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Three Short Hikes in and around Budapest

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When in Budapest it’s all too easy to spend your time marvelling at the architecture and soaking up the atmosphere of the city, but there are some epic views to be had, even within the city limits.

This fascinating city along the Danube is lesser known for its hiking routes. In the lush Buda Hills, you not only find routes of different activity levels but also lookout towers, a chairlift, a Children’s Railway, and paragliding services. Budapest is truly a city that cannot be missed from above.

The Citadel and Gellért Hill

Gellért Hill

This is a short downtown hike taking you to the Liberty Statue of Hungary and to the Citadel. The highlight is the panoramic view of the city from the top, but we recommend to stop at the Cave Chapel of the only Hungarian monastic order, the Pauline’s, and at each and every mini lookout terrace for the different angles and perspective. The road is obvious to the top but as it is an official hiking route it is signed with a green rectangle. It starts from Gellért Square, just opposite the main entrance of Gellért Baths. For the downhill, you may take the stairs and head towards the Elisabeth Bridge. The broad, paved road leads through a lush forest and will drop you to the Garden of Philosophers where you can marvel at the city from the other side of the hill. The elevation is 235 m. Plan 3-4 hours for the whole walk.

View from the Elizabeth lookout tower.

Lookout towers of Buda

On the map, you find an easy hike on the apex of János Hill, the highest point of the Buda Hills which provides fascinating views to the city. This is just one part of the below recommendations. If you have a short hike in your mind then the proposed route is ideal for you. Alternatively, you can turn it into a full-day program with a chance to combine experiences.

The Elizabeth Lookout Tower

If hiking is the goal of the day, then the best is to start from Hűvösvölgy along the track of the Children’s Railway and following the crisscrossing forest path to János Hill, where you can relax a bit before climbing the 101 steps of the Elizabeth Lookout Tower. This is a lookout tower-tour for view hunters, so don’t miss the first viewpoint on the road, the Makovecz Lookout. The road up to János Hill takes a good 2 hours and is a moderate uphill climb. Different roads can be taken from here. You may hop on the Children’s Railway up to the Széchenyi Hill and back for the experience then take the Chairlift down to Zugliget where you may continue your walk to the Fairy Rock, which is near the Zugliget station of the Chairlift. Public transportation is frequent from Zugliget. 

The chairlift to Zugliget

Károly Guckler Circular Trail, Hármashatár Hill

This is an easy two-hour hike but starts with a short ascent, so don’t be put off. Not many vistas but definitely one of the most pleasant circular trails in the Buda Hills under the canopy of shady trees. An excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll be learning as you go too, as this wide forest trail is dotted with QR codes you can scan with your phone (internet connection required) to bring up information about the history and nature of the Obuda area.

A bend on the trail

Our local team in Budapest have several more suggestions for hikes in and around Budapest and out into the Hungarian countryside. If you’re a hiker, let them know and they’ll help you pick one.

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