The streets and hills of Lisbon can be tough on the legs at times so it highly recommended to give the funicular of Ascensor da Glória a go if you are nearby. It is a great sightseeing trip down from the top of barrio alto into the heart of Rossio. These are not to be confused with trams, which are an entirely different mode of transport. Think of funiculars more as ski-lifts on land and you will get the picture!
Though it has the name “Funicular,” it does not rely on the archaic pulley and rope technology, rather has a motor to climb the incredibly steep hill. Two parallel rail lines are in operation to help manage this very popular tourist experience. This special lift / funicular is one of the 3 lift systems still in use in Lisbon today.
Opened for public use in 1885, the system was altered to use an electric engine instead of steam in 1915. It is a largely enjoyable experience to cruise on the jerky tramline at an incline of 17.7%, although it can get a little cramped at times. Sardines in a tin seemed an appropriate metaphor! The seating is angled wo maintain a vertical position to help keep passengers comfy while they enjoy a rooftop view of the city. Very kind of them!
Ascensor da Glória operates on only one route between Praça dos Restauradores (Rossio) and São Pedro de Alcântara (Bairro Alto). The tram is open daily from morning until midnight and ideal for the visitors heading to check out the spectacular view of Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara . This funicular represents one of the earliest modes of transport connecting the upper and downtown Lisbon baixas and in continuing this trend has found itself to be one of the more popular Lisbon attractions.
Other Lifts & Funiculars:
- Lavra Funicular: The earliest of the three Funiculars, still in operation, connects Largo da Anunciada and Rua Câmara Pestana. Opened in 1884, the funicular is single-lane and less touristy but has a great view of the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Bica Funicular: It is the last of the funicular triplets operated between Rua de São Paulo and Largo Calhariz. It is considered the most picturesque with remarkable buildings, small shops, and vibrant views as you travel.
- Santa Justa Lift: A unique lift connecting the neighborhood of Baxia with Bairro Alto is a major crowd seeker. Prepare to queue if you can spare the time on your Lisbon visit it is well worth a look!