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Travels by Tram

Trams (villamos) are abundant and convenient, covering the entire city from around 5 am to 11 pm, or a bit later. Though they're comfortable, you might well have to stand and grab a handhold for lack of a seat; trams can get crowded, particularly after around 7 am and then throughout the day until early evening. Schedules, though not available in printed form, are posted at stops, and trams generally stick to them, although rush-hour traffic may sometimes throw a wrench into the otherwise smoothly functioning mechanism of public transport in the capital.

Tickets are widely available in metro stations and at many newsstands and (sometimes malfunctioning) sidewalk automats. The accepted method of payment is cash. Your best bet is simply to buy a pass, which you can do at a metro station. If you do opt to buy individual tickets instead (do so if you'll take only a handful of rides during the day and saving a couple of dollars is an issue), each ticket must be validated on board by inserting it, downward-facing, into the little device provided for that purpose, then pulling the knob; with newer devices, just insert the ticket.

Tram No. 56 to the Buda Hills

If you have at least an hour to spare, hop aboard Tram No. 56, which sets out from Moszkva tér for a lovely 20-minute ride into the heart of the Buda Hills—perhaps the most economical scenic excursion in all of Budapest at a cost of two public transport tickets (or nothing if you have a pass). The Fogaskerekű vasút (cogwheel railway) station, from where you can ride up into the hills all the way to the beginning point of the scenic Gyermek vasút (Children's Railway), is on your left at the third stop. Before long the greenery becomes lush on your left, and the stately, if worn, apartment houses give you a sense of what Buda might have been like a century ago. At the fifth stop (Nagyajtai utca), look to your right for a statue of Raoul Wallenberg in a small, shaded park. From the seventh stop on, the lovely, forested Buda Hills are increasingly visible to your right; by the 12th stop it's as if the tram were passing through a forest; and, finally the tram reaches its 13th and final stop, at Hüvösvölgy, near the terminus of the Children's Railway and close to several trailheads.

Other scenic tram rides

For beautiful riverside views of Pest (including the Parliament building), hop aboard Tram 19 at Batthány tér and take it for 10 minutes or so to Gellért tér.

For stunning views of Buda (from Pest), get on Tram 2 at the Parliament building and take it 15 minutes or so to Fővám tér at the foot of Szabadság híd.

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