While a public transportation ride in Budapest is often the most efficient way of getting from A to B, Budapest’s huge network of buses, trams, metros, and other peculiar vehicles is more than just a means to an end. In this week’s Best of Budapest, we have collected the most scenic public transportation rides in the capital. If sitting on a tram for fun sounds strange to you, think twice. Taking a ride on the following options will introduce you to worthwhile neighborhoods, green areas and interesting districts you might’ve missed otherwise.
Tram Line 2
You will find tram line 2 in every single Budapest guidebook – for good reason. Hop on at Jászai Mari tér and your eyes are in for a real treat as the beautiful Parliament building, the Buda Castle, and the Danube and its bridges surround you. If you want to see the edgier side of Budapest and wish to experience more than the average tourist, do not get off at Fővám tér, as most guides would suggest. Instead, ride tram line 2 until the end and see a more industrial and eclectic side of the city. Here, you can get a glimpse at the Unicum Museum (stop: Haller utca / Soroksári út) and the hypermodern Palace of Arts and the National Theatre (stop: Müpa – Nemzeti Színház). Once you’ve reached the final stop (Közvágóhíd) kick back at Valyo, which is undoubtedly one of the coolest summer beach bars in the city.
Tram Line 41
Tram line 41 is another great way to see Budapest and its many faces – this time from the Buda side. This means fewer tourists but still plenty of beautiful sights to marvel at. The whole ride takes exactly an hour and starts in one of the oldest parts of Budapest, Old Buda (Óbuda). Once reaching Margaret Bridge, prepare for a scenic ride along the Danube. You can see the citadel, the bridges, and the famous Hotel Gellért – a favorite of locals and the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s movie Grand Budapest Hotel. After leaving the bank, tram line 41 slowly makes its way towards the Chamber Forest (“Kamaraerdő” – final stop) – an enchanting little forest that is great for a day of hiking, picnicking and lying around or reading in the grass.
The Cog-wheel Railway
The cog-wheel railway or – as Budapestians lovingly refer to it – the fogas (toothy) is one of the city’s real peculiarities. Operating since 1874, it stayed true to its original purpose of connecting Széchenyi Hill (one of Budapest’s favorite green areas) with downtown Buda. Today, the “fogas” is perfect for kicking off a hike through the Buda Hills and accessing the Children’s Railway – another fun vehicle and probably the biggest toy of Budapest. The Cog-wheel Railway’s shiny red color has a nostalgic feel that is topped off by the views of Buda’s hills and greenery – a scenic spectacle not to be missed.
Tram Line 61
We can justly call tram 61 the “enchanting line”, as it runs straight towards Budapest’s greenest areas while making its way through pretty buildings and little forests. Your best bet is to hop on at Széll Kálmán tér and ride slowly into suburban Buda. Along the way, you’ll pass the “Bauhaus Street” in Napraforgó utca, one of the city’s most interesting housing projects built in the 1930s (stop: Zuhatag sor). Keep a look out for the little houses and villas scattered among the trees between Budagyöngye and the final stop. Riding until Hűvösvölgy is another great starting point for a hike in the Buda Hills or for jumping onto the Children’s Railway.
What if we told you that you could have the famous Danube riverboat experience for the price of a single ticket? That’s right, Budapest’s public transportation system has a boat line which will take you from one beautiful point along the river to the next. The little D12-boats run hourly or half-hourly between Római Beach and Kopaszi Dam – both of which are laid-back places along the riverside offering plenty of beach bars, restaurants and opportunities for sunbathing. Hop on at any of the multiple places in downtown and you’ll have a scenic view of Budapest’s most famous buildings including the Parliament, the bridges, the Citadel as well as the Buda Castle.
Note: The whole ride lasts almost two hours northbound and more than an hour southbound. You can get on and off at multiple spots downtown – see the timetable here for weekdays and here for weekends. You can bring your own food and beverages. On weekdays, riding the boat is free if you hold a Budapest public transport pass. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy a normal public transportation ticket for 350HUF. On weekends each ride costs 750HUF.
Stunning views, peaceful atmosphere and a whole lot of nature. These are the terms that best describe the adorable Zugliget Chairlift – which is a great alternative to Budapest’s multifaceted public transportation network. You’ll be taken almost straight to the Elizabeth Lookout on this 15-minute ride. At 527m, this is Budapest’s highest peak offering a stunning 360-degree panorama of the whole city. Taking the Chairlift is a truly special experience, and the perfect way to start or end a day in the Buda Hills with friends or family. It’s a highly romantic and peaceful ride that also makes for a unique date away from the crowds.
Note: Although technically a part of Budapest’s public transportation network, taking the Zugliget Chairlift requires purchasing an additional ticket (1,000HUF for adults and 600HUF for children under 18). You can buy the tickets right at the entrance. The best way of getting to the chairlift is with bus 22, 22A or 222 from Széll Kálmán tér to Labanc út. See all info regarding the Zugliget Chairlift here.
by Júlia Horváth – Catch Budapest
Júlia is the co-founder of Catch Budapest - an online resource which helps visitors make the most of their time in the Hungarian capital. Her passion is showing the most worthwhile and authentic sides of the city. Júlia is also the author of Budapest - 99 Things You Need to See, Do and Experience.