Underneath the sprawling Deák tér, in a disused section of the European mainland’s oldest subway line, is the small Millenium Underground Museum, which pays tribute to the history of the M1 Földalatti.
We stopped by last week during the hour we had to spare between the boys’ late-morning snack (which we’ve taken to calling “second breakfast,” as J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits would say) and lunchtime.
We didn’t even need that much time. The museum, while absolutely worth the visit, isn’t big and doesn’t take long to peruse.
It consists primarily of three old subway cars from various points in the Underground’s history, posed along a section of the original track that was taken out of service in 1955 when the M2 line was built.
On the opposite wall are a number of displays that tell the story (in English, too!) of the history of public transportation in Budapest. Included in the display are neat old metro posters, fascinating historical photos and models of some of the original metro stations and subway cars.
And that’s about it. I’d give the museum about half an hour to peruse.
Whom is it for?
If you’re interested in Budapest history or in public transportation, this is for you. And if you’re into both, like we are, even better! In the display cases are some neat architectural drawings of the plans for the Millenium Underground line, which was built just barely below the surface of Andrássy Avenue.
It’s a perfect option for families looking for a low-stakes shot of culture. It doesn’t require a hefty entrance fee; it doesn’t require oodles of patience and silence from the littles.
Hours and fees
The entrance fee for adults was 350 forint when we visited in March 2017. Our kids, all of whom are under 6, got in for free. We could have paid an extra 150 forint for a special photo/video ticket, allowing us to take selfies with some of the mannequins posed in the oldest train car. We’re not the selfie type, though, so we passed.
You can buy unique transportation souvenirs here. Leaning against the wall next to the ticket window are a handful of official BKK metro maps, tram signs and posters that, for one reason or another, are no longer being used. We bought a great BKK transportation map of the downtown core and a cool bus sign that features the route of the 168E bus from Örs vezér tere, which is the stop I get off at to go to school. For both signs, we paid 1850 forint (roughly $6.25). A number of other items also are for sale, such as polo shirts, keychains and postcards.
Is it stroller friendly?
It is, with the caveat that the museum is underground. To get there, you’ll have to bump your stroller down one flight of stairs from the surface.
Is there food nearby?
Yes, both under- and above-ground. Deák tér is a happening place, popular among tourists and locals alike. Food abounds.
Are there restrooms available?
Yes, in the square above.
What to bring
The museum doesn’t take credit cards, so bring forint.
And if you want to buy one of the metro signs or some of the other transportation-related goodies for sale at the ticket counter, bring a bag.
In Budapest, all roads lead to Deák tér. Well, that’s not exactly true, but it is the only station in the city at which three metro lines ― the M1, M2 and M3 ― intersect. It’s also well-served by bus, trolley and tram lines. No matter where you are, it’s pretty easy to reach Deák tér.
The hardest part is locating the door to the museum itself. Once underground, look for the main BKK ticket window. If you arrive via one of the subway lines, go up as high as you can without breaching the surface, and you should find it. Enter the doors to the ticket area, and then go through the door at the left end.
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