The number 28 tram has become something of a Lisbon institution, being used by locals going about their daily business as well as offering tourists a unique way of exploring some of the city’s most historic areas. Of all the tram routes that criss-cross the city it is the number 28 that has become so iconic as it takes in some of Lisbon's most defining views and neighbourhoods.
The distinctive yellow tram cars are over 80 years old and hopping on board you will feel like you have stepped back in time as the sound of squeaky brakes and shrill bells provide all the nostalgic background noise you could wish for as the tram navigates the steep hills, narrow streets and sharp turns of the Alfama, Baixa, Graça and Estrela districts.
The experience is not for the fainthearted. You will see pedestrians forced to hop out of the way and at times the streets the tram passes through are so narrow that passengers will be able to lean out of the window to touch the walls of buildings as the tram goes by. The route is of course popular and most of the time, especially in peak season it will be a case of standing room only. Intrepid travellers determined to get a seat might decide to catch the tram at either end of its route, but if you do this, be prepared to join the queues of others who have had the same idea. The waiting times at stops can make the whole thing feel like a ride at a theme park.
As with any journey on public transport in an unfamiliar city, be on your guard against pickpockets, gangs of whom have been known to target the trams. It’s just a case of remaining vigilant and keeping wallets and phones safely tucked away.
The number 28 tram operates from 7am until 11pm. The route goes from Martim Moniz – Graça - Portas de Sol – Se Cathedral – Rua Conceição – Chiado – São Bento – Estrela – and terminates (or starts the return trip) at Campo Ourique. Single ticket journeys can be bought on the tram for around €3, but if you’re planning to be hopping on and off, or using other forms of transport then the 24-hour public transport passes costing just over €6, which allow you to also use other trams, busses as well as the Elevador de Santa Justa and the Elevador da Gloria are excellent value for money.