IGotoWorld Special Project "Discover Europe." Hungary. Balaton and Heviz
Balaton and Heviz: paradise in Europe
Date of travel: September 26 – October 2, 2018
IGotoWorld team has visited Balaton in Hungary, and we cannot wait to share our travel memories with you. We really hope that our project will inspire you to visit the gem of Hungary – Lake Balaton as well as the largest thermal lake in Europe – Heviz.
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General information about the lakes
Average depth of Balaton
Balaton in length and width
Residence time in Balaton Lake
Maximum depth of Heviz
+24 °C... +34 °C
Water temperature in Heviz in winter and summer
Residence time in Heviz Lake
Attractions of Balaton
Within the 7 days of travelling, we visited the most exciting places in Balaton, including thermal Lake Heviz. This area is rich in natural monuments and architectural gems.
Lake Heviz: thermal pleasure
It is +10 °C outside. The sun came out, but it is still too cold for a swimsuit. It feels like the frost is nipping at your nose. Instinctively I'm afraid to lower my foot in the water. However, once it's done, the warmth embraces every cell and dark blue water lures me to sink into it completely.
Today it is +31 °C in the largest thermal lake in Europe – Heviz. This was our first point of the seven-day trip around Balaton. Incidentally, the ride by car from one lake to another takes just 12 minutes. The most useful and interesting information about Heviz see here:
We fell in love with Heviz. It's best to come here in the fall, when there are not too many tourists and not so hot. The city is small, it is possible to rent bicycles free of charge, visit the local market, to savor wine at one of the numerous restaurants on the hill of Egregy, see the Roman Ruins Garden and, of course, swim in Lake Heviz.
One of the brightest memories of the IGotoWorld team at Balaton is related to the city of Keszthely. Blue sky, floral arrangements on a green lawn, a vast variety of trees… among this beauty the snow-white Festetics Palace – a magnificent Baroque complex of the 18th century – was waiting for us.
Keszthely City is the highlight of Balaton. Plenty of museums, pedestrian streets with restaurants and shops, beautiful promenades and beaches – the city captivated us by its warmth and romance. We compiled these and other Balaton landmarks in one informative article.
In the very centre of the plain town of Tapolca, we go inside the most basic museum building. The guide asks us: what do you want to do first: have a boat ride through an underground lake or see exhibits? – Obviously a boat ride, how's that even a question? We go down the stairs to the cave, and indeed see a lake with clear water, and the promised boats on it.
Cave Lake in Tapolca
The system of underwater lakes in the town of Tapolca spreads to a total of 3 km. Of course, most of them are hard to reach, and only a small part of it is open for touring, but these 15 minutes of paddling, pushing from the walls with hands and bending down, almost to the bottom of the boat, because of very low passages – this is an incredibly fantastic tourist experience!
Volcano Valley and Szigliget Fortress
We climbed the steep stairs to get to the Szigliget Fortress. A strong wind rose that day as well. The payoff was an exciting panorama of the Volcano Valley on one side and the open spaces of Balaton on the other.
The Szigliget Fortress that dates back to the 13th century gave the name to the city in which it is located. Very colorful town. The streets leading to the castle are abundant in houses with thatched roofs and various decorations – from inscriptions on the walls to clay artworks. We were lucky because we happened to see the remains of the wine festival. By tradition, during this time the streets are decorated with large dolls that look something like scarecrows.
Lavender peninsula with a taste of pepper and romance
I close my eyes and recall myself on the terrace of a restaurant located on a hill that has risen 200 meters above sea level, next to the incredibly interesting and modern Tihany Abbey. On the table – delicious somlói galuska and coffee, around me – the sunset and the boundless Hungarian sea.
In the café on the Tihany Peninsula
The Tihany Peninsula is a love at first sight. Be sure to come here on your trip to Balaton, even if you are driving by. You will be greeted with lavender lawns, cozy cafes and restaurants, creative monks of the Tihany Abbey, paprika (which is essential in Hungary), beaches, romantic promenades, Tihany Echo, the best observation decks at Balaton and amusing gray cows.
Feeling bored at Balaton? It's impossible even if you don't leave the hotel! Just look at this list: spa relaxation, massages, water parks, water rides, biking, tank driving, rollercoasters, yachts and boats, water skiing and SUP, volcanic mountain climbing, golf, horseback riding, festivals, and night parties...
One of the most striking memoirs was the Fish Festival in Tapolca. The city center turned into a rainbow, live music was heard from everywhere, and visitors enjoyed fried fish with wine. Us riding a tank is a different story. By the way, we did not plan this entertainment. On the way to the Tihany Peninsula we saw the tank with a group of tourists, driving in the field. We also tried. Impressions for life! In the city of Balatonfured we tried SUP as well as riding a boat. For those who like water activities, Balaton is a real paradise. But this is just a small part of what you can do on the Hungarian sea!
Hundreds of kilometers of bikeways surrounded Balaton and presented to bike fans a lot of advantages: unique landscapes, health benefits, cost savings. As soon as the air warms up after the snowy winter, the Hungarians get their two-wheeled friend and go to Balaton. Many tourists follow them.
On the waterfront in Keszthely
At Balaton everybody wants to ride a bike. In fact, almost every city has a rental point. Many hotels offer bikes for rent, and in some cities, such as Hévíz, you can take a bike for free (though within the city), leaving a pledge. Cycle tracks pass near the water, there are plenty of recreation areas. Come here, enjoy the clean air and the sea views!
Around Balaton by bike
Fish world of Balaton
Whitespotted char, pike, asp, perch, sander, carp, catfish, ide, common nase, vimba bream, sichel, tench and even over a dozen other fish species of Balaton – there is definitely your record breaker among them. Doesn't matter where we go – fishermen are everywhere, and every each of them is quite a bragger! Here's some of the excellent fish we saw.
Fishing in Keszthely
Approaching the lake, the first thing that strikes is its size, the second – clean water, the third – fishermen. They are everywhere and fishing is really good. However for fishing on Balaton you need permits, there is a restriction on a certain fish in a certain season. On the lake industrial fishing is forbidden.
Fishing in Balaton: all you need to know
What to eat at Balaton
The locals recommended us to stop by the roadside café on our way to the Tihany Peninsula – that's where the most delicious fish of Balaton is cooked. This is a place without a designer interior or a panorama of the lake – only a simple room with a terrace. Paper plates. The line, however, won't end! We managed to try several types of fried fish and spicy fish soup. Yum!
Fried fish in the cafe Aszófői Halsütő
Undoubtedly, Balaton cuisine is not only about fish. Varieties of meat, goulash, paprika, garlic soup, wild duck, somlói galuska...
The Balaton coastline is 236 km long. Hard to believe but basically everywhere there are nice beaches and green lawns. Whichever place we visited, every city or village had a tidy beach. Some are sandy, some have green lawns, some have water rides, a lot of them have changing rooms and sunbathing spots. The water is turquoise, clean and incredibly warm in the summer.
We told in detail where to swim, how much it costs, and gave a lot of tips on relaxing by the water in the article about the best beaches and the most beautiful promenades of Balaton.
Best beaches and promenades of Balaton
Hotels and apartments in Balaton
A healthy sleep in a comfortable bed is a guarantee of a good rest. Combine it with a good breakfast and spa treatments, and you get the perfect start of the day. On our trip to Balaton, we got up at 6 in the morning and went to bed at 23:00. Even with such a busy schedule, the representatives of the hotel chain Hunguest Hotels have created an excellent atmosphere for recreation.
Hotel room in Bál Resort
I remember one day we had to leave the hotel in Tapolca at 7:00 because we had to shoot Balaton sunrise and visit another city on the coast. The breakfast was packed for us so we wouldn't be hungry. A similar situation occurred in the hotel in Hévíz, we arrived late, and the restaurant was already closed, so the dinner was brought into the room. Every time I think of our hotels on Balaton, only warm memories come to mind.
Choose a hotel
About Balaton hotels, apartments, hostels and campsites read next:
Where to stay at Balaton
Transport around Balaton
It would be impossible to visit so many cities and villages of Balaton for such a short period of time without a car. I remember looking for the spot that would have a view of the lake perfect for a photo, back then when we were given breakfast for the ride. Our Suzuki Vitara from the car rental company AVIS has become an indispensable aid to the journey. How sweet it is to travel by a car of the same year of manufacture as your trip!
AVIS – car rental in Hungary
Find out more
Of course, car rental is not the only way to travel around the cities of Balaton. We wrote about all possible options in the following articles.