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Transports of delight around Budapest

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  • Zsófia Nagy

17/08/2022 1.17pm

Travelling by public transport in Budapest is not always a pleasure. Riding the 4/6 tram through the city in rush hour is completely different to gazing at the Danube through the window of tram 2 on a spring Saturday afternoon. But Budapest offers much more than its Soviet-era metro and trolleybuses. The city has a funicular, a chairlift and a cogwheel railway, even trains staffed by children. Here we pick out our favourite unusual conveyances.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Children’s Railway

1/6

1021 Budapest, Hűvösvölgy

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Many cities have a funicular, some have a chairlift. Few have a Children’s Railway. A hangover from the Soviet era when this was the Pioneer Railway, this unique Budapest attraction is staffed by youngsters in proud uniforms, the engines themselves driven by grown-ups. Stations offer various attractions around them, with hikes and views aplenty, and you can change over onto or from the Cogwheel Railway (see below) at Széchenyi-hegy.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Cogwheel Railway

2/6

1125 Budapest, Szilágyi Erzsébet fasor 16.

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Officially part of the main transport network as tram 60, and therefore accessible with standard tickets and passes, the fire-red Cogwheel Railway sets off from Városmajor to scale the hills of Buda. Around the stops, you take in the pretty villas of Svábhegy, hiking trails and wonderful views. The Cogwheel Railway also connects with the Children’s Railway (see above) at Széchenyi-hegy.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Funicular

3/6

1013 Budapest, Clark Ádám tér

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At Clark Ádám tér, the funicular, comprised of two newly renovated carriages, Margit and Gellért, glides up Castle Hill in vintage style as a wonderful panorama spreads out below. It’s a short ride but worth it, as you step out to the see the former royal palace straight ahead of you, and other historic sights of Buda close at hand.

Photo: Polyák Attila - We Love Budapest

Hot air balloon

4/6

1146 Budapest, Városliget

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A fairly recent innovation, a hot air balloon has been set up in City Park, tethered to the small hillock of Mimóza Hill. Passengers are taken up to a height of 150 metres, from where the whole of Budapest spreads out below. In operation until New Year’s Eve, the venture echoes an actual hot air balloon that whisked up revellers during the Hungarian Millennial celebrations of 1896.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Millennium Underground

5/6

1051 Budapest, Vörösmarty tér

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The first underground transport in continental Europe follows Andrássy út up to Heroes’ Square and City Park. It retains its historic look, a heritage line that’s also part of the main metro network. Referred to by Hungarians as the Millennium Underground, as opposed to the other three metro lines built after the war, the yellow line starts at Vörösmarty tér then calls at Deák Ferenc tér, where an Underground Railway Museum currently hosts an exhibition presenting all the weird and wonderful objects left behind by passengers. Note that because of long-term works taking place, the yellow M1 line at Deák tér can now only be accessed from outside the main doors of the Kempinski Hotel, even when changing lines with the red M3 line.

Photo: Kőrösi Tamás - We Love Budapest

Zugliget Chairlift

6/6

1121 Budapest, Zugligeti út 97

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Two-person gondolas glide up János Hill in 15 minutes, as romantic a journey as anyone can take in Budapest. The chairlift recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, meaning it’s being overhauled bit by bit. See here for a full schedule of which days it will be closed to the public this summer. Accessible by bus 291 from Széll Kálmán tér.

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