Feature image for an article about the Castle Hill Funicular in Budapest.

Expert Guide to Budapest’s Castle Hill Funicular

A window to the Budapest of past years, Buda Castle Funicular is a fun way to travel between Clark Adam Square and Budapest Castle District. And it offers spectacular views over the Danube!
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Read More About Buda Castle District

Buda Castle Hill Funicular is a Window to the Past

One of the things we love about Budapest is the old-new duality of the city. On the one hand, Budapest is a young, creative and modern city. There are plenty of fantastic neighborhoodsBudapest’s 5th District, 6th District, and 7th Districts are perfect for enjoying food, drink, and shopping, is a great city for hanging out in general, and has fantastic nightlife.

But it’s also full of history.

In particular, La Belle Époque era made its mark on Budapest. Lasting from the 1870s until the 1914 outbreak of WWI, this period coincided with the Hungarian Millennium in 1896, when Hungary marked 1000 years of being a country.

In the lead-up to the Millennium, there was a massive effort to develop and modernize Budapest. Taking place during an economic and artistic boom in Europe, Budapest as we know it today was built during this period. Andrássy Avenue and its stately architecture, the M1 Metro, and Heroes’ Square were all built during this period. Many of the city’s gorgeous grand cafés also emerged during this time. The New York Café, for example, was where many of the city’s newspapers were edited. And Paris Department Store, now home to the stunning Paris Café, opened in 1911.

Across the Danube in Buda, the Castle Hill funicular also opened during this era.

About the Castle Hill Funicular in Budapest

First opened in 1870, a ride on Budapest’s Castle Hill Funicular today comes with a whole lot of nostalgia for the Budapest of past centuries.

The second of its kind in the world, it was inspired by a steam-powered funicular in Lyon.

Although it’s a tourist attraction today, its original purpose was decidedly more practical. Built before bus connections existed, it was used to get up to the Castle and ministries in Budapest’s Castle District.

Between opening and the 1940s, the Funicular remained largely the same. It was powered by steam, and neither the technology nor the design really changed. During WWII, however, the Budapest funicular was destroyed. In December 1944, Allied bombs pretty much obliterated it.

After the close of WWII, buses provided a more convenient option for getting to and from Budapest Castle. As such, rebuilding the funicular wasn’t a priority, and it sat in ruins for decades.

In 1986, it reopened after reconstruction. The reconstruction tried to strike a balance between old and new. It employed modern technology to operate the funicular, while evoking a sense of nostalgia in the cars and terminal design.

In 1987, the Buda Castle Funicular was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage listing for Budapest.

The Funicular is a unique way to get to and from the sites of Budapest’s Castle District. Travelling 200 feet up at a 40-degree angle, it also offers a gorgeous view. Be sure to charge your camera battery before your ride!

Book Your Trip to Budapest

Save Money in Budapest

The Budapest Card includes free, unlimited public transportation for the duration of the card, and is available as a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-day card. In addition to free public transport, the card includes free entry to many museums, a complimentary tour, discounts throughout the city, and more. Click for prices and details.

Book Your Flight to Budapest

CheapOair is our current favorite when it comes to searching for flight deals. It’s a meta aggregator, and will find the best deals and routes for you by searching airline websites and other aggregators.

Book Your Budapest Hotel in Advance

We use Booking.com when making hotel reservations in Europe. In our experience, it has the best inventory/selection of hotels and holiday apartments, and we’ve had good experiences with their customer service team when things go wrong (which has been a rarity for us, thank goodness!). TripAdvisor is also trying to get into the hotel booking game, and may be worth checking out.

Skip the Line in Budapest

Budapest is getting busier by the year, meaning you should expect to wait in line at the most popular attractions, especially in high season. If you only have a short vacation, consider getting a Skip-the-Line ticket for the most popular attractions: The Great SynagogueSzéchenyi Thermal Baths, and the Parliament. If you want to visit the interior of the Parliament, you have to pre-book. You can either use an international tour aggregator like Get Your Guide or use the Hungarian website Jegymester.hu.

Book Your Budapest Tour

We tend to book tours via an aggregator like Get Your Guide (a company out of Berlin with great selection of tours in Europe, in particular) or Viator (a TripAdvisor company).

Why use an aggregator instead of going direct? Personally, we like to compare the different tours available for each attraction, as well as read reviews. Both Get Your Guide and Viator let us see multiple, similar tours, and compare prices and past reviews before making a booking.

Getting from Budapest Airport to the City Center

Budapest’s public transportation system is generally excellent, and this extends to the airport. For a detailed post about getting from Budapest Airport to  the City Center via public transit, shared shuttle, or airport taxi, read our guide here.

If you’re arriving late at night, coming in on a long-haul and expect to be exhausted, or would rather have the peace of mind of a private transfer, you can book one here. 

Buy Travel Insurance (Just in Case)

We can’t actually  recommend a travel insurance provider. Apparently it’s against the law.

However, we can say this: we know several people who racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses during separate, life-or-death situations while traveling. They were both insured by Allianz, they both received life-saving care, and they both made a successful claim.

No one wants to need travel insurance, but you’ll certainly be glad you have it if something goes wrong. And if something does go wrong in Budapest, we personally go to FirstMed for our healthcare. Staff and doctors speak English.

Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance

If you visit Budapest in winter, you’ll probably be okay if you don’t make restaurant reservations, although we’d still recommend you reserve in advance Thursday to Saturday evenings where possible.

In summer, things fill up pretty quickly, although capacity at many restaurants increases when the city’s terraces open, usually sometime in May. It’s worth noting Budapest’s restaurants are all non-smoking inside, but get quite smoky on the terraces.

Tips for Riding the Castle Hill Funicular

Try to make sure you are the first person in line. This ensures you’ll get a seat in the best part of the tram, closest to the river.

In summer, especially, it’s well worth the ticket price. The heat can be stifling in summer, and the funicular offers a short reprieve. This is especially so when compared with walking up the hill!

If you can, try to go mid-week when there are fewer visitors. This will shorten waiting times, and give you a better chance at getting a good spot. Be aware the funicular is closed occasionally for maintenance. This usually happens on Mondays.

One final tip: you probably don’t need a return ticket. Going up (or down) is fun and has great views. But there are other ways to get up and down from the Castle – combine the methods for the best overall experience. The funicular goes rather quickly, and you may miss some shots/views, which you can make up going the other way.

In particular, the escalator from the Castle Gardens and Bazar is a great option. Alternatively, you walk one-way, allowing you to catch the views you missed on the funicular. There’s also a bus from Clark Adam Square up to the Castle (#16).

How to Get to the Castle Hill Funicular

You’ll find the funicular at the foot of the Chain Bridge on the Buda side of the Danube. The address is Clark Adam Square, District I, 1013 Budapest.

At the top of Castle Hill, the Funicular terminal is beside Sandor Palace. Sandor Palace is the official residence of the Hungarian President, and is where you can see the changing of the guards. It’s also right near the entrance to Buda Castle.

Walk in the other direction from the Castle Hill terminal, and you’ll arrive at Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church in less than 5 minutes.

Buda Castle Hill Funicular Opening Hours

The funicular is generally open daily from 07:30 to 22:00. However, it closes occasionally for maintenance, which is usually done on Mondays. You can check maintenance schedules here.

Tickets for the Castle Hill Funicular

A one-way, adult ticket costs HUF 1,200. A return tickets is HUF 1,800.

Children’s tickets cost HUF 700, and HUF 1,100 return.

Children under three ride for free.

The ticket office doesn’t accept Euro or other foreign currency, so be prepared to pay by card or in Hungarian forint (HUF).

Funicular tickets are included in some tours. If you’re planning on doing a walking tour or combined walking tour and Danube cruise, check your tour package before purchasing separate funicular tickets!

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