Lisbon is built on seven hills that rise from the north bank of the Tagus River. Its coastal suburbs overlook the Atlantic. Though informal, it is the political, economic and cultural center of Portugal and has a total population of over two million. Lisbon boasts one of the finest subway, bus and train systems anywhere. The local favorite is the Electrico, a system of antique trolley cars built in the style of days gone by. The cars are beautifully lined with wood panels, insulating them from the intense summer heat. One of the most popular trolley lines is number 28, which goes across the entire city, around steep turns and up and down hills in roller coaster fashion. Electrico operates consistently at a loss, but city residents wouldn't hear of discontinuing it.
Sightseeing, surfing, sunbathing, golf, soccer matches, and fado folk music are all part of the charm and vitality of Lisbon. The capital provides ample opportunity for seeing popular celebrations and enjoying the nightlife. In nearby Sintra, horse-drawn carriages pass ancient mansions on the way to the Palácio da Pena at the top of the hill. Its fabulous romantic architecture keeps vivid the atmosphere of a truly royal residence.