The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
The number 12 tram route of Lisbon provides a one-directional loop through the Baixa and Alfama districts. This is the shortest tram route in Lisbon, covering just 4km, and a full circuit is completed in 20 minutes.
Trundling along the 12 route are classic Remodelado trams, with their cheery yellow paintwork, polished wooden seats and traditional brass dials. These classic trams navigate around the sharp corners and steep inclines of the Alfama districts, and barely average 12km/hour over the entire route.
For tourists, the number 12 tram is a very pleasant way to view the city, and is always much less busy than the more famous number 28 tram route.
The classic appeal of the tram, combined with the characterful districts it passes through, makes the number 12 tram a great tourist activity.
Related articles: The number 28 tram
The number 12 tram waiting at the Portas do Sol tram stop
The number tram 12 route performs a clockwise loop of the east of Lisbon.
The service departs from the Martim Moniz plaza in the Baixa district. It then passes through the multi-cultural district of Mouraria before climbing the long hill into Alfama. At the Portas do Sol, the route follows the 28 tram route downhill past the cathedral and back into Baixa.
An interactive map of the number 12 tram can be seen below:
The green line marks the walking route up to the castle from the Portas do Sol tram stop.
Insight: The number 12 tram route is identified as the E12 with the preceding “E” meaning Elétrico (the Portuguese for tram).
The number 28 tram route is better than the 12 as it covers more of the city, but the excessive popularity of the 28 route often ruins the enjoyable experience. On the 28 tram, it is often standing room only, there are long queues to board, and the tram is plagued with pickpockets.
The number 12 tram is a good alternative to the 28, if it is too busy. Both services use the classic Remodelado trams, and both routes pass through the scenic Alfama district.
The advantage of the number 12 route is that it does a loop, meaning that if you join at Martim Moniz, you can end at Martim Moniz - there is no need for a return fare or a long walk, as with the number 28.
Both the number 12 and 28 trams depart from the same plaza (Martim Moniz), and the two tram stops are close, but do not share the same stop. This allows the informed visitor the option to board the less busy tram. It is best to plan to ride the tram 28, but if there is a long queue when you arrive at Martim Moniz head over to the number 12 stop, where there will be almost no queue.
Our opinion: If you just want a scenic ride on a Lisbon tram, and are not to bothered by the exact route, then the number 12 is a great choice.
A single ticket purchased from the driver costs €3.00. The overpriced ticket is to encourage passengers to use a pre-paid zapping ticket, which makes the journey €1.60, or to purchase the 24hour public transport pass at €6.40. The 24-hour ticket is purchased from any metro station ticket machine – and there is a metro station in Martim Moniz (the green line).
Insider Tip: This 24-hour ticket is exceptional value for visitors, as it includes the Elevador de Santa Justa (€5.30), the Elevador da Glória (€3.80) and all of the tram routes (€3.00 each single).
The number 12 tram passing the Se cathedral
There are many hourly departures of the number 12 tram, with the first departure at 8:00 and the last service is at 20:45. At peak hours, multiple trams may leave at the same time, and we always advise only boarding a tram where there is a chance of a seat. Standing along the route is no fun and increase the risk of pickpockets.
For the latest timetable, see the Carris website:
All of the major tram stops have live updates of tram times, and these are much more accurate than timetables.
Warning: Unfortunately, pickpockets are found on the busy sections of the tram, especially from Portas do Sol to Baixa. While travelling on the tram, always use common sense.
The Lisbon tram 12 service was initially created in the massive expansion of the Lisbon network during 1936 to 1940. This pre-war era was when all of the Remodelado trams were constructed. The Remodelado trams which operate today have had upgrades to engines, brakes and electronics but all interior features are original.
After the decline of the Lisbon trams in the 1960s, due to the metro, route 12 was fully established as a service from Baixa up the hill to Sao Tomé. The tram investment program of the 1990s altered the 12 tram route into a complete circular line by using the tram 28 rails as the return section.
Discover more of Lisbon with our most popular guides