As Hungary is a landlocked nation, Balaton is treated very much as the coast of the country – Hungarians spend their holidays here and it is becoming more popular with foreign tourists too. Due to the size of the Lake, there are plenty of towns and villages dotted along the shore, so whether you prefer lively or relaxed, there is somewhere to go and spend a few days. Often, it’s better to pick one of the main larger towns and use it as a base to visit lesser known locations.
Restaurants and cafes fill the pavements of the main towns, so getting a decent feed isn’t an issue. Pasta or Pizza are usually around 3 – 4 Euros in an average cafe, with soup from 1.5 Euros. On the street, fast food is widely available and better value than dining in.
From Budapest, there are buses to both Siofok and Keszthely multiple times each day, taking 1.5 hours and 3 hours respectively. Trains also leave on a daily basis from the capital, calling at both cities. They depart from Keleti station on the Pest side, and Deli station on the Buda side. Often, train is the more hassle free option. A direct journey to Siofok costs around €7, with Keszthely €12.
Located on the southern shore of Balaton, Siofok is a lively town with plenty to do. There is a huge beach, and many shops catering to the tourist crowd. In summer, it gets busy with holiday makers and has a lot of bars and clubs, with the best nightlife in the Balaton area. In the older part of the city, there are nice buildings and museums to visit, giving Siofok a balance against the tackier more modern districts. If your looking to sunbathe during the day and drink into the early hours, then Siofok would be the place to go. It is possible to stay and not do the bar thing – there are a couple of large parks and the lake front promenade to relax on, but in general if your looking for a quieter base, head to Keszthely.
On the northern shore of Balaton is Keszthely. The town itself is quite a slow paced affair, with much of the life around the main square. There is some nice architecture with elegant buildings dotted around the streets. The grandest building is the massive Festetics Mansion – formerly a Palace, which now has a museum and large grounds to wander around. Szigliget Fortress is hundreds of years old, and the ruins overlook the Lake.. giving good photo opportunities. Day trips include the Lake Cave at Tapolca, where you can paddle a boat around an underwater cave, and Heviz, 8km away. Heviz is a pretty town with a thermal lake full of supposed health benefiting minerals. Aside from the lake, there are a number of shops and cafes to pass the time in.
HUNGARY DESTINATION GUIDES :
RECENT BALKAN BLOGS
It was the first unplanned country on our route. After some days in Ukraine, Romania seemed a good idea to continue our travels…
DN67C road, in Romania, mostly known as Transalpina, connects Sebes in the north to Novaci in the south. It is 146 km long, crosses the Carpathian…