Geeky post alert! I have a bit of a soft spot for Funicular Railways and the city of Lisbon in Portugal has plenty! When I was researching my trip, I knew there was a chance I’d be pushed for time and wouldn’t be able to ride on them all. I could find information such as their location but when it came to which ones were worth a trip, there wasn’t a whole lot of help out there! So here’s my guide to the 4 Funiculars in Lisbon; Elavador de Santa Justa, Ascensor da Bica, Ascensor da Gloria and Ascensor do Lavra.
Lisbon’s funicular system was classified as a National Monument in 2002. Once upon a time they all ran on steam but since have been converted to electric! They are part of the Carris network and are included as part of the travel cards which are used on the metro system.
Elavador de Santa Justa
The most impressive…and slightly different from the other 3, is the Elavador de Santa Justa. It’s also the easiest to find as it’s a 45 metre tower, that took its inspiration from the Eiffel Tower and is located on Rua de Santa Justa (right near a giant shopping centre, you can’t miss it!). It’s more of an elevator than a funicular and opened all the way back in 1902! When I visited, only one of the 2 ‘cabins’ were in service, so the queue was quite long. Each wooden cabin holds 29 passengers, looks very old fashioned but it’s part of the charm!
A single trip is 2.50€, a ticket only valid for the viewpoint is 1.50€ or a return journey is 5€ which includes the viewpoint, the ticket office is at the bottom of the tower. I went up to the viewpoint, it gives good views of the city, river and castle and is accessed by spiral staircases. The elevator is open between 7am – 11pm (9pm in winter, Nov to Feb) and the observation deck from 9am – 11pm (9pm in winter).
Ascensor da Bica
Unfortunately the Ascensor da Bica was closed for refurbishment at the time of my visit, which was a little annoying as it was a bit of a trip out compared to the location of the other 3. I saw the top of the track from Largo Calhariz (there is a stop on ‘Tram 28’ on this street) and didn’t explore further as I was in search of one I could ride on! From my research, the bottom station located on Rua S. Pedro is slightly more impressive and it’s hidden behind a bright yellow wall with Ascensor da Bica written above the door way! The Bica funicular first opened in 1892.
Ascensor da Gloria
This was the only one I ended up having a ride on and found it completely by accident! Located right opposite the Hard Rock Cafe next to the Metro station ‘Restauradores’. The intention was to make a return journey on it, but on the trip up, I noticed that the whole street was a bit like a street art corridor, so much to my sister’s disgust, I made her walk back down so I could stop and photograph every single picture! (The Chipmunks were my favourite!). This funicular opened in 1885. It’s open the latest out of the funiculars, closing at 11.55pm Sunday to Thursday and 00.25am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Ascensor do Lavra
The Ascensor do Lavra is located almost opposite Ascensor da Gloria, but on the same side of the street at the Hard Rock Cafe (2 guesses where I ate dinner that night…!). By the time I got there, it was shut for the day, but I was actually quite glad about it (the Lavra funicular shuts the earliest out of the 4, at 7.55pm)! The street it runs up is quite narrow and steep…it’s a 25% gradient! From a photography point of view, I was able to wander up the middle of the street and take in the graffiti on the walls of the buildings.
Close to the top of the hill, the trams were parked up for the night which again, made for some cool photos! I love the way they aren’t just spotlessly yellow, like they obviously were at some point, the graffiti on them gives them a bit of character!
Ascension do Lavra is the oldest out of Lisbon’s cable railways, it opened back in 1884 and was electrified in 1915! Not including the Elevador de Santa Justa, this was my favourite out of the 3 funiculars!
Need other inspiriting for a trip to Lisbon? 48 Hours in Lisbon Portugal
How about visiting the shortest, steepest funicular in the world in Dubuque, Iowa? Riding the Fenelon Place Elevator
Have you visited the funiculars in Lisbon, or any others world wide? Let me know in the comments below!
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