Photograph by Luis Veiga/Getty

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The cable cars of Rio take you up the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain while the city and its beaches fan out below, splendid at sunset.

Photograph by Luis Veiga/Getty

Top 10 Funiculars & Cable Cars

Top 10 Funiculars & Cable Cars from National Geographic.

From the National Geographic book Journeys of a Lifetime

Zacatecas, Mexico
The teleférico (cable car) swings above the mosaic of streets, plazas, rooftops, and domes of this elegant, rose-colored city before ascending Cerro de la Bufa in just a few minutes.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The journey takes you first to Urca Hill above Guanabara Bay, then up to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain (1,300 feet/396 meters). In the distance is Rio’s famous statue, "Christ the Redeemer" on Corcovado Mountain, while the city and its beaches fan out below, splendid at sunset.

Mérida, Venezuela
The highest and longest teleférico in the world takes an hour to ascend from a plateau in the Andes 10,250 feet (3,125 meters) to the top of Pico Espejo. Stop off at four stations on the way if you wish, and at the top admire Pico Bolívar.

The Peak Tram, Hong Kong, China
This funicular railway rises briskly up Victoria Peak—at a gradient of 4-27 degrees, so that all the buildings seem to be leaning over as you pass by! At the top the city views are spectacular, and you can dine, shop, or walk park trails.

Genting Skyway, Malaysia
The fastest cable cars in the world speed you up the longest cableway in southeast Asia. The journey ends at the Genting Highlands Resort, a cool 6,650 feet (2,027 meters) above sea level, with theme parks, shops, hotels, and a casino.

Gulmarg Gondola, Jammu and Kashmir
The lovely valley of Gulmarg, at 8,958 feet (2,730 meters) in the northwestern Himalaya, is justly named the “meadow of flowers.” From here the world’s highest cable car rises, vertically, above pine-clad slopes to 13,058 feet (3,980 meters), almost the summit of nearby Mount Apharwat. From here you can see K2 and other commanding Himalayan peaks, and in winter launch into some serious off-piste skiing.

Picos de Europa National Park, Spain
These mountains in northern Spain form part of an area of outstanding natural beauty. An excellent entry point is the steep cableway that carries you above a sunny, wooded valley in the Picos to 6,037 feet (1,840 meters). At the top you can walk to the viewpoint of Aliva, from where the sight of these mountains may well lure you to further exploration of this spectacular hiking terrain.

Grindelwald-Männlichen Cableway, Switzerland
One of the longest cable-car rides in the world links the village of Grindelwald-Grund (3,094 feet/943 meters) with Männlichen (7,316 feet/2,230 meters) in the Swiss Alps, and is overlooked all the way by such celebrated mountains as the Jungfrau and Eiger. In the space of a comfortable 30 minutes, you can marvel at these rugged peaks and the valleys below, without the need for hiking boots or skis!

Table Mountain Cableway, Cape Town, South Africa
The floor of the cable car rotates 360 degrees to give passengers maximum views on the quick journey to the summit of Table Mountain (3,560 feet/1,085 meters). On arrival choose from a number of paths for exploring the mountain—take a picnic for a relaxing visit. The atmosphere is often clearest in the early morning or late evening.

Powell-Hyde Line, San Francisco, California
Complete your city visit with a trip on the iconic Powell-Hyde line that trundles upward via the vibrant neighborhood of Russian Hill, before making a steep, lurching descent on San Francisco’s famous hills, ending at Fisherman’s Wharf. The Golden Gate Bridge shimmers in the distance.