Planning to visit Lake Balaton in Hungary? It’s the largest lake in Central Europe, and a popular summer destination.
In this travel guide, you can read more about the towns along Lake Balaton, recommended hotels, restaurants, things to do as well as facts and more information about Balaton in Hungary.
Tihany is located on a peninsula in the northern part of Balaton. It’s a popular tourist town with beautiful promenades, old houses, and lush nature.
Tihany is also renowned for its lavender festival which is held every year in June. It’s a cozy town and my favorite place to stay for a relaxing vacation at Lake Balaton.
Hévíz is home to the largest thermal lake in the world. It has long been a famous spa center in Hungary, and the water is said to feature many health benefits. Héviz is located in the western part of Lake Balaton and I recommend everyone to visit at least once.
Siofok is the largest town in Balaton and is especially renowned for its vibrant nightlife during the summer months. Visitors can also enjoy a mix of sand and stone beaches for sunbathing and swimming.
Balatonfüred is the oldest tourist town in Balaton and has been a popular destination since the mid-1800s. The town is famous for its spa facilities and as a center for yachting enthusiasts.
In Balatonfüred, you can visit the oldest yacht club in Hungary, and try various watersports. It’s also a great place for swimming and sunbathing.
Keszthely is one of the larger cities in the region with over 20 000 residents. It’s an old city that has been inhabited since Roman times. It’s a major transport hub at Lake Balaton with several connections and roads that passes by the city.
It’s also a great base to stay if you plan to visit the thermal lake in Héviz on a day trip. This is also where the beautiful Festetics Palace is located, which is a fantastic example of a baroque palace.
Things to do in Lake Balaton + Attractions
- Festetics Palace in Keszthely
- Pannonhalma Archabbey (Monastery)
- Szigliget Fortress
- Heviz Spa facility
- Go wine tasting in one of the local vineyards
- Windsurfing and sailing
- Sunbathing and swimming
- The Water Tower in Siofok
Hotels in Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton camping
In total, there are 24 camping sites in the Balaton region. During the summer months, it’s recommended that you make reservations at camping sites in advance since many of them get fully booked.
Below are some of the best campings sites in Balaton:
- Camping Rosengarten
- H+R Mobilcamping Balatonsüd
- Badacsony Camping
- Camping Wellness Park
- Balaton Eldorado Camping
- Campingplatz Carina
More information about Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton is also known as the Hungarian Sea since Hungary is completely surrounded by other countries, without a coastline. That’s also why it’s a popular destination for locals to go on vacation during the summer.
However, Balaton is not only popular among Hungarians, and every year thousands of international tourists from Europe will travel here as well. Most of the tourism is related to the lake, but the surrounding vineyards and nature are also worth a mention.
Nearby, visitors can also swim in the largest thermal lake in the world, Héviz, which is renowned for its wellness and health benefits. The water is said to cure various ailments and improve the wellbeing of those who go for a swim.
It’s also a popular destination for campers and those who travel in an RTV, and there are several camping sites around the lake.
Other towns around Lake Balaton
Beaches by Lake Balaton
There are many beaches and places where you can swim in Lake Balaton. Most of them are grassy but some have artificial sand.
Several beaches in the area have received the blue flag status, and some of the most popular beaches by Lake Balaton are: Esterházy Strand, Helikon Strand, Nagystrand, Községi Strand, and Balatonföldvári Strand
Can you swim in Lake Balaton?
You can swim in Lake Balaton from May to October, and during the summer, you can expect pleasant water temperatures. During the winter, you can go ice skating.
How to get to Lake Balaton
The easiest way to travel to Lake Balaton is by car unless you’re already in Budapest. However, I always recommend renting a car instead of public transportation if you plan to visit several towns and attractions.
If you drive from Budapest to Lake Balaton, just follow the highway M7. It goes to the southern part of the lake, and there are several exits when you get closer depending on which side of the lake that you’ll be staying at.
There are daily buses from Népliget Station in Budapest to Balatonfüred. The travel time is circa 2-3 hours and a ticket cost 2735 forint. There are also buses from larger cities such as Veszprém and Székesfehérvár.
Another option is to take a train to Lake Balaton which stops at various towns along the lake. There are daily trains from Budapest, and between the towns, you can go by local trains.
Balaton Sound Festival
Balaton Sound Festival is one of the largest open-air festivals in Europe, and it’s held every summer in Zamardi at the southern part of Lake Balaton.
The Music Festival attracts some of the most famous DJ:s in the world, and last year, David Guetta, The Chainsmokers, and Eric Prydz were some of the main acts. Balaton Sound Festival lasts for 4 days.
Map of Balaton
Facts about Lake Balaton
- Nickname: The Hungarian Sea
- Area: 592 km²
- Length: 78 kilometer
- Width: 15 kilometer
- Depth: 12,5 meter
- Average depth: 3,2 meter
- Source: Zala
Fishing on Lake Balaton
There’s a long tradition of fishing at Lake Balaton, and despite a relatively low-depth, there is a variety of fishes in the lake. The Zander is perhaps the most famous catch along with eels, pike, carp, and catfish. If you want to go fishing here, you’ll need to obtain a fishing license, which you can get in angler shops or at campsites.
Flora and Fauna
Balaton is not only popular for those who want to swim and relax in the sun. The area surrounding the lake is also home to a rich flora and fauna. For example, there are almond trees, figs, pomegranates and vineyards that are scattered across the landscape.
Biologists estimate that there are some 800 species of butterflies living in the area. There’s also a harmless snake living here, better known as the Dice snake. Furthermore, there are over 250 species of birds, where herons, cormorants, and black storks are some of the most common birds.
Do you have more questions before you travel to Lake Balaton in Hungary? Leave a comment below!