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The ferry services of Lisbon that cross the Tejo River are an integral component of the capital’s public transport network. The ferry routes provide an inexpensive means of travel from the commuter districts south of Lisbon, avoiding the bottle neck of the Ponte Abril suspension bridge.
For visitors to Lisbon, the ferries provide a shoreline perspective of the city and make for an enjoyable alternative tourist activity. This article will provide a tourist guide to Lisbon’s ferries, including an overview of the major routes, fares and excursions from the southern side of the Tejo estuary.
Lisbon Ferry Routes
There are three ferry terminals on the northern bank of Lisbon, two of them are major moorings close to the city centre (Terreiro do Paço and Cais do Sodré) and the third is a lesser terminal to the west of the city in the Belem district. There are few tourist attractions on the southern side of the Tagus estuary, being the main attraction of the ferry journey the ride itself and the fantastic views over Lisbon. The one exception is the Cristo Rei statue, which may be reached via the Cacilhas ferry and the 101 bus. For an in-depth guide about travelling to the Christ statue, please click here.
The ferry to Cacilhas from Lisbon
The following list details all of the Lisbon ferry routes and is listed in a downstream (east to west) direction:
• Terreiro do Paço to Montijo
• Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro
• Cais do Sodré to Seixal
• Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas
• Belem to Porto Brandão and Trafaria
Terreiro do Paço Lisbon Ferries
The Terreiro do Paço ferry terminal ferry terminal is on the southern edge of the Praça do Commercial square in central Lisbon, and is connected to the blue metro line by the metro station of the same name. The two ferry routes from Terreiro do Paço to Montijo and Barreiro are the longest, therefore the fast modern catamarans serve these routes. Ferry departures from Terreiro do Paço provide great views over the Praça do Comércio, downtown Lisbon and the Alfama district.
A single ticket on either route costs €2.75, with a return being twice the price. The ferry tickets are charged to the Viva Viagem reusable card and the initial purchase of this card is €0.50.
Both ferry routes are major commuter services so there are multiple services per hour that continue late into the night, but it’s best to avoid the rush hour as the boats can get very busy. Barreiro is simply a ferry terminal and a non-descript town, while Montijo is a pretty little village with beaches at Samouco that open out onto the Tejo estuary.
Cais do Sodré Ferries
Cais do Sodré ferry terminal is connected to the train and metro station of the same name and is the last stop on the green metro line. The Cais do Sodré to Seixal ferry route uses the modern catamarans and a single costs €2.35 but there is little to do or see on the opposite bank. Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas is the shortest of any of the ferry routes and thus uses the much older and slower orange ferries.
This is the busiest route and due to the short distance (still taking 20 minutes), it is also the cheapest of the major routes at €1.20 for a single. Cacilhas is a major bus and overland metro station, with direct bus services to the beach resort of Costa da Caparica and the Cristo Rei statue. The only tourist sight in Cacilhas is the last sail powered ship constructed by the Portuguese navy. The ferries from Cais do Sodré offer great views of the suspension bridge but the historic centre of Lisbon is not as clear as the Terreiro do Paço ferries. Cais do Sodré ferries are important commuter services so there are again multiple services per hour operating late into the night.
The ferry services to Porto Brandão and then Trafaria depart from the Belem ferry terminal, which is half-way between the Marina and the Museu da Electricidade house in the old power station. The ferry route crosses the Tejo from Belem and stops at two locations on the southern bank, Porto Brandão and then Trafaria.
This is a much lesser ferry route than all of the other services and uses slower, older boats. A single costs €1.15 and the crossing is only 15 minutes. The route does provide wonderful views over Belem and the suspension bridge but unfortunately the opposite bank just has ugly disused industrial units to offer. Neither Porto Brandão nor Trafaria offer much to see, although Trafaria does provide an alternative route to Costa da Caparica during the summer months.