One of the best ways to see and explore a city is from the windows of a moving vehicle. Some people turn to tour buses for this. Others might take carriage ride, forgoing windows altogether. But more often, public transit will offer the closest connection to a city. In Lisbon, the public transport option that best connects people with the city is the tramway network. The trams, which most Americans may recognize as trolleys, are streetcars that have been in service since 1873 (it started as a horsecar line).
Lisbon currently has five tram lines that mainly run in the old city center area, though some run west of the city as well. The trams themselves are quite charming. Some are rather old looking but not run down, per se. Basically, they have character! When we visited Lisbon last spring, we treated ourselves to a long tram ride during our stay. By doing this, we saw much more of it than we would have otherwise.
The ride itself was an experience. A little bit of a crazy one, to be honest. The streets of Lisbon can be rather narrow. Couple that with the hills and twists and turns that seem to be ever-present and you have the makings of a harrowing, but quite interesting journey. The map below shows the route we took on our particular ride. It was a gorgeous day the day we rode, and the ride was quite pleasant. We truly enjoyed it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that as on all public transit, keep your wits about you when on the tram in Lisbon. While we didn’t have trouble, guidebooks warn of pick-pockets and petty theft. Keep your items close to you and be especially aware of your surroundings at night. I get the feeling it’s more crimes of opportunity than anything else so make sure you’re not an easy target.
If/when you find yourself in Lisbon, do yourself a favor and jump on a tram line. You’ll have a much more well-rounded experience and will take in sights that you may have not even known about otherwise. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!