Lake Balaton Region, Hungary Attractions
Lake Balaton is a popular resort area. Known as the Hungarian Sea, it is the largest lake in Central Europe.
Lake Balaton is Central Europe's largest inland lake. Its lake side communities and resorts have made it an important tourist region in Hungary, particularly from June to August.
Héviz is a health resort town with natural thermal baths provided by the local spring, which funnels the water into the lake. The waters can be enjoyed year-round.
Balatonfüred is a spa resort town with healing waters that were discovered in the 1730's. Mansions and historic buildings line many of the streets, and the parks feature lime trees.
Siófok is a popular holiday destination with two beaches, numerous hotels and restaurants, and a cultural center on the town square. The local museum houses archeological discoveries and folk art.
After Balatonfüred and Keszthely, Balatonalmádi is the third largest holiday resort on the north bank. First mentioned in the records
in 1082, it was until the middle of the 19th C, just a tiny vine-growing village. As beach holidays became fashionable, however, the quiet life in Balatonalmádi came to an end, and since 1877 it has been a popular bathing resort. In the 1920s and 1930s it developed rapidly and soon spread up into the hills. The local red sandstone is the material used to build most of the villas and holiday homes.SightsThe railroad station and its immediate surroundings form the center of Balatonalmádi. From here the villa quarter extends north to the slopes of Mount Öreg (Öreg-hegy), while to the south lies one of the largest and most beautiful beaches to be found on the north bank. The twelve-story Hotel Aurora towers above all the other buildings in the town. In its grounds stands the Csárda Cockerel (Kakas csárda), decorated with Hungarian folk-art motifs.From the hotel a bridge leads over the main street into the park and to the hotel's private beach. Seventy years ago a park was laid out behind the beach, containing statues of Sándor Petofi, Lajos Kossuth and Ferenc II Rákóczi.
The Szigliget peninsula, 4km (21/2mi.) beyond Badacsonytördemic, was (like Tihany) originally surrounded by water. Anyone visiting the
village of Szigliget cannot fail to be captivated by its picturesque center and the beautiful thatched cottages which are now listed buildings. Fortunately, it is as yet unspoiled by tourists. The most impressive building on the village square (Fö tér) is the former Eszterházy Palace, a Classical 19th C edifice surrounded by parkland, which now provides working accommodation for Hungarian writers. Of the 13th C church of All Saints (Avasi templom) on the former ferry mooring in the east of the peninsula only the Romanesque basalt tower still stands; this is being converted from a square to an octagonal design. The climb up the 280m (920ft) high castle mound is worthwhile just for the magnificent view. At the top can be seen the remains of the 13th C castle which at times was owned by the king and was razed to the ground by imperial troops in the early 18th C.
The small town of Balatonföldvár (alt. 108m (355ft); pop. 2200) can look back on a long tradition as a bathing resort. Beautifully situated and criss-crossed with parks, this holiday center boasts a sizeable bathing beach and the largest marina on Lake Balaton. Remains of the ditch around the Iron Age earth fortifications (Földvár) - from which the town gets its name - can still be seen. Carbonated water bubbles forth from a fountain near the railroad station. In the harbor bay, between the breakwaters of the 246m (810ft) long mole, lies the little island of Galambsziget (Dove Island), a sun-worshippers' paradise.In the evenings people like to stroll along the mile-long promenade lined with plane trees. The promenade is named after the great Hungarian hydraulic engineer Jenö Kvassay.
The communities of Balatonlelle and Balatonboglár merged for a time to form that of Boglárlelle. However, in the early 1990s, they separated again to form two communities following a public referendum. The House of Culture (Muvelodési ház) at Kossuth Lajos utca 2 in Lelle, a former Classical manor house built in 1838, is renowned for the exhibitions of craft) and folk-art held there every summer. On August 20th (Constitution Day) the Antal Kapoli Prize is awarded to the best woodcarver. There is a fine view over the lake to be had from the 162m (530ft) high castle mound with its forest parkland which has been designated a nature reserve.
Some 20km (13mi.) southwest of Boglárlelle (approach by way of Lengyeltóti and turn right there), Buzsák has earned a reputation as a stronghold of folk-art and crafts in the Somogy region. Even today the ladies of the town still embroider blankets and rugs, cushions and costumes with colorful ethnic patterns or decorate them with appliqué flowers and leaves made from red material. In the Museum of Arts and Crafts their work can be admired and, of course, purchased. The old costumes are still worn in the village procession on the occasion of the traditional kermis or fair held on the second or third Sunday in August of each year.
Alsóörs is charmingly situated on a lakeside terrace, at the foot of Somló-hegy (200m (656ft), which is covered in forest. This little resort has moorings for boats and a sandy beach. The Reformed Church with a west tower dates originally from the 13th C, but underwent marked changes during a rebuilding program in the 18th C. A road known as Petofi köz - on which stands the "Turkish House" (Török ház), a 15th C Late Gothic manor house - leads up to Somló-hegy. The building gets its name from its rather unconventional turban-shaped chimney.
3km (2mi.) inland from Alsóörs lies the little village of Felsoörs, which so far has remained unspoiled by mass tourism. The church of St Mary Magdalene is a pretty Romanesque building in red sandstone which was later rebuilt in the Baroque style. The west tower and the richly decorated recessed doorway are original, dating from the 12th C, whereas the nave and west wall are 13th C. The interior decoration including the high altar, gallery and beautifully carved pulpit are in the Baroque style and were installed in the mid-18th C.
The second largest holiday town on the south bank stretches as far as the ancient settlement area at the foot of the extinct Fonyód volcano, the highest elevation on the south side with the two peaks of Sipos-hegy (207m (680ft)) and Vár-hegy (233m (765ft)). When the railroad line was built along the south bank in the 19th C, the town soon grew into a popular resort. Four holiday centers lie along the 8km (5mi) stretch along the bank from Fonyód - Sándortelep, Bélatelep, Fonyódliget and Alsó-Bélatelep.
In the autumn of 1937 the great Hungarian poet Attila József (1905-37) tragically committed suicide in the quiet holiday resort of Balatonszárszó. In the boarding-house at József Attila utca 7 where he spent his last days there is a museum in his memory.Balatonszárszó has numerous festivals throughout the summer months and a lake that is frequented by anglers.
The expressway 7 ends before it reaches Zamárdi, and Highway 7 then continues along the south bank. North of the railroad line there is a 10km (6mi.) stretch of holiday homes one after the other, and on the other side of the line lies the old village center. Visitors should visit the local museum at Fö utca 83, a typical arcaded house with a pergola, thatched roof and barn. One room and the kitchen are fitted out with country-style furniture and everyday items from days gone by.
From Buzsák it is worth making a detour to Somogyvár, 11km (7mi.) south of Lengyeltóti on the road to Kaposvár. The royal Benedictine monastery, the uncovered ruins of which are open to visitors, was built in 1091-95 on the site of a Bronze Age rampart.
Remains of a Roman villa have been uncovered on the edge of this little village. The old water-mill was in use from about 1800; today it is a museum.