9 most stunning cable cars in Switzerland
As a nation full to the brim with ski resorts and mountains, it’s little surprise that cable cars in Switzerland are of the highest quality. From double-decker cable cars to farmers' gondolas, here are some of the most stunning, interesting or surprising Swiss cable cars that you can visit today.
Nine cable cars in Switzerland that you have to try
As the old saying goes: it's about the journey, not the destination, and so too with Swiss cable cars. Switzerland’s first cable car was opened in 1866, connecting Neuhausen am Rheinfall with a power station in the middle of the River Rhine.
Though this first system has since closed, it is survived by the approximately 129 gondolas and 251 cable cars that adorn the country today. If you're unsure of the difference, a gondola is a system of constantly moving smaller cars, whereas a cable car shuttles passengers back and forth, typically using either one or two large cars.
During the winter, cable cars serve skiers, snowboarders and travellers who want to glimpse the snow-capped peaks, while in summer they operate as a way to start a hike in the Alps. These systems are also able to showcase some of the most stunning views that Switzerland has to offer.
To provide a primer on where to visit in the Swiss mountains, here are nine cable cars you have to try!
1. Klein Matterhorn in Zermatt: The highest cable car in Switzerland
If you want to take a trip on the highest cable car in Switzerland, then the cable car from Trockener Steg to the Klein Matterhorn is for you! The cable car, opened in 2018, takes you on a three-minute ride to up to 3.883 metres above sea level and to the near-peak of the Matterhorn's little brother.
On the way, the cable car offers views of some of the Alps’ most famous peaks, from the Matterhorn itself to the Breithorn - when the weather is fine, even Mont Blanc is visible from the top. This view is made all the more clear by the cable cars themselves, designed by legendary Italian designer Pininfarina. Four of the cabins even feature a coating of Swarovski crystals!
2. Rotating cable car at Engelberg-Titlis
From Switzerland’s highest cable car to a groundbreaker: the first-ever rotating cable car in the country, between Engelberg and Titlis. Situated in one of central Switzerland’s best ski resorts, the Titlis rotating cable car takes travellers up to over 3.000 metres above sea level, providing stunning views of the Alpine landscape along the way.
The cable car makes one full rotation per ride, meaning you’ll be able to take in all the landscape has to offer without having to crane your neck. From rocky outcrops to glaciers, it really is a view to be savoured!
Video: Engelberg-Titlis / YouTube
3. Säntis cable car in St. Gallen
Using the cable car from Schwägalp to Säntis, travellers are given an insight into how small Switzerland really is. On a good day, the 10-minute ride from the valley to the summit will showcase breathtaking views of France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein and of course Switzerland. While it first opened way back in 1935, the cable car to Säntis offers all the mod-cons and the clear views that every traveller desires!
4. Double-decker cable car to Stanserhorn
During the summer, travellers going between Kälti and the Stanserhorn can kick back and feel the wind in their hair with the CabriO aerial cableway: Switzerland’s first double-decker, open-top cable car. What’s more, the cables holding the car are positioned on the side, meaning those on the balcony can enjoy uninterrupted views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.
The journey from Stans to Kälti is also noteworthy as it uses an old, open-air mountain railway to whisk travellers up to half-station.
5. Gemsstock cable car, Andermatt
With its iconic open-top platform, the view at Gemsstock is often called the widest panorama in Switzerland, and the cable car up to the top gives you a sneak peek at the magnificent view. On the ride from Gurschen to Gemsstock, the cable car takes you high above the impressive Gurschen glacier, a sight that has to be seen to be believed.
From the cable car, you will also be able to see all of the famous passes and peaks that make central Switzerland so iconic. These include the Gotthard and Oberalp passes, and the Nätschen and Gütsch mountains.
6. The 007 cable car to Schilthorn in the Bernese Alps
If this cable car looks familiar, it's probably because it makes an appearance in a Hollywood blockbuster: the so-called 007 cable car from Stechelberg to Schilthorn. It served as a setting in the James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the venue at the top of the mountain at Piz Gloria was Blofeld’s hideout in the film's denouement.
In fact, the James Bond production helped finance the cable car and mountain station that people can enjoy today. Visitors can now indulge in James Bond-inspired food in the 360-degree rotating restaurant, a museum dedicated to the film and a special “James Bond” package featuring champagne and burgers. What's more, the top of the mountain offers stunning views of Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch.
Video: Matt Bellenger / YouTube
7. Cardada Cimetta cable car in Ticino
Even at its lowest elevation, Switzerland still has the capacity to put on some stunning views. A case in point is the cable car between Orselina near Locarno and Cardada Cimetta, which takes travellers from Lake Maggiore - Switzerland’s lowest point - up to 1.340 metres above sea level at Cardada.
During the trip, you can catch a glimpse of the stunning scenery of Canton Ticino - more lush and Mediterranean-like due to its position south of the Alps. If you want to escape the baking heat at lower elevations, a trip up to Cardada is for you!
Image credit: Eva Bocek / Shutterstock.com
8. Eiger Express cable car from Grindelwald to Wengen
Another stunning, must-see cable car takes you near one of the most famous mountains in Switzerland. The line from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier and the opposite side of the mountain at Wengen offers stunning views of the Bernese Oberland and Eiger’s neighbour Jungfrau.
The new Eiger Express cuts the journey time between Grindelwald and Wengen by a whopping 47 minutes compared to the mountain railway, while giving travellers a full dose of the idyllic Bernese landscape.
9. Buiräbähnli in Engelberg-Titlis
Finally, from one of the most modern cable cars to a blast from the past: Switzerland’s network of farmers' cable cars or Buiräbähnli. To get to grazing cattle, sometimes farmers use small cable cars to get to hard-to-reach areas without having to hike up the hill.
In recent years, many of these cable cars have been opened up to the public. The most famous way to experience these tiny systems is the Buiräbähnli Safari, offered by the ski resort of Engelberg. This high-exertion multi-day hike offers up to six rides of farmers’ cable cars - well worth a try if you are in a mood for fitness.
Video: Engelberg-Titlis / YouTube
Riding a cable car in Switzerland: Your ticket to the Alps!
From the smallest ski resorts to the highest peaks, cable cars in Switzerland have succeeded in opening up the Alps to tourists and locals alike. Have a cable car that you think we should mention? Let us know in the comments below!