Children's railway

Most travelers don’t see much of the Buda side of Budapest when they visit Hungary’s capital. Few make it any further than the Fisherman’s Bastion and maybe Buda Castle.

It’s understandable as most of the bars, restaurants, and hotels are on the flat Pest side. But Buda has the greeenery—and the Children’s Train.

I probably wouldn’t have even known about this train had I not gone out on a cool tour with Underguide that spent the day on the other side of the river. (Remember that when you automatically pooh-pooh guided tours: some of them rock.) We took a series of metro rides and trams, then hiked the last bit to the starting point. So getting there was part of the fun too.

Here’s what the ride was like:

This is one of those classic narrow-gauge trains that bumps along old tracks. This one passes through forests and behind some grand homes in the hills. It’s a world away from the compressed urban grid of Pest.

HungaryIt’s called the Children’s Train because kids aged 10-14 join a program to work there, taking tickets and giving signals to conductors when the tracks are clear. The tickets are a bargain at about $3 one-way, or $1.50 for children.

When you get to the end, you can turn around and come back or follow a path to a chairlift going up and down the mountain. I’d advise taking it down as you get terrific views of the mansion districts and the city spread out before you. The chairlift is slightly more than the train, around $3.25 one way.

Budapest chair lift

See more on the Children’s Railway site in English.