Everything you need to know about the world's first open-air cable car

There are few better ways to experience the scenery of Switzerland than on the incredible CabriO – the world’s first open-air cable car. You’ll glide through the Swiss Alps in the open-air – wind in your hair, sun on your face – and it’s a truly special experience. So what exactly is the Cabrio? Why is it one of the best cable cars in the world? And how can you get there? We reveal all…  

Watch: Discover Switzerland’s Mount Stanserhorn by cable car

The Mt. Stanserhorn cable car has been running for over a century

When you ride the cable car up Mount Stanserhorn, you’re not just riding through some beautiful scenery… You’re also taking a journey through history! The original cable car broke records as soon as it opened in 1893 when it was declared the longest funicular in the world. Today, it’s one of the world’s oldest functioning funiculars, made from wood and wrought iron. You can still ride to the middle station Kälti on the charming old cable car, complete with curtains and frosted glass. But there’s also a new kid on the block…

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The world’s first open-air cable car

In 2012, Lucerne unveiled the new double-decker, open-air cable car – the first one in the world. The cable car, named the CabriO, takes its passengers on a breathtaking journey up Mount Stanserhorn. As the world’s first cable car with a roofless upper deck, the CabriO is an incredible piece of new engineering. It moves on two side-mounted support cables, so you’ll enjoy the extraordinary views without any cables overhead.   

It can carry 60 passengers at a time and if you wander up the elegant staircase, you’ll find the open-air top deck with room for 30 people. As you ride to the top of the mighty Mount Stanserhorn with the wind in your hair, you’ll marvel at the stunning 360° views over Switzerland. It’s a truly incredible experience to stand on the top deck in the open air, soaking up the Swiss Alps and the Swiss lakes below. If you prefer a little more comfort, the lower deck is made entirely of glass walls, so you’ll get the gorgeous views, without the breeze.

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The CabriO takes you 1,900 metres above sea level 

The cable car runs for 2.3 kilometres and you’ll ride up the mountain at an impressive speed of eight metres per second. It only takes 6.5 minutes to get to the top of Mount Stanserhorn, where you’ll be standing at 1,900 metres above sea level. 

Once you get to the top of the mountain, you’ll get an amazing view of the Pilatus and Lake Lucerne in the north and the Bernese Alps in the south. Don’t forget your camera! 

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How do you get to the Cabrio open-air cable car?

The CabriO sets off from the village of Stans, located about a 15-minute car ride or train ride from Lucerne. From Stans, you will take the historic wooden funicular to the CabriO base station, then board the new CabriO cable car for your thrilling ride up Mount Stanserhorn. 

When you travel Switzerland with Trafalgar, we’ll take you to the lakeside city of Lucerne, where you can choose to ride the CabriO as an Optional Experience. To kickstart the experience, we’ll take you on a scenic cruise across Lake Lucerne to Stans, where you’ll ride the historic funicular to the CabriO base station. After riding the CabriO up Mount Stanserhorn, you’ll have plenty of free time to take in the beautiful Alpine scenery.

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When does the CabriO operate?

Since it’s best enjoyed in sunny clear weather, the CabriO open-air cable car operates during the summer season between April to mid-November. You’ll need to book tickets ahead of time to ensure you snag a spot on the ride. Or simply travel Switzerland with Trafalgar, choose the CabriO as one of your Optional Experiences, and we’ll take care of the rest! 

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What else can you do at the CabriO?

Summit walk rangers

At the top of the cable car, you’ll find a scenic 30-minute walking trail leading up the mountain. Along the way, visitors will meet friendly rangers who are happy to help you identify flowers, mountains and lakes. They’ll show you all the amazing tiny details of the Stanserhorn, like where to spot eagles flying overhead and which flowers are in bloom, and they’ve got plenty of fascinating stories to share. 

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Marmots

A special surprise awaits you on the summit walk… Marmots! You’ll find an enclosure where you can watch these adorable creatures up close. 

Hiking

While you can take the 30-minute walking trail to the summit of Mount Stanserhorn, it’s also a great starting point for longer hikes into the Alps and valleys.

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Paragliding

If the open-air cable car ride wasn’t thrilling enough, you can turn it up a notch with a  tandem paragliding flight from the top of the mountain to the valley below. You’ll land near the village of Stans and it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Relax

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all! There’s a designated “lazy zone” at the end of the cable car ride. You’ll find cosy lounge chairs where you can kick back and soak up the views in total comfort.

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Dining at the CabriO

If you worked up an appetite on your thrilling ride, you’re in luck! There’s a revolving restaurant – the Rondorama – on Mount Stanserhorn. Opened in 2001, it was the first revolving restaurant in central Switzerland. It’s built in a star shape as an ode to Mount Stanserhorn, the five-star mountain. 

While it seats up to 200 people, the revolving platform has room for 80 people. You’ll get to watch the 360° views of the beautiful Alpine scenery revolve around you, and it takes 45 minutes to do a full lap.

Feeling the love? On Fridays and Saturdays, you can enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner here, with the last cable car ride down leaving at around 11pm. 

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Quick travel tips

Weather check. Since the CabriO cable car is all about the views, be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand to make sure you’re visiting on a clear day. 

Dress appropriately. It can be cold and windy at the top of Mount Stanserhorn, so dress in warm layers you can peel on and off. 

Family-friendly. The CabriO open-air cable car is suitable for children of all ages, and everyone from families to couples to solo travellers will love this experience.

Wheelchair accessible. The CabriO open-air cable car is wheelchair accessible and stroller accessible. It also allows service animals.

Have you taken a ride on the world’s first open-air cable car? Let us know in the comments below!

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