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.
cities have a funicular, some have a chairlift. Few have a Children’s
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.
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.
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.
Hot air balloon
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
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.
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.