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A Guide to Lake Balaton

January 31st, 2022

 

Hungary may be landlocked, but it does claim to the largest lake in Europe: Lake Balaton! During the summer, Hungarians go in droves to Lake Balaton, the “Sea of ​​Hungary”. And since summer in Budapest can get HOT, we know you're dying to go as well!

There are multiple towns on the lake that you can choose from, and each of them has a bit of a different vibe. Whether you're looking for a peaceful getaway or a party paradise, here is your guide to Lake Balaton!

 

lake Balaton
 

How to Get There

If you're wondering how to get to Lake Balaton, it's pretty straightforward! There are daily, direct trains from Budapest Déli to Balatonfüred (the north side hub) and Siófok (the south side hub), with ongoing trains and transfers from there. The journey lasts between 1-2 hours. One way tickets start from ~ 7.50 €. Check the national railway site, MAV for detailed timetables and fares.

The lake is also serviced by buses departing from Népliget station. Check out the Volanbusz timetable and prices here.

If you prefer, you can always rent a car and take your time as you drive down yourself!

map of Lake Balaton

 

The North Shore 

Known to be the relatively quiet part of the lake where people go to appreciate its nature and wines.

Balatonfüred

sailboats on the lake

With hills to the north, it's soft climate has given it the name of the Balaton Riviera. One of the largest towns on Lake Balaton, it has a lot to offer. Balatonfüred can be both a serene lakeside getaway and the bustling party destination of the north shore - it all depends on what you're looking for.

If you're a history buff, there are plenty of monuments and restored mansions to help you learn more about the Balaton boom of the 1800s.

 

Tihany

a town on the lake

Step back in time to a village with thatched roof cottages and lavender everywhere (in the gin, in the desserts ... everywhere!). The town is perched on a peninsula, so of course there are gorgeous views of the whole of Lake Balaton.

Stay up on the hill in the quaint town or down by the water - it's about a 25 minute hike between the two - good exercise for all of the ice cream you'll be eating! Head to the public city beach - a small, well-kept waterfront, or for a private beach with an exclusive feel (and the prices to match) you can head to Plage 18.

 

Badacsony

Badacsony

Known as the “Tuscany of Hungary” Badacsony is the place to go to enjoy wine in Hungary’s peaceful lakeside hills. Badacsonytomaj is home to some of the best wine hotels in Hungary, and you won't be hard pressed to find a way to taste some of Hungary's finest wines.

A walk down the Roman road will wind you past various family-owned wineries and intimate wine bars, so that's your day sorted! If you feel like some pampering, hop over the town Héviz Spa - one of the oldest spas in Hungary, situated on a thermal lake!

 

Keszthely

Keszthely trees on the lake

You'll notice that Keszthely is one of the furthest lake destinations from Budapest, but that doesn't stop many Hungarians from filling its shores once summer hits.

With a large beach and an amicable downtown, Keszthely is one of the favorite destinations for families looking to beat the summer heat. Stroll down its expansive boardwalk and enjoy your summer on the shores of the lake!
 

South Shore

Known for its shallow water and its party destination status.

Siofok

ferris wheel by the water

There are several reasons why Siófok is such a well-beloved party destination at Lake Balaton. Firstly, it's incredibly accessible from Budapest, with multiple daily trains delivering you to the town in under 2 hours without much hassle. Secondly, the shore's shallow waters make it a favorite spot for splashing the day away.

And finally, the extensive boardwalk comes alive at night, packed to the brim with clubs and restaurants. You can take in the sun during the day and then party all night! Keep an eye out for concerts and other programs the town has as well!

 

Zamárdi

sailboats on Lake Balaton

Just a quick train ride south of Siófok lies Zamárdi - perhaps now famous for being the home of the Balaton Sound Festival, one of the biggest electronic festivals in Hungary. Zamárdi is just as ready to party as its northern neighbor, but it also has family friendly activities like the Zamárdi Adventure Park, to name one!

 

Just because Hungary doesn't have an ocean doesn't mean you can't splash around when summer in Budapest hits. Head on down to Lake Balaton for a refreshing summer getaway!

 

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