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Budapest’s 10 best panoramic viewpoints

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  • We Love Budapest

09/09/2021 8.49am

There are various ways to view Europe’s most beautiful capital but the best is always from one of the city’s lofty vantage points. Here are our ten favourite spots from which to admire Budapest, with details of how to reach them.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

360 Bar

1/10

1061 Budapest, Andrássy út 39.

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Panoramically sited atop the tallest building on Budapest’s most elegant boulevard, the former Paris Department Store on Andrássy út, the 360 Bar offers not only full panoramic views but also quality cocktails, snacks and DJs. Sip a 360 Highlife (Beefeater pink gin, Aperol, lemon) while the beats pulse and the lights blink on all across the city. This historic building at Andrássy út 39 stands between the Opera and Oktogon stops on yellow metro M1.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Citadella

2/10

1118 Budapest, Citadella sétány 1.

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Soon to receive a long-awaited makeover as a museum, with a cable car also planned, Citadella is the Habsburg fortress that crowns Gellért Hill. Above it rises the Statue of Lady Liberty, gazing down over the whole city and visible from many points. As well as a favourite destination for tour buses, Citadella is also where couples come for their wedding photos. Reaching it by public transport isn’t straightforward, however – bus 27 from Móricz Zsigmond körtér takes you as far as Sánc utca, about halfway up round the back of Gellért Hill. Alternatively, fitter visitors can trek up from behind the Gellért Hotel, past the playground and two lower observation terraces.

Photo: Kálló Péter - We Love Budapest

Elizabeth Lookout Tower

3/10

1121 Budapest, János-hegy

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At 528 metres, this tower is the highest accessible point in Budapest, a Habsburg-era confection built on top of János Hill by Frigyes Schulek of Fishermen’s Bastion fame. It was named after Empress Elisabeth, known as and revered by Hungarians as Sisi, whose assassination in 1898 shocked the nation. As this was one of her favourite spots, locals decided to build a monument in her honour. For a nominal admission fee, you can climb up the winding staircase to reach the top – on a clear day, you can see as far as the High Tatras. The nearest access point by public transport is Normafa (bus 21/21A from Széll Kálmán tér or Déli pályaudvar), from where it’s a short, pleasant stroll through greenery before the calf-crunching climb up the hill for five minutes. Alternatively, take the Children’s Railway to Normafa, close to the 21/21A bus stop.

Photo: Kálló Péter - We Love Budapest

Fishermen’s Bastion

4/10

1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 5.

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Accessed by the Funicular or a short, steep climb up Castle Hill from Clark Ádám tér, ornate Fishermen’s Bastion was built by Frigyes Schulek as an afterthought once he had recreated Matthias Church next door. Its seven turrets represent the seven Hungarian tribes who arrived here more than 1,000 years ago, and provide the perfect viewpoint over the Danube and Pest skyline.

Photo: László Balkányi - We Love Budapest

Hármashatár Hill

5/10

1030 Budapest, Hármashatárhegyi út 1.

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It is no coincidence that Hármashatár Hill is among the most popular excursions in Budapest, particularly with kite-flyers and those of the hang-gliding persuasion. There are look-out points and vantage spots all over this expansive hilltop, across which winds the Károly Guckler trail, leading to the observation tower of the same name. A polygonal pine tower perched on a hill 495 metres high, it was designed by Ybl-award-winning architect József Koller, and offers views of the all of Budapest’s bridges, even Megyeri. The easiest way to reach here is bus 65 from Kolosy tér, alighting at Fenyőgyöngye.

Photo: Szabó Gábor - We Love Budapest

Hungarian National Gallery

6/10

1014 Budapest, Szent György tér 2.

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Once topped by a lower roof, the Royal Palace was severely damaged during World War II. It was only during its reconstruction in the 1960s when the present-day dome was installed. Its panoramic terrace was renovated and reopened in 2006. Directly beneath the colossal, slightly off-green cupola is this vantage point, providing far-reaching views over Buda, the Danube bridges and the Pest cityscape. Even few locals know that between April and November, weather permitting, admission to the National Gallery also allows you access to this unique eyrie. A narrow staircase winds up to the panoramic terrace. To reach Buda Castle, either take the Funicular or climb up the steps from Clark Ádám tér.

Photo: Medgyesi Milán - We Love Budapest

Nagy-Hárs Hill

7/10

1021 Budapest,

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One of the many ideal aspects of Hárs Hill is its easy access, by bus 22 or 22A from Széll Kálmán tér, a 20-minute 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 Tower 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: CitadellaParliament, the Danube and bridges, as well as Hármashatár HillJános HillElizabeth 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: Kálló Péter - We Love Budapest

St Stephen’s Basilica

8/10

1051 Budapest, Szent István tér 1.

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Dominating the skyline of downtown Pest, the huge dome of St Stephen’s Basilica took decades and three chief architects to create, reaching the precise height of 96 metres. This was no coincidence, as so many Budapest landmarks of the time were built to celebrate the Hungarian millennial celebrations of 1896 – Parliament is as tall. For an admission fee of 1,500 forints, you can access the panoramic walkway around the dome for a 360-degree view of downtown Pest, with the Danube and Buda beyond. You can actually climb a little higher, and get a slightly better view – plus a bird’s eye one of the Basilica clock tower itself – at the HighNote Sky Bar atop the Aria Hotel. These vistas also come with exquisite cocktails, of course. The Basilica is a short walk from several downtown stops and stations, including M1 to Bajcsy-Zsilinszky, bus 9 to Szent István Bazilika and M1-M2 Deák Ferenc tér. The M3 line for Arany János utca/Deák Ferenc tér is currently under long-term repair.

Photo: Peterjon Cresswell/We Love Budapest

Tomb of Gül Baba

9/10

1023 Budapest, Mecset utca 14.

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A perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous, the Tomb of Gül Baba is surrounded by beautiful gardens, renovated and reopened in 2018. The landmark honours Gül Baba, an Ottoman-era poet and philosopher who died shortly after the Turkish conquest of Buda in the 1500s. Known as the Father of the Roses, he is thought to have introduced the flower to Budapest, hence the surrounding hill of Rózsadomb (’Rose Hill’). From his statue, a panoramic view stretches all the way across the Danube. The walkways up to the site, near the Buda foot of Margaret Bridge, have also been revamped.

Photo: Kőrösi Tamás - We Love Budapest

Zugliget Chairlift

10/10

1121 Budapest, Zugligeti út 97

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The Chairlift, Libegő to Hungarians, is a fun, alternative mode of transport in the Buda hills. Transporting passengers between Zugliget and the road leading up to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, the Chairlift calmly takes you up the side of János Hill in about 15 minutes – while providing panoramic views of the Buda surroundings. Run by city transport company BKK, it’s accessed by a different ticket (single HUF 1,200, return HUF 1,600), available at either terminus. To reach it, take bus 291 from Nyugati station to its final stop (journey time 25 minutes).

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