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These are a Few of My Favorite Funiculars

October 24, 2012 at 7:52 PM | by | Comments (0)


An example of a historical funicular: Budapest's Budvari Siklo

How many ways to climb a hill or mountain can you name? Cable car. Donkey. Hiking on foot. Helicopter. Cogwheel train. Funicular. Let's focus on that last one for a moment, as funicular/funiculaire/funicolare railways prove intriguing to travelers for both their historical significance (funicular installations hit their peak in the early 1900s) and the awesome views they offer.

Though you'll find funiculars all over the world, Europe is undoubtably the capital. The Reisszug in Austria was not only the first funicular, built in the early 16th century, but it's also the oldest railway (period). In any case, we play favorites when it comes to funiculars. Here's a few we've been on and loved:

· The Budvari Siklo of Budapest, Hungary
An excellent example of an older, ornate funicular that's been kept alive. Simply put, it's gorgeous (and see so for yourself in the image above).The Siklo puts people up on Buda Hill with its crazy view of the city.
1500 HUF roundtrip ($7)

· The Città Alta funiculare of Bergamo, Italy
If you arrive to Bergamo's train station expecting to walk out into a medieval Italian town (as Bergamo is often advertised), you'll be disappointed. Instead hop a cab or to the funicular station and ascend to the Città Alta (high city) to think you've time traveled back to the 1500, even if the funicular's only been there since 1912.
€3 roundtrip


Inside the modern Fløibanen of Bergen

· The Fløibanen of Bergen, Norway
It's been around since 1918 but, as one of the most visited attractions in all of Norway, the Fløibanen updates its trains every couple decades. It's definitely the most modern of the funiculars we've been on, with one of the best views.
80 NOK roundtrip ($14)

· The Piazza Cahen funiculare of Orvieto, Italy
Taking a daytrip to the Umbrian town of Orvieto from Florence or Rome is quite tempting, especially as being there focuses around the consumption of cheese and Orvieto Classico white wine. You'll need two train to reach all that, however; there's a train to Orvieto FS station and, then, across the street, the funicular to the town proper, which sits atop a volcanic butte.
€1 each way

· The Cerro San Cristóbal Funicular of Santiago, Chile
Feeling a little more like an amusement park ride owing to its location next to Santiago's city zoo, the funicular climbs San Cristóbal mountain for a view above the entire city, to the snow-capped Andes peaks.
1600 Chilean pesos roundtrip ($3.33)

· The Festungsbahn of Salzburg, Austria
Of all funiculars listed here, we believe the Festungsbahn has the quickest ride at only 1 minute. Its purpose is to allow tourists easy access to the Hohensalzburg Castle atop one of Salzburg's hills. Still, what it lacks in track it makes up for in history; the funicular held its grand opening way back in 1892. The castle actually has two funiculars including the privately operates Reisszug, which dates back to 1495 or 1504.

· The Hong Kong Peak Tram
If you come to Hong Kong and you don't take the Peak Tram, then you flat-out missed out. Not only is it breathtaking the entire way up, but there's a mall at the top! And hiking trails! And a view down on Hong Kong that'll make you reconsider everything in your life. We kind of envy people who live off one of the Tram's intermediate stops.
40 HKD roundtrip ($5.16)

· The Rigiblick of Zürich, Switzerland
"Rigiblick" can be roughly translated to mean a view of Mt. Rigi, one of the Alps that forms Zurich's dramatic backdrop. The Rigiblick, opened in 1908, travels up Zürichberg hill to reach a lovely little neighborhood (but also killer views of the mountain for which it's named).
4.10 CHF one-way ($4.40)

· The Montmartre funiculaire of Paris, France
One could easily dismiss this funicular because it's mostly packed of lazy tourists who aren't so much interested in all the steps it takes to reach the Sacré-Cœur basilica. If you take it up, at least walk back down; the funicular cars travel right alongside the stairs.
€1.70 for a single journey "t" ticket

[Photos: Jaunted & Mary.Do]

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