Lisbon's Iconic Funiculars

Lisbon's iconic funiculars (also referred to as elevators or lifts) originally ran on water but are now powered by electricity, making them still the most environmentally-friendly way to go up and down the city's many hills. They used to be brown, but have been painted yellow since the 1930s, to match the old street trams running in the city. 

Elevador de Santa Justa

Unlike trams and funiculars, Lisbon’s only public vertical lift, built in 1902, serves exclusively as a tourist attraction.

This Eiffel inspired national monument was inaugurated in 1902, the work of engineer Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard. It is beautiful on the outside, where the filigree-like work in cast iron stand out (and each floor is different). Inside there is a beautiful cabin made of wood and brass. Upstairs you will find breathtaking views, great photo viewpoints, a nice café nearby and a few sweetheart couples enjoying the romantic atmosphere. Over a footbridge, there is a direct entrance to the Carmo Convent ruins and Museum.

And there is a practical side to it: you can ride it using your Viva Card for Lisbon public transportation.

 

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Ascensor da Bica

Connecting Rua de São Paulo and Largo do Calhariz

The Bica elevator is one of Lisbon's 19th-century elevators or funicular (along with the Lavra elevator and the Glória elevator) and, we have to confess, our favourite. It is hidden in Rua da Bica, which was considered one of the most beautiful streets in the world and is located very close to Cais do Sodré. You will recognize it by the peculiar arch of its entrance, which seems to move us to another era.

The route is short but so full of charm that you will feel like real locals as you slowly ascend among the old houses of the steep Rua da Bica: groups of people chattering in front of their houses or drinking at the door of the taverns; kids that hook to the outside railing of the elevator to climb a free section; balconies full of pots and narrow sidewalks.

 

Ascensor da Glória

From Praça dos Restauradores, the funicular climbs up Calçada da Glória towards the Bairro Alto neighbourhood.

The elevator Glória is one of several elevators that Lisbon has on its steep slopes, and connects the old and new downtown, between the old and trendy nightlife neighbourhood of Bairro Alto and the more modern avenues with their luxury shops, such as Avenida da Liberdade. It was inaugurated in 1885 and, like the rest of the funiculars in Lisbon, it is the work of the engineer Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard.​

 

Ascensor do Lavra

The Lavra Funicular is the oldest of all three funiculars still operating in Lisbon.

The Elevador do Lavra is the oldest in Lisbon. Opened in April 1884, this veteran of the slopes has been in operation for more than a century.

The Elevator do Lavra is one of the most charming in Lisbon. As you go up or down, you will see typical eighteenth century buildings, some of them displaying beautiful tile façades.

It is located in the Calçada do Lavra, very close to Restauradores square, and its route, 188 meters in total, joins the Câmara Pestana street with Largo da Anunciada.