7 Beautiful Cable Car Rides Around the World

By Kaeli Conforti
March 15, 2013
Rio cable car
Courtesy Dreamstime
When transportation and tourism meet, it's a beautiful thing. Whether you're using them to get from Point A to Point B or just enjoying the amazing views, we've rounded up seven scenic cable car rides from New York City to Rio de Janeiro that deserve a spot on your travel bucket list.

Cable cars and aerial trams around the world give you access to brilliant panoramic views without having to go through the effort of hiking a long, winding trail up a mountain or trekking through the wilderness in search of the perfect vantage point. We scoured the globe to find the most travel-inspiring views, whether you're seeking a relaxing ride in Rio or want to try capturing a different angle of the New York City skyline. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy. And don't forget your camera!


Sugarloaf Mountain Aerial Tram

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf Mountain has always been a major Rio de Janeiro landmark—the city itself was founded at the mountain's base in 1565. The Sugarloaf Mountain Aerial Tram was built in 1912, turning Rio de Janeiro into a major tourist destination. Able to carry up to 65 passengers at a time, the cable car offers two rides—first the 722-foot climb to Morro da Urca, then the 1,300-foot rise to the Sugarloaf Mountain summit—and 360-degree views of Copacabana, Ipanema, Guanabara Bay, and the Corcovado Mountains, as well as a peek at the statue of Christ the Redeemer that this area is known for. Take a lunch or shopping break mid-way at Morro da Urca and visit the Bondinho exhibit at the mountain's summit for a look at the role Sugarloaf Mountain has played throughout modern Brazilian history.

How to ride: Tickets cost $27 for adults and $13 for children ages 6-12; children six and under ride free. Cable cars depart every 20 minutes between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Click here for directions from touristy Copacabana and Downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Cape Town, South Africa

Treat yourself to 360-degree views of Cape Town, the Helderberg Mountains, Blue Mountain Beach, Sunset Beach, Devil's Peak, Camps Bay, Robben Island, Signal Hill and Lion's Head, the Cape Town Stadium, and the 12 Apostles with a ride on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Cable cars depart every 10-15 minutes and make the 3,559-foot climb up the 260-million year old Table Mountain in under five minutes. More than 20-million visitors have taken a ride since the Cableway opened in 1929. At the top, buy a souvenir, dine in a restaurant while enjoying gorgeous mountaintop views, opt for a short nature walk through Table Mountain National Park or try a longer hike along the top of the mountain down to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden or the Silvermine Nature Preserve. Sip wine while watching a magnificent sunset, or if you're feeling especially gutsy, Abseil Africa offers the opportunity to rappel down the side of Table Mountain, sure to be a memorable experience, if you're brave enough to do it.

How to ride: The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is located 15 minutes from the city center on Tafelberg Road in Cape Town. Adults pay $20 for a round-trip ride while children ages 4-18 pay $10 when tickets are ordered online; children under age four ride free. The Cableway will be closed between July 22nd and August 25th, 2013, for annual maintenance.

The Yellow Mountains Cable Cars

Huangshan, China

Located in the remote hills of China's Anhui Province, Mt. Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, is home to some of the country's most striking natural wonders—you can visit hot springs, waterfalls, and unique rock formations like Lion Peak, the Flying Stone, Monkey Gazing at the Sea, as well as popular tree formations like Black Tiger Pine, Lovers' Pine, and Two Immortals Playing Chess, that the area is known for. Hiking enthusiasts flock to the area's vast trail system with pine trees, streams, and jagged rocks on one side of the path and nothing but sheer cliffs on the other. Yellow Mountain boasts three cable car systems, carrying visitors to various scenic points on the mountain since 1986—the Yungu Cableway takes you from Cloud Valley to White Goose Peak, the Yuping Cableway takes you from the Mercy Light Pavillion to the Jade Screen Pavillion, and the Taiping Cableway takes you from the Pine Valley Nunnery to Pine Forrest Peak. One-way trips last about 8-12 minutes and cost $13 for adults and $7 for children from March 1st and November 30th (prices are $11 for adults and $6 for children from December 1st to February 28th).

How to ride: Several options are available to help you get to the area: hop a flight from Shanghai to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), take a 13-hour long overnight train from Shanghai to Tunxi, or ride one of the seven public buses from Shanghai's South Bus Station to Tangkou, a small village near the Huangshan scenic area where the cable cars are located.

Skyline Gondola Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand

First opened in 1967, the Skyline Gondola Queenstown offers 220-degree panoramic views of some of New Zealand's best natural highlights including Coronet Peak, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, The Remarkables, and Lake Wakatipu as you rise 1,476-feet over Queenstown. A variety of activities are available once you reach the top of Bob's Peak—try a scenic nature walk or take advantage of one of the many area bike trails. The Skyline Queenstown Luge is open year-round, and you can choose between the easy-going scenic track with simple turns and dips, and the advanced track with steeper hills and sharper turns. A special section of the mountain is reserved especially for stargazing—there is no light to obstruct your view of the universe, and with access to telescopes, you'll be able to spot planets and an endless array of stars. For a unique cultural experience, catch a performance of Kiwi Haka, a show celebrating traditional Maori music, dance, and legends. Activity prices may vary—check the website for ticket packages that combine gondola rides, dinner, and the Kiwi Haka performance.

How to ride: Skyline Gondola tickets cost $26 for adults and $15 for children, or you can pay $74 for a family pass for up to four people. Gondolas run from 9 a.m. thru 9 p.m. while the luge is open from 10 a.m. thru 5 p.m. in the winter and until 9 p.m. during the summer months.

Grindelwald-Männlichen Gondola Cableway

Grindelwald-Männlichen, Switzerland

Deep in the heart of the Swiss Alps, and about a 25-minute drive from Interlaken, lies the 7,687-foot tall mountain, Männlichen, a haven for nature lovers, and home to the Grindelwald-Männlichen Gondola Cableway—stretching for more than 3.72 miles, it is the world's longest. Opened to the public in 1978, the cableway was built to provide visitors with easy access to hiking and skiing areas, and to cater to families wanting to get closer to nature—breathtaking views of the nearby Jungfrau massif and Bernese Alps also made the ride popular with visitors. Hikers and mountain bikers flock to the region during the summer months, while skiing, snowboarding, and sledding remain popular winter activities. Families visiting the Jungfrau region should check out the Felix Trail, a special family-friendly route between Männlichen and Holenstein where kids can learn about the different animals and wildlife living on the mountain and participate in other fun, educational activities.

How to ride: Tickets cost $61 for ages 16 and up, while children ages 15 and under pay $31 for the round-trip ride. The gondola cableway is open from 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from June to late September, and runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter months.

Roosevelt Island Tramway

New York City

Originally built in 1976 as a way to help Queens residents reach their offices in Manhattan, the Roosevelt Island Tramway is now a part of New York City's transportation system, making it the only commuter cable car in North America. The Tramway carries up to 125 people at a time and crosses 3,100 feet at 16 miles an hour in less than five minutes, all while providing scenic views of the Queensboro Bridge, the East River, and the Upper East Side. After crossing from Roosevelt Island, the Tramway leaves visitors at 2nd Avenue between 59th and 60th streets, allowing easy access to subways that connect you to the rest of the city, or on a nice day, opt for a 15-minute walk through the Upper East Side to Central Park. The best part: the Roosevelt Island Tramway is all yours with the swipe of a regular New York City Metrocard, the same card used to ride subways and buses throughout the five boroughs. In other words, you'll get a memorable ride with stunning views for $2.75, the cost of a subway ride.

How to ride: Trams operate from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday thru Thursday, and from 6 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Please note that morning rush hour takes place between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. with evening rush hour between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Prepare for large crowds during those times and plan accordingly.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs, California

Located about two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was opened in 1963, providing visitors with a beautiful 2.5-mile ride through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, an area featuring rugged mountains, abundant wildlife, and magnificent vistas. A number of hiking trails through Mt. San Jacinto State Park are available from the Mountain Station at the top of Chino Canyon, as well as a concrete pathway to Long Valley, a popular picnic area during the warm summer months. Free, guided nature walks are also offered from Memorial Day thru Labor Day from the Natural History Association store. Visit the Winter Adventure Center for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing rentals or to buy a $5 per person permit for camping, available year-round. Dine at the top of Chino Canyon at Peaks Restaurant (fine-dining) or at the Pines Café (a cafeteria-style restaurant), both of which offer stunning views of the Coachella Valley below.

How to ride: Tickets cost $23.95 for adults, $16.95 for children ages 3-12, and $21.95 for seniors ages 62 and up. Trams depart every half hour starting at 10 a.m. Monday thru Friday, and starting at 8 a.m. on weekends and holidays, with the last tram at 9:45 p.m. The Tramway will be closed for annual maintenance from August 10-30, 2013.

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Would You Sail on Titanic II?

Have you ever watched (the beginning of) the film Titanic and thought, such a great ship, such splendor, I wish I could have sailed on something like that? Well, thanks to Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, chairman of the Titanic II Blue Star Line, you may soon get your chance—he's working on an exact replica of the original Titanic, with its first voyage across the Atlantic (on, you guessed it, the original path) starting in 2016. According to this video report by ABCNews.com, it's been Palmer's dream to build the second Titanic ship and recreate as much possible including the same details, amenities, and features as the first Titanic, a task which will cost him $500 million to complete. Palmer says the only real differences between his version and the original ship will be a special area at the ship's bow so couples can live out their Titanic film fantasies by recreating the iconic Jack and Rose "I'm flying" pose, and to accommodate modern safety updates—an extra deck to provide better visibility for the bridge, a few extra feet to adhere to international stability safety codes, and of course, plenty of lifeboats, you know, just in case. When asked by the ABCNews.com reporter if he sees this whole endeavor as tempting fate, Palmer mentioned how one of the benefits of global warming has meant there are less icebergs to contend with. Whether or not you share his optimistic views on how the repeat voyage will be, Palmer says more than 45,000 people would be interested in sailing on Titanic II, most notably Helen Benziger, the great-grandaughter of the unsinkable Molly Brown, one of the Titanic's best known survivors. Unfortunately for budget travelers, tickets will be rather steep, with the best first class cabins rumored to be priced at $1 million, but we've got our fingers crossed for a good deal, even if it is technically in steerage. We want to know: would you ever sail on Titanic II, even if it is supposed to be safer than the original? Tell us what you think and check the Titanic II website for updates on prices and schedules as things develop.


Is Las Vegas Safe?

One of the reasons people like to visit Las Vegas—and 40 million of them do each year—is that the city has the aura of recklessness, even mild danger, that seems to come with casinos. But a recent spate of violent crimes may cause some to have second thoughts about visiting Sin City. Reality check: Violent crime around the Strip (the area around Las Vegas Boulevard that is home to major destinations such as the Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, CityCenter, the Bellagio, and Circus Circus) fell by 13 percent in 2012, and has continued to fall in early 2013. But you wouldn't know it from the highly publicized, and somewhat bizarre, streak of violent incidents that have earned news coverage in recent weeks. Not only did a shooting and car crash kill a rapper, taxi driver, and passenger and injure several bystanders, but an unusually violent stabbing (in which the perpetrators themselves managed to stab each other in addition to the victim), the beheading of a bird, and New Year's Eve gunplay have also rocked the city's epicenter of hospitality. Although Las Vegas's tourism officials are concerned that vacationers may think twice before booking a gambling getaway, a bigger concern is convention business, which brings in thousands of visitors at a time and is a key component to the city's economy. Of course, it should be pointed out that the Strip is under the surveillance of guards, cameras, and undercover workers, and the area has banned knives, toy guns, and fireworks. (Nevada law allows people to openly carry guns.) For many, to go or not to go may have more to do with their perception of the situation than the reality—the Strip's high number of security workers and relatively low rate of violent crime (just 223 incidents in 2012) should add up to a safe trip with just the right kind of thrills. TALK TO US! Will the recent shooting on Las Vegas's Strip affect your travel plans?


8 Places to Go Before You Have Kids

Having kids doesn't mean you can never travel again, of course. Yet once you've gone from packing a suitcase and two carry-ons to dealing with travel cribs, car seats, strollers, and diaper bags (not to mention the snacks, changes of clothing, and toys needed to make it through a six-hour flight), you'll be asking yourself—why didn't we do this before we had kids? These are not babymoons, per se, which are best spent relaxing on the beach. These eight places are where you'll want to be on your own schedule to get adventurous, sample the local wines, and stay up into the wee hours. SEE THE PLACES! New Zealand The spectacular natural wonders and cool towns of New Zealand should be at the top of your pre-kids bucket list. Especially since they are a 13-hour flight away—and that's if you are coming from the West Coast (not to mention those flights typically cost more than $1,000 per person). Long haul flights are hard on everyone, and it will likely take kids longer to adjust to such a significant time change, cutting into your actual vacation time. Plus hopping between the North and South Island is mandatory if you want to see all the country has to offer. Do you really want to spend half your vacation repacking all the suitcases and searching under hotel beds for a lost lovey (or worse, realizing it's missing once you're at the next stop)? Do it: You have a lot of ground to cover, so be sure to give yourself a lot of time see the sites. Start in Auckland on the North Island, where you can take the unbelievable elevator 610 feet up the Sky Tower for 360-degree views. Then either head north to the Bay of Islands for sailing and hiking, or you can go south to the town of Wellington. On the South Island, meet the locals in Christchurch and go wine tasting at the surrounding wineries. Get to know a different type of local in the town of Oamaru, where you can watch the blue penguins march back to their nests in the early evening. Disney World Think the magical realm of Mickey and Minnie is just for kids? Think again. Going to Disney as an adult is a totally different experience than if you have toddlers (or even teens) along for the adventure. Some are obvious—not being relegated to the kiddie rides, not having to push a stroller around. Then there's the not having to go back to the hotel for nap and not having to decide between getting the kids dinner, bath, and into bed on time (and avoiding potential meltdowns) versus staying late for the awesome Main Street Electrical Light Parade. Disney has also caught on that they need to keep adults happy, too. That means things like gourmet restaurants. You can now even get a glass of wine with your dinner at Be Our Guest in the new Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom. Do it: Another perk to traveling to Disney without kids is that you aren't beholden to school vacations (when prices are higher and crowds are denser). September and October are good times to go, and the temperatures will be a little more bearable as well. Even so, you might want to stay at a hotel further from the action and less aggressively family-friendly. There is a premium for avoiding characters after-hours, though. The Dolphin is a boat-ride away from Epcot and, though it's not run by Disney, offers perks like Extra Magic Hours and free parking at Disney parks (from $169 a night in late September). The Four Points by Sheraton is on International Drive and closer to Universal Orlando than the Disney Parks, but starts at just $124 a night in late September. Paris Is there anywhere more romantic than Paris? It's a city where you want to embrace the clichés and roll with them. Strolling the streets, hand-in-hand? Yes! Taking a sunset boat ride down the Seine? Mais oui! Trying to keep the kids from hurling frites at each other at the quaint outdoor café? Not so much. Go now and get all the nuzzling under the Eiffel Tower out of your system. Bring your future children back in a few years to see the amazing museums and historic sites—once they are out of their food-throwing phase, that is. Do it: Stay in the charming, antique-filled Hotel de la Paix—one of our Secret Hotels of Paris—in the 14th arrondissement (from $130 per night). The centrally located hotel is within 20 minutes of the sites of Paris by Metro, and within walking distance of cafes and gardens. Route 66 Road Trip There are lots of great scenic road trips in the U.S. (California's Route 1, the Blue Ridge Parkway), but why not go back to the original and travel along Route 66. Well, what's left of it (see below). Road trips may not scream romance for some, but there won't be much time after kids to really just enjoy each other's company—and control what's coming out of the car speakers. This also means no kids rolling their eyes at every retro diner you want to stop at for a patty melt and a milkshake. And, most importantly, no chorus of "are we there yet??" from the back seat. Do it: To really, truly do this trip, you start in Santa Monica, California and drive the more than 2,000 miles to Chicago. It goes without saying that there is a lot to see along the way, from the Grand Canyon to the St. Louis Arch. The midpoint is the town of Adrian, Texas, home to the MidPoint Café and its famous pies and kitschy decor. The longest section of the original Route 66 starts northeast of Oklahoma City. Be sure to stop at the Route 66 Museum in OKC before you head out. Napa Valley Quick—why do people go to Napa? The wineries, of course. And there are more than 400 of them. That means days filled with sampling the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Which doesn't exactly scream "kid-friendly." Those tastings are best accompanied with the other local bounty. Munch on artisanal treats from Oxbow Public Market during the day, then have dinner at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro. It's not French Laundry, of course, but entrees start around $20. Do it: You can actually bike through—not just past—vineyards with a tour from Napa Valley Bike Tours ($154 per person, not including tastings). Or use your two feet to walk around Downtown Napa. The Wine Tasting Card gets you samples at 12 tasting rooms ($25, plus 10 cents per taste). Either way, you'll be pretty tired at the end of the day. Retire to one of the 13 rooms at Yountville's Maison Fleurie, where the day starts with blueberry pancakes or artichoke quiche (from $150 per night). Macao In general, trips to destinations where casinos are a big part of the draw are hard with kids (since this is an 18-and-up activity done in smoky surroundings, after all). Chances are there will be a chance for a guys' weekend or a girlfriend getaway to Vegas in the future. So why not go for it and try your luck in Macao? This former Portuguese colony is about 40 miles from Hong Kong and has grown to be one of the top gambling destinations in the world (a cameo in the latest Bond flick helped raise its profile, as well). Do it: Outposts of Vegas hotels like the Venetian and the Wynn have opened in Macao in the last decade. Instead, try the Hotel Lisboa (from $120 per night). The hotel has expanded greatly since it opened way back in 1970 and now has more than 1,000 rooms, 15 restaurants, plus a casino on site. Its most famous feature? The roulette-wheel roof. Angkor Wat The world's most sacred temples are meant for quiet contemplation and obviously should be treated with the utmost respect. Something that even the most angelic children might find difficult. Which is why now is the time to take a journey to Angkor Wat, outside Siem Reap in northern Cambodia. The complex spreads over a stunning 494,000 acres with archaeological relics dating back to the 9th century and iconic Cambodian Khmer architecture. You will want to give yourself three days to see the complex, and keep in mind that heat and humidity will keep your days short. Do it: Angkor Wat is just a couple miles from Siem Reap, and easily reached by taxi (about $25). There are many hotels in Siem Reap. Spend a little bit more than your usual budget and stay at the Shinta Mani (from $170 per night). The boutique hotel is part of the Shinta Mani Foundation, which supports local education, health care, and small-businesses initiatives, and a portion of your room fee goes to the organization. Transatlantic Cruise Cruises usually make the top of lists for family travel. But a transatlantic cruise is different. They are usually more than a couple weeks in length, and involve many days and nights at sea. While to you that means more time to lay by the pool and do absolutely nothing more strenuous than ordering a cocktail, the kids could get a little stir crazy (no matter how awesome the kids' club is). The shore excursions are obviously minimal with these cruises as well, of course, but they often stop at lesser-used ports, adding to the adventure. Do it: Princess Cruises's 17-day Passage to Europe on the Crown Princess launches from Galveston, TX and ends in Southampton, England (from $1,089 per person). After calling in Fort Lauderdale, the next stop is Ponta Delgada in the Azores.