Sheer cliffs: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, in California, has the world’s largest rotating tramcars. Passengers can take in exquisite views of the Coachella Valley below. — Photo from Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism/MCT
Nothing beats getting a bird’s-eye view of beautiful surroundings.
WE’RE often stuck on cars, buses and trains when commuting to work or trying to get to our next destination. But what about transportation that highlights a destination?
Aerial trams and cable cars take visitors up mountains, over rivers, and above cities, often as a means to an end – but sometimes these cable cars are the destination themselves. With gorgeous views and unique experiences as our criteria, the members and editors of VirtualTourist.com have compiled a list of the Top 5 Aerial Trams.
1. Sugarloaf Cable Car
– Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sugarloaf Mountain is a landmark both in Brazil and around the world and there is no greater way to experience the views of Rio de Janeiro than from the aerial tramway to Sugarloaf’s summit. There are two separate cable car rides to reach the summit, and each ride lasts about three minutes. The first ride is to Urca Hill and the second, much steeper, ride is to the Sugarloaf’s summit at 396m (1,300 feet). From the summit, you can see the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the Pedra da Gavea and Corcovado Mountains, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and the city of Rio de Janeiro spread out beneath you.
2. Emirates Air Line
– London, England
The Emirates Air Line is the most recently opened aerial tram on our list and began running on June 28, 2012, just in time for London’s Summer Olympics that year. Britain’s first urban cable car, the cabins provide a 360° view of the city of London, Canary Wharf, historic Greenwich, and the O2, the entertainment district and domed arena on the Greenwich Peninsula. In the first six weeks of running, more than half a million passengers used the Emirates Air Line to cross the River Thames.
3. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
– Palm Springs, California
Located on the north-western edge of Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway has both the world’s largest rotating tramcars and exquisite views of the Coachella Valley below. Built into the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon, the 10-minute ride takes visitors from 805m (2,643 feet) to the Mountain Station at 2,595m (8,516 feet). In addition to the ride and views, Mountain Station also includes two restaurants, and the adjacent Mt San Jacinto State Park offers 88.5km (54 miles) of hiking trails within a 5,666ha (14,000-acre) pristine wilderness. Once visitors arrive at Mountain Station, the choice is theirs!
4. Grouse Mountain Skyride –
North Vancouver, British
Located in Northern Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is home to North America’s largest aerial tramway, which takes you from the resort base to the plateau on the mountain where visitors can see a lumberjack show, visit a grizzly bear habitat, take a guided or self-guided eco-walk, or enjoy one of the mountain’s restaurants. If you’d like to go further up the mountain, the Peak Chairlift takes 14 minutes to climb to more than 1,249m (4,100 feet) above sea level at the top of Grouse Mountain. In addition to the exceptional nature views, you can also see the city of Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf Islands in the distance.
5. Mount Titlis
Revolving Rotair –
near Engelberg, Switzerland
Travelling up Mount Titlis is something many VirtualTourist members enjoy in both summer and winter. There is not one, but three gondola rides needed to reach the top of the mountain. The third ride is the famous Titlis Rotair gondola, the world’s first revolving cable car, which makes one full rotation during the ride. The floor moves, not the entire gondola, so depending on the adaptability of your fellow passengers, it can be a little awkward! However, the exceptional views atop Mt Titlis, at 3,028m (9,934 feet), and the Titlis Cliff Walk, a new glacier suspension bridge at the mountain, make any discomfort to get there well worth the ride! – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.