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Great Cable Car Rides; Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal is the California of Europe, and the capital Lisbon is the San Francisco.

Don’t believe it?  Just look at the facts.

Both cities are situated on a southwestern coast at the same latitude with perfect weather and lovely beaches. They even have a similar shape and are known for great surfing.

They are both charming metropolises built on seven hills. Each is known for its distinctive boroughs, colorful architecture, breathtaking panoramas and progressive attitude.

Both are noted art, coffee and wine cultures.

Both were redefined by devastating earthquakes and most remarkably, they each have a Golden colored Bridge crossing the oceanic entrance they are located on.

Throw in some vintage yellow cable cars and what you are left with is twin cities.

Credit: hirotomoCredit: hirotomo

Lisbon’s Long History

There are some very important differences though.

Lisbon is one of the oldest surviving cities on the planet, predating both Rome and Paris. It is also considered the world’s first global city. During the Age of Explorers, Lisbon was the launching pad for the exploits of Vasco Da GamaFerdinand Magellan, and Prince Henry the Navigator.

Credit: pedrosimoes7Credit: pedrosimoes7

Tram 28

Like San Francisco, nothing beats seeing the city from a vintage cable car. Lisbon’s famous Tram 28 (Elctrico 28) plies up and down steep hills and twists around narrow streets which alternate between breathtaking vistas and peaceful river settings.

It follows a picturesque route that leads to some of the city’s most sought after attractions including churches, castles, monuments and gardens. It also goes through many of the different districts, each with its own personal charm and magnetism.

Libson Tram Tour

The best place to start is Martim Moniz, heading towards Graça and the São Vincente de Fora Church. Behind the Church is a flea market (Campo de Santa Clara) worth visiting, where you can find all sorts of amazing trinkets.

The tram continues through Alfama, the oldest district with the impressive medieval Castle of St George and excellent views of the river below.

Descending towards Baixa, the elegant downtown area, you pass the prominent Se Cathedral before climbing again through Chiado’s shopping district and Bairro Alto’s famous nightlife area. Shortly after the journey ends in Campo Ourique.

Credit: roger4336Credit: roger4336

Get the Most Out of It

The passage has over 30 stops and can be done in one go, in less than 45 minutes.

However, the best way to enjoy the trip is by getting a day pass which allows you to hop on and off at will. For less than $5, you will be able to enjoy the historical sites and magnificent views more intimately.

A one day ticket includes subways, buses and funiculars too, permitting you to branch out across this refreshingly compact and organized city.

Credit: roger4336Credit: roger4336

Much More

Don’t forget to spend some time exploring Belem, the fantastic parish district with its wonderful tower, palace, gardens, monuments and museums. One day could easily be spent here.

Get out of town to explore endless beautiful beaches, fishing villages and castle towns, most notably Sintra, a stunning village with a Moorish castle nestles in the mountains.

When To Go

Lisbon is beautiful year round.


Lisbon has a warm year round climate with balmy summer days, with temperatures reaching 85ºF (30ºC).

Winters are wet and windy, though warm, with temperatures averaging around 59ºF (15ºC).

Getting There & Around

The Lisbon International Airport has daily flights to and from the major cities of the world.

Located 4 miles (7km) north from the city center.

Aerobus lines 1 and 2 run every 20 minute from the airport to the city.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $60-80
  • Meals: $10-20
  • Beer: $3


  • See the sunset and the sunrise at the same day. The first tram is around six in the morning and it runs roughly every 10 minutes until around 11 at night.
  • Hop on a bike for a scenic and safe ride from Baixa along the waterfront to the historical area of Descobertas-Belem-Jerónimos.
  • Take a ferry to Cacilhas and see Lisbon from the water.


  • Take paper money to buy your ticket for the tram. The machines only handle coins.
  • Lose your awareness. Pick pockets are notorious on this famous tram.
  • Take a taxi if you do not speak Portuguese. They are notorious for ripping off tourists.

Fun Facts

  • Like Amman, Rome, and San Francisco, Lisbon is built on seven hills.
  • After Barcelona, Lisbon attracts the most tourists in Southern Europe.
  • Lisbon is the westernmost metropolis in Europe, as well as its westernmost capital city and the only one on the Atlantic coast.

Feature Image Credit: Terence S. Jones

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