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Lisbon Trams - A Tourist’s Guide

Lisbon’s trams are an integral part of the public transport network and cover the areas of the city where there is no access to the metro. There are two distinct types of trams, the historic “Remodelado” trams or the modern Siemens “Articulado” trams. The Remodelado trams are the quaint yellow trams that rattle and screech through the narrow streets of Lisbon, and the most scenic route is the E28, which crosses the Alfama district.

Remodelado trams lisbon

The classic Remodelado trams

The Articulado trams provide a higher passenger capacity but are confined to the flat sections of the city and only operate along the E15 route, which connects central Lisbon to the Belem district. Belem is a popular tourist district, with many outstanding attractions and historic monuments, and the E15 tram is the best method to travel to Belem.

15 tram lisbon

The number 15 tram to Belem

Along with the main public transport routes, there is a selection of tourist tram tours, but these are significantly more expensive. This article will provide an introduction to Lisbon's tram network, provide details of fares, timetables and other useful tourist information.

Quick Overview of Lisbon’s trams

E28 – Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique (Prazeres)

This is the classic tram route through Graca and Alfama, which most visitors will want to ride during their holiday. The route also connects Baixa to the Estrela district, for a detailed guide to the E28 please read this article.

E15 - Praça Figueira to Algés

The E15 tram route connects central Lisbon (Baixa) to the Belem district, the Lxfactory and the Santo Docks. For a full guide to the E15 please see this webpage.

E12 - Praça Figueira to Praça Figueira (Alfama loop)

An alternative tram route to Alfama and the castle. This tram performs the loop in only one direction (clockwise).

E18 - Cais Sodré to Cemitério Ajuda

This tram route heads into the Ajuda district and passes the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda and the Jardim Botânico d'Ajuda gardens.

E28 - Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique (Prazeres)

Covers the Lapa district and is an alternative tram route to the Estrela district.

Insider Tip: The E28 is one of the best tours of Lisbon but is standing room only between 10am-6pm. The best way to get a seat is to board the tram at either of the departure locations at Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique.

The Lisbon tram routes are given a number with a preceding E which stands for “eléctrico”. All of Lisbon public transport is operated by Carris.

E28 tram lisbon

The number 28 tram as it wizzes through the Sao Bento district

Tram Tickets and Fares

A single tram ticket purchased on board the tram costs €2.90. On the Articulado trams tickets are purchased from the on-board ticket machines while on the older Remodelado they are bought from the driver. Purchasing a ticket on the tram is more difficult than it sounds, both types of trams are always very crowded, and on the Articulado tram the ticket machine needs exact change.

A much better option is to purchase the 24-hour public transport ticket, which costs €6.15 and includes all trams, metro and buses in Lisbon. The only inconvenience is that the 24-hour ticket can only be purchased from metro stations. The ticket is charged to the Viva Viagem reusable card, which costs €0.50 for the initial purchase of the card. With this ticket remember to validate it when entering the tram.

Insider Tip: For tourists, this 24-hour ticket is exceptional value, as it includes the Elevador da Glória (€3.70), Elevador de Santa Justa (€5.15) and all of Lisbon’s trams - a whole day of sightseeing for just €6.15!

For those on an extended holiday or stay in Lisbon there is a monthly public transport pass for (€50.05). To see all of the above information on the Carris website, please see:

http://carris.transporteslisboa.pt/en/base-fees/titulos/

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Tram Timetables

The tram is an important section of Lisbon’s public transport network and the operational hours reflect the importance of the route. For the E15 and E28 the services start early in the day (7am) and continue late into the night (11pm) with at least four hourly departures. The E12 and E18 routes finish after the evening rush hours and only have two departures on Sundays.

The trams through Alfama are routinely delayed due to traffic struggling to negotiate the narrow and tight streets. At all of the main tram stops, there are digital information boards which accurately display the departure time of the next tram. The exact timetables can be seen on the Carris website, but the information boards are much more useful, the link to the timetables is:

http://carris.transporteslisboa.pt/en/buslines/

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On the historic trams, passengers board at the front (via the driver) and exit at the rear of the tram, this is the same with all buses. The E15 is an exception where everyone pushes to get on or off making it a prime location for pickpockets……

Lisbon tram number 28

The Lisbon tram number 28, at Portas do Sol in Alfama

Pickpockets on the trams

It is very sad that a whole section must be dedicated to pickpockets who plague the popular tourist tram routes. The pickpockets tend to target very crowded trams such as the E15 and E28 and tend to steal from people close to the exits. These pickpockets are only ever opportunists (never aggressive or violent) and only target tourists who fail to use common sense or are simply being careless. Always wear bags or backpacks on your front, never leave expensive cameras hanging from shoulders (cords can be cut) and always place valuables in bags. The pickpockets are as equally likely to be women as men, and are never Portuguese, but are gangs flown in from eastern Europe.

Why does Lisbon still use the Remodelado trams?

No other city in Europe employs such old trams as the Remodelado trams, which originally date from the 1930s. The reason is undulating tracks and tight corners that are found in historic sections of Lisbon. Most normal tram routes have shallow or no inclines, with wide turns and plenty of space, but not in Alfama! The tram tracks in Alfama are the world's steepest, while the turning circle of the single carriage only just miss the edges of the ancient overhanging buildings.

When the entire tram network was upgraded in the 1990s, only the E15 route could be switched to modern trams. As part of the project it was deemed more appropriate to upgrade the historic trams with new engines, brakes and electronics; hence the trams were re-modelled (Portuguese Remodelado).

Lisbon Tram 28

Further Information about Lisbon Tram

There are five tram routes with 58 trams operating across a combined distance of 48km. The following section details more in-depth information for each of the tram routes.

Tram Route E15

The E15 tram route extends west from the Baixa District towards the Algés District. This route is highly recommended to tourists as it connects central Lisbon to the pretty district of Belem, the location of the Torre de Belem and the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. The E15 Tram departs from the Praça da Figueira and can also be boarded in the Praça do Comércio.

The tram takes 22 minutes to travel from Praça do Comércio to Belem, and the route is quite scenic, as it passes beneath the suspension bridge and follows the estuary. E15 Tram runs a frequent service (waiting times are less than 9 minutes) and also runs late into the night, continuing until 1:00. The trams on this service are modern and air-conditioned but lack the charm of some of the classic trams serving other routes. For a guide to the E15 trams please click here.

15 tram lisbon

The number 15 tram in Praça do Comercio

Lisbon tram Route E28

The E28 tram covers the classic tram route of Lisbon; depicted in countless images and tourist material. The route cuts through the heart of the Alfama District and passes directly in front of the ancient Se Cathedral, providing tourists with a perfect photo opportunity.

Lisbon Tram 28

The number 28 tram

The actual E28 route is one of the longest in Lisbon, connecting Baixa to Graça and then heading west towards Campo Ourique, via Alfama and Estrela. The tight corners and steep gradients of the E28 route are unsuitable for modern trams and, as such, only classic 1930s single carriage trams can navigate this undulating track. For a guide to the number 28 tram please click here.

Lisbon tram number 28

The number 28 tram as it passes through Alfama

Most visitors simply catch the tram to head into Alfama, but the opposite direction also leads to the peaceful Estrela District, with the mighty Basilica. There are departures every 11 minutes and the Alfama District is also served by the E12 circular route. The E28 tram service continues until 21:00 and it is worth noting that the trams through Alfama can get very crowded, especially during the height of the tourist season and are unfortunately popular with pickpockets.

E12 Tram Route

The E12 Tram has the shortest route of all of the trams, and performs a one directional circuit from Baixa (Praça da Figueira), up the hill to São Tomé and then through Alfama, before returning to Baixa. The short route is only served by two trams but, with departures every 20 minutes, it manages to take some of the strain off the E28 route. Tourists should expect lots of halts and stops on this route, which is only 4km long but takes around 20 minutes to complete. The E12 is recommended for those wishing a short tram tour of Lisbon.

lisbon yellow tram

The yellow trams are seen all round Lisbon

Lisbon Tram E25

The E25 Tram route connects the main ferry terminal just east of Praça do Comércio with Campo de Ourique, in the west. This provides an alternative service from downtown Lisbon to the Estrela District, which passes along the estuary. As this is more of a commuter than a tourist service, there are no departures at the weekends, and the timetable focuses on rush hour periods. This service finishes by 20:00.

Lisbon tram number 28
Lisbon Tram Routes E18

This is the best method to travel to the Ajuda district of Lisbon, which is the location of the impressive neoclassical Palácio da Ajuda and beautiful Jardim Botânico da Ajuda gardens.

History of Lisbon Trams

The first tram tracks were laid in 1873 and the early trams used horse pulled carriages. The tram lines became electric in 1901 and this gave rise to the Portuguese name ‘Carro e létrico’ (carriage with electricity), which over time became Eléctrico. Between 1936 and 1947 there was massive investment in the tram network and remodelado trams were constructed. In 1950 at the height of the Lisbon tram network there was a maximum of 76 km of track (twice that of today) served by 24 tram routes.

red tourist tram

Since the 1960 public transport has more focused on the construction of the metro and increase of cheaper bus services. In the 1990s there was a significant upgrade of the trams but the routes were reduced. The trams are operated by Carris (Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa) a state-owned company that employs 163 tram drivers. The gauge of Lisbon tram network is 90cm and is classified as a narrow gauge.

As of 2017 the importance of the tram network is being finally being recognised by the Lisbon council and there is a plan to reinstated the 24 route.

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