World record experiences for your Switzerland vacation, episode 94, Holidays to Switzerland podcast
Podcast Episodes

Episode 94: World record experiences for your Switzerland vacation

March 20, 2024 Last Updated on June 5, 2024

It may be the incredible scenery of mountains and lakes that attracts most visitors to Switzerland but the country is also famous for its engineering prowess.  In fact Switzerland is home to many examples of pioneering innovation and design – many of which are world firsts – that both locals and visitors can experience.

Time-keeping and watches are one example of Swiss engineering that you’re probably familiar with but did you know that velcro and the zipper were invented in Switzerland? And so was the World Wide Web.

Milk chocolate and Nespresso coffee capsules are two of Switzerland’s culinary inventions and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the World’s first ski lift opened in Davos in December 1934.

On this podcast, we’re always talking about places to visit in Switzerland and the many fantastic things to do there, as well as the wonderful array of transport options that you can experience on your Swiss vacation, and this episode is no different.

Today I’d like to share with you some of the impressive world-firsts that you can see for yourself when you’re in Switzerland. I

don’t share this list so that you race around the country and tick off each and every site, but rather, if you are already planning to visit a particular region, you can keep an eye out for them and marvel at the expertise that has brought them to life.

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Show Notes

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • Some of Switzerland’s engineering masterpieces that hold world record status
  • Where they are located and how to reach them

Places mentioned in this episode

>> World’s first revolving cable car at Mt. Titlis – visitors to Mt. Titlis experience spectacular 360 degree views on the five minute journey from Stand intermediate station to the summit.  The rotating cable car operates year round except for two weeks in November.

>> World’s first double-decker aerial cableway – the CabriO cableway, with its open-air rooftop balcony, offers passengers the option to either travel inside the lower cabin or outside on the upper deck and breathe in that fresh alpine air on the 10 minute ride between Kälti and the Stanserhorn summit. Travel on the CabriO cableway and the connecting funicular is fully covered with the Swiss Travel Pass.

>> World’s steepest cogwheel railway at Mt. Pilatus – opened in 1889, the Pilatus cogwheel railway traverses a gradient of 48% on its journey between Alpnachstad and Pilatus Kulm. Whilst the track remains the same today, new train carriages started operating in 2023.

>> World’s steepest cableway – due to open at the end of 2024, the first leg of the new Schilthorn cableway will be the world’s steepest.  Connecting the valley station at Stechelberg to Murren, the cableway will overcome an altitude difference of 775 metres and achieve a maximum incline of 159.4% Whilst visiting the Schilthorn you can dine at the Piz Gloria restaurant, the world’s first revolving mountain restaurant.

>> World’s steepest funicular – connecting the towns of Schwyz and Stoos, the funicular, which opened in 2017, navigates a gradient of 47.7 degrees, or 110%, as it climbs 744 metres in altitude. Its unique round cabins have an inbuilt automatic levelling function so, despite the steep incline, passengers are always standing on a level surface. Travel on the Stoos funicular is free for holders of a Swiss Travel Pass.

Rotair rotating cable car pictured over a snow-covered Mt. Titlis in central Switzerland
Titlis Rotair, the world’s first revolving aerial cable car.
Stoos funicular
The world’s steepest funicular at Stoos. © Travel Switzerland

>> World’s highest underground funicular above Saas-Fee – connecting Felskinn with Mittelallalin via a 1,749 metre-long tunnel, the Metro Alpin actually holds two world records – highest funicular and highest subway, thanks to the fact it runs totally underground.

>> World’s highest revolving restaurant at Mittelallalin – after riding the Metro Alpin funicular to the summit, you can enjoy 360 degree views at 3,500 metres above sea level from the mountain restaurant. What could be better than admiring the views of neighbouring Alps in Italy and the highest mountain entirely in Switzerland, The Dom, whilst enjoying your lunch?

>> World’s longest suspension bridge near Zermatt – at Randa, about 15 minutes by train from Zermatt, you’ll find the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge. The bridge is almost 500 metres long,  at its highest point it is 85 metres above the valley below and takes around ten minutes to cross. The bridge can be reached via a medium-level circular walk of 8.6 kilometres.

>> World’s highest peak to peak suspension bridge at Glacier 3000 – the Peak Walk is an elevated walkway which stretches for over 100 metres and is only 80 centimetres wide. It is the only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks and it offers views of the Mont Blanc Massif, the Matterhorn, the Mönch, the Jungfrau and the Eiger.

Two children standing on Randa Suspension Bridge near Zermatt in Switzerland
The Charles Kuonen Bridge at Randa, near Zermatt, is the world’s longest suspension bridge.
Peak Walk by Tissot at Glacier 3000
The world’s highest peak to peak suspension bridge at Glacier 3000.

>> World’s longest railway tunnel – the 57 kilometre-long (35.5 miles) Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened in 2016 after 17 years of construction. Connecting canton Uri in central Switzerland with canton Ticino in the south, the tunnel can handle up to 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains a day.  If you travel on a regular train from Lucerne to Ticino, you’ll most likely pass through the tunnel.

>> World’s longest staircase at Mt. Niesen – with 11,674 steps, the staircase is not one that many folks would be keen to climb, particularly when it’s right beside a funicular track!  In fact, the staircase is used solely for maintenance checks on the track – except for once a year when the Stairway Run is held. 

>> World’s oldest surviving truss bridge – the iconic landmark of Lucerne, the 14th-century Chapel Bridge also holds the title of Europe’s oldest covered wooden footbridge. Spanning the River Reuss, Chapel Bridge connects the medieval Old Town with the New Town.

>> The world’s largest Swiss flag, flown in honour of Switzerland’s National Day on August 1, can be seen at Mt. Säntis in Appenzellerland. The huge flag measures 6,400 square metres and weighs 700 kilograms.

Mt Niesen funicular in Switzerland
The 11,674 steps steps beside the Niesen funicular track make it the world’s longest staircase.
Chapel Bridge Lucerne in summer
The world’s oldest surviving truss bridge, Chapel Bridge in Lucerne.

Useful resources

You can reach all of the above sites by public transport. See all our Swiss transport guides here.

To see all our podcast episodes, > click here.

Read the full transcript of this episode > here.

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