This Sunday Daniel and I decided to get out of the city and into nature for the day. So, we took the Janos Hill Chairlift to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower. The leaves were changing, the air was cool, and the silence of the forest in the calm Buda hills was a welcome respite after a busy week in Budapest.
The Janos Hill Chairlift is officially called Zugliget Libego and it leads not only to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower but also to a maze of hiking trails on Janos-hegy, the tallest hill in Buda.
If you want to slow down and reconnect with nature in the Buda hills, this guide has everything you need to know to take the Janos Hill Chairlift to Elizabeth Lookout Tower!
Leaves changing in the Buda hills
How to Get to the Janos Hill Chairlift
There are three ways to get to the Janos Hill Chairlift to visit the Elizabeth Lookout Tower and the Buda hills without a car.
Walk to the Budapest-Nyugati Train Station (which is about 15 to 20 minutes from St. Stephen’s Basilica) and then get on Bus 291 to Zugliget, Libego. The price is 350 huf / 1.25 usd per ticket and the ride should be about 25 minutes.
There is also a direct shuttle that runs between the Buda Castle Funicular and the Janos Hill Chairlift. Right now in the fall it looks like it’s running only on weekends, but free of charge to anyone who buys both tickets. I think hours and fares depend on the date so visit the website to see the schedule before you go.
You might think we’re crazy, but Daniel and I decided to walk from Budapest to the Janos Hill Chairlift. It took about 1.5 hours from the St. Stephen’s Basilica area and was actually a really pleasant walk. We got to see a lot of suburban Buda with its gorgeous old houses, big parks and shaded walks. In the cool autumn air with the changing leaves, it was really nice. We even walked back to Budapest as well, getting over 25,000 steps for the day!
View of the rolling Buda hills from the Elizabeth Lookout Tower
How much does the Janos Hill Chairlift cost?
The price for the Janos Hill Chairlift (Zugliget) is 1000 huf / 3.50 usd for a one-way adult ticket and 1400 huf / 5 usd for the round-trip when bought together. Kids are 600 one-way and 800 return.
When Daniel and I went on a Sunday afternoon, there was a long line and we had to wait about 45 minutes to board. A couple of hours later on the return trip, we had to wait another 45 minutes to get on. I imagine visiting during the week would eliminate or at least reduce these wait times.
If you opt to skip the Janos Hill Chairlift and walk to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower instead, there are trails that wind up the hill from the station that you can take as well.
Quiet paths through the forest on Janos-hegy hill
Riding the Janos Hill Chairlift
The ride on the Janos Hill Chairlift to Elizabeth Lookout Tower is around 15 to 20 minutes and so beautiful!
First, we were in a tunnel of trees with houses and gardens all around us. Then, we slowly started to rise above them and got our first views of the Buda hills spread out beneath us.
The chairlift is incredibly quiet and peaceful. When I read the reviews online for it, everyone was raving about how amazing it is and I thought, it’s just a chairlift, what’s so special? But honestly, after spending weeks in busy Budapest it was so relaxing to just rise above it all, literally, even for a few minutes.
Once we arrived at the top, there were maps with different hiking trails and routes through to take. Daniel and I first went to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, a small castle with a 360-degree panoramic view of the and Hungarian countryside. It was only 10 minutes of walking from the chairlift and is the perfect place to take photos of Buda hills and the city of Budapest far in the distance.
The Elizabeth Lookout Tower on the top of Janoh-hegy hill
There’s a cafe both at the chairlift station and Elizabeth Lookout Tower, but I suggest bringing a packed lunch to avoid the crowds and the lines.
After we climbed the tower, we walked along another nearby trail that leads to a cave. The Janos-hegy park is great because their trails are well-marked with painted signs that estimate the walking time for each one. Since the cave trail was only 10 minutes, it sounded perfect.
The cave was just a little guy, but it was fun to walk through. Then we walked back to the chairlift (stopping at a second lookout for more photos) and got back in line to head down the mountain.
All in all, we arrived at the Janos Hill Chairlift at 1:15 pm and with the lines, our visit to the tower, a short hike, and the return trip, we got back to the bottom around 4 pm. Of course, you can stay up on Janos-hegy and hike for hours if you want too!
Another hidden view of the Buda hills during our short hike on the mountain
Explore the Buda Hills With This Guide
This was one of my favorite days in Budapest and it was so cheap! If you walk to and from the Janos Hill Chairlift to Elizabeth Lookout Tower and pack a lunch, you’ll only spend about $5 per person on a day out. Even with the bus, it’s only a bit more.
For anyone on the hunt for beautiful views or just a couple peaceful hours in the Buda hills, the Zugliget chairlift on Janos-hegy is one of the best places to visit in Budapest. Use this guide to check it out and you definitely won’t leave disappointed!