On the huge coast that Portugal got. There is a not so known city in Portugal. Mainly because no so many flights go there. Porto is, however, Portugals second-largest city with 350,000 inhabitants that live there. Together with the suburbs around it, the area is crowded with about 1.5 million.
Since 2003, the company Metro do Porto and the Andante fare system have changed in the area around where 12000 cars are stopped circulating because of Metro do Porto new light rail system. They have succeeded so much that by 2023 new vehicles and new extensions of the network are now getting built.
Porto is a beautiful city that sits on the coast of Portugal. It is a beautiful city that should be visited by many that love to travel to try out great light rail solutions. It is a unique city for people that looks after a city with many public transportation options to see.
Metro Do Porto changed my View of how Light Rail Systems can be built
I must admit that in the beginning, I had very positive views on Metros and Underground systems in the world. But after my visit to Porto. I learned to understand why a light rail system can be as good or even better. The fact that these light rail lines can be built anywhere is their strength. Metros and Underground systems are nice, but light rail systems are as good. Also because of their tram alike structure. The street-level sections of the network can have affordable made stations too.
In this article, I will be looking at the light rail system in Porto. There is also an older tramway system in the city which you can read about in this article below. When I visited Porto, I really saw the huge contrast between the new and the old. The new light rail in Porto is seen a lot when traveling in Porto. but when you are in the city center you witness the old American streetcars that Porto bought before World War II.
The new light rail system that was revealed to the public in 2003 is now a huge example of how fantastic a light rail system can be. So let me reveal the fantastic Porto town in Portugal and its stunning new passion for new and old trams for you. Also if you feel that Lisbon is too crowded than Lisbon. I can recommend visiting Porto by a fast train link as I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed over this magical city. Porto breeds with its special rocks on each side of the river that is connected with several bridges. Where Luis I Bridge got Line D passing it together with pedestrians.
It is a city like no other with a spirit in it in the world for me. I felt so alive in this city every minute that I was there for 6 days. It’s the beauty of a city for light rail and tram enthusiasts. It’s even hard to describe their incredible well made system. Because it is so out of this world efficient that I will always love. All of the mountains and hills where Porto is located make the town special.
Let’s introduce you to light rail in Porto Portugal
With many cities in the world, Porto also had a huge tram network. But in the 70s day decided to scrap the trams in favor of buses and cars. A decision that many cities at that time did because everyone thought that buses and cars were going to be the future. But when the 80s and 90s came along.
The world understood more and more at that time what a big mistake it was too close down the trams. The traffic issues in the town increased year by year. So Luis I Bridge had more and more queues. The pollution noise and smell reached new heights. People began to get frustrated. More and more people started to get allergies and asthma expanded.
So the politicians in Porto decided that they had to do something. Their heritage tram was going but it wouldn’t be able to move the increased amount of people at the same scale as they wanted. So many ideas was put into the debates before they decided that a type of tramway system must return to their city to save it from car pollution.
Almost every street in Porto was full of cars and there was chaos everywhere for pedestrians and the safety for them. So something needed to be done. It took some time, but a plan was finally laid out and economic interest was given.
So by July 2002, the very first trial of a light rail stretch in Porto was shown. And people loved the new system. The very first trial service was held between Câmara de Matosinhos and Viso with very beautiful low-floor light rail trains. So with this move. The town increased the love for the tram a lot and new sections of the town got a new line back again.
This is the Entire Metro Do Porto Expansion Info
- July 2002: trial service on section Câmara de Matosinhos – Viso
- 07 Dec 2002: Line A: Regular service Senhor de Matosinhos – Trindade (11.8 km)
- 06 Jun 2004: Trindade – Estádio do Dragão (3.8 km)
- 13 Mar 2005: Line B (red) Senhora da Hora – Pedras Rubras (6.8 km)
- 30 July 2005: Line C (green) Fonte do Cuco – Fórum Maia (6.0 km)
- 17 Sept 2005: Line D (yellow) Pólo Universitário – Câmara de Gaia (5.7 km)
- 10 Dec 2005: Line D (yellow) Câmara de Gaia – João de Deus (0.4 km)
- 18 Mar 2006: Line B (red) Pedras Rubras – Póvoa de Varzim (17.2 km)
- 31 Mar 2006: Line D (yellow) Pólo Universitário – Hospital São João (1.4 km)
- 31 Mar 2006: Line C (green) Fórum Maia – ISMAI (4.5 km)
- 27 May 2006: Line E (violet – Airport branch) Verdes – Aeroporto (1.6 km)
- 27 May 2008: Line D (yellow) João de Deus – D. João II (0.7 km)
- 02 Jan 2011: Line F (orange) Estádio do Dragão – Fânzeres (6.6 km)
- 15 Oct 2011: Line D (yellow) D. João II – Santo Ovídio (0.8 km)
- 27 July 2017: Line B (red) VC Fashion Outlet – Modivas stop added
When you walk on the coast of Porto you can witness old tram tracks that is not yet covered or taken away. Between Matosinos on Line A and Passeio Alegre where the heritage tram line 1 runs you can have a longer walk seeing them.
Experience Magical Places in Porto with its Light Rail
The only stations of the network that are Overground in the city center are Carolina Michaelis, Lapa, Trinidad, Jardim do Morro (Line D only) and General Torres (Line D only) that is served by all of the lines except for line D which is located underground under Trinidad station.
Line D is also one of the most interesting lines where you can see the beauty of Porto from the Luís I Bridge which only light rail trains and pedestrians. So if you take it between Sao Bento and Jardim do Morro stations you can get a spectacular view either during the day or night.
You can see on the map on the right here how it connects Porto with suburban areas and nearby cities. That’s exactly how any bigger city should have been built. It is affordable, effective and productive for all of the areas that it reaches.
5 lines serve the city center of Porto, Portugal
- Line A (Blue): Estádio do Dragão – Senhor de Matosinhos
- Line B (Red): Estádio do Dragão – Póvoa de Varzim
- Line C (Green): Estádio do Dragão – ISMAI
- Line E (Purple): Estádio do Dragão – Airport
- Line F (Orange): Fânzeres – Senhora da Hora
Today the network is served by 5 light rail lines. They reach many areas in and nearby Porto. Yes, you can even take it from Porto Airport. It takes you straight to the city center. It is fast and the trains support lots of luggage too.
With the same line E, you can reach the Central Train station Campanhã and the neighboring City named Senhor de Matosinhos. The population in this city was 175,478 back in 2011 where you also find quite nice hotels. The Lines in Porto are A B C D E and F. The shared stretch between Senhora da Hora and Estádio do Dragão is served by all of them.
On every corner of Porto, the light rail system is like a tram or a train tram but in the city center, all of the lines runs Underground which means that when you are in the city center of Porto. You can reach 13 (includes Line D) underground stations in the town when travel by the Porto light rail system.
Also, I do recommend anyone loving to take great pictures. To take them on or beside Luís I Bridge. It is really gorgeous. From having traffic mayhem to become a fantastic pedestrian-only path road with light rail in the middle. This bridge has becomes a spectacular icon of the city.
Porto is a huge proof of how important it is to implement a great light rail system. Many cities around the world should look towards Porto as they were one of the first cities in the world to re-implement a light rail system with a huge success. Porto is nowhere near the same now as it was 15 years ago when all of the city was crowded with cars standing in huge queues. Kudos to a city that’s made a correct decision.
Experience a light rail that acts as a Metro in Porto
7.7 km is the total length of the underground sections and stations in Porto. This light rail layout proves to all politicians in this world that light rail can be a very good Metro or Underground train alternative and that it is much more affordable than any odd busway solution. The platforms are a bit lower even at the underground stations, but they work very well for all kinds of people using them.
All of the light rail trains in Porto are low floor. Yes, even the faster tram-trains have it too. So, you never need to worry when taking kids on a stroller. With Line B you can take the tram-train as far as to Povoa de Varzim. Which are 4 zones from the main Porto zone on the official public transportation map.
With Line E you can take the light rail to the airport of Porto as mentioned above. That station is named Aeroporto. So when you enter the center of Porto. Most of the stations are underground. So take a look at the map where your hotel is located.
Also if you take Line B to the end station. Make sure that you check the zones before taking it though. You will notice some incredible ruins and nature. It is fantastic to see how old ruins together with the new blends together. You can buy an Andante 24 for enough zones so you can have a nice experience. Also on this line, you have nice tram-trains that go faster than the regular light rail trams. For tram enthusiasts, this trip is also heavily recommended to try.
All important Ticket Info for Porto Portugal
A single ticket in Porto costs €1.20. If you purchase the Porto Card or the Andante Tour Card, you’ll have unlimited access to the city’s metro system. If you’re however thinking of using public transport in Porto, the cheapest and most affordable way to get around the city is to get an Andante Card.
So the most affordable tip is to get an Andante 24 card gives you unlimited access to the metro system, buses, and some of the city’s urban trains for 24 hours. So if you want to check out the entire area the cost is only 6.40 Euro! Then you can travel over 67 km in one day in the area. For light rail enthusiasts or those that come to the town as backpackers.
This is for sure a great price. Also if you are a tourist person that likes to see different parts of a town and its surroundings. Then an Andante 24 card is recommended. If you only want to travel for 1 hour. Then an Andante Azul ticket should be enough. We have gathered the prices for the tickets below.
Porto Ticket Prices for Zones
So if you are smart. Go for the Andante 24 if you are going to travel around for many hours. You can see above here that Andante Azul price for 11 single tickets cost 12 Euro while the Andante 24-hour card costs only 4.15 Euro for 2 zones journey. All of the tickets can be bought at ticket machines on the Andante shops on stations, in the railway stations within the city borders, tourist offices and at some hotels.
The card is activated when you first use it and it is valid for exactly 24 hours, not one day. This means that if you activate it at 10.00 in the morning when you arrive, you’ll be able to use it until the following day at 10.00.
Although it is has a “flat rate”, you’ll have to validate it every time you use public transportation. Which is the only thing that could be improved? The price of the travel card depends on which zones you travel to. If you are going to get around central Porto, then you’ll probably need a Zone 2 card. The Airport is in zone 4.
Just so you know. None of the Andante 24 or Andante Azul cards works on the heritage trams. If you are however staying in Porto for more than 4 weeks. I recommend you to get a season ticket. With an Andante month card, you can even use the trams. Other than that follow the info below in this article.
Meet with the old streetcars from America in Porto
With a totally new light rail tram and tram-train system in Porto. You would think that there is no room for more in Portugals second biggest city? Well! There is. Porto had once a quite extensive tram network that was torn apart. Today the “Carro Electrico” heritage tramway is operated by STCP that owns 8 heritage trams still in use in Porto. These are historic trams with some of them dating back as far as 1872 when the first line of “American streetcars” of the city of Porto was inaugurated.
For many years, the tram system in Porto had more than 20 lines. By 1949, the network reached its maximum length of 150 kilometers track length. But as with many cities in the world. The car companies in the world had this vision spread everywhere to destroy old trams. So most were closed during the 1960s and 1970s. But Porto didn’t want to get rid of all so they kept 3 touristic lines alive. They were functioning between July 1978 and 2003. In 1996 the tram service changed to become touristic only but still 7 days a week schedule for them. Today they are still running on the streets of Porto. Remarkable!
I am sitting in Oslo, Norway so my knowledge of Porto became even bigger after my visit to it and when digging for info about Porto heritage tram for this article. I must say that I am positively surprised about the love for it and how well these American looking trams still rides on the streets of Porto in Portugal. They are still going on the steep streets of Porto up and down without issues.
I think that this service deserves to be mentioned together with the light rail system. It was a huge shame to close down the entire network in 1996. Now it is just a tourist sight but they do run 7 days a week. So that’s great. You can check out all the info about the new Metro do Porto Light Rail article. This is my next stop! Porto is one of the most beautiful cities in the world that’s worthy to preserve at all costs.
Heritage Trams in Porto runs every day all Year
It is fantastic to see that the tram enthusiasts have managed to keep these trams from 1920 in such good shape. In the city center of Porto, they give the town extra charisma and charm. Together with historic buildings in the town these trams feel rare but cared for. Which I think is a very nice feeling I think.
Not only is this heritage service good for locals that walk or work there. But also for the many tourists that visit the town to get to the feeling of the unique and complete atmosphere experience. Porto is a few world cities that were never touched by the bombs of World War II. So, Porto kept lots of old charisma which completes the image of the town I think. The mix of the old and the new in this town is striking. But they have a nice balance to it for sure.
The only downside of the system is that it is still a heritage system. It is still not part of the Metro de Porto fare system which is the only downside of it. But I can live with that as the heritage trams get lots of love and care by the tram enthusiasts in Porto.
Meet the Heritage trams at Aliados Light Rail station
- Line 1 runs between Passeio Alegre (Fort of Sao Francisco do Queijo (Foz)) and Infante. Meets Line 18 at Museu do Carro!
- Line 18 runs between Museo do Carro to Carmo with a loop in the city center. Meets Line 22 at Carmo!
- Line 22 runs between Carro in a loop towards Batalha. Connects with the Funicular that takes you to Ribeira beside Luiz I Bridge
I really welcome all enthusiasts and tourists that want to see really nice heritage trams to visit this place. You can reach the heritage tram line 22 from the Aliados underground Light Rail Metro do Porto station. Also if you take the funicular from Ribeira (which is not too far from Infante (end of Line 1)) to Batalha, you can have one of the most astonishing views over the Douro river and Luiz I Bridge above.
From Batalha, you can reach line 22 from here. You can take it to Carmol station where you can take line 18 down to Museu C. Electrico where you meet Line 1. Line 18 is the oldest line still in function even though none of these lines are part of the public transportation fare system for tourists and short-time visitors in the city which I think is not so good.
The route that Line 18 uses, where it meets Line 22 from Carnol station in the city sits on a hilltop in the city center. From there it goes down to the Douro river area and up again if you want. It is a really impressive stretch that will make you understand why they kept the trams if you go there. The remarkable fact is that these heritage trams climbs the steep roads that are as impressive as in Lisbon. But the engine sounds of these trams are unique. But as a bonus, they aren’t that crowded as those in Lisbon.
The Heritage Trams is sort of included into the Metro do Porto fare system
- Heritage Tram Museum Ticket includes one tram trip: 4 Euro
- Single ticket (valid for one trip, only available onboard): 3.50 Euro
- 2 travel tickets on someday: 6.00 Euro
- 2 days adult ticket: 10.00 Euro
- 2 days child ticket (from ages 4 to 12): 5.00 Euro
- Children under 4: Free
You can use the 500 bus along the Tram Line 1 in Porto. It is more affordable if you use a Metro do Porto ticket. If you are a tourist person that likes to see different parts of a town and its surroundings. Then an Andante 24 card is recommended. But If you only want to travel for 1 hour. Then an Andante Azul ticket should be enough. All of these Andante tickets are not included in the trams it seems from the info on Wikipedia. But after I’ve dug into the STCP site for Line 1, Line 18 and Line 22 it clearly says that some Andante cards can be used and STCP company site even links to Andante site too which got the same prices I found for my Metro do Porto article.
Short time visitors can’t use the Andante card for these trams
For visitors that will only visit Porto for a short time. They cant use Andante 24 on the trams. But an Andante monthly ticket is allowed in the heritage trams. The other tickets (single trip, 2 trips, 2 days) have a specific tariff. Andante 24 will not work in the trams. All Andante cards seem to be valid on these 3 lines. I have been asking about this around. So this section is updated after a nice answer regarding this confusion from STCP.
Without the possibility of using an Andante card. The official one single ride pass ticket costs 3.50 Euro, while a return ticket costs 6.00 Euro. This is the most affordable tickets to buy. There is a two-day unlimited pass too but it costs 10 Euro. For tram enthusiasts, this might be a gold ticket, but for others, it is a waste I think.
Because this is seen as 3 touristic lines. They have these prices which are meant for tourists only. But it would really benefit Porto town and the environmental thinking to implement these 3 lines into the other Andante tickets also. In Oslo the fare system allows any tickets to be used with metro line 1 is used by people and is seen as a touristic line up to Holmenkollen ski jump for the most and also the ferries during summer. They are all included in the public transportation Ruter fare system.
Plans for the future according to Wikipedia are to extend Line 1 from Passeio Alegre which is nearby Fort of Sao Francisco do Queijo (Foz). From Passeio Alegre it is planned to be extended to Castelo do Queijo or even Matosinhos and from Infante on the other side of Tram Line 1 to the São Bento railway station via Rua Mouzinho da Silveira. With this move, Tram Line 1 would link with the Funicular at Ribeira which goest up to Batalha where Tram Line 22 stops.
Heritage Tram museum at Museu do Carro where Line 1 and Line 18 meets
If you’d like to know a lot more about the fascinating world of the tram in Porto, I recommend you visit the Museu do Carro Eléctrico. It features interesting trams from various periods of Porto’s history. It is open 7 days a week all year almost.
- A single ticket for adults costs 4 Euro
- Children up to 12, students and seniors 2.50 Euro
- Children up to 4 can enter for free
Opening Hours for the Tram Museum
Mondays 14.00 (2 pm) to 18.00 (6 pm)
Tuesdays to Sundays: 10.00 (10 am) to 18.00 (6 pm)
If you come during the week there are much fewer people at the museum. The people that care for the trams in Porto love their work. So don’t be shy asking questions. They will gladly help you out. Also, one museum ticket also gives you a one-way ride on the trams running in the city. You can also get a 2-day ticket here.
Locations where to get the tickets for Heritage Trams
- When boarding the Tram
- Electric Car Museum (only 2 days)
- Hotels (only 2 days)
- Travel agencies (only 2 days)
- Selected kiosks (only 2 days)
Now you know where to get them. Where these heritage trams go and a bit history behind them. I never went to the museum when I visited Porto. But now I know what to do when I will be back.
Porto for me is such a beautiful place to be at that I will return. It’s my soul city I think.
Porto Light Rail and Tram FAQ
Check out STCP website for more Trams in Porto information