If you have ever driven to any main European city, you should be well aware of all the dangers facing the unaware driver. Not the least of which that you often can't find parking without pulling a Faustus (and even then, no guarantees...). Lisbon is no exception.
Popular knowledge dictates that the best way to visit a city is by using public transportation, and that's sensible enough. But Portugal is a relatively small country, so having a car available does have its advantages, and you'll be able to see much more than simply Lisbon itself. That however, doesn't help you with the pesky parking situation. But fear not. Here is everything you ever needed to know about parking a car in Lisbon.
First, know the signs. The sign indicating forbidden parking is round, and it has a blue background, surrounded by a red stripe and with a red stripe across. Two red stripes forming a cross on that same sign mean that not only can't you park there, you also can't stop there. Yellow or red signs painted on the floor also indicate forbidden parking.
Furthermore, know that it's always illegal to park in front of garage doors, whithin 18m of a road junction, within 15m of a bus stop, whithin 5m of a zebra crossing, and within 3 meters of a tram or bus stop. There are also areas (such as Bairro Alto, Alfama, Princípe Real, and others) where parking is only available for residents.
Most parking around the city is paid. The sign for paid parking is a square blue sign with a white P. In order to pay for street parking, just look for the metre and pay for the amount of time you will leave the car parked there. You then will need to display the ticket on your car. Usually, parking is paid from Monday to Friday, between 08:00 and 20:00; and on Saturdays from 08:00 to 18:00.
There are also several paid parks throughout the city. Even though petty crime is no worse in Lisbon than in any other major city in Western Europe, if you worry about leaving your car unnattended, a car park might be the best solution for you. Click here for park locations.
A very important thing to keep in mind when parking in Lisbon is whether or not you're parking in an area where trams pass. If you are, make sure you park as close to the sidewalk as possible. If a tram can't pass due to a parked vehicle, the car will be towed.
As a final note, be aware that you will probably come across men trying to help you park your car (locally known as "Arrumadores"). As a rule, they're perfectly harmless and they sometimes actually help you find a free spot. Whether they do or not, it's always best to hand them a spare coin, or they will exact revenge on the car's paintwork.
You call it blackmail, they call it capitalism in action.