Lisbon airport - Portela
Updated June 2015
Lisbon's airport was built in the early 1940s in fields to the north of the capital. Over the years, it became encroached by the expanding urban metropolis to the point where, nowadays, it is well inside the city. There are plans for the building of a new airport further away, but they have been temporarily shelved due to the financial crisis.
Some ingenious refurbishing has managed to modernize and expand the buildings, as much as possible, to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic, but it is far from being on par with some of the major airports in Europe. A temporary measure was the addition of a small outlying building, Terminal 2, dedicated to low-cost airlines. A regular 3-minute ride in the free shuttle service operates every 10 minutes between the two terminals.
However, the airport's location has two advantages: the proximity of the city centre that can be reached by taxi in 10/15 minutes, if traffic allows; and the magnificent view of the city as you come in to land from the south. Choose a window seat on the starboard side (on the right) to appreciate the old part of Lisbon topped by the castle, as you cross the immense estuary of the River Tagus; and then the "Baixa" (Downtown - pronounced as "by + shut" without the final "t" with the stress on "by") totally rebuilt after the deadly earthquake and tsunami of 1755.
Large baggage carts are available free of charge, or coin deposit, and can be found outside the terminal. You must leave them before you queue up for the Security checks. There are no trolleys inside the Departure Lounge. On arrival, you can find them near the carrousels in the baggage collection area.
Starting June 1st, 2015, the airport offers free Wi-Fi in both terminals. There is no longer any time limit.
Select the "VINCI airports Wi-Fi" network and open your Internet browser. You must register the first time you use the service.
Nova Cambios is in the same public area on the right; and a desk air-side near Gate 41. Both are open from 05:00h to 23:00h.
Unicambio has several desks in Terminal 1 which are open from 05:00h to 23:00h, with the one in arrivals staying open until 01:00h.
- Arrivals: in the baggage collection hall and outside in the public area.
- Departures: both airside: one in the central part, and another in the South Pier.
The Bank Santander-Totta is present in Terminal 1, on the left as you enter the building. This is not a money exchange office. It is a normal branch of the bank open from 08:30h to 15:00h for the benefit of its clients.
Mobile charging stations
There are special areas reserved for recharging electronic equipment (mobile phones, laptops, etc.) These areas are called "Living Spot" and can be found in
- Terminal 1, Public Departures Concourse by the Post Office (CTT)
- Terminal 1, Restricted Departures Lounge (air-side), next to Gate 17.
In any case, you should find electrical sockets around most departure gates; and most cafes allow clients to charge devices in their space, both in the Departures Lounges, and the public areas.
There are pharmacies in both the Departures and Arrivals public areas of Terminal 1. They are open daily from 7am to 10pm.
The Left Luggage store is located in the Arrivals area next to the car park P2 section. Turn left as you exit Customs. When you come to the car park payment machines (on the left) go through the glass doors and you will come across the Left Luggage office. It is signposted.
It is open every day, 24 hours a day.
Cost per 24 hours' period:
- €2,90 up to 10Kg
- €4.30 up to 30Kg
- €8.60 above 30Kg
There is a manned post office in the Departures concourse as you enter the building, before the check-in areas. It is open from 9am and closes at 8pm, except on Saturdays (6 pm) and Sundays (5pm with a lunch break between 1pm and 2 pm). Outside those hours, you can use its stamp-dispensing machine and post-box.
Inside the Departure Lounge of Terminal 1 there is also a dispensing machine and post box. Terminal 2 has the same unmanned arrangement just before Security.
The airport is so near the city centre that the concept of "airport hotels" is unnecessary. However, you could choose one on the northern side of the city centre to be as close as possible to the airport and minimize possible, very common, traffic jams in the rush hours.
Alternatively, the Radisson Blu provides a 5-minute complimentary shuttle to the airport from 6am to 11am only. Outside those hours a taxi would cost €8-€10. You can view their website here.
There is NO departure tax. All taxes, if applicable, are already included in the cost of the tickets.
To get to the city there are basically three alternatives:
There are two types of buses that you can take. Both stop right outside the Terminal and you will not have to walk more than a few metres to board them:
Regular buses have different routes and you should enquire from the Airport Information desk which is appropriate for you. The following services stop at the airport:
- 744: Moscavide – Airport – Marquês do Pombal
- 783: Portela or Prior Velho – Airport – Amoreiras
- 705: Oriente Station– Airport –Roma-Areeiro Station
- 722: Portela – Airport – Praca de Londres
The top two are very useful for different parts of the Centre.
There is an all-night bus, Route 208, that goes via Alameda, Martim Moniz, Praca da Figueira (near Rossio station), Praca do Comercio and Cais do Sodre railway station, the Lisbon terminal for the line to Estoril and Cascais. The journey from the airport to Cais do Sodre should take just over half-an-hour (approximate departure times from airport: 23.30, 00:00, 00:30, 01:30, 02,30,03:30, 04:00, 04:30).
The fare is €1.80 irrespective of destination when bought from the driver(a day unlimited travel ticket for buses, Metro, trams, funiculars, and Santa Justa lift costs €6.00). However, if you have (or buy) a Viva card and load it with credit(see below in the Metro section) the prepaid price is €1.25.
Aerobus, is a fixed route service designed for visitors. It runs between the airport and Cais do Sodre railway Station, stopping at major hotels. A second line goes to the Financial District, and the main long-distance Bus Terminal. It operates every 20 minutes (30 minute after 21:00h), weekdays, from 07:00h to 23:20h; and from 07:40h to 23:00h in the other direction. On weekends and holidays the first and last buses have slightly different times. See below.
The adult ticket price when bought in the airport or from the driver is €3.50. You can view the actual stops, timetables, and buy the ticket online at a discount.
Taxi drivers can be problematic and some use various scams to overcharge passengers. They go from setting the meter to a higher tariff (there are 3 tariffs for in-town/outside town; return trip; long distance), to changing to a higher tariff long before the agreed city limits; to hiding the meter altogether!
The taxi rank is right outside the main doors. Taxis in Lisbon are either beige, or black and green; you may also find licenced tourist taxis (they do not have the usual taxi signs; just an "A" or "T" sign by the number plates), which are usually black. To be in the taxi rank they must have a meter like other taxis and the tariffs are the same. However, because unlike normal taxis they do not display the tariff number on the roof, some may change from tariff 1 to tariff 3 soon after leaving the airport making each kilometer twice as expensive.
Long queues after the arrival of various simultaneous flights are common, and you may have to wait in line for your turn, for some time, even if taxis are always available. An alternative is to go up to the departures level and catch a taxi from the rank outside the main entrance. The fares are the same, if applied correctly.
If you want to avoid the possible aggravation with corrupt taxi drivers, you can purchase a fixed price Taxi Voucher from the Tourist Information Desk in the Arrivals concourse. This works out more expensive than the "correct" fare (some 20% to 40% more) but gives you some peace of mind. The prices for the the city centre vary between €16.00 and €20.40; to Estoril, Cascais, or Sintra it is €53.40 (these are day-rates). A disadvantage is that they use a specific taxi company that may not have cars at the airport at the time, meaning that you may have to wait.
All taxis have a taximeter, which should start with €3.25 (or €3.90 in the night period). Once outside the city limits the tariff is changed manually from 1 to 3 (twice as expensive as the taxi must return empty to its area:Lisbon). The tariff is visible not only on the meter inside the taxi, but is also brightly displayed in the sign on the roof of the vehicle. Baggage is additional at €1.60 per piece.
The driver is legally obliged to give you a receipt, and you should insist on it if you feel you want to lodge a complaint. On the other hand, if you feel that the driver was honest and helpful, a tip is customary, but not obligatory: anything up to 10% of the fare displayed in the meter. Although this is rarely a problem, by law, the driver is obliged to provide change up to €10; that means that paying with a €50 note for a fare of around €20 could present problems; try to have enough €10 notes to cover the cost of the journey.
If you only have hand-baggage, the Aerobus is a better alternative to get to the centre, from where, if still needed, you can hail a taxi to take you to your final destination.
At the time of writing (June 2015) there are proposals for new legislation which could be approved soon, that changes dramatically the fares of taxis leaving the airport. There could be a minimum charge of €20, which would cover any destination within 14,8 Km; after that, the charge would be €0.47 per Km. This is to compensate the very long wait drivers have to endure before they are finally allowed to pick-up a passenger. In parallel, the 2013 fares which are still in force, will be updated. Watch this space!
The Metro has been expanding its network and since 2012 reaches the airport with the Red Line. This is a convenient and reasonably fast method of transport to leave the airport. Unfortunately, the Red Line does not go to the Baixa (Downtown) considered to be the more touristic area, nor to the Cais do Sodre railway station (for Estoril and Cascais). Therefore, a change of line is often needed at Alameda or Saldanha.
The Metro at the Airport station operates between 06.30h and 01:00h the next day. It takes 21 minutes to reach Saldanha, where you may have to change to another line.
The cost of the single ticket, irrespective of destination, is €1.40, although initially you must get a rechargeable electronic card, called "Viva Viagem",costing €0.50, on which you credit the value of the trip you are about to take. The card is then used to validate trips by contactless approach to the readers on the turnstiles
The "Viva viagem" cards can be obtained at manned ticket offices and at automatic ticket vending machines at all stations. They can be loaded with single or day tickets.
A day ticket valid for 24 hours that can be used on both Metro and regular buses costs €6.00.
The airport suffers from an acute lack of space for parking aircraft, which means that many arriving flights do not have access to gates with air bridges, and park in the apron away from the terminals. As a result, mobile aircraft steps must be used to disembark passengers and buses brought into service to take them to the terminal.
Once inside the airport, navigating the many turns and escalators, to reach the baggage collection area can be a bit confusing. Passengers arriving from non-Schengen countries have the easier task as the route has security personnel ensuring that no one strays from the predefined corridors that lead to Passport Control.
Those arriving from within the Schengen area end up in the Departure Lounge where they mix with departing passengers, before finding the way to the baggage collection area. If you just follow some of your fellow passengers after exiting the aircraft you may end up keeping company with somebody who is also lost... Just look for the signs, not all very well displayed. Baggage carts will only be freely available when you reach the area of the carousels.
The shop Relay in the arrivals hall of Terminal 1, at present, sells Sim cards from two operators: UZO and Vectone Mobile (which were previously Delight Mobile).
There is a shop in Terminal 2 (Divers) that sells telephone cards (for overseas calling) but at the moment does not sell Sim cards.
After check-in, or if you only have hand-baggage, you have little alternative but to queue up for the Security checks as there is little to do in the public area, other than a cafe and a couple of shops. The queue is usually long and slow. The counters where you place your bags, electronic devices, and belts and shoes if requested, are short and often the security agent will only allow one passenger at a time.
After the checks, if you need to have Tax Free documentation verified, there is a Customs desk immediately on your right. Opposite, there is a GlobalBlue desk where you can obtain your refund if that is the agency you need (see the address on the envelope). For other agencies read the section on VAT refunds, below.
From here you must go up the escalators to the next floor where you start by entering the so-called DutyFree Shop, and continue into the maze of stores offering all sorts of goods from well-known international brands. The catering spots in the Departure Lounge invite you to enjoy a drink, a snack, or a meal while you wait.
Passengers departing to non-Schengen destinations can stay in this common area, but should bear in mind that the Passport control desks are somewhat distant and may take 10 to 15 minutes to reach.
The presentation of invoices and items to be exported under the VAT refund scheme is done at the Customs office immediately after clearing Security checks. Please, remember that the facility is only for passengers that are about to board a flight for a destination outside the European Union where they reside on a permanent basis.
If, however, the items to be shown to Customs are in your hold luggage, inform the airline representative of that fact, at the time of check-in . The luggage will be labelled but given back to you to be taken to desks desks 100 ans 101, which are manned by Customs officers. They will deal with the paperwork and send the bags on their way down the conveyor belts.
The following agencies that deal with VAT refunds are located in terminal 1. Check the envelopes given to you by the stores to see which agency deals with their refunds.
- Global Blue: are in the same area as Customs.
- Premier Tax Free (handled by Unicambio, and Nova Cambios): they are in the area of gates 7-13 and near gate 21; and gate 41.
- Innova Tax Free (handled by Unicambio): as above in the area of gates 7-13 and near gate 21.
Most agencies charge around €3 for the cash refund, on top of their commission of around 4.3%. You can save that by having the refund paid directly to your credit card.
It is possible to receive the refund in cash even before you depart from the country. Some agencies advance the value to be reimbursed as soon as you like, against the security of your credit card. If they don't receive (say, by post) the Customs export validated documents within a certain time, they charge your card the full VAT amount. This means that you will be charged the full VAT amount of 23%, even though you only got in cash approximately 18.7%. The difference is the commission due to the agent, in any circumstances.
Lisbon airport has two functioning Executive Lounges, while two others are closed temporarily due to construction work at the airport. Watch this space!
Open 5am - to 11pm daily
Belongs to GroundForce one of the Lisbon airport handling agents.
Cash Guest: €30
(20% discount if booked 2 days in advance by email to email@example.com
children under 12 do not pay
maximum 3 hours
Open 5am - to 11pm daily
Belongs to the airport operators
Cash Guest: €25
This lounge is currently closed due to construction work going on at the airport, until further notice.
Instead, TAP is using the Blue Lounge and the ANA Lounge Schengen for its passengers in accordance with the following criteria:
Using Lounge ANA:
- International Tap Executive passengers;
- Tap passengers (plus guest) holding Victoria Gold or Star Alliance Gold:
- International Tap passengers holding tap|corporate or TAP Platinum American Express cards on the following tariffs: tap|executive, tap|plus, tap|classic or tap|basic;
Using Blue Lounge:
- Domestic Tap executive passengers;
- Domestic Tap passengers who are tap|corporate or TAP Platinum American Express card holders with tariffs tap|executive, tap|plus, tap|classic or tap|basic ;
- Tap passengers with Victoria Silver cards;
- All Tap passengers who are holders of TAP Visa Gold, AMEX Gold, Victoria HSBC Mastercard Gold or Caixa Totta TAP Gold with tariffs tap|executive, tap|plus, tap|classic or tap|basic;
This lounge belonging to Portway handling agents is closed due to construction work at the airport, until further notice.
There are smoking areas in Terminal 1, as follows:
- Terminal 1, Departures: airside next to gate 16.
- Terminal 1, Departures: airside next to gate 46.
- Terminal 1, Baggage collection area next to carousel 4.
Shopping and Catering
The Departure Lounge has over a dozen Food & Drink places to choose from: light meals, cafes, fast-food, and first-class restaurants. As usual, the area is surrounded by some 40 shops, selling fashion & accessories, beauty care, chocolates & sweets, gifts, and many others.
The Terminal is for departures only of some low-cost airlines (currently Easyjet, Ryanair, Transavia, Norwegian, and Wizz Air).
Access to the terminal is by the Aerobus, taxi, or private car. There is no car park! To use the Metro or other public buses you must travel to the main terminal (3 minutes away) in the frequent free shuttle service (every 10 minutes).
Bad news for smokers: Terminal 2 does not have a smoking zone.
There is an ATM, and a foreign exchange bureau (Nova Cambios) by the terminal's entrance in the public part of the building. It is open from 05:00h to 19:00h.
Eating and Shopping
You can find a gift-shop, a book-store/tobacconist, handbags and fashion accessories, and a duty-free shop (which being inside the European Union is NOT duty-free...).
On the catering side there are no restaurants but you will find cafes serving sandwiches, sweet pastries, and of course drinks, alcoholic and otherwise. Finally, it could not do without a McDonalds!
There is no Customs office in Terminal 2 to deal with the approval and stamping of the paperwork for Tax Free refunds but, if called, an official will come, on purpose. Nova Cambios that deals with Premier Tax Free can make the refund in the terminal. For other agencies, to obtain the actual refund in cash, passengers would have to take the free shuttle to go back to Terminal 1.
There are no Executive Lounges in this terminal.
Post office, pharmacy, and other facilities are only available in Terminal 1.