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Balaton for Explorers - 5 days



Balaton
How long it takes?
5 days
Best vehicle choice for this plan:
bus
car
public transport
This region is famous for:
Castles, Forts, Palaces
Culture and monuments
Religious sites
Natural values
Balaton
Explorers
Day 1
Historical walks, museums, arboretum and thermal bath: five days is enough to get to know Lake Balaton and its surroundings in at a leisurely pace.
Sümeg Castle

The largest and most intact castle in Hungary, a popular tourist destination not only because of its sheer scale, but also its various events, activities and services. The path to the gate is up a steep slope, so we recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. The exhibitions on the castle’s history, together with the castle games and the exciting horse shows, give you an idea of what life was like in the fortress, which was built at the end of the 13th century. Every generation will find the castle chapel, the prison exhibition and the smithy interesting, and the visit to the castle will be like an interactive history lesson for children. Visit the medieval adventure park at the foot of the castle for even more fun.

Festetics Palace

The Baroque-style building in the centre of Keszthely is one of the most beautiful palaces in the country. Construction began in the 18th century, with the palace reaching its current size by the 1880s. Its colourful park is the most significant feat of landscaping in Central Europe, so be sure to take a walk either before or after visiting the inside of the building. The Helikon Palace Museum is an exhibition that gives visitors a picture of what life was like for aristocrats and the luxurious life of the Festetics family. The palace is home to the only intact aristocratic private library remaining in Hungary, which escaped the ravages of World War II in an astonishing turn of events worthy of the silver screen. Certain scenes of the movie Kincsem were also filmed in the palace.

 

Walk around Hévíz

The pleasantly warm thermal water of Lake Hévíz is unique and it has a well-earned reputation for aiding those suffering from rheumatic and musculoskeletal ailments. The promenade starting at the end of the pedestrianised street was named after Dr Vilmos Schulhof, a former doctor at the baths, and is flanked by sycamore trees and Lake Hévíz on one side and the beautiful buildings of the Szent András Rheumatism Hospital, which have stood here since the 1870s, on the other. As you walk around the lake, the road back to the entrance to the baths takes you by the Festetics Bath House and through a park where trees protect you from the hot sun.

 

Day 2
Walk around Veszprém

The Castle District in Veszprém towers above the medieval, crooked little streets of the town, with a profusion of museums, palaces, galleries and churches. The most important sights include the Fire Tower at the castle gate, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Dubniczay Palace and the Szent Michael Cathedral, as well as old and beautiful houses built in the 18th century. The Salesianum is located on Szentháromság tér in the recently renovated Bíró-Giczey House. It is definitely worth a visit for its halls decorated with Baroque wall paintings, a liturgical exhibition and a violin maker’s demonstration workshop. Stand between the statues of Saint Stephen and Blessed Gisela at the north peak of the castle to get a wonderful view of the town.

 

Church and Museum of the Benedictine Abbey of Tihany

The abbey, founded almost 1,000 years ago, is the world-famous symbol of the Tihany Peninsula. There are invaluable works of art made by famous artists in the church of the monastery founded by (Saint) Andrew I of Hungary, including wall paintings by Lajos Deák-Ébner, Károly Lotz and Bertalan Székely; the beautiful wooden statues and the wooden altars were made by Sebestyén Stulhoff. The founding king was buried in the undercroft, making this the only Hungarian royal burial place from the era of the Árpád Dynasty that is still intact.

 

A walk in Balatonfüred

Your visit to the centre of the town will take you back in time, with its Classicist buildings from the Reform Era, beautiful parks and cobblestoned streets. Almost every building here has a story tell and many of them have something to do with people who were stars of their time: actress Lujza Blaha and writer Mór Jókai, for example, both bought villas in Balatonfüred. After you have visited the Vaszary Villa, the Jókai Mór Memorial House and the Round Church, why not take a stroll on the Tagore Promenade and allow the many statues and plaques to tell you the history of the town? Lake Balaton’s best-known promenade is named after the famed Indian poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Many celebrities have followed the example of planting trees here set by the great artist. The latest sights added to the promenade are the Bodorka Visitor Centre and the beautifully renovated Vitorlás tér, with its statue of actor István Bujtor.

 

Day 3
Tapolca Lake Cave Visitor Centre

The Lake Cave was discovered in 1903 and since then it has been revealed that it is only a short section of a long cave system that sprawls beneath the town. Visitors to the centre first learn about caves in and around Tapolca in an interactive exhibition, and can then ride boats for 180 metres under the ground in crystal-clear water. You do not need strong muscles to row, as it can be steered by hand in most places as you go through the narrow passages. You can also take a short walk in the dry halls of the limestone cave. When you get to the surface, you should visit the nearby Malom Lake, which has a Mediterranean atmosphere to it.

 

Szigliget Castle

You have to climb a steep slope to get to one of the most beautiful castles in the Balaton Uplands, but the panorama from the top will certainly repay the effort. The 750-year-old fortress resisted all attempts at invasion by the Ottoman army, but was burnt down due to lightning and then destroyed by the Habsburgs. The renovation of the castle was completed in 2020: the stone wall is now taller and has more interactive elements, an exhibition and a covered space as well. The exhibitions are open all year round and show what the daily life of a medieval castle was like, from the smithy through the prison tower and the armoury.

 

Folly Arboretum and Winery

The arboretum in Badacsonyörs was founded by Dr Gyula Folly in the early 1900s. Today, a fourth generation of gardeners tend to the hundreds of established trees, whose huge canopies provide visitors with cool shade even in summer; the panoramic view is also beautiful. After a walk in the garden, go and taste local fruit syrups and wines. Winemaking, just like the cultivation of special plants, has been a tradition passed down from generation to generation in the Folly family. Folly Arboretum is an ideal place for a family outing, with its playground with wooden toys and a grill terrace as well.

 

Day 4
Zobori Adventure Park

The adventure park in Zalaszabar offers fun for all ages: the youngest members of the family can try the indoor slide house, the water playground and indoor play centre, while the others will enjoy the escape room, the 4DX cinema, the 3D Exojet simulator and the VR zone. With the help of state-of-the-art technology, you can experience what it is like to ride on the most famous rollercoasters in the world, fly a fighter jet or drive a racing car.

 

Gránit Thermal Bath

The recently renovated bath in Zalakaros has a 25,000 square-metre area of water and offers a number of wellness and healing services. Families will enjoy a great day in the slide park and the fun and wave pools in the thermal bath, while those who come here primarily to heal and relax will find what they’re looking for in the quiet thermal water pools and rest areas of the Healing Centre. The thermal bath is ideal for all generations: while grandparents enjoy the peace and quiet in the Healing Centre, the little ones can go wild in the fun pools in the two-storey Kids’ World.

 

Day 5
Sphere Lookout

The lookout tower on the top of Castle Hill in Balatonboglár is named after János Xantus. The building, formerly known as the Hungarian Atomium, was built as an attraction for the International Fair in the 1960s, and was then relocated to the place where it is today, without the original interior cover. The view from this aluminium sphere – which has a diameter of 15 metres and stands at a height of 165 metres – is amazing in any direction, but the monadnocks on the north shore are best viewed at sunset.

 

Balatonföldvár Naval History Visitor Centre

The interactive exhibition, which presents the history of shipping and sailing on Lake Balaton, is housed in an interesting boat-shaped building with a 25-metre tall ‘mast’, which serves as the tallest man-made lookout tower on Lake Balaton. The building complex was built on the high shore in Balatonföldvár 40 metres above water level, so if you climb up to the tower, you can look down on the surrounding landscape from a height of 70 metres. The Visitor Centre also has a cinema room, an event hall, a play centre and a playground.

Gastro Adventure Manor

The tourism centre in Balatonlelle-Rádpuszta lies 3 km from Lake Balaton, and is a favourite destination for those who like traditional Hungarian cuisine and active recreation. The thatched-roof restaurant of the 6.5-hectare estate, surrounded by the Rád Lakes, serves food, some of which is made in a brick oven. The wine history exhibition in the Cellar of Hungarian Wines gives you an overview of the oenology traditions of every wine region in Hungary. Rádpuszta is also well-known for its breathtaking horse shows, and its stables are open to visitors who want to test their knowledge, whether they are beginners or advanced riders.

 

During your visit

Wine
Olaszrizling – which translates literally as Italian Riesling – shares only its name with the famous Rhine Riesling. It is a dry white wine, found in every Hungarian wine region, but the finest examples of the variety grow in the vineyards of Csopak, and on Szent György Hill in the Badacsony wine region. You can taste the character of the terroir in its bitter almond aftertaste. It is used to make light wines fermented in the tank, which are a frequent ingredient used in spritzers, a popular drink (wine mixed with carbonated water) in Hungary, while the Olaszrizling fermented in barrels makes a full-bodied wine to accompany gastronomic dishes and is a premium product.
Gastronomy
Catfish paprikash, which is traditionally made from wels catfish, is listed on the menus of restaurants around Lake Balaton as a specialty. It is a dish you really must taste while you are at the lake. The boneless fish is traditionally served with noodles with sheep’s cottage cheese, sour cream and bacon (cottage cheese noodles) and fried, diced bacon, accompanied by full-bodied white wines.

Move around like a hungarian