Lisbon: grab a tram, a tart and an eyeful

Ticket to ride

Vintage tram 28 offers the ultimate spin of Lisbon’s sights – from Basílica da Estrela to the backstreets of Baixa – for the price of a €1.35 ticket. The route from Campo Ourique to Martim Moniz is 45 minutes of astonishing views and absurdly steep climbs. The most exciting bit is when the tram commences its rattling climb to Alfama, where passengers lean perilously out of the window for an in-motion shot of the sé or hop out for postcard-perfect views from Miradouro de Santa Luzia. The final stretch negotiates narrow streets and hairpin bends up to Graça, where you can get out to explore Igreja de São Vicente de Fora.

Pastéis! 

Pastelerias (pastry and cake shops) are temples to cream-filled treats that are never more than a few paces away. You’ll see locals devouring flaky pastéis de nata (custard tarts) or whiling away afternoons sipping bicas (espresso). You can kiss the diet goodbye, but take heart: for every blob of cream, there’s another step to climb in Lisbon’s steeply twisting streets, so you can counteract the indulgence with a vigorous urban workout.

Get a view of the city

You might curse the cobbles as you’re puffing up the steep stairways lacing Alfama and Graça, but take heart in the fact that they lead to heavenly miradouros (viewpoints):

  • Largo das Portas do Sol - This original Moorish gateway affords stunning angles over Alfama’s jumble of red rooftops and pastel-coloured houses, underscored by the true blue Tejo.
  • Miradouro de Santa Luzi - A fountain trickles at this lookout shaded by bougainvillea and vines, offering superlative vistas over Alfama’s blushing rooftops to the river. At the back, notice the blue-and-white azulejos depicting scenes from the Siege of Lisbon in 1147.
  • Miradouro da Graça - Young Lisboetas flock to this pine-fringed square at dusk for sundowners and sweeping vistas over central Lisbon.
  • Miradouro da Senhora do Monte - Lisbon spreads out before you at Graça’s highest of the high. Come for the best views of the castle on the hill opposite.

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This article was first published in August 2009 and was republished in June 2013.