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A perfect summer afternoon: drinking a glass of wine with a view of the Balaton


Lake Balaton is always a beautiful sight, but it looks even better when the sailing boats are out in force. And if you want to indulge all your senses at the same time, make sure to enjoy it all with a cool, fragrant glass of Balaton wine.

Visiting Lake Balaton is a must in the summer, and its shoreline and surroundings are full of surprises every year. Lake Balaton, sparkling in marvellous blue, is an important venue for music festivals and wine festivals, as well as sporting events, Of which the Blue Ribbon Regatta is deservedly one of the most popular.

A festival of traditions

The blue riband was awarded to the vessel that crossed the Atlantic the fastest. Hungária Yacht Club transferred this age-old tradition to Hungary’s largest lake in 1934, the first time it announced the greatest round-the-lake regatta in Central Europe. It remains the most important regatta on Lake Balaton today. Following the spectacular regatta you can also discover the best wines the Balaton wine districts have to offer.


The Balaton Blue Ribbon is also a festival of traditions. It is always held on the July weekend closest to the full moon. The regatta is launched by a traditional cannon fired in Balatonfüred. The sailors then go to Balatonkenese, Siófok and Keszthely, before returning to Balatonfüred. The distance is 155 km as the crow flies, and has to be completed within 48 hours under wind power alone and without mooring. The finish line is marked in front of Balatonfüred marina. 

One wine region, six wine districts

Around Lake Balaton, there are six wine districts: Badacsony, Balatonboglár, Balaton Uplands, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Nagy-Somló and Zala. Together they make up a single wine region. The grape variety most characteristic of the region is Olaszrizling, but every wine district has its own specialty. Vineyards benefit from reflected sunlight from the lake and the right humidity levels thanks to their proximity to the water as well as from several types of nutritious soils that come from the area’s geological diversity.


The south shore of Lake Balaton is considered a favourite destination of beach enthusiasts, but the Balatonboglár wine district has great food and drink in store too. Traditional products from the region include light sparkling and semi-sparkling wines, mainly made from Chardonnay, Irsai Olivér, Királyleányka and Sárgamuskotály grapes. The Olaszrizling, Riesling, Szürkebarát and Furmint produced here are becoming more and more well known, as are the red varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. In Balatonboglár, it’s worth walking up to the Gömbkilátó lookout, as this is the best place to enjoy the view of Lake Balaton with a glass of wine.

Shades of intoxicating violet and cool blue

The atmosphere, scents, colours and tastes of the Balaton Uplands offer wonderful experiences. Make sure to check out geological curiosities like Kőtenger in Szentbékkálla and Hegyestű in Monoszló. Discover memorials that tell stories of the past, like the ruins of the Church of Our Lady in Alsódörgicse and the ruined Church of St Blaise in Szentantalfa, then enjoy the scents and delicacies of the Káli Basin. As an accompaniment, taste the most delicious local wines made with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Pinot Noir and Kékfrankos grapes.

From Badacsony to Balatonfüred

The Badacsony wine district stretches over another part of the Balaton Uplands. The volcanic butte is a traditional hiking destination: you can complete the Badacsony or Tűzgyűrű study trail, walk up to the Rose Rock, enjoy the view of Lake Balaton from the Kisfaludy lookout tower, or immerse yourself in artistic representations of colours and lights on the lake in the József Egry Memorial Museum. Hungarian-style dishes and Balaton fish delicacies taste best with a glass of the ever popular Badacsony wine, such as Tramini, Riesling or Kéknyelű.


The Balatonfüred-Csopak wine district is spread out along the slopes, valleys and basins of the hill range between Balatonfőkajár and Zánka. Its popular wines include Olaszrizling, Riesling, Rizlingszilváni and Tramini, as well as the less traditional Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. Red wines are also made here although in much smaller quantities. 


A glass of wine on a summer afternoon goes well with a stroll along Tagore Promenade or a wander through the centre of Balatonfüred, which evokes the early 1800s. It’s also worth visiting the Mór Jókai Memorial House and the cottage where Lujza Blaha used to live. In Csopak, you can chill on the beach and enjoy the lake, or if you feel more active, you can hike up to the lookout tower on Csákány-hegy. Zsombor Berecz, a Hungarian sailor who is a World and European champion as well as an Olympic silver medallist, would never miss out on the atmospheric little town of Csopak.

ZSOMBOR BERECZ ON CSOPAKYou won't have to wait too long till the turquoise waters of Lake Balaton are once again covered by a flock of white sails: on 14 July the 54th Blue Ribbon, Europe's oldest sailing competition, will start. If you want to see the start, head to Balatonfüred, the starting location, or Balatonkenese, where you will have the best view of the 556 starti
Zsombor Berecz on Csopak
Zsombor Berecz on the Balaton-uplands
Lajos Vereczkey on Erzsébet Square
Krisztián Lovassy on Etyek

Before having a glass of wine too many, make sure to visit Balatonakarattya and Balatonkenese. Here you can enjoy an unparalleled view, rest on the benches along the promenade, or even have a picnic. Farkas Litkey, thirteen-time winner of the Blue Ribbon, recommends the Soós-hegy lookout tower in Balatonkenese as the best vantage point from which to watch the regatta.

FARKAS LITKEY ON BALATONKENESESnow-white sails and the sparkling, light blue Balaton: the 54th Blue Ribbon Raiffeisen Grand Prix is coming! The competitors will stand at the starting line on 14 July, along the section between Balatonfüred and Zamárdi, and 556 boats will be waiting for the start of the most significant race in Hungarian sailing.
Farkas Litkey on Balatonkenese
Farkas Litkey on Lake Balaton and its surroundings
Zsófia Szabó on Gellért Hill
Dávid Sigér on the Nehru bank

A little further from Lake Balaton

The Nagy-Somló wine district, a little further from Lake Balaton, yields almost exclusively white wines. Its attractions include quaint little villages and historic monuments as well as delicious Olaszrizling, Juhfark and Tramini. Juhfark is also known as “the wine for wedding nights”. You won’t want to miss out on the castles of Somló and Sümeg either, or on tiny villages like Somlóvásárhely and Somlójenő.


Olaszrizling, Szürkebarát, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Zweigelt and Kékfrankos are the most popular varieties from the Zala wine district, which is also a bit further away from the lake. Between Lenti and Letenye, in addition to the delicious wines, beautiful nature awaits. You can feel at one with nature in the ancient beech forest of Vétyem, just outside Tormafölde, or on the narrow-gauge railway between Csömödér and Kistolmács. In Szécsisziget, the Andrássy-Szapáry Palace and the Kerka Watermill Museum have loads of curiosities in store, and the thermal bath in Lenti offers some well-deserved rest after a tiring walk.