Tram 28 passing by Praça Luís de Camões in Chiado
Riding tram 28 has become one of Lisbon's most popular activities. It’s a journey back in time, over hills and medieval streets, in vintage trams from the 1930s that are still part of the city's public transportation network. These charming vehicles go past some major attractions, and guidebooks never fail to recommend the experience. Here’s what you should know:
Line 28 of Lisbon's iconic trams was inaugurated in 1914, and today it has a 7km-(4.5 miles) route between Martim Moniz Square and Prazeres, by the neighborhood of Campo de Ourique (at night, after 9:30pm, it terminates a few stops before, by the basilica of Estrela). It survived the rise of the automobile and of the bus by being the best way to squeeze through the narrow streets and corners of the older districts, for being an attractive tourist route, and for its clean energy. It's now an essential part of Lisbon's life, and the city would lose part of its soul without the constant rattling of these singular yellow "boxes."
The 28 uses about fifty turn-of-the-century cars, built in wood, with a capacity for 20 seating and 38 standing passengers (although many more cram in).
The average intervals between each vehicle is 9 to 12 minutes, and the entire trip takes between 48 minutes and one hour (at a maximum speed of 50km per hour), depending on the obstacles (traffic and doubled-parked cars) along the way. At major stops, digital information boards display the time remaining for the next tram, but even that information isn’t always reliable, as the aforementioned obstacles cause unexpected delays.
Tram 28 passing by Santa Catarina Church
The first 28 starts the day just before 6am, and the last one departs shortly after 11pm on weekdays and at 10:30pm on weekends. It’s best avoided from mid-morning to evening, when it’s always packed, so plan your ride for the early morning or after the evening rush hour. For a better chance of getting a seat, board it at its starting point in Martim Moniz. If standing, hold on tight, as breaks are sharp.
During your journey you'll get up close to the tiles covering Alfama's façades, will admire views of the city's oldest monuments framed by the narrow streets, will pass by other trams going in the opposite direction, and will notice details that you'd otherwise overlook. Major attractions on the route include a number of viewpoints and iconic churches (see the major stops below).
Tram 28 in São Bento
There was a time when it was recommended that tourists get off every time they saw something particularly attractive, then wait for the next tram to continue their trip, but the increasing number of tourists in Lisbon means the 28 shouldn’t be used as a sightseeing tram. The vehicles are always packed and there are always long lines of tourists waiting at the stops, so for a hop-on-hop-off experience you should take an official sightseeing tram, which follows the same route, and always guarantees a seat.
Tram 28 at the Portas do Sol viewpoint in Alfama
Major Tram 28 Stops
Martim Moniz - The starting point of the route, and the terminal for those coming from the opposite direction. It’s the heart of Lisbon’s most multicultural neighborhood, which has become something of a little Chinatown. The area is a little shabby, but there’s a fine view of the castle up on the hill.
Tram 28's stop in Praça Martim Moniz, across from Hotel Mundial
Graça - About 12 minutes after its departure point in Martim Moniz, tram 28 reaches this hilltop stop. In the vicinity you may visit some of Lisbon’s most beloved viewpoints — Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and Miradouro do Jardim da Cerca da Graça — as well as the church and convent of Graça.
Cç. S. Vicente (Calçada de São Vicente) - This stop across from the Monastery of St. Vincent is just below Graça. In addition to the monastery, you may visit the National Pantheon and the flea market (which takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays) from here.
Lg. Portas Sol (Largo das Portas do Sol) - This is your stop if you want to visit the castle. It’s a terrace opening to one of the best views over old Lisbon (a viewpoint called Miradouro das Portas do Sol), and from here you may go down a series of steps into the maze of streets of the ancient Alfama neighborhood. Here is also the Museum of Decorative Arts, while around the corner is another viewpoint, the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, and the cobbled lane that leads to the castle.
R. Conceição (Rua da Conceição) - This is the stop for Baixa, or downtown. Several attractions are within walking distance from here, such as Lisbon’s main pedestrian shopping street (Rua Augusta), the Rua Augusta Arch, the MuDe Design & Fashion Museum, Praça do Comércio (the city’s grandest square), and the Money Museum.
Pç. Luís Camões (Praça Luís de Camões) - The stop for the shopping streets of Chiado and the bars and restaurants of Bairro Alto. From here you may also walk to the Bica funicular, Miradouro de Santa Catarina, and the church of Santa Catarina.
Estrela - The stop by one of Lisbon’s most beautiful landmarks, the basilica of Estrela. Across from it is also one of the city’s most pleasant parks, the Jardim da Estrela, which is a wonderful place to relax after a day of sightseeing.
Campo Ourique (Prazeres) - The last stop is by a monumental cemetery in the neighborhood of Campo de Ourique. Many tourists find that to be quite an interesting attraction, while others walk from there to the popular neighborhood market, Mercado de Campo de Ourique, which has a good food hall. This is also the starting point for the journey back to the city center.
Tram 28 passing by the Largo Academia das Belas Artes stop in Chiado
Those who just want to experience a tram ride, with no sightseeing in mind, should take tram 24 instead. It uses the same vintage vehicles, but it’s never crowded. It doesn’t go through the narrow streets of the old town, but still goes past the elegant neighborhood of Príncipe Real.
Tram 28 passing by the cathedral
Tram 28 Tickets and Fares
Tickets are €3.00 for a single trip, and may be purchased from the driver. However, most passengers use prepaid cards, including tourists who buy the Lisboa Card (recommended for the free rides it offers, and to avoid having to get a ticket each time you board). There is also a 24-hour public transport ticket, sold at any metro station, for €6.40 (with it, you may ride not just the 28, but all trams, buses and the metro).
Upon entering (always through the front door), validate your ticket by scanning it on the machine behind the driver.
Pickpockets on Tram 28
As you stand or step on and off the tram, watch your wallet and other possessions, since, as a major tourist attraction, the 28 is a favorite target of pickpockets who easily blend in with tourists (no, not all passengers carrying maps and cameras are actual tourists). Most pickpockets are from Eastern Europe, but don’t expect all of them to share the same ethnic features, and not all passengers with those features are pickpockets. Use your common sense precautions.