Lisbon by Bike: Routes, Rentals, and Rules

lisbon-bicycle-from-https-www-flickr-com-photos-jsome1-5344624780
How we ride in Lisbon. Photo by Feliciano Guimarães.

Update August 2, 2017: Atlas readers can currently get a 10% discount on the Ecovias cycling guide to Portugal. We get a small commission too. Read about the man behind the guide here.

Bicycling in Lisbon is fantastic until you get to the hills, or cobblestones, or tram lines, or potholes, or in the way of a taxi, but the moment you feel that buttery glide on the smooth asphalt of the bike path, you are one happy cycler. Lisbon is slowly becoming a bikable city, especially along the coast of the river and up toward the ocean, and that will give you days of rewarding exploration. And there’s plenty of places to rent a bike in Lisbon, starting from 8€ – and in Cascais, you can get one for free.

Lisbon Biking Safety and Logistics

If you plan to go off the bike path, make sure you are comfortable with urban cycling and how your bike handles on super-steep hills with cobblestones. If riding thin wheels, careful with the tram rails. And Portuguese drivers aren’t known for their patience or accuracy (although they’re improving, as more cyclists join them on the roads). It’s up to you to bring the proper gear. Headlights and taillights, and helmets, are highly recommended, although not required by law. The spandex thing is up to you.




Bike Lanes and Maps

Bike lanes in Lisbon are still very disconnected, but there are plenty of them and new ones being added. Check out CicloviasLX for the latest. But it’s best to plan out an off-the-bike-path route in advance so you can avoid “shortcuts” that take you all the way up just to go all the way back down again. These hills are not to be taken lightly.

See also Lisbon Cycling Route map, which can help you plot out your distance, note elevation gain, and find closest bike paths.

Suggested Bike Routes in and around Lisbon

One of the most splendid rides in town is the 16.5 km waterfront route from Parque das Nacões to Belém, which takes you along the Rio Tejo on a shared bike-pedestrian path. But you can continue past Belem to the Champalimaud Center, a beautifully modern public space outdoors with a cool café. You can continue past the Center, again on the footpath, and re-connect to a nice bike-riding path after Algés. That road will take you on a delicious adventure as far up as Caxias. Past that, you’ll have to negotiate very narrow sidewalks or car traffic, but plenty of cyclists do it all the time. Just be careful, and — helmets.

If you have an off-road trip in mind, try out Monsanto, Lisbon’s lung, a huge park with windy
paths, trails, forest, and beautiful views — and is home to more than 42 kilometers worth of bike routes, both asphalt and earth. It’s also a maze if you’re not careful, so take note of all the signs you pass and get (or print) Monsanto’s map beforehand. Want
something epic? Try this 65-km route. There’s also an iPhone and Android app, which sometimes is helpful, and sometimes has you yelling at your electronic device.

It’s also easy to get your bike outside of town with the help of public transportation. Take the CP Comboio train from Cais Sodré to Estoril and ride all the way to Praia Guincho via Cascais for a little seaside coasting with a beach at the finish line. Don’t have a bike? Rent one in Cascais at the BiCascais kiosk for free, just bring a photo ID.

For another pleasant ride out of town ride, take the ferry to Trafaria from the Belém terminal and bike out to Costa da Caparica for a day of beaches and surfing. If you’re more hardcore, ride all the way to Fonte da Telha, but be prepared for clueless beach-goers driving like the sun’s setting for the last time ever.

bike-at-beach

Bikes on Public Transit

Metro: During dias uteis (working days) you are allowed to bring your bike on the metro only after 20h.
Commuting trains like the CP Comboios: No bike regulations, just try to avoid rush hour. Some cars are marked specifically for bikes and boards, so try to aim for those.
Ferries: Bicycles travel for free any time.
Bike Buses: There are supposedly 6 lines of the public bus Carris in which you can put your bike inside. Atlas has never seen one.

Lisbon and Cascais Bike Rentals and Repairs

Bike Iberia (Largo Corpo Santo, 5, Baixa, 1200-129, +351-96 963 0 369 or +351-96 242 3 455) is one of the oldest bike tour companies in Portugal and can outfit you for an self-sufficient 14-day tour around Portugal, or take you along a guided ride around Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra or Arrabida. They also rent bikes, from €14 a day or 7.50€ for two hours for a “budget” bike all the way to the 45€ per day for a road-racing carbon bike (7.9kg/17.4lbs – mmm…), and they even have tandem bikes if that’s your thing. Rates are lower for multi-day rentals.

Belém Bike (Av. de Brasília -1300-598, just east of Museu da Electrecidade on the waterfront, 937 406 316, Mon – Fri 10h30 – 19h, Sat – Sun, 9h30 – 19h) is a container pop-up of the Without Stress store in Chiado, but it’s pretty full-service, with a line of rental bikes (and pedal carts for kids) and knowledgeable staff who can fix your bike quickly and professionally, even with used parts if you’re on a budget. Rentals start at €20 euro for 24 hrs, or 50€ for 5 days, with discounts if you book online.

biclas (Largo de São Julião, 21, 1200-417, +351 963 780 233, Mon-Sat 10h-19h30) sells new and used bikes, all the gear you could need, fixes things pretty quickly, and rents all kinds of bikes starting at 20€ a day or 50€ for the week, with discounts if you book online.

Caiscais. Want a bike for 3,50€ for the whole day? biCascais (Largo Estação, Cascais – keep scrolling west on the map) lets you rent one (after you show them a photo ID) from several kiosks around Cascais, open 8h-19h (9am on weekdays sometimes, it varies…). The kiosk across from the train station usually runs out in the first hour or so until after 14h, but the new location on Avenida República (38.694759, -9.422049) has loads more. The bikes have baskets for your sunscreen and beer and are mostly in newish condition, but check the breaks and tires anyway before moving. They’re perfect for the 10km ride to Praia Guincho, with a beautiful paved bike lane and plenty of excellent stops, like Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell!) and Farol Da Guia along the coast.