Lake Balaton kató alpár
Photo: Daily News Hungary – Alpár Kató

People love it not only for its delicious wines and beautiful landscapes but also for the huge summer parties hosted in the nearby villages and cities and for the many opportunities to relax and have a good time there.

1/5 The flat sea

People usually call Lake Balaton the “Hungarian sea” since it is not only Hungary’s but also Central Europe’s biggest lake. However, its name probably derives from the Slavic word ‘blato’ which means marsh, mud, swamp.

Foreign names also affirm the above-mentioned linguistic theory: Plattensee (German) means flat lake while Lacus Pelso (Latin) means shallow lake – Bien reported.

2/5 Bikers banned 

Though today, anyone can cycle around the lake, in the 19th century, nobody saw a business opportunity in such activities. According to a decree issued in 1894 by the magistrate of Zala county, cycling became prohibited in Balatonfüred because bikers

caused too many accidents in the town.

Not only were the bikes taken from those who were caught cycling but they could also be sent to jail for 8 days. A newspaper from those days welcomed the decree and recommended it to the authorities of the other important bathing town near Lake Balaton, Siófok.

3/5 Chinese fish in Balaton

The flora and fauna of Lake Balaton are diverse and rich; there are many rare birds nesting in its reeds, and the lake is home to many fish and, for example, the Balaton sponge. But the fish in the water are not only indigenous species but also foreign ones. For example, there are Chinese herbivore carps and grass carps as well. But how did they get there?

No, it was not tourists who brought them into the lake. In fact, they get out time to time from the nearby fishponds and breed with indigenous species. Some of them, however, are harmful. For example, lately, the Chinese sleeper has been detected in the lake which was indigenous in the river Tisza but is dangerous because it aggressively spreads almost everywhere.

4/5 Permanent control

In Balaton, there are 1,800 cubic metres of water which is exchanged every second year due to natural processes. Though it sometimes happens in the crowded beaches that rubbish floats on the surface of the lake, but the

water quality of Balaton is still very good even in a European context. 

Since water quality is very important from a scientific and touristic point of view as well, the Hungarian Academy of Science has a separate institute for analysing the changes in the lake’s water quality, the Balaton Limnological Institute.

5/5 The legend of the lake

The bed of the lake was made by the winds of the latest ice age, but people living nearby created a lot of tales and fables about how the Balaton was born.

One of the most well-known of these contains

two giants, Balaton and his daughter, Haláp.

They had a very good relationship with the people, and even Haláp’s best friend was a young boy. However, when he grew up, he never wanted to meet the giant girl again, causing Haláp to become very sorrowful and die.

His father, Balaton, wanted to bury her but when he lifted a huge cliff, it smashed him to death. Furthermore, a fountain was created in the place of the cliff which filled the bed of the lake. People living nearby started to call the lake Balaton to remember him.


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