Route 15 is one of the five historic tram lines, which have been operating in Lisbon since 1873. The line begins at the square and transport hub of Praça de Figueria in the centre of the city, near to the main railway station, before travelling west along the estuary road, stopping at Cais do Sodré and Avenue Infante Santo, both of which are quite trendy, recently rejuvenated parts of the city, with thriving night lives, along to the district of Belém, after which it continues to the coastal municipality of Algés.
A single fare can be bought on board the tram costing around €3, although the machines need coins and finding the right coins can be difficult when the trams are crowded as they often are. For tourists, a better alternative is often to buy a 24 hour ticket which costs only slightly more than double the price of a single fare at just over €6 and eliminates the hassle of buying the tickets more than once. The trams run every 7 minutes and it takes about 30 minutes to travel from the first stop at Praça de Figueira to Belém.
Unlike some of the other lines which have kept their quaint, historic character, the trams operating along route 15 have been modernised to cater for the crowds. The line is the key link connecting the district of Belém with the central Baixa district as there is no metro connection. Belém is a must-visit municipality for tourists travelling to Lisbon. It houses a number of museums such as the National Coach Museum and the Electricity Museum,as well as a botanic garden and the Monument to the Discoveries, dedicated to the explorer Henry the Navigator who pioneered the great Portuguese Age of Exploration. Perhaps the most iconic sites in the district are the stunning Manueline monastery and the Belém Tower, a 30-metre- high fortification which is open to visitors. It was built on a rocky outcrop along the coast in the 16th century and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unfortunately, it is necessary to remain vigilant against the pickpockets that operate along this tram route. They are equally likely to be men or women and are skilled at blending in and not looking suspicious in any way. Pickpockets are looking for easy targets, and as long as you remain aware and don’t make easily avoidable mistakes then the risks can be avoided.