Lisbon airport to the city centre: Using the Lisbon airport metro

by 22 June 2019Portugal1 comment

Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, is a destination which is beginning to make its mark on the popular tourist trail.

Located halfway down Portugal’s western coastline, Lisbon has it all: big city hotels and shopping, beautiful buildings, traditional music and more history than you can shake a stick at. But if you are planning your own trip to the Portuguese capital, what will it be like to arrive in Lisbon? This guide will take you from the runway to your hotel, and all for just a few euros. Interested? Read on.

The information below is based on arriving into Lisbon Airport Terminal 1, the main terminal of the airport. If you arrive into Lisbon Airport Terminal 2, take the free shuttle to Terminal 1 to access the metro. The shuttle takes 3 minutes and runs from 03:30 am to 01:30 am the next day.

Trams in Lisbon

Getting from the plane to the terminal

The majority of Lisbon’s flights will end on the tarmac, away from the terminal building. Buses wait at the foot of the airport to transfer you to the Lisbon arrivals hall; for a seat, head towards the back of the bus.

Transfer bus at Lisbon airport

Arriving in the terminal

Once you arrive in Lisbon’s gleaming modern terminal, follow the floor signage to Immigration and Baggage Reclaim.

Floor signage at Lisbon airport


As an EU country, Portugal’s immigration lines are divided into 3. If you are a non-EU national, head for the appropriate lane. If you are an EU citizen, you have a choice between conventional counters and a self-service electronic reader which will scan your passport or ID card. When I visited, queues were not long, although this will depend on the number and size of aircraft arriving.

Passport control at Lisbon airport terminal 1

Baggage reclaim

Lisbon’s baggage reclaim area is modern and huge. From immigration, you will first arrive in the reclaim area with belts 9 and upwards. For belts 1-8, head up the ramp to the second set of reclaim belts. Electronic signs on the approach to the reclaim area and above each belt display the flight number and origin of the bags being delivered.

Baggage hall at Lisbon airport terminal 1


There are clean and modern washrooms located in the baggage reclaim area: just turn left immediate as you enter (by belt 13).

ATMs at Lisbon airport terminal 1

ATMs and money exchange

While you are waiting for your suitcase, take the opportunity to get some local euro currency. There is an ATM by belts 9-13 (a fee is charged for withdrawal). By belts 1-8 there is another ATM and a bureau de change; if your case is being delivered on belts 9+, you will still have to pass the bureau de change on the way out, so head there after collecting your bag.

Signs at Lisbon airport

Customs and exit: Lisbon Airport transportation

From baggage reclaim, head through the customs area and turn right. You are now in the Lisbon Airport arrivals hall.

For the cheapest and simplest method of getting to the city centre, head for the metro. You will see signs pointing you in the right direction; follow them and exit the terminal at the far end doors.

Exit from Lisbon airport

Entering the metro

Descend into the metro via the escalator which is directly ahead of you as you exit the terminal. At the bottom of the escalator you will find the ticket machines (there is also another ATM here if you didn’t pick up cash in the terminal).

Lisbon metro ticket machines

Purchasing your ticket

Approach a vacant machine and touch the screen to activate. Look at the bottom left of the screen and you can just make out a small British flag – it is not very clear. Press this flag to change the language to English.

Select the option to buy a new card and ticket, choose the number of tickets required and press the button to continue. In April 2019 tickets cost €1.50, but with a compulsory €0.50 surcharge for the ticket itself making a total of €2. These tickets are not reloadable, so the fare is effectively €2 for adults.

Child fares exist, and there are also multi-trip card available if you will be staying a while: see the Lisbon metro website for details.

Lisbon metro entry barrier

Reaching the platform

Approach the turnstiles, and tap your ticket on the contact pad on top of the console. The gates will slide open. Note that you will need to repeat this process to exit the metro, so keep your ticket safe until your journey is completed.

Descend the several levels of escalators to the platform. Lifts (elevators) are also available if you have pushchairs, wheelchairs or bulky luggage.

There are no maps visible as you approach the platform, but this is for a good reason – the Airport is a terminus station, and all trains run on the red line in the direction of São Sebastião.

Train enters Lisbon metro station

Getting to your destination

Lisbon has 4 metro lines: red, blue, green and yellow. Signs are written in Portuguese, but are colour-coded according to the line making them simple to follow.

If your journey involves a connection, descend at the connecting station and follow signs for the new line. You will need to know the name of the last station on the line, as this will be used to indicate the correct platform. Check out the metro map and a city map to identify the best station to use.

Changing lines in Lisbon metro

Accessible (and suitcase-friendly) stations

Note that not all stations in Lisbon are accessible, meaning that there may not be escalators. If you are not able to carry your luggage up a number of steps, you will need to use a station which is accessible. These are marked with a wheelchair symbol, and normally have lifts (elevators) as well as escalators.

Lisbon Airport Terminal 1

Lisbon departures: Returning to the airport

At the end of your trip, take the Lisbon airport metro back to the airport. As you exit the metro via the escalators, the entrance to Terminal 1 is right in front of you. Check-in desks are located up the escalators in front and to the left, and are divided into zones A-E; check the display board first to make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Alternative forms of Lisbon airport transfer

In addition to the metro, there are other options for getting from Lisbon airport to downtown. Taxis are widely available outside the terminal, and are metered. Driving time from Lisbon airport to the city centre is approximately 15 minutes.

If you are looking for a Lisbon airport shuttle bus, head for the Aerobus which runs from 8am to 9pm (line 1; shorter hours for lines 2 and 3). Outside of these hours, head for the city buses and night bus.

Praça do Municipio Lisbon

More resources for your Lisbon visit

If you are looking for activities in Lisbon, check out the following post:
One Day in Lisbon: Exploring Lisbon Castle

Accommodation in Lisbon

Check out the link below for all the best accommodation options in Lisbon!
Check out some of my other European content!
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