‘The seats aren’t comfortable, but you’ve got a beer’: Readers’ favorite tram rides | City breaks


Winning trip: A small drink in a tram pub, Helsinki

Helsinki has a small and convenient tram system, with the exception of the beautiful SpåraKoff “pub” tram: a bright red single carriage that circles the city, serving mostly beer and “long drinks” (gin and grapefruit soda; please try the long drink) to passengers. It covers most of the usual sights of the city and without any annoying commentary. The seats aren’t particularly comfortable and the decor is mostly wooden but you’re on a tram, with beer, so already the best afternoon/evening of the week. For Helsinki, drinks are reasonably priced at under €8 a pint and the wine list is constantly changing. Just to make it even more special there are restrooms so you may never need to leave.

The ding dings of Hong Kong

Photography: agefotostock/Alamy

Hong Kong Island’s trams are affectionately known as “ding dings” and travel over 13 km of main road arteries from west to east between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan. Drifting along the length of this urban canyon takes around two hours and costs 25p, and the views are endless. From the windows of towering residential monoliths in all pastel hues, satellite dishes and air conditioning units reach outward for light. Below, cardboard carts and shiny automobilia are maneuvered through the narrow streets, lit by commercial neon lights. At the slightest cracks, the trees of the jungle spring up, blending into the parks. Float near the Bank of China and HSBC towers. There’s no better way to unwind in the world’s most manic city.
culann robinson

Ripe for reopening: Trieste, Italy

Tram to Opicina
Photography: Image Professionals GmbH/Alamy

The tram runs between the hills of Villa Opicina near the Slovenian border and the charming Adriatic town of Trieste, about 6 km away. It becomes a funicular using cables to facilitate navigation in the steepest sections. The views are stunning, the experience is unusual, and you have the option of visiting two countries in one trip. The tram has been closed since August 2016, following an accident, but the authorities hope that after several scandals and mishaps, the line will reopen this year. I can’t wait to come back and enjoy a stroll followed by some lovely food and wine in one of Trieste’s old squares.
Jennifer Cutler

Desirable Streetcar, New Orleans

New Orleans Streetcar
Photography: Aliyah

While not quite urban icons like streetcars often are, New Orleans’ character streetcars are arguably the best way to explore the city’s charming landscapes and rich history. Board the vintage streetcar on the outskirts of the French Quarter, where Common Street meets St Charles Avenue, and settle into the comfortable mahogany seats. The St Charles Line (the world’s oldest continuously running tram line, having opened in 1835) takes passengers through Uptown and the attractive Garden District, passing iconic mansions, parks, museums and attractive local shops. For $1.25, this old-school experience is worth it.
Hamish Lister

Stopovers for hikers, Germany

Railcar of the Kirnitzschtal tramway
Photography: mauritius images GmbH/Alamy

If you’ve ever taken the train between Dresden and Prague, you may have already noticed the magnificent rock formations of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains along the Elbe Valley in Germany’s so-called Saxon Switzerland. The 8 km long Kirnitzschtalbahn or Kirnitsch Valley Tram connects the spa town of Bad Schandau to the Lichtenhain waterfall. The tram will take you to the waterfall or to the various hiking access points throughout the region – the Malerweg or Painters’ Path has inspired generations of artists. The last stop of the tram is home to the deliciously kitsch half-timbered hotel Lichtenhainer Wasserfall, which offers hikers and vintage tram enthusiasts a well-deserved beer or, if you prefer, coffee and kuchen.
Robby Block

Sheffield Supertram

A tram outside Sheffield Cathedral
Photograph: John Keates/Alamy

Catch the Yellow Line to Meadowhall for £4.60 return. There is a great view of Sheffield past Fitzalan Square as you cross the viaduct. Descend at Attercliffe, cross the footbridge over the canal for another great view before descending. Stroll along the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal for as long as you like for a peaceful and scenic walk through nature, passing through the former industrial heart of Sheffield. Catch the tram back at Arena, Carbrook, Meadowhall South or even Rotherham to get home, with all stops accessible via the canal.
Jack Evans

From the river to the sea, Porto

Old tram in the old town, Porto
Photography: toxawww/Getty Images

Porto has some lovely refurbished old trams in operation on routes 1, 18, 22. We took #1 which has an incredibly scenic route from Rebeira to Foz overlooking the Douro River all the way. The road is very busy and passes approximately every half hour. You can go earlier in the day or wait for the next one, like we did. It costs €3.50 one way, or a little more return – you can use contactless to pay on the tram. In Foz, it is pleasant to watch the powerful waves crashing and to admire the magnificent lighthouse.

Antiquity on the line, Alexandria, Egypt

Tram passing the neoclassical Monument of the Unknown Soldier, Alexandria
Photography: Ariadne Van Zandbergen/Alamy

This ancient city’s extensive tramlines, built in the second half of the 19th century and electrified in 1902, are the best way to experience the life, colors and people of Alexandria. For 5p one can take a 90 minute journey through the old parts of the city including the ports and up to the eastern suburbs. Each wagon has its own driver and the first of the blue tram is reserved for women. The conductor makes his way through the ticket-issuing passengers. Merchandise sellers all pass, offering their wares. Outside, business in Alexandria happens on and beside the tram lines. If you want to see life slowly in one of the oldest cities in the world, take the tram.
Ros Cannery

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Cream and Green Dream, Melbourne

TrainsOld Electric Tram One of Melbourne City Circle Trams Melbourne Australia Moving ozstock ozstock
A vintage tram on Melbourne’s City Circle line. Photo: Picasa/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

Long live Melbourne’s light rail system, reputed to be the largest urban system in the world, making it easy for visitors and residents to get around. It’s sleek, modern, busy, reasonably priced (some areas free) and covers over 250km of trail. We made good use of the tree-lined Route 96, which stretches 13.9km from Brunswick East to St Kilda Beach. The day pass is particularly interesting. We also enjoyed the historic cream and green City Circle tram: free, with audio commentary, taking you around the city’s main landmarks – a great introduction to this charming city.

Dinky and delicious, South East Devon

A green tram runs alongside the Seaton Tram towards Colyford.
Photograph: Gartland/Alamy

Seaton’s three-mile vintage tram is small in stature, but well worth the trip through the Devon countryside. The narrow-gauge line uses conventional half to two-thirds scale electric trams. Trams moved in after Beeching closed the Seaton branch line in the 1960s and the road now carries holidaymakers and enthusiasts to Colyton. It runs along the Ax Estuary, Seaton Wetlands Nature Reserve and the River Coly, so the views change with the seasons and it’s worth bringing your binoculars if you like birdwatching. You can also book a ride experience where you can ring the bell yourself. Fares are £12 and £9.60 (children), but there are other fares for families.
Rachel Henson

This article was updated on March 24 to include a photograph of Hong Kong’s “ding dings.” Several readers pointed out in the comments below that the first photograph included was of a Hong Kong Peak Tram.


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