Is it Worth Getting a Lisboa Card?

Boy chases hat blown by summer breeze along Lisbon waterfront with warehouse building in the background; black and white street scene

Most major cities have their own tourist cards, promising discounts on sightseeing and transport, but it’s not always easy to tell which ones are worth paying for. However, when it comes to the Lisboa Card, Lisbon’s equivalent, the benefits are certainly tempting enough…

Blackboard with Portuguese dishes on Lisbon street
Weighing up the options on the menu – can you afford it?

How much does it cost?

There are 24, 48 or 72 hour cards available, priced at €18.50, €31.50 or €39.00 for adults, or €11.50, €17.50 and €22.50 for children. Bear in mind there’s hardly any price increase from 48 to 72 hours, so you might as well pick the longer option, especially as this gives you access to exclusive restaurant discounts (not available on shorter options).

You can either pre-book the card online from the Tourist Board’s supplier or you can buy it in person when you get there. Either way, you’ll have to visit one of a handful of central locations, such as the Tourist Information Centre in Praça do Comercio, to pick up the card – not a great hardship, as there are plenty of sights nearby.

Old-fashioned elevator in Lisbon city centre against blue sky
The Santa Justa Lift is popular with tourists, but its long opening hours mean you can beat the crowds if you time it right.

What’s included?

Discounts vary, but there are quite a few free attractions, including the Elevador de Santa Justa and the Museu Nacional do Azulejo; those with reduced entry include the Castelo de São Jorge (30% off) and the Museu do Fado (also 30% off). My hidden favourite was the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, a modern art museum showing conceptual art, which I love, alongside traditional Portuguese art. Not many Portuguese artists made it big, apart from Paula Rego, but there are some stunning pieces on display here.

I got great value for money in the Belem district, where combined entry to three key museums (the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, the Archaeological Museum and the Torre de Belem) should have cost €16 for an adult, plus the cost of the tram ride to get there, but all of this was free with the Lisboa Card. Other sights in the area have decent discounts, too.

Traditional monument to Porguese navigation and seafaring adventures on River Tagus with tourists nearby
The last thing you want to do is trek to the Discoveries Monument and find it shut.

How is it activated?

Just sign the back of the card and then validate it by adding the date and time on the front. The time period doesn’t start to run out when you buy the card, just when you first use it. Quick tip: check museum opening times before you travel, or you risk looking like a right plum.

I bought my card on a Monday, when most museums are closed, so I used Monday afternoon to explore on foot, then caught a hop-on hop-off bus to get my bearings and see all the different districts (let’s just say Lisbon is a big city!). I then activated the card on Tuesday.

Tourist sits cross-legged in the corridors of the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, Portugal, with intricate carvings
Sheltering from the heat behind a pillar at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.

Are there any added benefits?

The card comes with a queue-jumping perk, which really isn’t promoted enough. Until I saw other tourists using it to skip the long lines outside the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monastery), I had no idea this was possible. I saved loads of time which would otherwise have been wasted queuing in the heat. And who wouldn’t secretly love the ability to push through, VIP-style, with a smug grin on your face?!

You can also use the Lisboa Card to reach attractions in Sintra – you don’t even need to buy a train ticket, which would normally cost €4.30 (return). Just scan the card when you head through the barriers at Rossio Station. Sintra, a 40 minute train ride away, is a lovely green contrast to chic and urban Lisbon.

Portguese bookshop, Livraria Bertrand, covered in azulejo tiles, found in Chiado, Lisbon
You can do some cool things for free in Lisbon, too, like visiting the famous Livraria Bertrand – the world’s oldest bookshop, founded in 1732.

When is it not worth buying?

If you’re not a fan of museums or historical relics, you won’t need this; for a small culture fix you can always visit MUDE (the Fashion and Design Museum), which is free all year round. There are a few shopping discounts if that’s more your thing, but not enough to warrant spending this kind of money to get them.

When it comes to free transport with the Lisboa Card, if you’re staying pretty central in Lisbon and don’t plan on doing much sightseeing then you might not need to use any at all; otherwise you can get tickets for trams and buses very cheaply, with taxis being very competitive too. But if you’re interested in getting under the skin of this city, the featured heritage sites and museums are the perfect starting point.

City street sign in Portugal pointing to Cais do Sodre, Parque Camoes and Museu da Farmacia.
The choice is yours. Will you travel with the city card or go it alone?

Verdict

Unless you’re looking to spend the majority of your holiday rolling your eyes at sightseers, you’d be a fool to miss out on the Lisboa Card. You’ll find yourself in places you might never have otherwise visited, and you’ll learn loads about Portuguese history and culture.

7 thoughts on “Is it Worth Getting a Lisboa Card?”

  1. We are going to be in Lisbon next week and are going to get the Lisbon card. I wasn’t sure t was convenient, but I am planning a full day in Belem and your article just helped me made my mind up, thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Marta,
      Glad the article was useful for planning your trip! I definitely found the Lisboa Card handy for Belem, especially as the queues were so long for the monastery and it was a relief to skip them. Hope you have a great time in Lisbon, and let me know how you get on!
      Polly

  2. We’re traveling to Lisbon on April 30th.We plan visiting museums,galleries and using the metro a lot as I have ME,making walking difficult.As May 1st is a public holiday are we better to wait and get the Lisbon Card for Tuesday to Thursday? Will many attractions be closed on the Monday? What about Subtract? Thanks in advance.Oh,and do we get to skip queues with the Lisbon Card?

  3. hi. I’m going to Lisbon for 8-hour layover. I believe it’s on a Monday.. I do have an interest in museums but after reading your article and thinking it might not be a good idea if public transportation is cheap.

    1. Hi Mingsze,

      I definitely found I was able to skip the line with the card. This feature wasn’t well advertised and might not apply to every attraction. I found it worked in Belem but, like you, I have seen TripAdvisor comments saying otherwise. It’s worth trying, as I was able to skip the line but had no idea it was possible until I saw other cardholders do it. The website certainly suggests you can, but doesn’t deal with specifics, which isn’t very helpful!

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