The Budapest Ferris wheel: A fun treat
A ride on Budapest’s Ferris wheel, the Budapest Eye, gives a great sense of the scale of this old city. Szent István Bazilika, just a few meters to the northeast of the wheel, looks like a behemoth as it rises above its neighbors. There really is no better way to get a sense of the height of Budapest than to ride the Budapest Eye during the summer.
Budapest, like many cities in Europe, is not tall: just six or seven stories is the norm. The big cities our family is most familiar with in North America — Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco — all feature skyscrapers of 250 meters or more. But the tallest buildings in Budapest are the Parliament Building and Szent István Bazilika, both of which top out at 96 meters.
I have to be honest: I do not like heights. My memories of childhood are peppered with strong memories of frighteningly high bridges from family vacations, the leaning-over feeling from the top of the Space Needle in Seattle and the time I refused to climb to the top of the state capitol building in sixth-grade.
But given my recent success with flying, I thought I was over my acrophobia, that it was merely a quirk of my childhood.
But as soon as the Budapest Eye started turning, my fear of heights returned. I actually looked over at Brittany and told her, “You might have to take all the pictures this time. I don’t know if I’m going to like this.”
Thankfully, as soon as I was used to the motion of the Ferris wheel, the fear went away, and I was able to enjoy the ride. Good thing, too, because its 65-meter height afforded gorgeous views of downtown Pest, the river beyond, and, if we squinted toward the setting sun, a few of the buildings high up on the Buda side, including the Buda Castle and Liberty Statue.
Here’s us going up for the first time:
Overall, the ride was quite enjoyable (even for me!), and as I said earlier, it afforded beautiful views of a beautiful city. From its location in Erzsébet tér, right in the heart of Pest, the Budapest Eye offers closeup looks at Andrássy street, Szent István Bazilika and Deák Ferenc tér. Visible in the distance are Castle Hill, the Parliament Building, Gellért Hill and even the Blue Danube itself.
Here we are on our fifth and final rotation, settling down gently (though not without rocking; it was a windy day) into Erzsébet tér:
For two adults and two children (our third child, who’s currently 1, got in for free), we paid the family rate of 6900 HUF (roughly $25 USD). A splurge by Budapest standards, but really not bad for a once-in-a-long-time experience. Definitely worth it. For individual adults, the cost is 2400 HUF (roughly $8.75); children are 1500 HUF each (roughly $5.50). The riding cars are helpfully enclosed, a comfort for parents with wee ones.
The Budapest Eye is open from 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday it stays open until 2 in the morning. Day or night, it’s a fun opportunity to get a new view of Budapest. We visited on a Sunday evening in late May, around 5 p.m., and there was no wait. The wheel has 42 cars, and only about 10 or 11 were occupied.
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