Steel your courage and lace up some sturdy footwear. It’s a swaying, wobbly trek across the world’s most incredible suspension bridges.
Amazing Suspension Bridges
On these amazing bridges you can hang precariously over sprawling gorges, between snow-capped Alps, and above seas of clouds, from Colorado to Japan.
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, Randa, Switzerland
If you’re afraid of heights, think twice about crossing the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge. Only a metal grate separates you and your next shaky step from the valley 279 feet below. At the moment the bridge is the Guinness World Record holder for the world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge (1,620 feet) and the first to surpass the main span of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge. You’ll have to steady yourself from swaying while taking photos of the Bernese Alps and Matterhorn mountain.
If You Go: It’s free to cross the suspension bridge, a section of the two-day trek on the Europaweg between Grachen and Zermatt. For a shorter hike in warm months, try the Circular Hike with a different ascent and descent to the bridge.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
Unfenced cliff edges plunge to the Atlantic Ocean and high winds sweep the coastal farmland where the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge swings almost 100 feet above the sea. It’s a precarious but short crossing that offers stunning ocean views and a glimpse into Irish history. First erected by salmon fishermen some 350 years ago, the rope bridge links the mainland with Carrick-a-Rede Island and its lone fisherman’s cottage. The island was a working fishery from the 1700s until the early 2000s. You can still see the crane that hauled up boats by hand-crank from the water below.
If You Go: Hike the adjacent mile-long coastal walk. At the bridge, watch for basking sharks, porpoises, and dolphins. Thousands of puffins breed each year on Rathlin Island, 4.5 miles offshore.
Cesana Claviere Tibetan Bridge, Piedmont, Italy
From a distance, Italy’s Cesana Claviere Tibetan Bridge looks like a thin spider web strand spanning a deep gorge. The barely-there suspension bridge is actually a series of three bridges with narrow planks spaced wide enough to fall through. When crossing parts of the Cesana Claviere, you’ll be grateful for wearing sturdy shoes and a seat harness with a line that clips into an overhead safety cable. It’s a thrilling experience looking down. At almost 100 feet above the Gorge of San Gervasio, the fragile bridge is so unsteady that it closes during inclement weather.
If You Go: Between the bridge sections, expect to do some scrambling over rock on the via ferrata climbing trail. You can navigate the two-hour adventure on your own or with a guide.
SkyBridge at Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi, Sochi, Russia
This pedestrian suspension bridge, about as wide as your arm span and almost as long as the Brooklyn Bridge, is strung between the mountain ridges of Sochi National Park with eight steel cables. It opened in Sochi just four months after the last gold medal was handed out at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The SkyBridge at Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi overlooks the Black Sea coastline and forests filled with jasmine and rhododendron. Named after the renowned bungy jumper who has opened aerial adventure parks around the world, Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi is home to Russia’s highest bungy jump.
If You Go: Try the 679-foot bungy jump freefall from the center of the bridge. Other adventures at the park include a zip-line, climbing wall, giant aerial swing, and via ferrata climbing path.
Taiping Bridge, Chiayi County, Taiwan
In the lush mountain forests of Taiwan, the Taiping Bridge opened last year and is billed as the country’s longest and highest suspension bridge. It overlooks the vast Jianan Plain and a sea of clouds. Visitors come to see the cloud formations that set a dramatic scene for sunsets with an intense, lingering afterglow. From the bridge, often called the Taiping Cloud Stairs, you can also see the Wangfengtai Cliff and epic hairpin curves on the 36-Turn Cloud Path road.
If You Go: Wander the old streets of the adjacent village, visiting temples, orchid shops, tea gardens, and teahouses. Round the 36-Turn Cloud Path’s curves up the side of a mountain, or hike the Xianrenjue Trail to see the waterfall that echoes across the valley.
Titlis Cliff Walk, Engelberg, Switzerland
The air is a little thinner at 9,000 feet above sea level on the Titlis Cliff Walk, a pedestrian walkway suspended 1,500 feet above a gorgeous glacier in the Swiss Alps. One way or another you’ll likely find yourself short of breath. Europe’s highest suspension bridge perches you perfectly to see the whole Alps range.
If You Go: You can stop at the photo box to purchase your own picture with the mountain panorama background atop Mt. Titlis. In summer, the bridge is part of a Mt. Titlis circle tour connecting the Titlis Ice Cave, Titlis Cliff Walk, the Ice Flyer chairlift, and Titlis Glacier Park.
The Vine Bridges of Iya Valley, Japan
As the legend goes, these swaying, creaking vine bridges in Japan’s remote West Iya Valley were first built more than 800 years ago when two samurai were battling over who would rule the country. The Heike Clan suspended the Vine Bridges of Iya Valley so they could quickly cut them down after crossing them when they were being pursued by the Genji Clan. The plan didn’t work out so well, and the Genji Clan was victorious—but the bridges remain. Locals rebuild them every few years.
If You Go: Step carefully. The thin wooden planks are woven together with the hardy Japanese native kiwi vine and generously spaced for gaping views of the rushing river 45 feet below. The bridge will wobble as you cross, but fear not. As far back as the record shows, nobody has fallen.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver, Canada
In Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains, the Capilano River winds through the lush evergreen rainforest and is one of many local rivers where salmon spawn each fall. The steel-cable Capilano Suspension Bridge was originally built in 1889 of hemp rope and cedar stumps across an immense canyon. It spans 450 feet, about two hockey rinks, and is 230 feet high, the height of the Statue of Liberty’s shoulders. You can catch a free shuttle from downtown Vancouver’s Canada Place, where Alaska-bound cruise ships dock.
If You Go: This is one of the best bridges in the world for a full day of fun; the surrounding adventure park includes a treetop ropes course, a cliff walk experience, special tours that explain the area’s history and ecology, and a restaurant with local beers on tap. Visit around the holidays to see the bridge covered in twinkling lights.
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, Hunan Province, China
Slung between two mountain cliffs in China’s northern Hunan Province, this glass-floor pedestrian bridge stretches nearly the length of four football fields over a 984-foot vertical drop. Join the ranks of visitors who lie on the glass to take a selfie, creating the illusion that they’re floating on thin air high above the canyon floor and river below. The setting is magical in spite of the crowds. The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is located in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, whose soaring green rock pillars inspired the fictional Pandora world in the film Avatar.
If You Go: Take a boat ride on the shockingly bright turquoise river below, or spend some time hiking in the canyon and forest park. Some trails lead down the side of the mountain.
Royal Gorge Bridge, Canon City, Colorado
For an incredible 360-degree view of Colorado and the Royal Gorge’s rare granite rock formations, walk the half mile across the Royal Gorge Bridge’s wooden planks at sunrise. If you arrive at 7:00 a.m., you’ll score a discounted ticket and beat the crowds that show up closer to 10:00 a.m. for the gondolas, zip-line, and roller coaster. Built in 1929 in about seven months, the Royal Gorge Bridge hangs 956 feet above the Arkansas River and is America’s highest bridge, nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower.
If You Go: This is one of the world’s cool bridges for kids. Here you’ll find a giant playground with a carousel, splash pad, and three-story climbing structure. In summer, see Native American dancing and concerts in the amphitheater, where every seat offers a beautiful Rocky Mountain view.
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- I Was Afraid of Heights Until I Rappelled into a Rainforest Cave in Puerto Rico
Jamie Moore is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel. Her articles have appeared on USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Huffington Post, and WestJet.