Lisbon tram tour network is as much a part of the ancient city’s cultural fabric as the buildings, monuments and attractions that so many visitors flock to discover every year. Of the five routes, there are two that are tourists should definitely consider taking. The E15 Tram provides a useful link from central Lisbon to the Belém District and the E28 cuts through the Alfama District. The number E12 also follows much of the E28 route through Alfama but has a very limited service.
Lisbon tram tour routes are given a number with a preceding E which stands for “eléctrico”. The first tram of the day is at 6am and most services continue until 11pm. All routes have multiple services per hour and passengers do not have to wait long between services. Lisbon tram tour operate as a hop-on, hop-off service, much like a bus but with fewer problems in finding their way through the busy city centre streets. Discovering Lisbon by tram is one of the highlights of your visit to Lisbon - Portugal’s capital, and tram 28 has to be the pick of the crop.
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 Sé Cathedral, providing tourists with a perfect photo opportunity. 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. 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.
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.
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 Belém, the location of the Torre Belém and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. 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 Belém, 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.
A single Lisbon tram tour ticket costs €2.85 can be purchased onboard from either the driver or the ticket machines. Note that the machines only accept coins. However, a much better option is to use the Viva Viagem pre-paid ticket, which makes a single tram journey cost only €1.40. The Viva Viagem ticket is a rechargeable ticket that can be used throughout the public transport network of Lisbon. The ticket must be initially purchased for €0.50 and the fares are charged to the card using the metro ticket machines. An unlimited 24-hour ticket costs €6.00 and can be used for the metro, trams and buses; these tickets can be purchased from the metro station ticket machines. All tickets need to be validated on boarding the trams.