9 best towns and villages around Lake Balaton

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What we talk about in this article

Prepare for a relaxing journey as we navigate through the most charming villages around Lake Balaton. This article will serve as a guide, revealing the best places to visit, stay, and experience around Hungary’s Lake Balaton. From rustic landscapes to lively festivals, each of these towns adds to the holiday feeling you get when visiting Lake Balaton. So let’s dive into exploring the best towns and villages around Lake Balaton.

A few interesting facts about Lake Balaton

  • Lake Balaton, fondly known as the Hungarian Sea, is the largest lake in Central Europe, stretching over an impressive 231 kilometers in shoreline length. Its shimmering waters dance under the sunlight, creating a spectacle that has lured travelers since time immemorial.
  • Despite its vast size, Balaton is surprisingly shallow, averaging only about 3 meters in depth. This unique attribute makes it the perfect place for a relaxing swim, even for those not proficient in the sport.
  • It’s also a wine lover’s paradise. The volcanic soil and favorable climate around the lake create exquisite conditions for vineyards, producing some of Hungary’s most celebrated wines.
  • Lake Balaton is home to Tihany, a tiny peninsula with a spectacular 11th-century Benedictine Abbey. Standing on the hilltop, the abbey offers a panoramic view of the lake that is nothing short of breathtaking.
  • Remarkably, the lake freezes over in winter, transforming into a vast ice rink. Amidst the frosty air and the laughter of ice skaters, Balaton exudes a charm that is starkly different yet equally captivating as summer.

Best places to visit around Lake Balaton

Now that we’ve soaked in the unique allure and fascinating facts about Lake Balaton, it’s time to discover the villages. Let’s find out why they call Lake Balaton a jewel in Hungary’s crown.

Siofok: The Heartbeat of Lake Balaton

Siofok, often dubbed as the ‘capital of Balaton,’ is a vibrant city pulsating with life and energy. This bustling lakeside hub is renowned for its golden beaches, sparkling nightlife, and magnificent architectural marvels, offering an eclectic mix of fun and relaxation. The Water Tower, an emblematic symbol of Siofok, stands as a testament to its rich architectural legacy. Fun fact: Siofok is called the ‘Party Capital’ of Hungary due to its thriving disco and bar scene!

Fun Things to Do in Siofok

  • Take a thrilling ride on the Balaton Bob Leisure Park’s bobsled track.
  • Bask in the sun on the shimmering golden sand of the Aranypart beach.
  • Visit the iconic Water Tower and delight in the panoramic city view.
  • Savour exquisite Hungarian cuisine at a local eatery.
  • Dance the night away at one of the city’s vibrant nightclubs.

Location and Transportation

Siofok is located on the southern shores of Lake Balaton. The city offers excellent public transportation with a well-connected network of trains and buses from all major Hungarian cities. With its modern marina, Siofok also serves as an important gateway for nautical tourism on the lake.

Siofok water tower
Siofok water tower
Siofok giant ferris wheel
Siofok giant ferris wheel

Tihany: Royal Jewel of Lake Balaton

Tucked away on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, Tihany is a picturesque peninsula steeped in history and natural beauty. Known for its Baroque Abbey, lavender fields, and breathtaking views of the lake, this charming village is a haven for those seeking tranquillity and cultural exploration. Fun fact: Tihany echoes with the sound of constant bell tolling thanks to a local legend, which says that the mysterious bell ringing is the ghost of King Andrew’s wife, expressing her eternal love!

Fun Things to Do in Tihany

  • Pay a visit to the historic Tihany Abbey and its museum.
  • Stroll through the aromatic lavender fields.
  • Sample local fare at a traditional Hungarian restaurant.
  • Explore the Tihany Echo, where the unique geology creates a natural echo.
  • Wander around the charming Folklore House showcasing local crafts.
Aerial skyline view of the famous Benedictine Monastery of Tihany (Tihany Abbey)
Aerial skyline view of the famous Benedictine Monastery of Tihany (Tihany Abbey)

Location and Transportation

Located approximately 120 km southwest of Budapest, Tihany is easily accessible by train or bus from the Hungarian capital. For those already at Lake Balaton, a ferry service runs from Szántód to Tihany, offering a scenic trip across the lake. Public transportation in Tihany itself is reliable, with regular buses connecting different parts of the peninsula.

Tihany inner lake
Tihany inner lake
9 best towns and villages around Lake Balaton
Typical local eatery in Tihany

Balatonfüred: Beach amusement and summer getaway

Balatonfüred, a charming town nestled on the shores of Lake Balaton, is known as the ‘Capital of the Hungarian Summer.’ Renowned for its healing mineral springs, historic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Balatonfüred is a mix of health, heritage, and celebration. It’s also the oldest wine-making region in Balaton, producing excellent whites that are as refreshing as a summer breeze. Fun fact: Balatonfüred hosts the Anna Ball, a traditional summer event that attracts national celebrities and has been held every year since 1825!

Fun Things to Do in Balatonfüred

  • Take a dip in the healing mineral waters.
  • Enjoy a boat tour around Lake Balaton.
  • Immerse yourself in the local wine culture at a vineyard.
  • Attend the prestigious Anna Ball if you’re visiting in summer.

Location and Transportation

Balatonfüred is situated on the north shore of Lake Balaton, about 130 km southwest of Budapest. The town is well-connected to Budapest and other major cities via train and bus. Within Balatonfüred, you’ll find an efficient local bus service, and bikes are available for hire, making it easy to explore this enchanting town.

9 best towns and villages around Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton beach and flower garden at Balatonfured
Old steamship in Balaton
Old steamship in Balaton

Keszthely: The Cultural Gem of Lake Balaton

Keszthely, gracefully perched at the western end of Lake Balaton, is a cultural treasure trove. Infused with a rich history, it boasts grand Baroque architecture, echoing the city’s erstwhile grandeur. The town is particularly renowned for the Festetics Palace, its monumental Baroque castle that is Hungary’s third largest. Fun fact: Keszthely is home to Europe’s first agricultural museum, a testament to its longstanding agricultural tradition.

Things to Do in Keszthely

  • Visit the splendid Festetics Palace and its adjoining garden.
  • Explore Europe’s first agricultural museum.
  • Wander through the charming streets of the Old Town.
  • Enjoy a relaxing day at the town’s beach.
  • Visit the Balaton Museum for a deep dive into the lake’s history.

Location and Transportation

Keszthely is situated at the westernmost tip of Lake Balaton. The town is conveniently connected to Budapest, and other cities, by regular train services. Within Keszthely, public transport is reliable, and the town is pedestrian-friendly, making it easy to navigate and explore.

Keszthely Festetics castle
Keszthely Festetics castle
Festetics Palace in Keszthely, view from the air
Festetics Palace in Keszthely, view from the air
Festetics Palace and gardens in Keszthely
Festetics Palace and gardens in Keszthely

Badacsony: A Slice of Wine Heaven

Perched on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, Badacsony is a paradise for wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. This picturesque town is renowned for its unique volcanic wines and lush vineyards that beautifully drape the hillsides. In Badacsony, every sip tells a story, every view mesmerizes. A fun fact: Badacsony is the home of Hungary’s oldest classified wine region.

Things to Do in Badacsony

  • Indulge your taste buds in a wine tasting tour at a local vineyard.
  • Explore the basalt rock formations at Badcsony.
  • Visit the ‘House of Volcanoes’ museum for an intriguing geological journey.
  • Enjoy a scenic walk along the Badacsony Wine Region.
  • Sample delectable local cuisine at a cozy lakeside restaurant.

Location and Transportation

Badacsony is located on the north shore of Lake Balaton, approximately 190 km from Budapest. The town is conveniently accessible by train and bus services from Budapest and other major cities. Badacsony itself is walkable and offers local bus services, making it easy to explore this wine wonderland.

Natural basalt columns in a volcanic hill
Natural basalt columns in a volcanic hill
Badacsony Vineyard
Badacsony Vineyard
Badacsony wine area
Badacsony wine area

Hévíz: A Soothing Thermal Retreat

Hévíz, a spa village nestled a few kilometres from the western shore of Lake Balaton, is a sanctuary for wellness and relaxation. Renowned for its thermal lake – the largest of its kind in the world, this charming town offers healing waters and a tranquil ambiance. The lake’s water springs from a geothermal source and stays warm year-round, a phenomenon that has made Hévíz famous.

People flock to the area in order to spend a weekend or more in one of the famous spa hotels in Héviz.

Fun fact: When the surroundings are frozen over in winter, a unique sight awaits – a steamy thermal lake surrounded by a blanket of snow!

Relaxing things to Do in Hévíz

  • Immerse yourself in the therapeutic waters of the Thermal Lake.
  • Stroll around the picturesque town center, lined with quaint shops and cafes.
  • Explore the Church of the Holy Spirit, a modern architectural marvel.
  • Visit the Palace of Festetics for a glimpse into the charm of the 18th century.
  • Delight in a traditional Hungarian meal at a local restaurant.

Location and Transportation

Hévíz sits comfortably on the western shore of Lake Balaton, roughly 193 km from Budapest. The town is accessible by direct bus services from Budapest and other major cities. Hévíz itself is compact and walkable, and local bus services are available for those looking to venture further afield.

Heviz thermal baths entrance
Heviz thermal baths entrance
Heviz thermal baths aireal view
Heviz thermal baths aireal view

Balatonlelle: A Vibrant Lakeside Retreat in Hungary

Balatonlelle, a lively resort town on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, offers an enticing mix of relaxed beach life, adventurous water activities, and rich cultural experiences. Known for its two-kilometer-long sandy beach and the iconic Napfény Beach, Balatonlelle guarantees a summer full of fun and sunshine. Did you know? Balatonlelle is home to the famous Lelle Wine Festival, drawing wine enthusiasts from around the globe.

Fun Things to Do in Balatonlelle

  • Unwind on the sun-soaked sandy beaches of Lake Balaton.
  • Engage in water activities at the Napfény Beach.
  • Visit the local vineyards and partake in wine tasting.
  • Go and check out Balatonlelle harbour.
  • Attend the vibrant Lelle Wine Festival.

Location and Transportation

Balatonlelle sits on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, approximately 140 km from Budapest. The town is well connected with Budapest and other major Hungarian cities by direct trains and buses. Within Balatonlelle, the local bus routes make it convenient to travel for longer distances.

Balatonlelle harbour
Balatonlelle harbour
Cozy restaurant at Balatonlelle
Cozy restaurant at Balatonlelle

Fonyód: A Scenic Paradise on Lake Balaton, Hungary

Fonyód, perched on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, is a serene escape for nature lovers and culture enthusiasts alike. This picturesque town is famed for its lush hills, stunning panorama of the lake, and charming flea markets. Its natural beauty is enhanced by the presence of Fonyód hills, offering breathtaking views of the entire region. A slice of trivia? Fonyód hosts the largest flea market in Central Europe!

Things to Do in Fonyód

  • Indulge in panoramic vistas from the Fonyód lookout point.
  • Hunt for unique finds at Fonyód’s massive flea market.
  • Enjoy the tranquility of the local beaches.
  • Explore the Fonyód Dog Beach with your furry friend.
  • Visit the quaint Fonyód Historical Railway Station.

Location and Transportation

Fonyód is situated approximately 160 km from Budapest on the southern shore of Lake Balaton. The town enjoys excellent connectivity with Budapest and other major Hungarian cities via direct train and bus services. For local commuting within Fonyód, public transportation, including buses and taxis, are readily available.

View of Tihany peninsula from th air
View of Tihany peninsula from th air

Balatonboglár: Hungary's Lakeside Gem

Balatonboglár is a captivating town that sparkles on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, Hungary’s largest lake. This charming lakeside gem offers a perfect mix of natural beauty, cultural richness, and vibrant vineyards, making it a must-visit destination for both nature enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs. A quirky fact about Balatonboglár is that it is home to the ‘Gömbkilátó’, a spherical lookout tower that offers unrivaled views of the lake and its surroundings.

Fun Things to Do in Balatonboglár

  • Ascend the quirky Gömbkilátó for panoramic views.
  • Explore the town’s vibrant vineyards and sample local wines.
  • Visit the Balatonboglár Adventure Park for outdoor fun.
  • Enjoy a day at the tranquil local beaches.
  • Dive into history at the town’s local history museum.

Location and Transportation

Balatonboglár is found approximately 140 km from Budapest on the southern shore of Lake Balaton. Direct train and bus links connect Balatonboglár with Budapest and other major cities in Hungary. Public buses and taxis are readily available for local transportation within the town.

Lookout tower in Balatonboglar.
Lookout tower in Balatonboglar.

So, where should you go?

Every village around Lake Balaton holds a unique allure, each promising different experiences. The rustic charm of Paloznak, the serene tranquility of Ábrahámhegy, and the many other beautiful villages, make the decision challenging. It’s like being a kid in a candy store – every option has its advantages, and choosing just one feels like an big task!

So, these are a few tips to help you choose.

Importance of sunsets

The allure of Lake Balaton’s sunsets played a pivotal role in choosing our base for exploring the area. Yes, the sunsets are that good! The southern side of the lake, particularly in Siofok and the surrounding villages, offers the most breathtaking views. However, if you prefer the enchantment of sunrise, the opposite side of Lake Balaton might be more to your liking. Regardless of your preference, witnessing the beauty of these romantic sunsets is an experience not to be missed.

Things to do

Consider your preferences when selecting your destination. If wine tasting is at the top of your list, choose Badacsony where wine is cherished daily. But if you rather enjoy water activities with your kids, Balatonfured is a great option. For those in search of nature and tranquility, the picturesque villages of Tihany and Csopak are ideal choices. In any case, no matter where you stay on Lake Balaton, there are plenty of things to do for every type of traveler.

Discover the various activities you can enjoy in the region by reading our comprehensive guide: best things to do at Lake Balaton.

Accommodation type

Each village around Lake Balaton attracts a distinct crowd and offers unique accommodation styles in sync with its vibe.

For instance, Balatonfured, with its family-friendly atmosphere, is a haven for families. Its extensive campsites and holiday parks, equipped with amenities keeping both kids and adults entertained, make an ideal base for a family holiday.

On the other hand, couples seeking a romantic getaway often find themselves drawn to the charming Tihany. Here you will find quaint bed & breakfasts and boutique hotels nestled amidst the village’s romantic surroundings, offering a serene and intimate setting.

Maybe, you want to stay in a smaller accommodation that has a designed feel to it. And you can find that at Balaton as well. Have a look at the most beautiful boutique hotels around Lake Balaton.

Hungary is famous for it’s thermal springs and thus, spa accommodation. Lake Balaton doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its offering of spa hotels. Have a look at the best wellness hotels around Lake Balaton.

So, whether you’re planning a family camping trip or a romantic weekend, Lake Balaton has something for everyone.

Conclusion: the best villages around Lake Balaton

Wrapping up, Lake Balaton is not only a natural beauty but also a hub of diverse experiences. The family-friendly Balatonfured, with its campsites, boutique hotels, and spa hotels, is a top choice for families looking for adventure and bonding time. The charming village of Tihany is a romantic’s paradise, with its quaint bed & breakfasts offering a serene and intimate setting.

Each village around Lake Balaton has its unique charm and allure, drawing a diverse crowd and making this region a versatile travel destination. Whether you’re exploring exciting outdoor activities or relishing the peace of a spa retreat, Lake Balaton’s villages hold a promise of great memories. It’s even a great day trip activity from the capital of Budapest.

So why wait? Start planning your journey today, and immerse yourself in the magic that is Lake Balaton.

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