We're often stuck on cars, buses, and trains, 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."
Sugarloaf Cable Car - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Photo Credit: Sugarloaf Cable Car Courtesy of Riotur/Rio Tourism
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 3 minutes. The first ride is to Urca Hill and the second, much steeper ride is to Sugarloaf's summit at 1,300 ft. (396 m). From the summit, you can see the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the Pedra da GÃ¡vea and Corcovado Mountains, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and the city of Rio de Janeiro spread out beneath you.
Emirates Air Line - London, England
Photo credit: Courtesy of Transport for London Press Images
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 in 2012. The UK's first ever urban cable car, the cabins provide a 360 degree 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.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism
Located on the northwestern 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 2,643 ft. (805 m) to the Mountain Station at 8,516 ft. (2,595 m). In addition to the ride and views, Mountain Station also includes two restaurants and adjacent Mt. San Jacinto State Park offers 54 miles (88.5 km) of hiking trails within a 14,000 acre pristine wilderness. Once visitors arrive at Mountain Station, the choice is theirs!
Photo Credit: Grouse Mountain Skyride courtesy of VirtualTourist member eternel2002
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 fourteen minutes to climb to over 4,100 feet (1,249 m) 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.
Mount Titlis Revolving Rotair - Near Engelberg, Switzerland
Photo Credit: Views from Mount Titlis Courtesy of VirtualTourist member balhannah
Traveling 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 9,934 feet (3,028m), and the TITLIS Cliff Walk, a new glacier suspension bridge at the mountain, make any discomfort to get there well worth the ride!
Whether you'd like a gondola that turns 360 degrees or a view of a future or former Olympic city, these five aerial trams are trips with unforgettable experiences. If you're planning a vacation this season, don't forget to visit VirtualTourist.com for reviews, tips, and feedback from travelers who've been there and done it all!