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Travel on a 19th Century Steamboat on the Danube

Hungary Today 2023.07.25.

You can see Budapest’s most beautiful sights from the deck of a real reform-era (19th century, 1825–1848) steamship, reports We Love Budapest.

With the launch of the Kisfaludy steamer on September 21, 1846, navigation on Lake Balaton, where there were no harbors at the time, began with a boat that people called “the wheeled one,” an idea that sprang from the mind of “the greatest Hungarian of all”: István Széchenyi’s steam-powered dream became reality and it sailed at full speed for a long time until it was scrapped in 1887.


The steamboat was named after the poet Károly Kisfaludy.

By 1846, István Széchenyi (1791-1860) had established steamship services on the Danube and the Tisza. Széchenyi was the Minister of Transport in 1848. Through his ideas, influence, and practical activities, he was one of the founders of modern Hungary. One of the most prominent and significant figures in Hungarian politics, he is credited with reforms in the Hungarian economy, transport, foreign policy, and sport.

The hull of the first steamship on Lake Balaton was built at the Óbuda Shipyard, and its steam engine was imported from the Penn Shipyard in England. The vessel had no propellers and was paddle-wheel driven. On September 21, 1846, on Széchenyi’s 55th birthday, the ship was launched for the first time.

From 1847, regular services started, but from then on it was also used for freight transport. In 1869, its timber-framed body was replaced by an iron one, and in 1887, it was taken out of service and dismantled.

Count István Széchenyi painted by Miklós Barabás in 1848. Photo via Wikipedia

The Kisfaludy is a replica of the first Balaton steamship, built in 2013, based on the original 1846 design.

The wheel of the Kisfaludy steamship. Photo via Facebook/Kisfaludy Lapátkerekes Gőzhajó

The Kisfaludy paddle-wheel steamer can now be seen on the Danube after Lake Balaton. If you are curious to see what the capital looks like from a 19th century cruise ship, you can sign up for a sightseeing tour on board.

With its unique appearance, its huge paddle wheels, its golden and black hull, the Kisfaludy is a special phenomenon on the Danube.

Kisfaludy steamship. Photo via Facebook/Kisfaludy Lapátkerekes Gőzhajó

Located at the foot of Erzsébet Bridge, the Kisfaludy offers 1-hour Danube sightseeing cruises from Dock 10. In addition to the sightseeing tour, there is a unique exhibition in the ship’s saloon.

The exhibition on the Kisfaludy steamship. Photo via Facebook/Kisfaludy Lapátkerekes Gőzhajó

The ship museum brings the world of the 19th century to life, making you feel as if you have traveled back in time on a 19th century steamer. You will also get a glimpse into the daily lives of the ship’s former passengers and crew.

Viking Ship from Norway Calls at Budapest
Viking Ship from Norway Calls at Budapest

The ship is the replica of a Viking-era merchant ship that sunk near Larvik, Norway.Continue reading

Via We Love Budapest, Featured photo via Facebook/Kisfaludy Lapátkerekes Gőzhajó

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