THE LAKE BALATON. HUNGARY
Balaton is the name noting a wonderful lake in Hungary. It has spread out over the expanses of Pannonian plain at the foot of Bakon hill. It also represents a wonderful center of family rest, surfing, rowing, sailing, fishing, water skis and unique healing springs. Size of this lake is really amazing. Its width is 12 km, length - 78km. Its maximum depth reaches 11m, and its average depth is 3m. Its total area is 596 sq.km. Balaton is the biggest lake in Europe. Fine velvet sand covers the whole bed, which insures quick warming of the water. Huge water surface and Mediterranean climate in such a combination provide Balaton with warm water even in windy weather. Balaton is a favorite fishers’ place. Length of the lake bank is 197 km, and there are always a lot of holiday-makers on its coastline. A number of resorts are built on these shores: Keszthely, Balatonfoldvar, Siofok, Fonyod, Tihany, Badosony, Balatonfured. A 115-kilometer-long highway connects Balaton with Budapest and adjoins the auto-road encircling the lake.
First settlements nearby Balaton were established as early as in the times of the Iron Age, and ancient Romans would love to rest here. In the XVIII century rich aristocracy erected their mansions and refined resort zone close to mineral springs on the lakeside. However, in times of communism, namely during the period after World War II, this resort zone was closed for visitors.
Southern lakeside hosts hedonistic cities and beckon young generation of tourists from all over the world. Local hotels built in the style of 70s years of the XX century are chock-full in summer period. Shore of the reservoir is sandy and has smooth depth change which creates perfect conditions for swimming. From early music disco music will set the tempo for the whole day and won’t let anyone be bored.
The older generation prefers northern shore, hilly and graceful. It is comfortable, quiet and peaceful here which is exactly the right thing for rest after a noisy city and brainstorming work. Tidy small villages, like a raisin on the cake, adorn hilly countryside where the fatherland of famous balaton wine is located. Tihany peninsula is situated on the northern coastline and is a preserved area, namely national park of Hungary (having the territory of 12 sq. km). Old health resort Balatonfured is located here as well. It got its fame of cardiological sanatorium.
Every summer starting from the year 2000, “Valley of Arts” Festival is held on the northern bank of lake. A number of master hands gather for this event from all the corners of the country as well as from all over the world. At the very beginning, the festival had a character of a local event organized by a small group of painters located in Kapolcs. For 10 days the festival offers various cultural aspects: cinema, theater, music, literary soiree, exhibitions of art pieces. The festival starts in the middle of July and lasts till the beginning of August.
It will take you a day to go around Balaton lake by car making stops in picturesque places of the coastline. If you take a fast train, it will take only for hours to get from Budapest to the coastline cities.
Hungary is world-famous for its amazing wines and healing water. And no surprise, all these you will find on the shores of the most beautiful Hungarian lake.
Long time ago, millions years back, the sea was splashing on the territory of modern Balaton lake. Nowadays, most modern resorts are located here. In summer water is heated up to 22-28°С. Southern shore will be perfect for rest with family and children. Here you will find perfect conditions for swimming, especially those ones, who can’t swim, as the depth doesn’t exceed 1 m even at the distance of 200 -300 m from the bank.
Comfortable hotels, health resorts, holiday camps, situated in the most picturesque places of the coastline are hospitably expecting their guests. Summer nights here are full of interesting club and disco life and other entertainments. Restaurants, clubs, cafes, and other exciting places have spread along the coastline and form a stripe of 80 km. Concerts of various music styles are often organized in such cities as Siofok and Balatonfured.
Balatonfured is the oldest resort center situated on the shores of Balaton Lake. This resort is famous for healing carbonated springs whose water is used for drinking, medicinally and for taking bathes. The spring is located in the park center on the territory of cardiological sanatorium.
Heviz Lake is situated at the distance of 4 km from the city of Keszthely. Healing water of this lake is rich in mineral salts and the bottom is covered with silt having high content of radium. People come here to cure joints diseases, rheumatism, diseases of nervous system, and to restore metabolism. It seems that an invisible magnet attracts tourists to admire that water-lilies delight the eye from the beginning of May till November.
A number of mineral springs pulsing with healing mineral water are located near the city of Refulep. Local wine-makers assure that due to this particular water wine acquires a special bouquet. Not far from it, in Kasi valley, there is a spring well-known under the name of Kekkuti. This carbonated spring has wonderful healing properties. Spring Theodora is also famous in in these parts. This water has gained trust of many people and is often appears in restaurant menus of Balaton.
However, the most precious factor in not wonderful healing springs but local atmosphere. Here you have a great chance to have spiritual rehabilitation and absorb energy of nature having left noisy cities. The fact is that after having rest in Balaton people come back full of enery and zest for life.
Sights and Infrustructure
Keszthely is the most ancient city of Balaton coastline. It is situated in the western part. Local beaches are well-kept. The city is interesting with its cozy streets and fairy Festetich castle, constructed in Baroque style. Various concerts and conferences are often held in the town.
Badosony and Szigliget are wine places in Balaton where you can get by steamboat. From the quay you should climb along the winding path that has wine presses and cellars alongside.
Kis-Balaton – “Little Balaton” is one of the former bays of the majestic lake. Nowadays this is conservation area. This territory is absolutely unsuitable for beach rest. On the other hand, it will bring to devotees of virgin nature. There are lots of small islands, reeds – there paths are passed through only by fishers’ flat-bottomed boats.
Balatonlelle and Balatonboglar are summer villages, located close to each other. Here you can wonderfully spend your time, have a good rest of high quality and relax to the greatest extend. Residential area is formed by summer houses, villas, and resort hotel complexes and spread for 12 km. These villages saved their bays as well as their old appearance and family atmosphere.
Balatonfeldvar is a resort center decorated with a wide plane alley that starts from the bay and a park with ornamental bushes and trees. Fans of sailing prefer Galamb Sziget or so called “Pigeon Island”which is situated close to the resort zone. Balatonfeldvar is considered to be the pearl of southern Balaton’s shore due to its comfortable camping and wonderful beaches.
Siofok is the most popular resort of the southern coastline of Balaton lake. This resort is situated at the road junction of highway M7 which is the region of an important transport node. There are a lot of hotels, villas and summer houses, both cooperative and private, a number of beaches, international restaurants, Hungarian chards, confectioneries, cafes, disco, shops, and summer camp here.
Benedictine monastery and a church are the oldest constructions of ancient architecture in the neighborhood of Balaton. Crypt of this church survived till nowadays and saved its original outlook. There is an alley spreading from the church and opening a wonderful view too the lake and its neighborhood.
Belvedere Pahoy is located on the cliff edge. From this place you can admire wonderful landscape views to areas of Balaton lake. Neighboring mountain top hosts sigliget fortress built in the XIII century.
Human deeds accomplished generous natural gifts of this area, resulted in the most interesting cultural monuments that left wonderful historical traces. They saved their located and appearance till nowadays.
A number of various amusements are available for the tourists in the resort area of Balaton lake, including tour flights with viewing tops of dormant volcanoes, sailing in the moonlight, balls, tours and other interesting entertainments meeting any demands. Rowing, swimming and sailing contests are held annually on the lake.
On the coastline you will find lots of restaurants and cafes, taverns in the traditional Hungarian style where live gipsy music can be heard. Here you can enjoy traditional Hungarian cuisine: taste spicy Hungarian fish broth, noodles with cottage cheese, turosczus, halaszle, retes and incredibly delicious catfish and silver pike perch, and naturally taste local wines.
Enchanting variety attracts tourist to come here again and again. A small world that you can learn during a day offers you unbelievable impressions from surrounding nature, developed entertainments and local Hungarian hospitality. In fact, Balaton became famous as one of the best balneological resorts at the beginning of the century. Every Balaton resort is equipped with a tennis court and golf courses. There are riding schools in the neighboring cities.