I admit, I have a soft spot for trams.
My fondness for tram travel stems from my love of riding public transportation to explore urban centers, with trams providing one of the best perspectives since all travel is above ground.
In addition, in many cities tramways date back 100 or more years, providing a peek into a city’s historical past. The old tracks are usually kind of slow and meander through multiple neighborhoods, providing real insight into a city’s character.
Riding Around the World
As I was poking around the interweb, I was surprised on just how many countries still have functioning tram systems.
Check it out:
- Africa – 7 cities in 3 countries: Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria
- North America – 17 cities throughout Canada and U.S., as well as Mexico City
- South America – Argentina has the only tram systems in South America, with two modern tramways, a short linkage line in Buenos Aires and an even newer line in Mendoza that opened in 2012.
- Europe – Loads of cities in 30 countries including extensive systems in the UK, Russia, Romania, Germany, and France = tram travel at its finest!
- Asia-Pacific - More than 32 cities in 10 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, North Korea, and Japan
Favorite City Spins
While trams are integrated into urban centers around the world, three systems in particular tug at my heart strings, including:
Built in 1878, San Francisco currently only has one tram line running along the Embarcadero (not to be confused with the city’s famous cable cars or the light-rail MUNI system). What I enjoy most about the system is that it adopts trams from around the world, with each car’s birthplace proudly displayed. Every time a tram glides past, I strain to see from where it hails – Baltimore, Mexico City, Japan. My favorite is a mellow orange window-paned version from Milan.
Built in 1884, it is currently the largest urban tramway network in the world with 250 kilometers of track (just ahead of St. Petersburg at 240 km and Berlin at 190 km). Even better is that locals use the system as a main form of transport, with more than 182 million passengers annually. I still fondly remembering hopping the tram to St. Kilda for some breakfast and a snoop around the shops.
While living in Hong Kong in the early 1990s I used to take the tram around my Happy Valley neighborhood. And on the weekends my friends and would take a jaunt to the top of Hong Kong island via the Peak Tram to enjoy the views. Built in 1888, the system offers a double delight since each tram car is a double-decker.
What’s your favorite tram city?
Travel tip shared by GoErinGo