One of the must-see attractions in Budapest is the Castle Hill Funicular, called Budavári Sikló in Hungarian. This charming funicular railway, also known as the Budavári Sikló, is a fun and scenic ride. It takes you from the Danube River to the top of Castle Hill, the historical centre of Budapest.
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About the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular
The Castle Hill Funicular is a historic funicular railway in Europe that dates back to 1870. It is also a fascinating piece of engineering. At the time of its opening, only Lyon had a similar transportation system. Initially powered by steam, the Budapest Funicular started working with electricity in 1920.
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For over 70 years, the stepped cars carried passengers up and down the equivalent of 30 flights of stairs. However, during World War II, the bombing of Budapest destroyed the funicular. The reconstruction faced a long delay because the authorities initially thought to install escalators. After a long wait, the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular was finally reconstructed along its original track, with most of its original design retained.
Today, the Castle Hill Funicular is a popular tourist attraction that offers a unique and memorable experience. The ride takes a few minutes but it is a fun way to ascend the steep hillside and get a panoramic view of the city. A trip on the funicular is a must-do for anyone visiting Budapest. It also provides a glimpse into the city’s rich history.
Design and Features of the Castle Hill Funicular
The Funicular runs near the historic Széchenyi Chain Bridge across the Danube. The lower station is situated on Clark Ádám tér next to the Tunnel. The upper station is located between the Castle and the Sándor-Palace.
The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular boasts two wooden cabins that accommodate up to 24 passengers. The cabins’ large windows provide breathtaking panoramic views of the city, making the funicular ride a must-do attraction for anyone visiting Budapest. This electric-powered funicular moves on a track that spans 95 meters on a 30-degree slope, taking approximately 2-3 minutes to cover a distance of 51 meters.
The funicular operates by utilising two cars. One is ascending the hill while the other is descending. The cars are connected by a cable driven by a robust motor at the hill’s top. The cars are counterbalanced. It means that the weight of one car is offset by the other car’s weight. That ensures that the cars remain level as they travel up and down the hill.
The funicular’s two cabins are adorned with ornate wood panelling and brass fittings. Riding on them provides a vintage feel that transports visitors back to the funicular’s early days.
The Experience of Riding the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular
The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular is more than just a mode of transportation. It is an enchanting experience that takes you back in time and offers breathtaking city views. Since 1870, the Buda Castle Funicular has been connecting the riverbank of the Danube and Buda Castle. The railway tracks, stretching for 95 meters, rise on a gradient of 50 meters. As you embark on this ride, the cityscape unfolds before you, mesmerising you. It’s no wonder the Funicular was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
As you step into the wooden cabin, you’ll feel transported back to the late 19th century. The wooden benches add to the charm to the ride. As you ascend the hill, the panoramic view of the city will leave you spellbound. You’ll witness the Danube River’s grandeur, the Chain Bridge’s magnificence, and Budapest’s stunning architecture.
Once you reach the top of Castle Hill, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Budapest’s historic district. Here, you can explore the Buda Castle, marvel at the striking Matthias Church, and relish the scenic views of the Danube River and the city below. The remarkable experience of the Funicular ride, combined with the beauty of Castle Hill, will leave you with unforgettable memories.
How to Get to the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular
To reach the funicular, head towards the Széchenyi Chain Bridge on the Buda side of the Danube. At the top of Castle Hill, the Funicular terminal is beside Sandor Palace, the official residence of the Hungarian President.
Moreover, the terminal is conveniently located near the entrance to Buda Castle, making it an easy spot to reach. Walking opposite the Buda Castle, you’ll soon stumble upon Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church in around 20 minutes on foot.
Where to Buy Tickets for the Castle Hill Funicolar
The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular operates throughout the year, with operating hours from 07.30 am to 10 pm. The cars run every 5 to 10 minutes, making it easy to hop on and off.
You can purchase tickets for the funicular ride at ticket offices at the lower and upper stations. The cost for a return trip per adult is HUF 4,000, about €10. Children pay a reduced fare of HUF 2,000, around €5.
The funicular ride prices are much higher than regular transportation fares, but the ride is included in the 72 hours Budapest Card. You can pay for the tickets at the ticket office by card or cash in Hungarian forint.
Where to stay in Budapest
Budapest offers a wide range of beautiful hotels to choose from. Hampton By Hilton Budapest City Centre (here my review) is located in the heart of Budapest, just 600 metres from St. Stephen’s Basilica. They offer a delicious breakfast and have a restaurant and a bar on-site. For those looking for a hotel with unique and stunning decor, Stories Boutique Hotel is a 4-star property situated 500 meters away from the Hungarian State Opera. They have a restaurant on-site that serves à la carte, a continental or vegetarian breakfast. If you prefer an aparthotel, Zoya Luxury Residence is an excellent option with units with a coffee machine, a dishwasher, a microwave and parking space.
The Castle Hill Funicular, a popular tourist attraction in Budapest, offers a unique way to travel to Buda Castle from the banks of the Danube River. Let me know in the comments if you tried this fun and unique way to experience Budapest.