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
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
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!
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
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.