It is one of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic symbols: the street car of the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa. The “bonde”, as locals call it, is the oldest tram line in Rio de Janeiro. It is the only line from the original tram system, that was build more than 100 years ago, that is still working. Don’t miss out on it: it’s a cool ride and offers awesome views along the way.
At the end of the 19th century, Rio de Janeiro had an extensive tram system that connected almost all the neighborhoods in the city. It was one of the most developed public transportation systems in the world. Unfortunately, after two dictatorships, almost nothing is left of this system. Only the tram line to Santa Teresa remains. For almost 150 years it functioned without any break, until fate hit the line.
After years of legal fights for a better maintenance program, one of the trams crashed because of a brake failure in 2011. Six people died in the crash and more than fifty people were wounded. The government shut down the tram line and it stayed closed during the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later.
Only in 2015 part of the line reopened, the first 1,5 kilometers of the 10 kilometers long line – until the Largo do Guimarães. Recently another part of the route was opened. Right now more or less 4 kilometers of the line are open again for public. A great way to discover this interesting neighborhood and an experience in itself. The highlight of the ride is ride in the beginning, when riding the Aquaduct of Lapa
The tram leaves from a little square next to the head office of the Petrobras company, in the old city center map. In principle they leave every 20 minutes, from Monday to Friday, open from 8:00 to 17:00. Saturdays from 10:00 to 17:00. Sundays and holidays from 11:00 to 16:30. You pay R$20 for a round ticket and you can get out and hop on at any stop.
On busy days it can be difficult to hop back on the tram once you got out. That’s because not a lot of people will be leaving. The best option would be to make the round trip until you get back to Largo do Guimarães. Get of there and explore this intersting part of Santa Teresa. You can have something to eat and drink and then get back on the tram for the last part back to the city center. In case it takes a long time to find a place, there is an easy plan B or C. Largo do Guimarães has a taxi stand and quite some Uber drivers passing by that can pick you up here. Or you can walk down taking the famous Stairs of Selarón.