Insider’s Guide: The Budapest Chairlift

  • 27 Jul 2023 6:05 PM
Insider’s Guide: The Budapest Chairlift
Not all landmarks in Budapest are buildings to admire. In our continuing series of stories of the city’s main attractions, we ride the panoramic Chairlift, Libegő to Hungarians.

What is the Chairlift in Budapest?

One of the most romantic attractions in a city full of them, the chairlift in Budapest's 12th district whisks passengers up steep János Hill in two-person gondolas to reach the summit 527 metres high. As well as providing panoramic views over leafy Buda, this allows you access to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, the highest point in Budapest, and a landmark in its own right.



Top tips for the Chairlift in Budapest

Look out for Chairlift Night in summer, when the facility stays open after midnight for a magical ride beneath the stars. The Chairlift is overseen by the Budapest Transport Company, BKK, with tickets are available (standard daytime 3,000 forints return, 3-14s 1,000 forints) from the kiosk at either terminus.

The service runs from 10am until 3.30pm in deepest winter, 7pm in summer, and until 4pm-6pm in spring and autumn. It usually closes every other Monday.

Why was the Chairlift in Budapest created?
There had long been talk of some kind of transportation for János Hill, once Bleichert-made aerial cableways began to Germany, and particularly after the opening of the Elizabeth Lookout Tower in 1910. Designs came and went, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the green light was given to the project.



When was the Chairlift in Budapest created?

Construction began in 1969 according to a design conceived by legendary pilot Endre Frankó, a member of the famed wartime Puma squadron. A year later, with 17 support pillars in place, the Chairlift opened.

It has since twice been renovated, in 1991 and 2010.

Where in Budapest is the Chairlift?

The Chairlift is in Zugliget, a pretty part of Buda’s 12th District whose slopes were covered with vineyards 200 years ago. Deer, wild boar and pheasant roamed in nearby hunting grounds. Popular with hikers and picnickers, Zugliget saw residential houses built from the later 1800s onwards.

Today it is accessed by Zugligeti út, a twisting, panoramic road climbed by the 291 bus from Nyugati station via Budagyöngye, or the upper terminus is a 10-15 minute walk from the Jánoshegy stop on the Children’s Railway.

What else should I know about the Chairlift in Budapest?

The Chairlift runs for 1,040 metres for a climb of 262 metres, a journey that takes 12 minutes in total. A steep footpath follows beneath the cables at ground level, and every year a ‘Beat the Chairlift’ race is held, competitors attempting to run the distance faster than the gondolas above can glide it.

Coming down by Chairlift, on a clear day you can see as far as the slopes and woods outside Gödöllő and Vác.



Why visit the Chairlift in Budapest?

One of the city’s truly spectacular attractions, the Chairlift lends an Alpine touch to any visit, literally a breath of fresh air when all down below is urban heat and traffic fumes. Ideal for couples and families.

Address

1121 Budapest, Zugligeti út 97

Words by Peterjon Cresswell for Xpatloop.com
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website liberoguide.com

MTI Photos: Márton Mónus, Péter Komka, László Róka

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