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Portugal: Touring Lisbon on Tram 28

This post will show you how to tour Lisbon on tram 28. Tram 28 brings you up and down Lisbon hills to the most historic parts of the city.

As most Lisbon sights are along the tram 28 route it is the best way to explore Lisbon, the sunny capital of Portugal.

Lisbon, the warmest capital of Europe, is a perfect year-round destination. We went to Lisbon in the coldest winter and found temperatures of +14 C and sunshine. This post will show you what winter Lisbon looks like from the city’s famous tram 28.

Touring Lisbon on tram 28

Touring Lisbon on Tram 28

Lisbon Trams

In a time when most cities ruined their old pre-war trams Lisbon decided to save them Today Lisbon trams are much loved and attract visitors to the city.

Old tram models are still used on four out of the five Lisbon tram lines (12, 15, 18, 25 and 28), only line 15 to Belem is operated by modern trams.

When looking for general information on Lisbon trams the Lisbon public transport website is the place where to find it. This is a direct link to Lisbon tram routes and timetables:

Lisbon tram timetables (Carris)

Lisbon tourist tram

A red Lisbon tourist tram

In addition to public trams, Lisbon also has red tourist trams. They partly follow the same route as the regular number 28, with the difference that the tourist tram has spoken guidance – and a higher fare.

Using Lisbon Public Transport

To get to Lisbon from the city’s airport, simply take the metro. We studied Metro ticket machines and their many ticket options and took Viva Viagem cards. They are electronic travel cards and valid on all Lisbon public transport.

That was a good choice, but not optimal as we aimed at buying day tickets that give unlimited travel and got tickets that ran out of money in the afternoon. by the latest. The solution was to top them up at metro stations.

Lisbon tram tickets Viva Viagem

Never mind, you can live with that but I understood there is a 24 hour option as well.

Of course there is the expensive tourist Lisboa Card that also covers museum tickets. But we were happy with our Viva Viagem cards valid for Lisbon metro, trams, buses, funiculars and lifts.

And: with coins from your pocket you can always pay the tram driver directly – so when paying in public transport is a big problem in most cities it’s not a problem in Lisbon.

In Lisbon Carris is the company operationg buses and trams and Metro Lisboa again has the metro network. These are their websites:

Carris Lisbon

Metropolitano de Lisboa

And now about the Lisbon tram 28. Where does it go?

Lisbon Tram 28 Route Map

 

Lisbon tram 28 map

I put Lisbon tram 28 on a zoomable Google map. My route map is based on an itinerary by car which is almost the same as the trams use but there are some minor differences. Anyway, from the tracks you can always tell where the tram goes and tram stops are marked with a Paragem sign.

If you want a more precise Lisbon tram 28 route map with individual stops you’ll find it here:

Lisbon 28E Route on Google Maps

Touring Lisbon on Tram 28

The tram’s starting point is the Square of Martim Moniz in Baixa (the city centre). There are always people waiting, mostly tourists. As tram 28 is so loved it’s mostly packed with people. Maybe you have to wait for the next tram to come, but it will only take a few minutes.

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Avenida Almirante Reis

 Avenida Almirante Reis

The tram goes north along the Avenida Almirante Reis, one of Lisbon’s busy main streets. Soon after the Intendente metro station the driver takes a sharp turn uphill and the tram starts winding up narrow alleys. We are in Alfama, Lisbon.

Alfama

Touring Lisbon on tram 28 Alfama

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Lisbon tram in Alfama

Tram 28 winds its way through Alfama hills. As Alfama originally was a Moorish city it’s a real labyrinth of streets. The Moors packed their houses tightly along existing winding hillside alleys and on the top of the hill they built a castle.

Today there are no Moorish houses left but the labyrinth of narrow streets remains. The tram driver works hard to get speed and up the hill and then lows down the speed when it’s the way down. A Lisbon tram driver is called guarda freios, brakesman, and a Lisbon tram is called electrico de Lisboa.

Lisbon tram in Alfama

A yellow Lisbon tram 

The tram makes a huge noise in turns, as well as each time the driver uses the brake. At times the street is so narrow that walkers have to give way for the approaching tram – and passengers can try to touch house walls from open tram windows.

Alfama, Lisbon street view

Street view of Alfama, Lisbon

What happened with the Moorish? They and other wealthy Alfama population left the hillsides as they began to feel unsafe. Alfama was built in an earthquake zone and transformed after the Moorish left to a residential area of workers and fishermen.

Yet Alfama was not hit by the massive 1755 earthquake that destroyed central Lisbon. This is why so many old tiled buildings still remain, some of them restored and the rest still waiting to be restored.

Lisbon tram 28 in Alfama

Lisbon tram 28 and yellow tiles of Alfama

Walking in Alfama

To explore narrow Alfama lanes you need to get off the tram and walk. Tram 28 combined with walking is the perfect way to see Alfama that due to its crooked streets is hard to get to by car.

So we got off and walked up and down the hills without maps, and got lost in the labyrinth. I really like Alfama!

Lisbon tram in Alfama

Street view of Alfama, Lisbon

 

There was laundry hanging on house walls and tiles in all rainbow colours. We sat in simple local tavernas and walked up to the 5th century castle on the top of the hill, Castelo de Sao Jorge.

Lisbon azulejo tiles

Lisbon tiles

Azulejo Houses of Alfama

Many Alfama streets are lined by azulejo houses, a building style you can only see in Portugal. They even have an azulejo museum, Museu Nacional do Azulejo. It is located lower down in a former monastery and has a fine collection of tiles, one of which is 23 m high.

A small azulejo photo gallery:

Typical Lisbon building

An azulejo tiled Alfama building with wrought iron balconies

 

Azulejo is not only used as a house surface material, it’s also used for art and decoration. Look at this peacock:

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: art on the wall

Art on the wall

Rooster of Barcelos

This is another house wall, with the famous Galo de Barcelos, Rooster of Barcelos, the symbol of Portugal.

A legend tells that in Barcelos, North Portuga,l a dead rooster suddenly stood up and saved the life of a pilgrim who had been sentenced to death.

Rooster of Barcelos Portugal

Galo de Barcelos

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Alfama tram stop

An Alfama tram stop

Alfama Miradouros

Since Alfama is on a hill there are miradouros, lookouts, with panoramic views of Lisbon and the river. The Tejo river is so wide that it looks more like an ocean bay than a river.

Alfama Igreja da Graca

Lisbon city view from an Alfama miradouro

These views are from the Portas do Sol miradouro and equally great views can be seen from the Miradouro Santa Lucia next to it.

Look at these tiled roofs in the lower part of Alfama. In the upper photo you can see Alfama’s main church, Igreja San Miguel.

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Alfama roofs

Red roofs of Alfama, Lisbon

The Sé of Lisbon

Below you can see the two-towered , Lisbon’s cathedral on the border of Alfama.

I have been wondering why Portuguese cathedrals have such short names and now I know why. Because they were built for bishops and originally called Sedes Episcopalis, the Bishop’s seat.

Sé Catedral Lisbon

The Sé of Lisbon

The Sé of Lisbon was built in 1150. Since those days there have earthquakes one after another, including the 1755 earthquake, and each time The Sé was rebuilt and something new added to the original cathedral.

Lisbon tuk tuks

Lisbon tuk tuks

In front to the Sé you can take a tuk tuk if you like, there are many of them in Lisbon for the tourists. We instead were touring Lisbon on tram 28 and took the tram in direction west and up to Bairro Alto on the opposite side of Baixa, the Lisbon city centre lower down.

Touring Lisbon on Tram 28: Bairro  Alto

Touring Lisbon on tram 28 : Bairro Alto

Touring Lisbon on tram 28 : Bairro Alto

In fact we went further than Bairro Alto. To get a general view of Bairro Alto we first took the tram all the way through, almost to the end stop. We hopped off at Jardim da Estrela, that was because somebody told us it’s not worth going further than that.

It was a long tram ride, first through Central Lisbon and then through the upper town, Bairro Alto.

Touring Lisbon on tram 28, Estrela tram stop

Tram 28 stop at Estrela, Lisbon

Estrela

Jardim da Estrela is a botanic garden with a pretty pond and a lakeside cafe but in general there is not so much to see in a park in winter time.

On the other side of the road was the huge Basilica da Estrela, but we took the tram 28 back and hopped off when back in Bairro Alto, at its lower end.

Touring Lisbon on tram 28, Bairro Alto

Touring Lisbon on tram 28, a Bairro Alto side street

At daytime and on weekdays Bairro Alto is like a quiet residential area. Bairro Alto streets were built in a normal, regular pattern which makes it very different from Alfama and it’s also easier navigate.

We wandered the steep streets that in places were all stairs.

 

Some houses were well kept and others peeling.  Here, too, it looked like every day is a laundry day, laundry was hanging out everywhere. Bairro Alto traditionally is a working-class area but today young bohemians keep moving to the area.

Streets and windows were decorated in a style that we have only seen in Brazil , and some people had used their creativity in styling their balconies. For Christmas, of for the Carnival?

Bairro Alto window Lisbon

Bairro Alto window style

 

In a way, Portugal is very different from all other parts of Europe. Portugal has its own style and there is something in Lisbon and it’s historic parts I really like.

Bairro Alto street view

Another Bairro Alto back street

Touring Lisbon on Tram 28: Elevador da Bica

Lisbon elevador da Bica

The yellow Elevador da Bica climbing Bairro Alto

This is the iconic funicular that connects the upper town (Bairro Alto) with Cais do Sodre, harbor area at the foot of the hill.

Elevador da Bica Bairro Alto

Lisbon Elevador da Bica upper end stop

Elevador da Bica is the smallest of the many Lisbon elevadores that save people’s legs by taking them up the hills. The Bica line has been working since the end of the 19th century.

Lisbon elevador da Bica

Just look at this Lisbon tram beauty!

Elevador da Bica is a funicular and gets its power from an electric motor combined with cables in the ground. Here you can clearly see the tracks and the cable in one of the middle tracks:

Elevador da Bica end stop

Lisbon elevador tracks and cable

Elevador da Bica route

Walking up Elevador da Bica tracks

The lower stop of Eleveador da Bica is built inside a house, and the photo below shows the tracks seen from the lower end.

Touring Lisbon on tram 28, Elevador da Bica route

 Elevador da Bica tracks in Bairro Alto

More Bairro Alto Sights

The steeper side of Bairro Alto has a lookout, the Santa Catarina Miradouro that opens fine views to the lower city and the river beyond it. If you are interested in pharmacy, go and visit the Museu da Pharmacia next to the miradouro, or if you like arts, go into the Museu National de Arte Antiga.

One more sight in this area that I could recommend is the Solar do Vinha do Porto, it’s the Port Wine Institute where you can sample port wines. There are 200 different sorts to taste from.

Bairro Alto alley

A cobbled street of Bairro Alto

Lisbon Centre of Nightlife

The other side (the less steep side) of Bairro Alto is Lisbon’s centre of nightlife.

By day you wouldn’t believe it, it all looks like an old-fashioned residential area, but when it gets dark Bairro Alto transforms to a party hotspot.

 

So at nights the area is full of bars, restaurants and night clubs – and of course casas de fado. Some bars and cafes are open at daytime as well and so are all the small book, music, souvenir and second-hand shops.

Typical Bairro Alto street decoration

Traditional Lisbon Christmas decorations

Bairro Alto has two or three pretty squares with well restored townhouses like this:

Touring Lisbon on tram 28, tiled azulejo houses of Bairro Alto

Tiled azulejo houses of Bairro Alto

In all, Bairro Alto is must-see area in Lisbon and the Lisbon tram 28 conveniently takes you there. And the same tram also takes you back to where you came from, provided you don’t decide to stay until late night in bars and fado houses. If you do that, it’s good to know that Lisbon trams don’t have a night service.

Touring Lisbon on Tram 28: Baixa

Lisbon Baixa city view

Lisbon Baixa seen from Bairro Alto

This is Baixa, the lower town and Lisbon’s city centre, seen from Alfama. The other photo shows Baixa from the other side, from stairs leading to and from Bairro Alto.

You can see Baixa down in the valley and Alfama and Castelo do Sao Jorge beyond it:

Touring Lisbon on tram 28, Lisbon Baixa and Castelo de S. Jorge

Lisbon Baixa and Castelo de S. Jorge

Between Bairro Alto and Baixa hides the elegant commercial hillside,  Chiado.

To get from Bairro Alto to Baixa you can either walk down the stairs from the square of Praca Largo do Carmo, take the Lisbon tram 28 or travel on a national monument, Elevador de Santa Justa.

Elevador de Santa Justa

Elevador Sta Justa Lisbon

A Lisbon landmark: Elevador Santa Justa

Elevador de Santa Justa is an old wrought iron lift from 1902, grey and decorated with filigree. This old elevator takes you between Baixa and Bairro Alto. My photos here show it seen from the lower town. To use the elevator you can buy single tickets or use your Viva Viagem card.

Elevador Sta Justa Lisbon

Taking the Elevador Santa Justa to Bairro Alto

Elevador da Gloria

One more way to get down from Bairro Alto is the Gloria Funicular that takes you to the square behind Lisbon train station. Elevador da Gloria looks similar to the funicular of Bica.

Lisbon elevators have been declared to Portugal’s National Monuments. Elevador timetables and tickets are explained on the Lisbon Public Transport website.

Lisbon Train Station Rossio

Lisbon train station Rossio

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Lisbon train station Rossio

This again is Estacao do Rossio, the well decorated Lisbon horseshoe train station. The station complex is from the 19th century and has Moorish horseshoes as doors and windows in a similar style.

The Rossio station faces Lisbon’s main square with the same name, and north of the station is one more square, Praca dos Restauradores. 

Lisbon nativity scene

Looking into a staircase: a nativity scene

A street you should see in Baixa, not least at nights, is the long pedestrian street Rua das Portas de Santo. It’s a dining street and has long row of restaurants.

I always look into buildings and gates and on Rua das Portas I saw this beautiful hidden scene (see above). This is Lisbon in the winter, just after Christmas time.

Rua Augusta

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Rua Augusta

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Rua Augusta

Lisbon’s busiest shopping street is the pedestrian street Rua Augusta that leads from Rossio to Praca do Comercio on the riverfront. In between is the Arco da Rua Augusta that appears in Lisbon postcards.

Praca do Comercio

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Praca do Comercio

Touring Lisbon on tram 28: Praca do Comercio

The riverfront square Praca do Comercio was built after the earthquake 1755. It and the huge wave that followed destroyed the whole Lisbon riverfront and most of Baixa.

 

Today the square has impressive yellow buildings on all sides, all having similar white arcades. In the middle of the square is a sculpture of Josel who was the king of Portugal  in 1755, at the time when the earthquake happened.

Lisbon Praca do Comercio

Praca do Comercio, the largest square of Lisbon

Museu da Cerveja

Pastel de Bacalhau Lisbon

 

On Praca do Comercio we found a beer museum and a beer house that had a funny machine producing traditional Portuguese codfish cakes, Pastel de Bacalhau. So we tasted beer and codfish cake with cheese, the specialty of Lisbon. Very special, and something you won’t get elsewhere!

The Museu da Cerveja website

Portuguese Fado

What else is typical of Lisbon? Nothing can compare to Fado.

Portuguese fado at an Alfama club

Portuguese fado at an Alfama club

Fado is played all over Lisbon and most of all in the music clubs of Alfama and Bairro Alto.

It is a centuries old tradition, a melancholic song that’s accompanied by a guitar. Fado tells about feelings that are common to all people: love, joy, sorrow, and most of all about missing. Missing someone that left and went away. Maybe to the sea as the Portuguese were seafarers?

Lisbon fado club

A Lisbon fado club

Fado is such an essential part of Lisbon’s heritage that UNESCO has classified it as Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

For Portuguese fado you should go to a fado club or restaurant that has presentations. Concert halls, too, have concerts, and to learn more about fado and its history there is the Museu do Fado.

Museu do Fado

 

__________________

So this was Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, as seen from the Lisbon tram 28. I really enjoyed exploring the warmest capital of Europe by tram. I liked the city and would love to return one day. If you have more ideas on Lisbon, please share it.

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12 comments

  1. Can you tell me approximately how long the trip on tram 28 is from Martim Moniz to Ourique?

    • The timetable says it will take about 40 minutes but depending on traffic it can take up to an hour or even more. So it’s not the fastest way to get from one place to another but certainly the nicest. Thanks for asking and have a nice trip!

  2. Hi..once I hop off the tram to walk around and hop on again at another location, would it cost me much? Or is it better if I buy a Tram 28 trip that includes walking around?

    • I would say it’s far much cheaper to use regular tickets than buying a tour, even if you hop off where you want and pay again when needed. Have a nice trip!

  3. I’ll be arriving in Lisbon by ship and want to sightsee on Tram 28. What stop would be closest to the port?

    • I guess the closest stop might be the Rua das Escolas Gerais stop. You just walk uphill from the port, to Alfama. It’s less than a kilometer. Have a great day in Lisbon!

  4. Can you pay for the ticket with the viva card on this tram 28, like all the other buses, trains, metros?

  5. Hi. Can you ride tram 28 to the end of the line and stay on to come back again or do you have to get off at the end if the line? Thanks for the great article!

  6. HI. Great and helpful blog. I am going o be living in Lisbon for a month and may rent a place that is very close to Tram 28 stop near Alfama. Do you think this is a good centrally location to experience all of Lisboa. I’m sure the views are fabulous, just want to be sure of the location. Any thoughts?

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