City guide

Go Beyond in Budapest: János Hill’s Erzsébet Lookout Tower

Photo : Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Go Beyond in Budapest: János Hill’s Erzsébet Lookout Tower

To see splendid scenery in Budapest, you don’t have to exhaust yourself by climbing up a hillside for hours, or bushwhacking through the woods, as paved paths lead to many of the most stunning sights of the Hungarian capital. Our recent trip to Anna Meadow and Fairy Rock inspired us to embark on another enchanting journey back to the top of the Buda Hills, but this time we approached the area by another route that leads all the way up to the Erzsébet Lookout Tower atop János Hill. All you have to do is to follow the yellow brick road (or more specifically, the yellow rubberized running track).

During our recent visit to Anna Meadow and Fairy Rock, we were enticed by the sight of the Erzsébet Lookout Tower atop János Hill, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to traverse the woods to approach it – so we decided to return to this panoramic place, and make our way up to the historic vantage point on a well-paved walkway, using a minimum of physical exertion.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
We took bus number 21A from Széll Kálmán Square to Normafa, and stepped on the paved road that guided us all the way to our desired destination, with the tower often in sight ahead along the way.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Despite the smooth terrain, the trip definitely cannot be called boring; while walking on the path we can admire the picturesque panorama of Budapest, enjoy shady shelter provided by tall trees, and listen to lovely kids playing on the various playgrounds. It is interesting to note that while we were surrounded by such soothing circumstances, we didn’t even realize that we just walked up to the dome-shaped János Hill, the highest point of Budapest (527 meters high), which lies about 2.5 km away from the bus stop, according to the signs. This distance can be walked in about 25-30 minutes at a comfortable pace.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
If you would like to approach the tower from another direction, we also recommend the short journey from the top terminus of the Chairlift, or getting there from the “Virágvölgy” or “János-hegy” stations of the Children’s Railway.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
It’s no wonder why the Erzsébet Lookout Tower is one of the most beloved excursion spots within the boundaries of Budapest; its construction was initiated by legendary Magyar hotelier Frigyes Glück, in the place of a formerly demolished wooden stand. The preparations of the plans went pretty fast, and the construction works could begin in 1908; only two years later, on September 8, 1910, the lookout tower opened its gates. While building the tower, the planners also had to take the shape of the hill into consideration.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
The different numbers in connection with the six-story lookout tower are also outstanding; 101 steps lead up to its highest observatory, which is 23.5 meters high. Its widest diameter is 17.4 meters, the number of bricks used to build it is 40,000, and the number of lights is 144 in total. It is interesting to mention that looking out from the tower we can see other Hungarian cities such as Cegléd and Dunaföldvár, as well as the peaks of the High Tátras. The tower was named after Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary, who visited the hilltop in 1882.