Lisbon extends along the banks of the Tejo estuary, and the commuter ferries are an integral component of the capital’s public transport network. The ferry services provide an alternative means of travel from the residential districts on the southern banks of the Tejo Estuary to the centre of Lisbon. These ferries are popular with Lisbon’s commuters as it avoids the bottleneck on the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
Apart from the Cristo Rei statue, there are few tourist attractions on the southern side of the Tejo Estuary. The fascination of the ferry ride is the journey itself and the panoramic views of Lisbon from the waterside.
Lisbon Ferry Routes
There are five ferry routes, with three stops in Lisbon and four stops on the southern banks:
• Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro: It is on the southern edge of the Praça do Comércio, and is connected to the blue metro line. This line is the longest ferry route and it uses faster catamarans. This route provides the best views over Alfama and the eastern side of Lisbon, but Barreiro is simply a ferry terminal and a non-descript town.
• Cais do Sodré to Montijo, Seixal and Cacilhas (recommended route): Cais do Sodré ferry terminal is connected to the green metro line and is also a major railway station, with trains to Cascais and the Estoril coastline. The actual ferry terminal is in a separate building, which is south of the train station.
From Cais do Sodré there are three routes, to Cacilhas, Montijo and Seixal. The ferries to Montijo and Seixal use the modern catamarans, while the older, orange ferries cross to Cacilhas. Cacilhas is the better tourist route, as it passes close to the suspension bridge and only takes 15 minutes to cross the river. One of the main reasons for crossing to Cacilhas is to visit the Cristo Rei statue and the amazing viewpoint at the top of the monument. However, the bus route would be a better choice.
• Belem to Porto Brandão and Trafaria (recommended route): The Belem ferry departs from the western side of Lisbon and is a great activity for visitors who have more time to spend in the district. The main issue with the Belem ferry is the infrequent departures (as there is only one boat) and the return journey is much longer than all of the other ferry routes.
Fares and Tickets
The following list provides the cost of a single crossing; there are no return tickets and two single tickets must be purchased. The ferry fares are charged to the Viva Viagem card, which is applicable to all public transport network of Lisbon. The initial purchase of the Viva Viagem card is €0.50. However, the card can only hold one type of ticket at a time, for example, if it is charged with a metro ticket you cannot add a ferry ticket to it.
• Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro – €2.45
• Cais do Sodré to Montijo – €2.80
• Cais do Sodré to Seixal – €2.45
• Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas – €1.30
• Belem to Porto Brandão and Trafaria – €1.25
Lisbon ferries are an important means of transport for commuters and workers, so there are many departures (more in working days, less in the weekend) with services starting early in the day (apprx. 5 – 5.30 a.m.) and continuing late into the night (around 1 – 1.30 a.m.). Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas is the busiest route, while the Belem route only has one boat and significantly fewer departures.
Terreiro do Paço – Barreiro
Cais do Sodré – Cacilhas
Cais do Sodré – Montijo
Cais do Sodré – Seixal
Belém – Trafaria – Porto Brandão