Updated 11/19/23. In this article, we will explore the top things to know about the Elevador da Bica. The Elevador da Bica is a funicular that connects the Rua de São Paulo in the lower Cais do Sodré neighborhood with the hillside Calçada do Combro and Largo do Calhariz. Maybe the most important thing to know about the Elevador da Bica is that it traverses one of the most beautiful lanes in Lisbon.
The Elevador da Bica runs up and down Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo. The Bica Lift also goes by the names “Ascensor da Bica” and “Bica Funicular.”
A funicular is a railway on the side of a hill or mountain. The cars are attached to a cable, and tension pulls the car uphill. A second car runs in the opposite direction at the same time, counterbalancing the weight.
The Elevador da Bica climbs an 11.8% incline over a distance of 804 feet.
The trip uphill or downhill takes less than five minutes.
Where to find the Elevador da Bica
The Elevador da Bica is one block north of the famous Time Out Market. The market, with its 57 restaurants, is located at Avenida 24 de Julho, 29.
You will find the lower entrance for the Bica funicular at Rua de São Paulo, 234.
GPS: 38.70862352140877, -9.146721351269921
GPS: 38.71077093284544, -9.145820129062972
At the top you can continue west along Calçada do Combro to the Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint. See my article, Ultimate guide to the Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint
Pause here first though, as the funiculars climbing and descending the route with the river in the background make for great photos. In fact, the Ascensor da Bica is one of the most popular spots for photos in Lisbon.
The best time for taking pictures would be early in the morning before the crowds start moving around.
Get some shots from the top, and also feel free to walk down (or up) alongside the track and snap some pictures from the side.
If you decide to walk the route of the Elevador da Bica, you will notice that some of the bars, restaurants, and shops on this stretch have very reasonable prices – as if they were catering to people in the neighborhood.
The Bica funicular’s timetable
Funiculars depart approximately every 15 minutes. They run from 7 am until 9 pm Monday – Saturday and 9 am – 9 pm on Sundays and holidays.
Tickets and fares for the Ascensor da Bica
You can buy a ticket from the driver for €3.80. It allows you round trip, up and down, or down and up.
You can use the 24 hour Viva Viagem card as well. The card has sells for €6.45 and allows unlimited use of all transportation for 24 hours. To learn more read my article, What is the Viva Viagem Card? Everything you need to know
Another option is the Chamber of Commerce’s Lisboa card. The Lisboa card allows for free use of public transport and additionally offers discounted or free admission to certain tourist sites. For more information see my article, Lisboa Card | Everything you need to know
History of the Ascensor da Bica
The lift opened in June of 1892. It was created by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a Portuguese engineer who apprenticed under Gustave Eiffel.
Mesnier du Ponsard also designed the 98-foot tall Elevador da Santa Justa, which like the Eiffel Tower, is made out of wrought iron. To learn more about the Santa Justa Lift, see my Elevador de Santa Justa | Everything you need to know
He also created Lisbon’s two other funiculars – the Elevador do Lavra (opened in 1884) and the Elevador da Glória (opened in 1885). For more information on the Elevador da Glória, read my How to get to Bairro Alto? (Hint: Take the Glória Funicular)
When the Elevador da Bica opened in 1892, it was originally hydro-powered.
By 1916 the funicular had been converted to first, steam-power, and then electrical power. Unfortunately in 1916, there was also a serious accident with the lift.
The cable snapped and the car went down the hill and smashed into the station building at the bottom, destroying it.
The lift did not re-open again until 1923.
The Ascensor da Bica has been a national monument since 2002.
The funiculars, trams, and buses in Lisbon are all operated by the Carris company. Official website: | Public Transport of Lisbon (carris.pt)
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