A highlight of any visit to Lisbon is a ride on the number 28 tram. This enjoyable tram route passes through many of Lisbon’s finest districts, including Baixa, Graça, Alfama and Estrela, but most visitors travel on it to climb the steep hill from Baixa to the castle and Alfama.
Due to the undulating route, only the classic Remodelado trams, which were originally commissioned in the 1930s, are able to navigate the steep inclines or sharp twists of the tracks. These trams (that would be in a museum in any other city) are an integral part of Lisbon public transport network, and a ride on the number 28 tram is a highlight of any trip to Lisbon.
The number 28 tram is the longest route in Lisbon, performing a loop in the east of Baixa, Graça and Alfama before heading west to Estrela and Campo de Ourique. This first section is the favourite with most tourists, as the tram screeches through Alfama, passing the Se Cathedral and the Santa Luzia viewpoint. The westward section is equally enjoyable and scenic, by passing through the Estrela district and terminating at the magnificent Estrela Estrela Basilica.
Tickets can be purchased on board with, a single ticket costing €2.85; tickets may be purchased from the ticket machine or from the driver. A better value option is to purchase an unlimited 24-hour pass, which includes metro, tram and bus services; these tickets cost €6.00 and can be bought from metro stations, but not on the tram. The number 28 tram is the most popular tram route, and there are daily departures every 11 minutes. The final departures for the evening are around 21:00.
During the summer tourist season the tram is exceedingly busy from mid-morning through to mid-afternoon so try to avoid this time. The best time to ride the Lisbon Tram 28 is first thing in the morning or early evening when passenger numbers are at the lowest. It is a sad fact that the high levels of tourists gathered in an enclosed space have attracted pickpockets who commonly work the route, so always keep an eye on bags and wallets.
The number 28 tram departs from Praça do Martim Moniz (north of Baixa) and its first section rides through the Graça and Alfama districts. On the way through Alfama, the tram passes in front of the Se Cathedral, providing for a wonderful photo opportunity. The section between the Santa Luzia viewpoint and Baixa is the busiest one.
From Baixa, the 28 tram heads through the theatre district of Chiado, the nightlife district of Bairro Alto and the grand district of Estrela. The Estrela Basilica is the last major tourist site along the route, and the tram service terminates at the nondescript Campo de Ourique station. The total journey time of the Lisbon tram 28 route is 40 minutes.
The little yellow Remodelado trams originate from the 1930s and are bursting with traditional charm, from the original dials and levers through to the uncomfortable polished wood benches. These trams are called Remodelado (remodelled) because they were thankfully upgraded with improved brakes and electrics during the 1990s. Some visitors may think that the brakes are sometimes too good.
If you managed to grab a window seat, the Lisbon tram 28 will reward you with a fantastic tour of the city for just the price of a bus ticket. A ride on this old tram is not a thing of comfort, the benches are made of wood, tram lines were laid as if part of a fairground ride and the sharp brakes send stood passengers tumbling down the aisle, but would any tourists willingly change any part of the experience? Of course not!