All aboard: top trams to do

From the world’s most northern network in Norway to world’s last manually operated cable car system in San Fran, cities globally have cleverly incorporated the humble tram into everyday life and nostalgia

The world’s first passenger train or tram was the Swansea and Mumbles Railway, in Wales, UK, with a horse-drawn service starting in 1807.

Worked by steam from 1877, and then by electric tramcars in 1929, it eventually closed in 1961.

The first authenticated streetcar in the US, was the New York and Harlem Railroad, which began service in 1832.

Meanwhile, the first permanent tram line in continental Europe was opened in Paris in 1855 and was developed in numerous cities such as Lisbon, Berlin and Budapest).

From humble beginnings, the unassuming tram has since been developed across cities around the world to become part of city life and also a bucket list entry for tourists.


Dating back to the 1930s, the yellow Remodelado trams are an integral part of the public transport network.

Routinely delayed by traffic as it passes through the narrow streets of Alfama, the trams are a must for any tourist wanting to experience life in the capital city.

A ride along the entire 28 tram route, which experiences numerous tight turns and steep gradients, provides one of the best tours of the capital.

This route connects Martim Moniz with Campo Ourique, and passes through the popular tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela.

Trams start at 6am and end at 10:30pm.

A single ticket costs €3.00 and can be purchased onboard.

A 24-hour ticket costs €6.40 and included bus and tram services. This can only be purchased from the metro stations.

TIP: The 28 tram does not stop outside Castelo de S Jorge, and it is still a steep walk from the closest tram stop up to the entrance to the castle.

TIP: Board at Martim Moniz (or Campo Ourique) as there is a better chance of getting a seat.

TIP: Ride the tram early or late in the day, to avoid the crowds.

San Francisco

The famous trams, or cable cars, are legendary and are the world’s last manually operated cable car system.

Invented in the city nearly 150 years ago, the trams were named a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and are a great way to venture up the city’s steep hills.

Running around every 10 mins, the city offers three cable car lines – two start at Powell and Market and continue to the Fisherman’s Wharf area, while one starts at California and Market and continues to Van Ness Avenue.

The California Street cable cars are larger than the other trams, as they’re double-ended cars with an open section and a grip on either end. The other trams are single-ended cars.

For the best views, you want to be on the side that faces the bay. That’s the eastern side of the Powell cars, meaning the right-hand side for cars leaving from downtown and the left side for cars leaving from the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

Click here for a cable car map.

TIP: To board cable cars at Powell & Market, Bay & Taylor and Hyde & Beach Streets, you must purchase your fare in advance (applies daily 8am – 5pm). MuniMobile enables you to buy tickets with a credit/debit card or PayPal account. Clipper is the all-in-one transit card for the Bay Area. Use your Clipper card on all Bay Area transit systems, including Muni. Tickets are one way and a single fare costs $8.00. A day pass MuniMobile costs $5.00.

If in the city for several days, think about buying a Paper Passport for 1, 3, or 7 consecutive days for unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, historic streetcars, and cable cars. These can be purchased at ticket kiosks, on Clipper or MuniMobile. Click here for 1, 3 or 7 days fare.

If using cash on other lines, the exact fare is required.

TIP: Board the tram from Union Square to the crest of Nob Hill to see the cable car driver operate the turntable.

TIP: Board at the cable car turntables (the beginning or end of each route) or look for the brown-and-white cable car signpost.

TIP: The green ‘X’ traffic signal is ‘go’ for cable cars, not pedestrians.

TIP: Exit the Powell/Hyde tram at Lombard Street to see the world’s crookedest street’. The top of the hill (Hyde and Lombard) allows unobstructed views of Alcatraz Island.


The world’s most northerly tramway system, the Gråkallbanen is a popular tourist attraction in the city.

Taking you from the city center uphill and into the forest and recreational area Bymarka, tram goers can get a great view over the city.

The yellow and blue veteran tram wagons are often in use, when cruise ships visit Trondheim during the summer season.

The modern trams run on a schedule with one to four departures per hour.

A single fare (zone 1) costs 40 NOK and (zone 2) costs 80 NOK. A 24-hour ticket for zone 1 costs 120 NOK.

You can buy tickets with the travel card t: card from the AtB Mobillett app.

With a valid ticket you can board directly at AtB’s green buses and trams in the Trondheim area.

Click here for a tram map.

TIP: At the end station Lian, there is a restaurant with a view above the lake.

San Diego

The San Diego trolley operates three lines: Blue Line Stations, Orange Line Stations and Sycuan Green Line Stations.

As the border of Mexico is less than 20 miles from downtown San Diego, the easiest way to get to the border is by the San Diego trolley and then walk through the checkpoint.

From downtown San Diego, a trip to the Mexican border takes around 45 minutes on the Imperial Way blue line. The blue line travels throughout downtown San Diego and connects to the city’s other green and orange lines.

To get to Tijuana, hop on the blue line at any station going south toward San Ysidro. You will take the line all the way to the end and get off at San Ysidro. Click here for a map.

The trolley departs every 15-20 minutes and a one-way fare costs $2.50.

The San Diego Trolley is self-serve, so you buy your tickets from kiosks that are located at stations.

The last trolley departs San Ysidro at 12:58am.

Hong Kong

The city’s double-decker streetcars have been travelling through Hong Kong’s busiest thoroughfares since 1904.

Running daily until midnight, the routes will take you through the Western district, Wan Chai, Happy Valley, Causeway Bay and North Point neighbourhoods.

No matter how far you travel, each tram ride costs the same flat fare and if paying by cash, the exact fare is needed. An adult fare costs HK$2.60.

All trams accept Octopus cards.

TIP: The city’s TramOramic Tour offers a 1920s-style open top tram to sightsee in style. You can board from either the Western Market Terminus: 308 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan or Causeway Bay Terminus: 88 Yee Wo St, Causeway Bay (outside Regal Hongkong Hotel). An adult fare costs HK$150. Last-minute tickets are sold on board if seats are available, but priority goes to passengers who have made online advanced bookings.


Operating 12 streetcar routes in the city, Toronto’s tram network the third busiest light-rail system in North America and primarily situated in Downtown.

Most streetcars run 24 hours a day, every day.

You need a PRESTO Card, one-ride, two-ride or day pass PRESTO Ticket, Toronto Transit Commission ticket, token, day pass, transfer, or exact cash to pay your fare.

A PRESTO one-ride ticket costs $3.25, a two-ride ticket costs $6.50 and a day pass ticket costs $13.00.

Operators on buses and streetcars do not sell fares or carry change, so you must have a form of payment ready before you board a vehicle.

Click here for routes.

Checking out C & J.

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