The Balaton region is one of Hungary’s most popular destinations; where you can trek in the beautiful National Park, go hiking up the mountains and hills that offer outstanding panoramas, or where you can rest your weary body and soul at any of the numerous hotels. You can indulge in leisurely rejuvenation and relaxation, sail across the calm waters of the lake or take a tranquil cruise. Your children can splash away in the shallow, silky water or take part in more active recreational activities. You can try the fragrant wines of the region and enjoy tasty dishes that are renowned throughout Europe, whilst experiencing the friendly, local hospitality.Europe’s largest thermal water lake; a golf course with one of the most magnificent views and the first written historical memento of the Hungarian language held in an ancient abbey, can all be found in the Balaton region.
Considered the Hungarian inner sea, Lake Balaton is home to picturesque landscapes surrounded by ancient fortresses, underwater cave galleries, vineyards and historic towns. Here are 10 things to see and do here.
On the northern shores of Lake Balaton lies the marvelous town of Szigliget, host to one of the mightiest castles in Hungary. Built on the Várhegy hill, the Castle of Szigliget rises more than 242 meters and houses a medieval fortress built by the Benedictine order around the 13th century. The fort was attacked on many occasions. What is seen today are the ruins of the castle which protected the region from tartar invasions and Turkish occupations.
Szigligeti vár, Szigliget, Magyarország 71123, Hungary
Surrounding Lake Balaton, beautiful volcanic hills cover a fertile mineral ground that is the finest base for vineyards. Filled with patches of grape growing farms and meandering streams, fields of lavender and limestone, the entire landscape is simply idyllic. Badacsony is one of the richest regions that captures the viticulture of Hungary, and has been popular since Roman times.
Badacsony, Badacsonytomaj, Hungary
On the north shore of the dazzling Lake Balaton stands proud the oldest medieval town in the region. Tihany sits proud on the top of the peninsula that centers the entire panorama of the turquoise lake valley itself. The Baroque abbey – built on top of the old Medieval castle, and the original monastery founded by King Andrew I of Hungary – crowns it off. There are brick towers, a royal crypt, and hillside streets dressed in cobblestone – romance and history in one.
Tihanyi Bencés Apátság, Tihany, I. András tér 1, Hungary, +36 87 538 200
Romans came here to bathe more than 2,000 years ago. Since then it has been a hotspot for relaxation and mineral treatments in all of the Balkans and Central Europe. Scattered over the area of Lake Balaton, the wonderful springs number more than 1,000 and are famed for their medicinal powers. Héviz is one of the most popular and offers a whole range of different treatments and programs.
One of the world’s largest territorial abbeys, the Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey is a monastery complex settled on the top of hill dominating the entire landscape around it. Monks settled here around 996 having a central role in disseminating Christianity in Europe. Still active today, the monastery includes the Chapel of Our Lady, a dashing basilica, a baroque refectory and an impressive library dating from the 13th century.
Benediktinerkloster, Pannonhalma, Vár 1, Hungary, +36 96 570 100
When the Festetics Family moved to Hungary in the 18th century they settled in none other than a monumental Baroque palace surrounded by idyllic gardens covered in flowerbeds and fountains. Inspired by Frenchopulence, the palace numbers 34 rooms over two storeys. It includes neoclassical furniture, the country’s largest intact library, gold framed portraits and an entire regal assembly.
Helikon Castle, Keszthely, Kastély u. 1, Hungary, +36 83 314 194
Crystal waters mingle within the galleries of the lake caves of Balaton, at about 15 to 20 meters below the surface, forming an out-of-this-world cave system. Discovered around 1903, the cave has been open to the public since 1912. It includes more than three kilometers of passages, underground karst formations, narrow channels and countess chambers.
Tavas-Barlang – Grottenhöhle, Tapolca, Kisfaludy Sándor u. 3, Hungary,+36 87 412 579
The beginning of July is the time when the little town of Zamárdi transforms from a picturesque vacation attraction into one of the most hedonistic scenes for electronic sound in Europe. Combine a fairytale location, beach cocktail bars, hammocks, tents and a crowd of almost 100,000 revelers bursting with party moods and viola: Balaton Sound Festival is born.
Balaton Sound, Zamárdi, Hungary
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe and gets its waters from the Zala River. it is known for its shallow depth on the south and slightly deeper beds in the north. The 50-mile-long lake covers an area in the middle of Transdanubia known for its natural beauty and pristine depths. That means sports like sailing and windsurfing are at their finest here, so don the wet gear and give it a try.
To the southern shore of the lake stands the gracious Water Tower of Siofok, a 45-meter-high symbol of the largest city in the Balaton region. It captures a spectacular panorama of the surrounding area. Constructed around 1912 by the architects Gergely Jenő and Gut Árpád, the building has grandiose 360-degree views from the top, which are timeless.
Siofok Water Tower, Szabadság tér, Siófok, Hungary, +36 84310-117
“Very clean, huge room, bathroom and terrace. Very nice staff, plenty of parking space. Good airconditioning. ”