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Tasty experiences at Lake Balaton


Hungarian classics, modern fusion delicacies, fish dishes and traditional beach snacks: you'll find them all if you go on a gastronomic journey of discovery on the shores of Hungary's largest lake. You can wash the tasty food down with the renowned Balaton wines.

In addition to discovering the Balaton’s beaches, sights and hiking trails, those who also want to explore the food this wonderful part of the country has to offer can gain new experiences. A host of experiences welcome hungry travellers with good taste, from waterfront fish fries to fine dining, and from lavender beer to Badacsony wines.

A gastro-revolution by the lake

While a few decades ago, most visitors identified Lake Balaton with classic beach food and classic Hungarian dishes in taverns, in recent years a real gastronomic revolution has taken place on the shores of the lake. More and more restaurants and bakeries have opened around the lake. They are offering modern, high-quality experiences, and their chefs and bakers are experimenting to transform and rethink traditional recipes. In the past, the Káli Basin was a favourite Balaton destination for gourmet travellers, but today you can find places that serve guests who are out for even more extreme taste experiences everywhere around the lake. True Balaton restaurateurs do their work with heart and soul and use local ingredients to prepare special dishes with great care. 

One fish dish, a hundred varieties

If you visit lakeshore villages then fish dishes, of which there is a great variety around Lake Balaton, are a must. Whether you’re chilling on the beach or out for a walk, going to a fish restaurant or ending the day with a hearty, traditional Balaton fish soup in the evening is a natural choice. There are so many villages and so many ways of cooking fish you wouldn’t be able to taste them all in a year! In the Fonyód “petyek” soup, for example, the fish is not pressed through a sieve and the thick soup is cooked slowly on an onion-tomato-paprika base. However, in Keszthely, the fish is pressed through the sieve, like in the classic recipe, while fish soup in Vonyarcvashegy is cooked in “Korhely” style, with sauerkraut and dill. And this is just the first course. You can taste at least the same variety of locally caught fried and breaded fish. But it is also worth exploring traditional Hungarian recipes. For example, a favourite Hungarian dish, Jókai bean soup, comes from Balatonfüred. The restaurants and the families in the area often cooked this rich bean soup, which was named after the famous Hungarian writer. You should also try the Bakony betyár goulash and the betyár stew.

Snacks on the beach

A beach holiday at Balaton is incomplete without some classic beach food. Lángos is a real Hungarian specialty: you can eat it with oil and garlic, sour cream, cheese, onions, meat toppings, or even with jam. Corn on the cob is also popular with beachgoers on a hot summer’s day. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can eat pancakes and waffles, or cool off with ice creams in a variety of flavours.

The landscape turns purple

While the lake is blue, purple is another colour that is typical of this landscape: a lot of lavender is grown around the lake. Tihany is famous for its lavender, but the aromatic and a stress-relieving flowers, as well as products make from them, are also abundant in Dörgicse, Kőröshegy, Monoszló and many other villages around Lake Balaton. Lavender isn’t only used for making perfumes but also for flavouring food and drinks: it can used to flavour honey, chocolate, lemonade, biscuits and muffins. But you will also find lavender flavoured craft beer, wine and even gin in the area. A real specialty is honey wine with lavender, made by fermenting honey. A glass of this is a great way to relax at the end of an active day.

Fiery wines and light sparkling wines

But it's not just lavender-flavoured wine that's worth tasting here. Hungary is a real wine superpower in Europe, and the Balaton area has six different wine regions: the wines from Badacsony, Balatonboglár, Balaton Uplands, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Nagy-Somló and Zala have different characters, but they are all equally tasty. Pour a glass of Badacsonyi kéknyelű, made from the ancient Hungarian grape variety, Somlói juhfark, also called the wine for wedding nights, the Welschriesling from Csopak, or the light white wines and sparkling wines of the Balatonboglár wine region.