With ‘peaks’ rising up to 500m, a comprehensive system of trails and no lack of unusual conveyances to get you there and around, the Buda Hills are the city’s playground and a welcome respite from Pest's summer heat. If you’re planning to do some serious hiking, get Cartographia’s 1:25,000 A Budai-hegység map (No 6, 1590Ft). It's a popular destination for Budapest's mountain bikers, too.
With all the unusual transport options, getting to/from the hills is half the fun. From Széll Kálmán tér metro station on the M2 line in Buda, walk westward along Szilágyi Erzsébet fasor for 10 minutes (or take tram 56 or 61 for two stops) to the circular Hotel Budapest at II Szilágyi Erzsébet fasor 47. Directly opposite is the lower terminus of the Cog Railway. Built in 1874 and now designated tram 60, the Cog climbs for 3.7km in 14 minutes two to five times an hour to the upper terminus at Széchenyi-hegy (427m), one of the prettiest residential areas in Buda.
At Széchenyi-hegy you can stop for a picnic in the attractive park south of the old-time station or board the narrow-gauge Children’s Railway, two minutes to the south on Hegyhát út. The railway was built in 1951 by Pioneers (socialist Scouts) and is now staffed entirely by schoolchildren aged 10 to 14 (except for the engineer). The little train chugs along for 11km, through eight stops, terminating at Hűvösvölgy. Departure times vary widely, depending on the day, week and season; consult the website.
There are walks fanning out from any of the stops along the Children’s Railway line, or you can return to Széll Kálmán tér on tram 56 or 61 from Hűvösvölgy. Much more fun, however, is to get off at János-hegy, the fourth stop on the Children’s Railway and the highest point (527m) in the hills. About 700m to the east is the Chairlift, which will take you down to Zugligeti út. From here bus 291 will take you to Nyugati station via Margaret Bridge.