DECODED BY NATIVES
Local people call Lake Balaton, central Europe's largest fresh water lake, the Hungarian sea. The lake became Hungarians' number one vacation resort after the Trianon Treaty following World War I when large areas of Hungary including some seashore along the Adriatic sea were taken away.
All members of the family will find something to do at Lake Balaton whether it's bathing, sailing, horseriding, playing golf or wine tasting.
Once volcanic hills of the Badacsony reflect in the smooth water surface on the northern shore while on the south side of the lake you'll find sandy beaches between Balatonaliga and Balatongyörök perfect for bathing and sunbathing. The shallow water along the southern shore warms rather quickly during summer reaching around 26-28 °C.
In the evening the water feels warmer than the air and the last beams of the setting sun create a romantic, colourful setting to an evening dip in the velvety water.
In summer the major towns (Keszthely, Siófok, Zamárdi, Balatonboglár, Balatonfüred) around the lake come alive with colourful programs including a buzzing nightlife. Should you get bored by lieing on the sun or soaking in the silky water you surely will find a concert, a cooking festival or a sport event that will jazz you up.
Keszthely at the western crook of the lake has several attractions including the imposing Festetics castle with its 101 rooms and surrounded by a beautiful English park.
Siófok in the southern shore is the center of summer parties and concerts organised by the Coca Cola beach. Famous sand-covered beaches like the Aranypart (Golden Shore) and the Ezüstpart (Silver Shore) offer an unforgettable summer relaxation. A range of cultural sights and porgrams enetertain tourists not just during summer but during the less warmer seasons too.
Balatonfüred was a popular resort of many Hungarian writers and artists whose magnificent villas has been turned into museums (Jókai Villa, Blaha Lujza Villa). The town was declared a medical centre first in Hungary.
Patienst has been treated for centuries in the Hospital of Cardiology and the Sanatorioum and the mineral water of the town can ease digestive problem. Indulge in the breathtaking scenery during a walk along the flowery Tagore promenade. Balatonfüred is a centre of viticulture in the region it received the International Town of Grape and Wine in 1987.
Medieval ruins form the foundation of churhes in the villages around the lake. Old chapels stand very often among grapewines safeguarding their fragrant produce.
Fortresses built in the middle ages remind us of long gone times in Szigliget, Rezi, Tátika.
Once water mills were operating at the bank of fast flowing streams and the you can also see characteristics examples of fine folk architecture like white washed houses with porch.
You can explore the lake-side settlements on one of the best cycle paths in the country, with total length of approx. 200 km.
Whether you want to learn windsurfing, go for sailing, or just admiring the picturesque scenery at sunset from a boat you'l find an opportunity to do so at Lake Balaton.
More than 200 vehicles travel on the lake in the summer season including sightseeing boats or ships designed for night enetertainment with music.
Sightseeing flights depart from the airport between Zalakaros and Zalakomár so you can get a bird's eye view of the lake and its surroundings.
Hungary is one of those countries where you can still ride for pleasure at superb horse riding clubs and farms where you can learn the basics of horse riding form experienced trainers. The neighbourhood of lake Balaton is no exception numerous riding clubs offer riding lessons, organize summer camps and tours of varying length.
In winter when temperature falls well below zero for for many days the frozen lake attract ice skaters and a new winter sport craze, ice sailing is also becoming more and more popular.
Two National parks protect the national beauties and rarities: the Balaton Upland National park lies north of the lake.
The Kápolnapuszta buffalo reserve between Zalakomár and Keszthely gives home to a herd of 200 buffalos.
If you can't get enough of water and bathing indulge in one of the famous spa towns near Balaton.
The fine climate and the exquisite soil made the area around Lake Balaton one of the most significant pillars of Hungarian wine production with four wine regions.
Schedule your visit to the area in September-October where almost every settlment around the lake has a harvest festival where you can not only taste wines but sample some regional food and dance with the locals.
Fish and fish dishes dominate the cuisine in restaurants and inns around Lake Balaton. You must eat pike perch which is usually fried in oil or roasted. This tasty fish with its snow white meat has been a top delicacy here for many years. Fisherman's soup also a good choice if you want to have a taste of the region's gastronomy.
Other popular Hungarian dishes like goulash or paprika chicken are also offered in the lake-side eateries.
You can have quick snacks at every beach: though you'll usually have a choice of heavy, fatty meals: fried sausages with mustard and fresh, white bread, lángos a deep-fried dough flavoured with garlic and served with sour cream and cheese on top quench your hunger quickly.
Regions Nearby Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton More