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Public Transit good for Tourist Sites in Porto/Lisbon?

Hi fellow travelers!
My hub and I are headed to Portugal for two weeks (leave in a week), splitting our time between Porto and Lisbon, w/ a couple days in Nazare in the middle. I have bad feet and ankles, so RS' suggested walking tours are a bit daunting. (Mine are good for a few hours, but not the entire day.) So I've been looking into the hop-on-off tour buses and trams. But the HO/HO busses get really bad reviews on Trip Advisor, with folks saying they don't come as often as they claim and that they spend most of their days WAITING. So I'm wondering if we might be better off with public buses? Is it easy to find buses that go to the main tourist attractions? Do they come by frequently? (The appeal of the HO/HO is NOT having to spend so much time with our noses in a transit schedule, trying to figure out what's coming, when, and where it's going. But maybe that's small taters compared to waiting for a HO/HO bus that NEVER COMES!!) So any advice on this topic would be very much appreciated! (I will say the trams seem like a better bet, as their schedules are part of the public transit system and it shows they come every 20-30 minutes.) Again, THANKS!

Posted by
420 posts

I don't know the answers to your questions, exactly, but when we were in Lisbon, we used the Lisboa card which got us into many of the sights (Jeronimos monastery, etc.) and onto public transportation (metro, buses, trolleys, etc, even including the trains to Sintra and Cascais). Plus, the card was good for the full number of hours after we started using it (unlike some, which count the day you start using it as a full day).

Just thought I'd throw that in, in case it helps you with your decision.

Posted by
6 posts

So the research I did after making the post gave me my answer! I thought I'd help out others who might have the same question by replying to myself.

Turns out the SCTP, which is the public transit system in Porto, has several tourism maps in PDF form all laid out! Schedules are every 15, 20 or 30 minutes -- and I suspect they can't get away with just blowing off a pickup, as the HO/HO operators seem inclined to do. Here's the link:
https://www.stcp.pt/en/tourism/discover-porto/suggested-routes/

The Andante Card gives unlimited rides for 7E, or a three-day ticket for 15E. While single trips are cheap and that might be overkill, I'm inclined to think it may be worth it just to save the hassle. Unlimited tram passes are 10E for 2 days, or 6E for a roundtrip in one day.

So we're going to take the PDF maps to the print shop so we can plot some strategy between now and then!

Posted by
64 posts

ceemitchtravel,
another idea to add to your list- use Uber in Porto and Lisbon. I find my feet don't do well after many hours on cobblestones either, and we did Uber in Lisbon and Porto to help with this. It was very affordable to use this option.

For example, when we did Belem, we had an Uber pick us up at our accommodation and drop us off at Belem tower. We then worked our way back via all the sights, and could have taken the train back into Lisbon (ended up Ubering cause I was tired). This meant we encountered very few people out at the sights at the end since it was early in the day.

Just an another idea to pop in your toolkit to spare your feet!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, Amber! Do you know, will we able to get Uber via wifi on phones or will we need a bona fide phone plan w data? I just got a new phone that's attached to Verizon. (Via Twigby.) Thanks!

Posted by
1943 posts

You should be able to use the Uber app when you have a wifi connection, just like you would at home; but if you don't have wifi, you'd need a data plan, just like you would at home. Verizon's international plan is $10 each day that you use it. Or you can buy a local SIM. Lots of great posts on that subject. The one I use costs about $15 for enough data for me to use on a 3-4 week trip.

I'm inclined to think it may be worth it just to save the hassle.

I find that when I buy the local transit pass, I'll use it to do some minimally directed sightseeing and I end up discovering some things I wouldn't otherwise have seen. Typically that flexibility doesn't end up costing me much more than the single tickets for my planned transit, and the freedom to use it as my own personal HOHO system makes for very time-effective sightseeing.

Posted by
2287 posts

Taxis and Ubers are cheap in Portugal, I used them a lot in my 2019 visit and fares for short hops within Lisbon were always single digit. Even Belém to Praça Comércio (central Lisbon) should not exceed 10€ outside of rush hour.

Posted by
13 posts

Uber is cheap and reliable in both Lisbon and Porto and a good alternative to taxis which are less so. Also a good way to get from the airport to your hotel upon arrival, You should also consider downloading the Bolt app which is sometimes more available and/or cheaper. Both work from your phone just as they would at home.

Posted by
146 posts

Hi!

I cannot advise about Lisbon, but I can say a thing or two about Porto.

  • There are many narrow streets in Porto, where buses are not able to go, even the smaller ones, and never the HO/HO. Porto is hilly. These two things combined, makes me say that I think a good alternative are tuk-tuk, at least for the heritage part of the city.
  • You cannot rely on schedules from STCP, at least not always. Week-end are terrible, and even working days. Anyway, buses and metro are a good way to move.
  • Andante is not valid for trams and funicular.
  • Trams: there are 3, nr 18, nr 22 and nr 1. Nr 18 takes you from uphill near Clérigos tower, down to the river. Nr. 22 takes you from the same point, goes down to the square near São Bento train station, up to Batalha. It saves you a lot of walking. Tram nr 1 starts by the river, at Ribeira, near São Francisco church, and takes you along the river till Passeio Alegre garden, where the river meets the ocean. In my opinion the price is expensive, 3,5 eur one way, 6 eur both ways, so I think people use trams just because the ride is nice, not exactly for the transportation.
  • There are some interesting buses in Porto, like the 500. It starts in the city heart (Praça da Liberdade, oposite side of city hall), goes down to Ribeira, along the river passing the mentioned garden Passeio Alegre, and continues by the ocean (beautiful beaches and the posh part of the city) until the neighbour city Matosinhos. Ends at Matosinhos market. Matosinhos is where you go if you want grilled fresh fish (or at least is where I go).
  • Funicular: it takes you down from Ribeira to the upper part near Batalha. Price: 2,5 eur. Price of a UBER to do the same: 4 eur. Funicular is interesting, funny, but not exactly the best way to move.

Tricks for saving legs and anckles (did I told you the city is hilly?):

  • If you want to see Porto from above, but you do not want to climb Clérigos tower (225 steps) you can have the same sight at a roof top bar. I like the one at Hotel D. Henrique, 18th floor with lift, not stairs. The views are astonishing, and you can have an Alexander nr 1 (a cocktail), they are the best making it! Or you can have an orange juice. Or whatever.
  • When you are at São Bento train station, looking up you can see the Cathedral. It's very near, so you say - ok, let's walk, it's so close. In a hot day, with open sky and the sun hiting your head, it's not that near. I use to go down at the metro station, walk to the end, take the rolling stairs on the right side, and I'm there, with the cathedral in front of me
  • From the Customs house, and the Museum of Discoveries, to go up (half way up) there are rolling stairs
  • Taxis are cheap, Uber is cheaper. Depending a lot on where you will be staying, you might use them a few times.

And this is what comes to my mind for the time being. Have a nice stay!

Helena

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks Ceemitchtrvel for posting this question. And Thank You - to all who replied! We head over on Oct 7th... and will spend several days each in Porto and Lisbon. The information from all will be SO helpful.