A hand-in-hand stroll along Lisbon’s scenic streets is a recipe for romance — unless it’s a trek up one of the city’s famously steep hills. Don’t worry about huffing and puffing up the inclines or breaking a less-than-sexy sweat.
Trams, elevators and lifts built more than a century ago add charm to traveling uphill — and offer some of the best snuggle-up views of Lisbon along the way.
Elevador da Bica
One of Lisbon’s most photographed sights due to its steep background and expansive river views, Elevador da Bica might not be what you picture when you think “elevator.”
Climb on board at a picturesque archway on Rua da Bica and enjoy the opportunity to cuddle close on this oft-traveled route where the tram car often fills to capacity. Enjoy the 10-minute ride through the old neighborhood where charming pastel buildings give way to the flowery terraces framing the Tagus River view at Miradouro de Santa Catarina.
After the Ride: Get the conversation going at the Pharmacy Museum — housed in a cheerful yellow mansion behind the terrace — as you discover the sometimes quirky artifacts once used in the pharmaceutical industry. Listen to street musicians or linger over wine in a nearby cantina.
Elevador da Glória
Drink in views of St. George Castle and breathe in the sea air rolling in off the Atlantic as you ascend to a viewpoint at Sao Pedro de Alcantara, on a grade exceeding 17 percent, for one of the most charming views of the city. The journey begins at Restauradores Square, where stone architecture commemorates the country’s liberation from Spanish rule in 1640.
After the Ride: Visit the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto at the top to sample Portuguese wines and buy a few for souvenirs. Snap a few pics of the city with a large stone fountain in the foreground and shop for souvenirs at the quaint wooden shops around the park.
The sights on this steep tram lift reward you with views from one of the city’s highest hills after navigating steep and narrow streets. The oldest tram in the city, its long wooden seats and metal wheels harken back to times gone by. It’s also the least crowded of the Lisbon trams and has two garden viewing areas at its summit.
After the Ride: Discover a secret sweet spot, Torel Garden, filled with greenery, fountains and a quiet café. Alternatively, bring a picnic to enjoy along with the view from the Campo dos Martires da Patria or stroll hand in hand to one of the city’s most romantic restaurants, Restaurante Coutada, to enjoy seafood, steak, lamb and a menu that’s translated into four languages.
Elevador de Santa Justa
Built in the same filigree style as the Eiffel Tower, the 147-foot Santa Justa column lift oozes romance. The base of the lift tucks into the Baixa district in the city’s core where plazas, boutiques and impressive neoclassical architecture invite exploration. At the top, an observation deck gives some of the city’s best views.
After the Ride: Meander through the Carmo Archaeological Museum and Carmo Church ruins or shop in luxury stores. Sip wine or grab a bite at sunset at Santa Catarina viewpoint for a golden vista over the river; then dance the night away in a club in the famous Bairro Alto district.
Unlike most lifts in the city, Elevador Castelo is a product of 21st-century technology, taking you from downtown to a few blocks from the St. George Castle. The free lift leaves more money in your pocket to spend on your sweetie.
After the Ride: An afternoon sightseeing at the castle is a natural, but first, stop by Zambezi restaurant to dine on an outdoor terrace overlooking the Tagus River and Baixa Lisboa.
Take a Free Ride
Make the most of your money and reap unlimited travel on the trams and elevadores, as well as buses and select trains, when you buy a Lisboa Card. It also gets you in free to area museums and historic sites and delivers discounts on shopping and dining.