Balaton - Hungary’s favourite summertime retreat! Lake Balaton – central Europe’s largest lake – offers 200km of shoreline, silky green water and a host of activities for young and old. Whether you’re after thrills and spills or gentle strolls, here you can enjoy life at your own pace. With volcanic hills and vineyards on the northern shore, friendly resorts to the south, and waterfront towns full of character all around, the beauty of Balaton is in its breathtaking diversity. The lake is perfect for family holidays, with safe beaches, shallow water and plenty to keep you entertained.
Head for one of the local spa towns and a warming wallow in the thermal waters of Hévíz or Zalakaros? There’s an embarrassment of riches for lovers of the great outdoors; take to the water for some sailing, windsurfing or fishing, or strike out into the national park for some horse-riding, cycling or birdwatching. And culture vultures can soak in the elegant ambience of Keszthely, visit Tihany’s abbey church or just settle at a pretty hillside restaurant for some fine food and a bottle of the region’s famous wine.
Not to be missed!!!
Balatonfured Wine Festival is held annually in mid August.
Open-air concerts and organ conerts in the Lutheran church during July and August
The Anna Ball
With an average depth of just two—three metres, the summertime water is warm as toast, and the gently sloping beaches of the southern shore represent a reassuringly safe playground.
This is a youngsters’ paradise. While the toddlers paddle and splash in the shallow water, the older children can shoot down waterslides, take to a pedalo, try their luck at fishing, join a game of volleyball or have a bash at wakeboarding, windsurfing or other watersports. Siófok is the liveliest spot. Away from the lake’s edge, water-babies might head for the massive aqua-park at Zalaegerszeg, complete with wave machines and a 300m-long artificial river, or for the more sedate pleasures to be enjoyed at the family-friendly spas of Zalakaros and Kehidakustány. At Tapolca, you can even go for a boat ride on a subterranean cave lake!
The varied landscape and bounteous wildlife provide a beautiful backdrop during a horse-riding tour or a day’s cycling. The Kápolnapuszta Reserve in the Balaton Uplands National Park is home to the traditional Hungarian buffalo. At Keszthely, the girls can wander around the Doll Museum while the boys revel in more bloodthirsty attractions at the Torture Museum. Alternatively, how about exploring the castles at Nagyvázsony, Sümeg or Szigliget, before watching displays of jousting and archery, and guzzling a medieval banquet?
Hungary is afloat on a rich reservoir of thermal water that breaks the surface through thousands of springs, and the Balaton region has more than its fair share of them. If you’re feeling stressed, have nagging aches or just fancy a lick of luxury to your bathing, this is the place to be. Furthermore, you don't need to come in summer – spa holidays can be taken all year round, and make a wonderfully different winter break. As well as enjoying a warming soak, you can also take advantage of a wide range of cheaply priced health and beauty treatments – from massages and mudpacks to physiotherapy and dental work. Put yourself in the hands of the qualified experts, and allow them to soothe your body and mind.
The spa town of Hévíz is nestled on the world’s second-largest thermal lake. The lake is open all year – the mineral-rich water rarely drops below 26ºC in temperature – and in winter you can wallow snugly as the steam rises from the surface. The thermal centres at Kehidakustány and Zalakaros are also open whatever the season, and are suitable for the whole family. Parents can indulge in treatments while the kids splash about in the ‘fun bath’. Zalakaros is recommended for the relief of arthritis thanks to a combination of medicinal baths and generations of expertise.
All these thermal complexes are well provided with spa hotels offering ‘wellness’ packages, and you’ll also find such hotels at Siófok, Balatonfüred, Bük and Tapolca – the latter perched above a deep cave whose humid air has long been known to alleviate asthma.
there’s plenty for the wine buff or the gourmand. Take a trawl through the atmospheric cellars that stud the volcanic hills of the northern shore and sample some wonderfully refreshing white wines, before choosing a hillside restaurant in which to indulge in freshly caught Balaton fish and breathtaking views. Those truly in the know time their visit to coincide with one of the region’s many colourful festivals, when you can get a taste of traditional music, dance, crafts – and yet more food and drink!