elevator (normally €5).
If you look at the two days of sightseeing that I’ve suggested, paying for everything individually would cost you €88. The 48 hour Lisboa Card is just €32.
That’s a massive saving of €56 over two days!!
As you are probably realising by now, the card is better value the longer you use it for.
Using the Lisboa Card for three days
If you are going to buy the 72 hour Lisboa Card and use it for three days, then I have some suggestions for the best way to do that as well.
I think the best approach is to actually follow the recommended 48 hour itinerary that I have just explained above. And then you’ll have one more day up your sleeve to venture a little further afield.
Many people don’t realise this, but there are actually quite a few fantastic sights included in the Lisboa Card that are actually great day trips from Lisbon.
If you have a car, you could see a few of them in one day. Without a car, you’ll be a bit limited by public transport and you may want to focus on just one of out-of-town options.
But I would certainly recommend doing any of these sights that have free entry with the Lisboa Card:
- Monastery of Batalha (normally €6)
- Abbey of Alcobaça, with sacristy (normally €8)
- The Convent and Castle of Tomar (normally €6)
- The Royal Palace of Mafra (normally €6)
There are also some interesting museums on the outskirts of Lisbon that may be of particular interest to some people.
Although each is small, I really enjoyed the Pepper Palace (normally €3), the Bordalo Pinheiro Museum (normally €3), and the Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves Museum House (normally €3).
You may also be interested in the Air Museum (normally €3), the National Museum of Costume and Fashion (normally €4), or the National Theatre and Dance Museum (normally €4) – each of which is well put together but probably better suited to people who have an interest in this topics.
You’ll also get a few discounts if you use the Lisboa Card to go on a day trip to Sintra. The train from Lisbon’s Rossio station (normally €5 return) will be free and you’ll get discounts on the entrance tickets at most main sights of between 10% to 20%.
If you do decided to go, I have put together a one day Sintra guide that will give you all the details on the best way to spend the day.
Ultimately, you’ll need to make up your own mind on what interests you on this third day. The Lisboa Card only costs an extra €8 for the third day, so as long as you think you’ll get that much value, then it’s worth it.
Also, don’t forget that the Lisboa Card gives you free public transport for the whole time it is active – and each of the metro stations is decorated with its own artwork.
You might like to jump off at a few stations to have a closer look at the art work, and this can be a fun way to spend some time on the third day.
I said it at the start, and I’ll say it again – this is one of the best value tourist cards I have seen. There’s lots to see and do around Lisbon and most of the highlights are included for free (or discounted) with the card.
When is the Lisboa Card not worth it?
The Lisboa Card won’t be right for everyone, though. So you need to have a think about whether it will suit your personal situation.
Obviously, it won’t be great value if you’re not interested in seeing many of the sights that are included in the card. If you just want to see one or two of the cheaper things, it might make sense to pay for the admission individually.
It also probably wouldn’t make sense financially if you will get a student discount or other concession at most attractions (many sights offer a reduced rate to visitors aged 65 or above, for example). Because you can’t buy a concession Lisboa Card (only a child one for ages 4-15), the savings are not nearly as good.
And you should also consider if it’s worth getting the card if one of the days you would be sightseeing is going to be a Monday.
A lot of museums and sights are closed on Mondays, which means you may not be able to do exactly what you want. Then again, there’s enough open on Mondays (such as all the sights in Sintra) that you can get around this issue with some sensible planning.
If you’ve got big plans to see lots of Lisbon, I hope you have found all of this useful.
I’ve also got some suggestions for accommodation in Lisbon, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay.
For cheap private accommodation, there are some lovely guesthouses run by local families. I would recommend either City Lofts Lisbon or the more centrally-located Great Stay Fanqueiros.
If you're interested in something with a bit more style, I would recommend either the Portugal Boutique Hotel or the Lx Boutique Hotel, which has such beautiful design.
And for some real luxury, two of the best hotels in Lisbon are Pousada de Lisboa or the incredible Memmo Príncipe Real.
I would love to hear your personal experiences of using the Lisboa Card so feel free to leave a review in the comments below.