Lake Balaton is by far the most popular domestic holiday destination for Hungarians. Dubbed the “Hungarian Sea”, it has much to offer not only to newcomers, but also to frequent visitors. From swimming in the cool waters and hiking in the nearby hills, to enjoying the unique culinary experience that the local gastronomy and the surrounding sweeping vineyards have to offer, Lake Balaton is a one-stop-shop for all your possible holiday needs.
However, it is important to keep in mind that Balaton is a relatively large body of water which differs in many places. While one cannot doubt that everyone has their own favourite spots for a variety of reason, there are arguably some cities and regions which have more to offer to the average tourist than others. Here at Daily News Hungary, we have collected the top 3 most well-known destinations you should check out before visiting the lake.
Siófok is a vibrant and popular tourist destination situated on the southern shore of Balaton. Known as the “capital” of the lake, it offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors.
One such attraction is, naturally, the beach. Siófok Beach stretches for several kilometers and offers facilities such as sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports rentals and beachside bars. It’s a perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming and enjoying the cooling waters.
Those who love outings at night shouldn’t worry either. Siófok is famous for its vibrant nightlife, attracting both locals and tourists. The Petőfi Promenade, also known as “Party Street,” is the hub of nightlife in Siófok, with numerous bars and clubs lined up along the waterfront.
For those who enjoy bathing, but are not a big fan of the waters of Balaton, we recommend to visit Galerius Wellness and Spa. Located located only a short hop from Siófok, it is a popular attraction for relaxation and rejuvenation. The complex offers thermal baths, indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms and a wide range of wellness treatments.
Last but not least, the city has some fascinating cultural and historical sites worth exploring as well. The Water Tower, built in the early 20th century, offers panoramic views of the town and the lake. The city’s centre features several charming churches, including the Holy Trinity Church and the Protestant Church.
Located on the northern shore of the lake, Tihany offers a unique window into the hidden opportunities and gems of Balaton.
Situated on a peninsula, it provides tourists with stunning panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding landscapes. The peninsula is a designated nature reserve, featuring picturesque hills, meadows and forests, perfect for nature lovers and hikers.
The Benedictine Abbey is one of Tihany’s main landmarks and a significant historical site. Founded in 1055, it is a beautifully preserved architectural gem, known for its distinctive, red-tiled roof, including Romanesque and Gothic elements. Visitors can explore the abbey’s interior, admire the tranquil courtyards and enjoy the serene beauty of the region.
Tihany is famous for its lavender cultivation, and the sight of vibrant purple fields is a treat for the eyes. During the blooming season, typically in June and July, visitors can stroll through the fragrant lavender fields, learn about lavender production and purchase lavender products and gifts.
Keszthely is a picturesque town located on the western shore of Lake Balaton. Known for its rich history and cultural heritage, Keszthely offers a range of attractions and activities for visitors.
The main highlight of Keszthely is by far the Festetics Palace, one of Hungary’s largest Baroque-style castles. This impressive mansion was the residence of the Festetics noble family. It features stunning architecture, lavish interiors and beautifully landscaped gardens. Today, the palace serves as a museum where visitors can explore its various rooms, including the library, chapel and exhibition halls, showcasing art, historical artifacts and antic furniture.
Furthermore, Keszthely boasts several beaches along the shores of Lake Balaton, offering excellent opportunities for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Some popular beaches in Keszthely include the Libás Beach and the Balaton Museum Beach.
Last but not least, Keszthely is home to the Marzipan Museum and Confectionery, a unique attraction that showcases intricate marzipan sculptures made by local artists. Visitors can admire the impressive artworks, learn about the history and techniques of marzipan-making and indulge in delicious marzipan treats.