Sky-High Rides: The Longest Cable Car in the World

Stretching across vast distances, offering passengers unparalleled views and unforgettable journeys through the skies, the contenders for the highest cable car in the world and the world’s longest cable car are astonishing feats of engineering, but where is the longest cable car in the world? Read on to find out.

Building Big Engineering
29 February 2024

The runners and riders for the title of largest cable car in the world are gateways to exploring remote and mesmerising landscapes that are otherwise inaccessible. They connect mountains, valleys, and cultural landmarks, making them an essential feature of tourism and transportation in many parts of the world.

The concept of cable cars dates back to the seventeenth century, but it wasn’t until the latter part of the nineteenth century that the first operational cable car system was introduced. The invention of the cable car is credited to Andrew Smith Hallidie, who introduced the first successful urban cable car system on Clay Street in San Francisco in 1873.

The idea was developed from pulley systems used to haul ore from mines and Hallidie got the idea for the cable car in San Francisco after seeing horses struggle to pull horsecars up the city’s (then) cobblestoned streets in the wet.

Over the years, the technology evolved from urban transit solutions to spectacular aerial rides in tourist destinations. The development of cable car systems, including the world’s longest cable car, has been driven by the need to transport people over challenging terrains, whether it’s crossing rivers, scaling mountains in the world’s highest cable car, or providing a scenic route across natural landscapes.

Here are the contenders for the longest cable car in the world.

What is a Cable Car?

A cable car amongst a glorious blue sky. (Credit: fhm via Getty Images)

A cable car is a type of aerial transportation system that, most often, uses either one or two static cables for support and a third moving cable to propel cabins or gondolas across a distance. In British English they’re known as cable cars and in American English they’re referred to as aerial tramways.

Table Mountain Aerial Tramway

Table Mountain aerial tramway ascending to the top. (Credit: Merten Snijders via Getty Images)

Location: Cape Town, South Africa | Length: Approx. 1,200 metres

Offering sensational views over Cape Town, Table Bay and Robben Island, the Table Mountain Aerial Tramway opened in October 1929. Based on original designs by Norwegian engineer Trygve Stromsoe, it was completed at a cost of £60,000, or around £15 million today.

Each cable car can carry 65 passengers on the five-minute trip and the floors of the cars rotate through 360° to give the riders a panoramic view all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sandia Peak Tramway

A cable car approaching the top of Sandia Mountain in New Mexico. (Credit: Coast-to-Coast via Getty Images)

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico | Length: Approx. 4,300 metres

When the Sandia Peak Tramway opened in 1966, it was the world’s longest cable car. It connects the northeast edge of Alburquerque with the 3,255 metre Sandia Peak, one of the highest mountains in New Mexico, and it has the world’s third-longest single span cable at 2,353 metres.

The two support towers were built using around 5,000 separate helicopter trips and it’s thought that the views from the top of the ride cover something like 28,000 square kilometres over the state of New Mexico.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola

Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains (Credit: AscentXmedia via Getty Images)

Location: Whistler, Canada | Length: Approx. 4,400 metres

The only cable car in the world linking two mountains – Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain at the Whistler Ski Resort in Canada’s British Columbia – the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is the highest cable car in the world, at 436 metres above ground.

The twenty-eight cabins hold twenty-eight people each and the 26,500 metres of wire cables weigh around 440 tonnes. The cars travel at just under seventeen miles an hour (or 7.5 metres per second) and the ride time between the two peaks is eleven minutes.

Ngong Ping Cable Car

Ngong Ping cable cars crossing the river. (Credit: TwilightShow via Getty Images)

Location: Lantau Island, Hong Kong | Length: Approx. 5,700 metres

Connecting Tung Chung on the northwestern coast of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island with Ngong Ping in the west, the bicable gondola lift – the longest in Asia – is a contender for the longest cable car in the world. Prior to the cable car opening in September 2006, the only way to get to Ngong Ping, home to the Po Lin Monastery and the Tan Tan Buddha, was via bus through a treacherous mountain road.

Offering a Standard cabin, a Crystal cabin with reinforced glass floors, and a Crystal + cabin with extra visibility, the 109 cabins can ferry 3,500 people an hour to and from Tung Ching and the ride takes around twenty-five minutes.

Wings of Tatev

Cable cars cross at the Wings of Tatev, Syunik Province, Armenia. (Credit: Juliya Kirchenko via Getty Images)

Location: Syunik Province, Armenia | Length: Approx. 5,750 metres

Vying for the title of longest cable car in the world, the Wings of Tatev connect the village of Halidzor in Armenia’s southeastern corner close to the border of Azerbaijan, with the stunning ninth-century Tatev Monastery.

The world’s longest non-stop double-track cable car was completed in October 2010 and the ride takes between eleven and fifteen minutes depending on the weather. There are two cabins, each with a capacity of 31 (30 paying customers and an attendant) and all the ticket money goes towards the ongoing restoration of the monastery.

Hon Thom Cable Car

Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park in Phu Quoc. (Credit: Bloomberg / Contributor via Getty Images)

Location: Phu Quoc, Vietnam | Length: Approx. 7,900 metres

Connecting the islands of Phú Quốc and Hom Thom off the western coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand, the Hom Thom Cable Car is believed to be the world’s longest three-wire cable car and one of the world’s longest cable cars.

Offering mind-blowing views over the tiny islands of Hon Dua and Hon Roi, each of the 69 cabins can carry 30 passengers and the almost eight kilometre journey takes around fifteen minutes.

Norsjö Aerial Tramway

Interior view of a cable car. (Credit: KDP via Getty Images)

Location: Norsjö, Sweden | Length: Approx. 13,200 metres

The Norsjö Aerial Tramway is the longest cable car in the world. Once part of the 96 kilometre ropeway conveyor that transported eleven million tonnes of ore between the central Swedish towns of Kristineberg and Boliden between 1943 and 1987, the Norsjö aerial tramway is a thirteen kilometre central section (previously called Section IV) converted for passenger traffic in 1989. It connects Örträsk and Mensträsk in the Norsjö municipality, and the cabins can each accommodate four people for the one hour, 45 minute journey.

Elevated Rides: The World’s Longest Cable Car

A huge cable car descending upon snowy mountains. (Credit: Gudella via Getty Images)

These remarkable aerial journeys offer more than just transportation. The longest and highest cable cars in the world provide a unique perspective on the world’s natural and urban landscapes. As engineering marvels, they showcase the remarkable achievements in overcoming geographical challenges, while also offering an exhilarating experience that draws tourists from around the globe.


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