Fly Through the Clouds in These Amazing Cable Cars

You wouldn't believe the views some of the world's most incredible cable cars provide.
Genting Skyway, world's fastest cable car
The world's fastest cable car © Getty Images
By Tarquin Cooper

On paper, cable cars seem simple enough, but step into one and the feat of engineering becomes startlingly impressive, to say the least. How does it do what it does? Maybe it's best to just focus on the views you wouldn't be able to see anywhere else.

Skiers and mountain bikers — and tourists — have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to these wonderful flying elevators. Not to mention Hollywood. Cable cars have provided the setting for some classic action-flick fights, from the Clint Eastwood war film "Where Eagles Dare" to the Bond movie "Moonraker," filmed on the famous Sugarloaf cable car in Rio de Janeiro.

But not every car cable listed below is for kicks. For some cities they're the answer to traffic problems, while for remote communities they're a lifeline. Browse our 10 most notable cable cars of the world below.

World's fastest: Malaysia (pictured at top)

One of Asia's most impressive gondolas, Genting Skyway is a gondola lift connecting Gohtong Jaya and Resorts World Genting in Malaysia. The world's fastest, it reaches a top speed of 13.4 mph and is the longest in Southeast Asia.

 

Surreal viewpoint of the The Vallée Blanche Aerial Gondola
Arguably the world's most scenic cable car ride © Aurora Photos

Most scenic: France

The Aiguille du Midi cable car in France takes hikers and skiers from the town of Chamonix to within touching distance of the summit of Mount Blanc in just a matter of minutes. For most people, the journey stops there. But the ride across the Vallée Blanche to Pointe Helbronner is even more spectacular, as you soar over one of the finest alpine viewpoints anywhere in the world.

 

Villagers cross the 1km cableway in Yushan, China
This isn't for fun – this is a lifeline © Quirky China News / REX

Lifeline to the outside world: China

Some cable cars featured here are examples of incredible engineering, and this is no exception. Clearly, the health and safety standards of the West have yet to catch on here, but for residents of Yushan, China, this 0.62-mile-long cableway provides a valuable lifeline to the outside world — as long as you don't look down.

 

Tourists enjoy a ride in the Sanserhorn cable car
The world's first open-top double-decker cable car © CabriO

Open-top travel: Switzerland

From homemade ingenuity to Swiss efficiency, meet the 21st-century cable car — the world's first open-top double decker. It transports passengers to the top of the 6,234-foot Mount Stanserhorn in just over six minutes, offering incredible 360-degree views.

 

Evening view of the Sugarloaf cable car
The world's most iconic cable car © Nikada / Getty Images

The City of God's cable car: Brazil

Some cities have famous buildings — Rio de Janeiro has its cable car, which provided a memorable fight scene in the Bond flick "Moonraker." Rising to the summit of Sugarloaf, it's an icon. In a city not short of attractions (we mean the beaches and the Christ the Redeemer statue, of course), the cable car holds its own as a wonder in the City of God.

 

Tienmen cable car
China – it's a beautiful place © Vladimir Piskunov / Getty Images

Chinese engineering, Part 2

This cable car was reputed to be the "longest passenger cableway of high mountains in the world," with a total length of 4.6 miles and an ascent of 4,196 feet. But we're not sure that's the case, as La Paz (below) has that beat.

 

commuters go to work via cable car in La Paz
Not just for skiers and hikers but also commuters. © Jorge Bernal / Getty Images

Commuting in La Paz: Bolivia

This cable car serves the needs of commuters. At 6.2 miles the teleférico La Paz-El Alto is considered to be the longest aerial cable car in the world. It was built as a solution to traffic congestion in the city, opening in 2014.

 

Aerial view of London cable car
You'll never guess where this is © Richard Newstead / Getty Images

Highway across the Thames: England

London famously has 34 bridges so you'd think the city wouldn't need any more methods for crossing the Thames River. Wrong. In 2012, the Emirates Air Line cable car opened. At 295 feet off the ground, it's the most scenic way to cross the river, offering great views across the UK capital.

 

Looking into the ether on board the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola
This is the world's longest unsupported span © David McColm/Whistler Blackcomb

Longest unsupported span: Canada

It's fair to say the Canadians are pretty proud of this one, the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which links up the Whistler Blackcomb resorts. It has the honor of being the longest unsupported span in the world (9,921 feet) and the highest lift of its kind in the world, at 1,430 feet above the valley floor.

 

View of the Mérida cable car in Venezuela
The world's highest cable car © David Evans / Getty

World's highest: Venezuela

With contenders like La Paz (one of the world's highest cities) and the cable car across Mount Blanc (see above), there's some stiff competition for the world's highest cable car. But it's Venezuela's Mérida Cable Car that takes the prize. It begins at an altitude of 5,381 feet and finishes at 15,633 feet. That's high enough to die from altitude sickness.

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