Before I got to Lisbon I’d heard they had a refillable travel card like London’s Oyster card or San Francisco’s Clipper. But when I went online there was a lot of confusion about what you could and couldn’t use it for.

Viva Viagem Card

So after a month of using the Viva Viagem card to go all over Lisbon, here’s my complete guide for getting and using it.

You can use it on:

– All Carris buses and trams EXCEPT the Aerobus.
– All CP urban trains. I used it to & from Sintra and Cascais without problem.
– All metro journeys.

Where to buy:

The automated machines at metro and train stations sell Viva Viagem cards. Push the button for English and follow the prompts for how many cards you want, and how much money you want to put on them. You have to pick a pre-selected amount, like 5€ or 10€. For each amount over 5€ you get a little extra bonus (for example if you bought 10€ you actually get 10.75€ on the card). Alternatively, you can choose to put a day pass on there. The card itself costs 0.50€. You can recharge the card at these same machines.

How to use:

When you enter and exit the metro or train platform, simply hold the card over the scanner and wait for the doors to open. On a bus, look for the yellow reader near the driver, hold the card over the scanner and wait for a green light and a beep.


The card gives you cheaper fares than buying a one-off ticket on the buses, trams and metro, so it pays for itself easily. You save 0.10€ on each metro journey, and the buses we took were always 1.05€, though the quoted prices are 1.75€ for the bus and 2.85€ for the tram.

Things to Know:

– You can only carry one type of “payment” on a Viva Viagem card at a time. So if you choose to load it with a day pass, you have to use that day pass up before you can put regular money on it to use it for what they call “zapping”.
– The card is just thick paper, not plastic like in other cities, so be careful with it.
– It expires after one year, so don’t keep money on it thinking you can come back and use it on your next trip in two years!

Lisbon’s public transit can get you to basically every tourist site in the greater metro area, including day trips to Sintra and Cascais. The Viva Viagem is the cheapest way to get around, and you don’t have to fuss with getting exact change for a driver. Huzzah!

  • Bennetta

    Can the 24h card be used to travel to and from Sintra as well as use the buses in Sentra? Or does a separate card or ticket need to be purchased for the round trip to Sintra as well as to take the buses in Sentra?



    • Kit Whelan

      The day pass is not valid for the urban trains to Sintra, as far as I know. But it isn’t very expensive anyway :)

  • Zoe

    How much did it cost to go from Lisbon to Sintra/Cascais? Is it included in the price of a day ticket on the Viva Viagem card?


    • Kit Whelan

      I believe the day pass is valid on all metro trips and Carris buses, but this does not include the urban train link to Sintra or Cascais. I don’t remember the exact fare to either destination, but I believe it was only a few Euros.

  • Zoe

    Thanks for the reply. If I have a day ticket on my Viva Viagem card, do you know if I’ll need a seperate card to go on the Sintra/Cascais trains and/or the ferry on the same day?

    Thank you!

    • Kit Whelan

      I *think* the day ticket should work on all of those, but check at the Tourist Office when you arrive just in case they’ve changed the rules.

  • Marri

    Can this card also be used on trams and elevators? How do you know how much to put on a card eg. what if you think you have enough and you don’t?

    • Kit Whelan

      Yes it works on the trams, but I’m not sure about the elevators since I never used them. If you don’t have enough for a the cheapest ride it probably won’t let you on. You can just use one of the machines to find out how much you have left and top up. As fares often change from year to year, I’ll refer you to the websites to figure out how much you’ll need:
      If you’re worried about figuring out exact amounts, I’d recommend buying a day pass.

  • miguel hernandez

    Thank you. Simple things like this make travel much easier.

  • 6of1

    Can you put 3 days on the card at once?

    • Kit Whelan

      Hmm… I’m not 100% sure, so you’ll have to ask at a station or the tourist office, but I would think so!

  • Phil

    I am going to Lisbon for about 24hrs the taking the train to Faro for a week then train back then going straight to airport. Is this card better or should I buy a 24hr pass then a one way pass from train station to airport? Thanks

    • Kit Whelan

      This card allows you to put a day pass on it, so the answer to your question is YES! a 24-hour pass on the Viva Viagem card is probably your best bet. When I was there three years ago, you couldn’t use the VV card on the Aerobus, so I would advise you to ask at a ticket office or tourist office about getting back to the airport.

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