Taking a Ride on the Children’s Railway in Budapest

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A Railway Ran by Kids? The History of The Children’s Railway in Budapest

About four years ago, Devon read an article about Budapest and learned about a railway that was run entirely by children. Since then she has come to Europe quite a few times, but for some reason we never quite made it to Budapest together. This time around, we were determined not to miss it. Budapest is a gorgeous city, and it is very easy to spend a couple of days there just taking in the architecture and good food, but this time, we wanted to take the train.

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

The conductors will stamp your ticket and offer to sell souvenirs. They’re adorable!

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

The station manager clears the train for moving out.

The Children’s Railway was started in the 1940s as a Soviet project. In fact, there are other railroads run by children in other parts of Europe that had Soviet occupation, like Dresden for instance. Called the “Pioneer” Railway in the beginning, it was a way to start introducing kids to real world jobs, and of course it’s lasted because how fun is working on a train? According to one boy I talked to, he has been working on it for four years; he loves it.

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

All aboard!

From selling the tickets, to changing the tracks, waving the flags, herding the passengers, and even selling souvenirs, just about every job on the train is done by the students. Of course they are not allowed to drive the train, so the engineer not only drives but he oversees the children and teaches them all about locomotion.

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

Of course, you’ll want a small memento.

The day we went was on a weekend and it was rather busy. We decided a one-way trip would be enough, so we took the tram to the beginning of the route. On the platform were kids of all ages. There were a few older couples that were there without children, but an all adult party was the exception. Jim and Erika went in search of the tickets, while Devon and I waited on one of the shaded benches watching all the families out for the day with their kids.

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

The train is well suited for summer travel as the cars are open from about halfway up. The benches are all wooden, so rain wouldn’t bother them either. You could either stand or sit, it was up to you. We enjoyed the winding track through leafy woods, imagining life as a Pioneer Scout during the Soviet times as there were plenty of reminders in the shape of sculptures and signs.

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

It might be a job, but the children’s railway workers all seemed to love it!

At each station a young person would come out and flag the train into the station, then out again as it left. Most of the stops had things for families to do. There was a park, a ropes course, a picnic area, lots of things. Many families start in the morning and take their time doing the circuit. Kids go home with cotton candy still sticking to their lips or boiled corn stuck in between their teeth, but with huge smiles on their face.

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

 

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

Ready to depart.

We had huge smiles, too, as we watched how much the kids who worked there enjoyed their tasks. When we were done, we took the tram back down to the center of the city where we had much more to explore.

Getting there:

Take the 56, 56A, 59B, or 61 tram or the 61 bus to Hűvösvölgy stop then ride the children’s railway to Széchenyi-hegy, Gyermekvasút where you can take the 60 tram back into town.

Have you been to Budapest? Would you like to ride on the Children’s Railway?

Pin the Children’s Railway in Budapest for later!

Taking a Ride on the Children's Railway in Budapest

About the Author

Corinne Vail is a world traveler, writer, photographer, speaker, and teacher. Looking for the quirky and unusual as well as the best food around the world, she has traveled all her life. She’s lived in Turkey, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands and visited over 90 countries with her family. Learn more about Corinne and Reflections Enroute on the About page.

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30 Comments

  1. Well, you beat me to the children’s railway, Corinne. I’ve been in Budapest so many times, but wasn’t aware about the Children’s Railway. The fact that is run by kids makes it even more interesting to visit. Next time I’ll be in town I’ll make sure to check it out. Thanks for sharing this post. Very evocative pictures. The children seem to take their role very seriously.

  2. I’ve never heard of this but will definitely go when I visit Budapest. My kids would love it! I don’t think there’s anywhere like it in the UK so I think they’d be surprised that it was run by kids.

  3. I love train rides and this looks great. Very unique to have it run by kids. Hope to visit Buchapest one day so thanks for sharing.

  4. I have heard of this! I love the whole idea of it, and that travelers can share in it. What incredible lessons for those children.

    1. Amy, Yes, they took their jobs seriously and you could tell they loved it. They were very proud! I think it would be great to have programs like this everywhere.

  5. What a cool concept! I think this would be a great place to visit and just take everything in. I was not aware of this, so thanks for sharing!

    1. Melody, Devon is the one that discovered it, and she was captivated by the idea right away. We’re all glad that we finally got a chance to experience it. It was fun!

  6. That’s the coolest thing ever! I’ve never heard of this and would love to visit – in fact, I want to be a kid again so I can work on the train!

  7. Ha! Wow, that’s pretty wild. I’m a train geek, love to ride on them! If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, Sonoma, California, you’ll have to visit Train Town if you have kids 🙂

  8. This is so cute. An entire railway run by kids. I know that kids are always fascinated by trains and rail engines. I can vouch for it 🙂 But an entire railway run by the kids, that sounds really awsome.

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