It is more of a longing look than a lingering look as I peer through these tram and funicular windows today. I’m missing Portugal quite a bit at the moment, and whilst it is the countryside, food and people I adore I am also in love with their towns and cities. Can’t wait to return this Autumn , but for now I’ll just have to look through the windows.
The trams began operation in Lisbon in 1873 and the funiculars in 1884. The latter were some of the earliest street elevators in the world. The tram network began life with horse-cars, electrification arriving in 1901. The network, which I have seen called ‘amarelos da Carris’ (Yellow of the Rails) reached its peak in the 1950s with 24 lines (some say 27 but it depends how you count!), before it began a slow decline as a result of the expansion of bus lines and the construction of the metro. There are now only 5 lines on which the wonderful yellow trams run, covering around 30miles. Fortunately these final few lines look as though they are here to remain now. Not just because of the tourists, but because on Lisboa’s hills the trams are probably the only public transport that can cope with the incredibly narrow streets, the gradients and the curves. You felt like you should breathe in at times!
We caught no28 twice and the driver of the first one was so much fun. As we followed the tram in front he kept making silly gestures to the family at the back of it. They were in hysterics watching him as was I standing behind him! You can just see the family in this last photograph.
I’ll be sharing a more in-depth post on Elevador da Bica later this summer, but if you fancy joining me on the oldest funicular which also happens to be one of the quieter routes – Ascensor do Lavra – then visit my earlier post. I think you will like it! And if you are heading to Lisboa anytime soon, and if not you should be, then you might find these transport links useful.
- Tram 28 – the most popular so incredibly busy at times. Also keep your bags close and your back pockets empty as the trams are notorious for pickpockets.
- The official site – not the easiest one to use!
- Travel Card – we found the Viva Viagem great as it meant if the trams or buses were too busy we could hop onto the metro instead. You can also use them on the funiculars.
- Transport Museum – we didn’t have time our stay to visit but it is on our list of museums to visit when we return
- Helpful overview – all of the above too much, then start here!