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10 excursions near Budapest with fabulous panoramic views

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  • Annamária Jász

30/04/2021 12.00am

Several aspects come into play when choosing your excursion destination around Budapest. Easy or challenging? Short or long? Close or far away? Usually, you’re happy to be surrounded by trees, but most of all, you want to climb to the top of the slope and take in any majestic panorama. Here are ten great options within easy reach of Budapest.

Photo: Bartha Dorka - We Love Budapest

Csóványos

1/10

Csóványos is the highest summit on our list, tying with Börzsöny at a height of 938 metres (standing at 20th place in terms of national peaks). It is worth going to Kismaros by train, departing from Nyugati station, and from there taking the Királyrét Forest Railway to Királyrét. Of course, it is also possible to go by car, parking in Cseresznyefa car park a little further on. Be prepared for a long hike, and for significant changes in elevation. If that’s not enough, it’s an additional 133 steps to the top of a four-storey, 22-metre lookout tower, but the panoramic view is worth the sweat. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Tatra mountains, with the Danube winding through the landscape.

Photo: We Love Budapest

Dobogó-kő

2/10

For Hungarians, this place hardly needs any introduction, as it is one of the most popular excursion destinations in the country. There are also religious connotations to the area, as well as the numerous outdoorsy opportunities – in fact, the first hiking lodge was built here, earning it the nickname of the Cradle of Hungarian Hiking. A long-distance bus takes you from Pomáz to the 700-metre peak, but those going by car can enjoy the serpentine route more slowly, taking in the sights along the way. Once at the top, you can choose between a longer and shorter round-trip – Zsivány-körút being the longer and Thirring-körút the shorter – or just enjoy the view from the lookout terrace. From up here, you have several vistas to enjoy: the Danube bend, the Visegrád and Börzsöny mountain ranges, and on clear days you can even see the High Tatras. Those willing to embark on the longer hike will also enjoy Rám Pass, the Vadálló stones, Prédikálószék (see below) and Pilisszentiván.

Photo: Kálló Péter - We Love Budapest

Hármashatár-hegy

3/10

It is no coincidence that Hármashatár Hill is among the three most popular excursion destinations in Budapest. Primarily due to its easy accessibility – the lazier ones arriving by car – and its large expanse, with plenty of space to fly kites, become acquainted with nature conservation on the Károly Guckler trail, and gather more scientific knowledge on the new Jane Goodall trail. There’s also, of course, Károly Guckler Lookout. Atop the 495-metre-high hill, this polygonal tower, built of pine and designed by the Ybl-award-winning architect József Koller, was unveiled in 2016, providing views of Budapest’s iconic buildings way beyond and below. The Danube meanders before your nose, all the bridges can be seen – even Megyeri. The easiest way to reach here is bus 65 from Kolosy tér, alighting at Fenyőgyöngye.

Photo: Hirling Bálint - We Love Budapest

Hegyes-tető

4/10

This peak, opposite Prédikálószék, can be reached via Zebegény and Nagymaros. The hike can be extended for those wishing to visit Remete-barlang, the Hermit’s Cave, which is awkward to access as it involves steep hikes, but affords a unique, sweeping view of Dömös, Prédikálószék and boats floating down the Danube. For those looking for a simpler route, start from Nagymaros and take the small round-trip, with the lookout tower only a short walk away. This bastion-shaped landmark was named after Julian the Monk, built in 1938-39 on the summit of the 482-metre tall Hegyes peak. The panorama is blocked by nearby St Michael’s Hill, but that doesn’t stop it from being a stunning vista. Visegrád Castle can be seen from here, as well as Börzsöny, with the whole view framed by the winding Danube. From Zebegény to Nagymaros (or vice versa), you can walk through the eight-kilometre forest road marked with blue crosses. Two end points mark the start and finish – the stone cross of Köves field above Nagymaros and the Trianon monument of the lookout above Zebegény.

Photo: Medgyesi Milán - We Love Budapest

Nagy-Hárs-hegy

5/10

The great value of Hárs Hill is its easy access, by bus 22 or 22A from Széll Kálmán tér, a 20-minute minutes hop to Szépjuhászné station on the Children’s Railway. That’s the start of a 4.5-km hike there and back, marked with yellow signs. The terrain leading to the Károly Kaán lookout is light, and you can already get an inkling of the panorama at the Csanád rest stop. Nature and the capital spread out around the tower, renovated in 2016: Citadella, Parliament, the Danube and bridges, as well as Hármashatár Hill, János Hill, Elizabeth Lookout Tower and Nagy-Kopasz. Upon arrival, it is worth visiting Bátori Cave in the gorge below the lookout, where Pauline monk László Bátori translated the Bible for 20 years, and investigating the ruins of the Pauline Monastery at Budaszentlőrinc by the Szépjuhászné stop. On the return journey, you can make a detour to the less impressive but still pleasant panorama of the Makovecz Lookout Tower.

Photo: Hirling Bálint - We Love Budapest

Nagy-Kopasz

6/10

The highest peak in the Buda hills, where burly, jagged Pál Csergezán lookout rises, named after a strange hermit painter. The peak is not really a peak but a plateau, yet it is the tallest in the area at 559 metres. Exactly 100 steps lead to the top of the tower made of larch, and when you reach it, you can happily attest that the signs in all directions of the circular panorama identify the surrounding settlements: the Börzsöny, the Mátra, Gerecse and the Buda hills can be easily seen. The lookout can also be approached from the Hidegvölgy forest lodge along the country road from Budakeszi to Telki, following the green triangle signs, and the Sisakvirág nature trail. Arriving from the forest lakes halfway, you can also admire the view provided by the Tarna rest stop and the rocky dolomite grasslands.

Photo: Jász Annamária - We Love Budapest

Nagy-Szénás

7/10

This exceptional vantage point in the Buda hills is part of the Nagy-Szénás range. Here you don’t find a lookout tower to be climbed, yet the panorama is stunning because of the undisturbed 360-degree view. This row of protected heights provides the impression of hiking on camel humps or lawn-covered sand dunes. A cross has been erected on the 550-metre-high peak, and from another lower peak, you can also park yourself on a bench and take in the views. The grassy surface that covers the slopes hides particularly valuable, unique wildlife, including the tiny yellow pilis flowers below only found here. The expanse earned the European Diploma, the highest award for protected areas. The hills can be approached from several directions, even from Pilisszentiván. The easiest way is to travel to Nagykovácsi by long-distance bus or car and walk from the village centre, following the blue and red signs from the village hall for a good, easy, one-hour hike.

Photo: Kálló Péter - We Love Budapest

Normafa & János Hill

8/10

The most popular excursion destination in Budapest. Beating the crowds is important, since this area is extremely well-visited, but proximity to the city and fantastic panoramas make it worth the trip. You can reach Normafa by buses 21 or 21A, and only a little further away is János Hill, Elizabeth Lookout Tower capping its 527-metre summit, built in 1910 according to the plans of Frigyes Schulek. The view of Budapest and its surroundings are absolutely fabulous, and in clear weather you can see peaks almost 80 kilometres away, all the way to Cegléd, Székesfehérvár, Pilis and the Mátra

Photo: Fári Kata - We Love Budapest

Prédikálószék

9/10

According to many, Prédikálószék offers the most beautiful view of the Danube Bend, with a challenging hiking trail leading to its 639-metre peak. It is worth dedicating a whole day to it, as you’re already in the bucolic Börzsöny, and the starting point is further away. From Dömös, this 8.8-kilometre tour can be completed in about 2-2.5 hours, which also takes the Vadálló stones on the way. The 12-metre-high, upwardly expanding lookout tower with WiFi (!) was built in 2016. Accurate orientation and identification are also aided by a documented view on the ledge.

Photo: Jász Annamária - We Love Budapest

Velence hills

10/10

Lake Velence is a popular summer destination but the nearby hills are equally impressive and scenic. Driving from Budapest on the M7 gets you here in about 40 minutes, with a wild landscape just waiting to be explored. Bence Hill has a lookout tower opened in 2018, its strange, twisted shape already visible from the motorway, reminiscent of a large white mushroom. From Velence, this 210-metre high landmark can be approached on foot or by car, with a 500-forint admission fee. The panorama is stunning, with the lake stretching out below your feet, Velence slopes on either side and the 352-metre Meleg peak, Vértes, Bakony and the Buda hills all visible further on. There are no hiking trails around the lookout tower, but nearby Pákozd and Sukoró offer such possibilities. Here you can also find the Pákozd Military Memorial Park, the Pákozd-Sukoró Arboretum & Game Park, and breathtaking Brunszvik Castle in Martonvásár.

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