Situated at the Heart of Hungary is Europe’s Largest Fresh Water Lake The Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton

The Lake Balaton is Hungary’s equivalent of or substitute of a coastline, it is what you would call an aqua playground plus a great escape to enjoy some of Europe’s best summer weather, it is frequently visited by German, Dutch, Austrian tourists and more recently due to the incredible activities and venues on offer the English are coming and being joined quickly by Russian, French, Italian and American tourists and tour companies who offer cycling round the lake on the superb 250klm Balaton Circuit, sailing, fishing, water skiing, wind surfing and spa adventures.

The lake is the largest fresh water lake in Europe fed mainly from the Zala river and the thermal waters of Heviz, it is almost 78klms in length and 15klms wide, the total area covers 600 sq Klms, now that is enormous and when you have a good view point it really does resemble the Hungarian Sea, and certainty big enough to cater for holiday makers with sun sea and sand in mind.  The average depth of the lake is only 3 meters and the temperature is around 26°C from May to October.

In the winter months the lake is used for ice skating, ice fishing, ice sailing and other icy sports!

South Shore of Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton southern coast is essentially made up of long beach resorts all the way from the east at Siófok to the west at Fonyód, its at these resorts you will find high rise hotels, spa and wellness centres offering scrumptious pampering activities, small and quaint guest houses and lots of sandy beaches, local craft & souvenir stalls, traditional fast local food and recreational facilities.  Siófok attracts mostly sun worshippers by day and night crawlers for the brilliant clubs which attract international DJs and superb annual promotions.  On a Wednesday and Sunday Fonyód transforms itself into one of the most spectacular market towns in the region, there are over 600 stalls which sell everything from antiques to puppies.  Not to be missed.

On the south shores of the Lake Balaton the water is very shallow, its extremely safe for children to play in as it does not get deeper than a couple of feet for at least 150 meters.  Entertainment for children is excellent along the resorts; there is always something for the kids to do whilst the adults bake in the sun.

The views from the south side to the north are extremely picturesque, especially the view from Fonyód to the hills and mountains of the volcanic region were vineyards and castles can be seen on the Balaton Uplands and Badacsony, it’s a view not to be missed.

Lake Balaton will not appeal to everyone’s tastes, especially those looking for waves, deep sea diving or extreme water sports, but once you watch its silky surface with its array of kaleidoscope colours and thermal waters entice you into its hypnotic spell its easy to fall in love with the waters as so many previous holiday makers and artists have over the centuries.

North Shore of Lake Balaton

The north shore of the Lake Balaton is much more refined and less brash than the southside, there are still the lovely coves of sandy beaches and fun and exiting resorts, more on offer is the picturesque towns of Keszthely, Badacsony and Balatonfured (which is known as the Hungarian Riviera), picturesque historical villages and the famous major wine region of Badacsony which offer tourists wine cellar tours and tasting which could keep you occupied for weeks.

The Hungarian Wine Society say the wine from the Badacsony Mountains is perfectly balanced and some of the best in Europe, due to the help of the Lake Balaton acting as a mirror for the sun which greatly increases the amount of sunlight, and the volcanic rock enriched soil makes this region just right for viniculture, even the Romans thought so as they were producing it right here over 2000 years ago.  The crumbling old castles are still dotted around to prove it.

Hotels on the North side are more exclusive to the mature traveller and offer heavenly wellness facilities and gastro experiences you will not forget.

Many daytrips can also be organised from the North shore to the extremely stunning peninsulaof Tihany which is very unique and almost cuts the lake in half, it is covered in lavender fields and some spectacular historical monuments and scenery.  It also offers the beach goers some of the deepest beaches of the Lake Balaton.

Heviz is just 10klms off the north west shore and was developed into the magic town of health for the wealthy, it is here where you will find the largest Thermal Lake in Europe and the most incredible 4 & 5 star wellness hotels and resorts to complement the experience.  It’s a very pleasing town with lots going on, fabulous shops, mouth watering restaurants and superb clean and pretty streets and architecture. Its Heviz that used to be the main attraction for the Hungarian aristocracy, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the Hungarians themselves began to visit the lake.

Holiday at the Lake Balaton

There are about 6 major and notable resorts around the Balaton, these are Keszthely, which is the capital of the Balaton, and were the site of the Festetics Palace is.  Siofok which is a huge resort for families and night life seekers, Balatonfured which is a historical bathing town and more suited to the more mature who like to rent a sailing yacht or play a game of golf in one of the 5 star resorts which include the Royal Balaton Gold Club and Zamardi which holds the annual Balaton Sound Festival which attracts 100’s of thousands of festival goers every year.  The Tihany Peninsula is one of the most historical regions of the Lake Balaton which should not be missed for a real taste of Hungarian culture and then the famous Badacsony with its spectacular volcanic mountain range and beautiful lakeside resort.

The height of the holiday and tourist season extends from June until around the end of August, although the summer weather does not usually go away until well into the end of September.  And due to the average temperature of the lake being around 25°C it makes bathing and swimming extremely popular.

The beaches of the Lake Balaton are extremely diverse, most of them have large grass areas to lounge about with rock breakers, then the bottom of the lake is made up of a healing silt sand which is very silky and soft.

Most beaches have step access to the water and others have very large patches of beautiful imported white sandy beaches which add to the feeling of really being at the seaside on a very calm day as the lake is almost motionless on some days, although there are a few little waves that roll in.

Cycling is a huge activity that is seen taking place around the lake, even in early spring and late autumn the cycling routes around the Balaton are still busy with groups of enthusiastic tour goers challenging themselves to do the 250klm trip of a lifetime, bicycle tourism is huge in Hungary and its not supprising when you experience the well maintained and spacious bicycle lanes.

In the winter the lake freezes over, and guess what, yes you can go ice skating on the biggest ice skating rink in Europe, it’s a spectacular sight seeing the lake covered in twirling and spinning youngsters, it makes you wish you had taken up ice skating when you where younger.  Tourists also come to ice sledge, ice sail and ice fish, it’s a busy lake all year round.

To find more about the History of Lake Balaton visit wiki

If you are looking for a house near to, or with views of the Lake Balaton, please ask for our ‘Balaton Database‘ where you will find many excellent properties for sale especially for lovers of the Lake Balaton. 

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