The Funiculars of Europe

Relatively non-existent In the US, funiculars have been transporting people and cargo for generations in Europe.  A funicular is not a cable car.  It is a wooden boxcar railway where the carriages are pulled up or down a steep incline, like the face of a mountain.  Sometimes they function by the pulling of a rope, and sometimes by two equal cars attached by a cable, where one car goes up and one car comes down.

For a family that is generally afraid of heights, it certainly is surprising that we find ourselves including funiculars on our list of activities whenever we arrive in a new city in Europe.  Not only is the ride itself fun, but frequently what we find at the top is pretty amazing.  Here are a few we have experienced – in no particular order – and one or two on our “to do” list.  Add yours to the comments and tell us why you liked it!

Como Brunate Funicular in Lake Como, Italy

The ride: climbs approximately 2500 feet in 7 minutes

What’s at the top: Stunning views of Lake Como from up above

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Montmartre Funicular in Paris, France.

The ride: climbs approximately 118 feet in 90 seconds

What’s at the top: Sacre Coeur and the artist enclave of Montmartre

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Castle Hill Funicular in Budapest, Hungary

the ride: climbs 167 feet in 3 minutes

what’s at the top : the World Heritage sight of Castle Hill and Buda Castle

Bergen Fløibanen in Bergen, Norway.

The ride: climbs approximately 1050 feet in 8 minutes

What’s at the top – Mount Floyen playgrounds, hiking trails and trolls!

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Montjuic Funicular and Tibidabo Funicular in Barcelona, Spain

The ride: Montjuic climbs approximately 25o feet in 2 minutes and the Tibidabo Funicular climbs approximately 900 feet in 6 minutes.

What’s at the top: in Montjuic  – another cable car (similar to a ski lift) that takes you to the Montjuic castle and in Tibidabo there is an adorable amusement park

Funicular de Igueldo in San Sebastián, Spain

the ride: climbs approximately 1000 feet in 5 minutes

What’s at the top: the good old world charm of a fun fair with rides and carnival games

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Zagreb Funicular in Zagreb, Croatia

the ride: shortest cable car in the world climbs 100 feet in 55 seconds

What’s at the top: the charming neighborhood of Upper Town and the Museum of Broken Relationships!

Some that are on our bucket list:

The three Funiculars of Lisbon, Portugal

the ride:  all short and sweet but essential in easily getting around the city

What’s at the top:  connections to other parts of town

The Gelmerbahn Funicular in Bern, Switzerland

the ride: Europe’s highest- climbs to  6000 feet in 12 minutes

what’s at the top:  who cares what’s at top!  The drop is 106% gradient with no seat belts and just a bar to hold.

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