Riding the world's top five aerial trams

Aerial trams and cable cars take visitors up mountains, over rivers and above cities, and sometimes these cable cars are the destination themselves. With gorgeous views and unique experiences as our criteria, here are the top five.

The Mount Titlis Revolving Rotair cable car near Engelberg, Switzerland. Photo / Thinkstock
The Mount Titlis Revolving Rotair cable car near Engelberg, Switzerland. Photo / Thinkstock

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 396 metres. From the summit, you can see the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the Pedra da Gvea 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. The UK's first 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.

3. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - Palm Springs, California

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 805 metres to the Mountain Station at 2595 metres. In addition to the ride and views, Mountain Station also includes two restaurants and adjacent Mt San Jacinto State Park offers 88.5 km of hiking trails within a 14,000-acre pristine wilderness. Once visitors arrive at Mountain Station, the choice is theirs!

4. Grouse Mountain Skyride - North Vancouver, British Columbia

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 1,249 metres 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

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 3,028 metres, and the TITLIS Cliff Walk, a new glacier suspension bridge at the mountain, make any discomfort to get there well worth the ride!

- AAP

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