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Fact – you haven’t really experienced Lisbon unless you’ve ridden on one of their distinctive and historic yellow trams, gliding in and out of the old town, past the cathedral and soaking in the sea air. Lisbon has a number of renowned tram routes, but none more so than the journey of Tram 28,. This iconic tram departs from Praca Martim Moniz, then heads up and down the city streets and narrow hills of Lisbon’s old town before finishing it’s journey in Campo Ourique.
Here is our guide to getting the best ride on Tram 28 in Lisbon:
Grab a 24 hour travel pass / Carris pass
Lisbon’s transport system is one of the best networks we’ve encountered in Europe and as such, investing in a 24 hour travel pass (6 Euros 40 at the time of writing in August 2020) allows you unlimited access to all trams, the airport train, plus the historic funiculars and the beautiful Santa Justa lift (which is 5 Euros alone normally for admission).
If you ride tram 28 to and from the end point Campo Ourique, this is classed as two separate journeys so your pass has practically paid for itself already. To use your pass, just scan it on the yellow barcode reader to the left of the driver’s head when you first get on.
Tram 28 Lisbon Fare
If for some reason you don’t manage to get a 24 hour Metro pass before getting on Tram 28 (you fool!), the one way fare is 3 Euros per person, no matter how far you go. Note that is a one way fare and you’ll have to pay another 3 Euro fare per person if you choose to reboard at Camp Ourique. If you don’t already have a ticket, you can buy one from the tram 28 driver as you jump aboard, but note that they don’t appreciate it if you only have high denomination notes – ideally have the right change.
Get on Tram 28 early
Tram 28 seats around 20 people at a time, with possibly enough standing space for a few more. We rode the tram a couple of times from Montim Martez and found that when we arrived at 8.45am, we managed to get on the tram straight away. However when we arrived later at 11am, we had to queue for about 20 minutes to get on (trams depart every 10 mins or so). These timings were in August 2020, shortly after the Covid19 lockdown when tourism was still low, so we expect the queues are much longer normally – according to other bloggers it could be as long as a 2 hours wait at peak times in the height of summer.
Keep your hands (and head!) inside the tram
Many of the tram sections run in parallel meaning two trams can pass within centimetres of each other. As such, try to keep your hands and other body parts within the tram windows at all times. As tempting as it can be to put your camera outside the tram for scenic shots of selfies, we saw a couple of close calls so it isn’t recommended, particularly in the areas where the tram squeezes through a small gap between houses.
If you are boarding Tram 28 from Martim Montez, we recommend you grab one of the seats on the left hand side so you can enjoy the ocean views as you ride through Alfama and also see the sea/cathedral from the bottom of the hill as you arc left. Obviously if you are starting at Campo Ourique, then it is the opposite.
Look out for locals and the elderly
Although most people who ride Tram 28 in Lisbon are tourists or Portugese daytrippers, many of the city’s elderly residents also use the tram in Lisbon as the city can be quite hilly. We were a bit embarrassed by the number of tourists who didn’t get up to offer their seats to the elderly so get on your feet and offer them a seat. The very front seats of the tram are priority seats for elderly/disabled.
All off at the end points
Note that ALL passengers have to disembark at the end stops and re-join the line, be it Martim Montez or Campo Ourique – the amount of tourists we heard pleading to stay on was a little awkward. This can mean you have to wait to board the next free tram 28 but it also means everyone has a fair chance at getting a window seat so all good.
We’re all for Alfama
Once you’ve ridden the tram to Campo Ourique (which is actually quite a disappointing stop, compared to the majesty of the old town), your best bet is to get back on the tram and alight somewhere in Alfama, as the sea views here are incredible. It also makes a great photo opportunity, in terms of getting pics of tram 28 winding through the narrow streets.
One of our favourite spots in the entire city can be found high up in Alfama – Miradouro de Santa Luzia, an opulent observation point with postcard picture views from its pergola and floral garden.
Hop on and off, or stay put?
We rode tram 28 in what is usually peak season, but even with visitor numbers much lower than usual, we noticed that the tram was always full – so if you do hop off half way, you won’t be guaranteed a seat when you get back on.
We recommend riding the tram once all the way from the start at Praca Martim Montez, just so you get a feel for the route and city, then re-board again at the end and hop off on the way back somewhere central or in Alfama (all within easy walking distance of all the main city sights).
Tram 28 has pickpockets
Sadly, although we never encountered it or witnessed it ourselves, there are reports in numerous travel publications that pickpockets are a blight in Lisbon and regularly operate on tram 28. So keep your bags close (preferably in your lap) and move your purse / wallet away from the aisle when sitting down.
All in all, we totally recommend hopping aboard Tram 28 in Lisbon – it is a lovely way to see Lisbon and can act as a respite from the blazing sun. If you do just one thing in Lisbon, then make it a ride on Tram 28. Plus eat a pastel del nata. And go to Belem…., well, you know what we mean.
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