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Go Beyond in Budapest: the Hárs Hill forest

Hárs Hill – one of the most popular hiking spots in Budapest – can be reached from Buda’s Hűvösvölgy suburb on foot or aboard the Children’s Railway year-round. Its territory actually consists of two hills – Nagy-Hárs-hegy (“Big Hárs Hill”) and Kis-Hárs-hegy (“Small Hárs Hill”). During our most recent excursion for this series highlighting wide-open spaces that welcome everyone for easy excursions within Budapest’s boundaries, we visited the forest of Small Hárs Hill and its panoramic peak, topped with the spiral-shaped Makovecz Lookout Tower.

There are ample reasons why SmallHárs Hill is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Budapest: it’s easily reachable by the Children’s Railway, the natural setting is beautiful, the paths are easy to walk, and from the Makovecz Lookout Tower at its peak, the sweeping view over the Buda Hills, the Castle District, and the Citadel is breathtaking.

We recommend that you start your tour from Hűvösvölgy (accessible from central Buda’s Széll Kálmán Square by tram 61), because from there, it’s only a few minutes’ walk until reaching the Children’s Railway, which you can travel uphill aboard to disembark at the first stop, after purchasing a ticket for 600 forints. However, whenever possible we encourage getting to this first stop on foot, as the forested walk is very atmospheric and refreshing.

The aforementioned Hárs-hegy station of the Children’s Railway can be reached in a bit more than 30 minutes on foot, even if walking at a laid-back pace – and the path won’t be too challenging, as there are only a few brief segments of the path that are steep. From the Hárs-hegy stop, it takes another 30 minutes of walking to get to the 362-meter-high Makovecz Lookout Tower, a memorial to Imre Makovecz, a famous Hungarian architect awarded with Hungary’s prestigious Kossuth Prize.

Halfway to this point, you can choose a different path that leads to Nagy-Hárs-hegy and the Kaán Károly Lookout Tower atop it; while we chose not to visit this destination during this excursion, this is also a recommended hike, as the tower is even taller with a wider panorama there. Nonetheless, the views from SmallHárs Hill are nothing to scoff at.

Beyond the panorama, another main attraction of Hárs Hill is its educational path that winds through the entire area, and which was created by the Saint Ferenc Hospital, mostly for patients with diabetes or cardiovascular ailments. The path is 2.7 kilometers long, and it starts and ends at the hospital building.

Another reason why Hárs Hill is a perfect hiking destination is that the sylvan hiking trails are lined with many benches and tables, so there are plenty of spots to enjoy picnics here, too.

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