Yesterday I was touring around with Paula Thomas and her family. They’re a lovely (big) family from California who are spending a couple of weeks in Portugal and some days in Lisbon. We did a “Old and downtown” walking tour together ,to get their bearings of the city ,and the first thing we did was to buy public transportation tickets, aka “Viva Viagem”.
“Viva viagem” is a green card that you can buy in subway stations and other public transportation offices. It works like a credit card, and every time that you use it, they automatically take out the cost of your journey.
When you buy it choose the option “zapping” and then choose the amount you want do charge: 2€, 5€, 10€ or 15€. Don’t worry about adding too much money, just keep the white receipt that comes with it and before you leave Lisbon, go to a counter with the card and your receipt. You’ll be returned the unused credit.
During your stay in Lisbon, as long as your credit is enough, you’ll be able to use it on board of the trams, buses, historical elevators, subway, trains that go to Sintra and Cascais, and also on the ferries that cross the river. These trips cost 1.40€ using these cards, but if you buy the tickets on board, they can cost up to 5€.
There are three things no one tells you. 1st- these cards are rechargeable: if your credit finishes, just go to another office or machine, insert your card and add some money. The card itself costs 0.50€. 2nd- These cards are very easy to break or demagnetize. Don’t store them together, in your pocket, close to your credit card nor to your cellphone. 3rd- Don’t throw the white receipt away: you’ll need it to get your credit back or to recover it in case your card stops working.
With all this you’ll be saving about 1€ per journey, which you can easily spend on our wonderful “café”, delicious “pastéis de nata” or fresh “imperiais”.