The best way to see central Lisbon is on foot; most points of interest are within the well-defined older quarters. However, the city's cobblestone sidewalks and steep climbs make walking tiring, even with comfortable shoes, so at some point you'll want to use the public-transportation system, if only to experience the old trams and elevadores: funicular railways and elevators linking high and low parts of the city. Like the buses, they are operated by the public transportation company, Carris.
For all these forms of transport, paying as you board means paying much more (€1.80 a ride for the bus, €2.85 the tram, €3.60 for the funicular, and €5 for the elevator), in cash. It's better to purchase a 7 Colinas or Viva Viagem travel card, both of which can also be used on the metro and ferries. Buy them at transport terminals and at the foot of the Elevador de Santa Justa.
Lisbon's modern metro system (station entrances are marked with a red "M") is cheap and speedy, though it misses many sights and gets crowded during rush hour and for big soccer matches. You can charge your Viva Viagem card with cash. For €1.40, you get one hour's access to buses, trams, and the metro: choose the "Zapping" option to load larger amounts onto your card if you intend to make multiple journeys.
The Lisboa Card is a special pass that allows free travel on all public transportation (including trains to Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril) as well as free or discounted entry into 27 museums, monuments, and galleries. The cards are valid for 24 hours (€18.50), 48 hours (€31.50), or 72 hours (€39). It’s sold at the airport (in well-signed kiosks), across from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in the Lisbon Welcome Centre, at the tourist office in the Palácio Foz, and at major hotels and other places around the city. Cardholders get to skip the line at many attractions, too.
Carris’s tourism unit, Yellow Bus Tour, operates a special Hills Tramcar Tour, tickets for which are €18: the tram rattles through the most scenic parts of old Lisbon. Yellow Bus Tour also runs two different hop-on, hop-off routes (€17) in open-top buses, starting at Praça da Figueira. The Tagus Tour circles downtown and stops at the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery; the Olisipo Tour heads east to the Military Museum, Ceramic Tile Museum, and Parque das Nações. These special trams and buses depart from Praça do Comércio, starting at about 10 am. There is also a minibus in Belém, shuttling between museums and other sites in that area. Keep a close eye on your belongings when using public transportation, especially Tram 28, during busy times. Pickpockets ply their trade on crowded trains, buses, and trams.
Carris. 21/361–3000; www.carris.pt.
Yellow Bus Tour. 21/347--8030; www.yellowbustours.com/en-GB/Lisbon/Circuits.aspx.
Metropolitano de Lisboa. 21/3500115; metro.transporteslisboa.pt.