The myriads of floating, white sails are very much part of the panorama of our favourite lake, just like marinas with millions of masts signalling the way to the beach are indispensible hubs of every lakeside town. While almost all Balaton towns have their own marinas, we decided to take a look at the more prominent harbours of bigger towns to compare them based on various criteria, which could be important for sailors and/or regular visitors. We haven’t forgotten that two brand new marinas are being constructed, so we included those as well.
Even though the centre of the sailing community is Balatonfüred, which has a total of nine marinas, the biggest marina of Balaton is located in the second most important sailing town, Balatonföldvár. If you look at the table below, you can see that the biggest marinas are located in the western basin – Fenyves Yacht Club, currently under construction, will have 350 berths, but even that’s not going to be a match for Földvár’s 363 spots. The most spacious marina in the eastern basin is Balatonfüred’s 300-berth Hajógyári Marina.
This information will come in handy for ship owners. Whichever marina you want to have your ship stored at, you should always sit down with the head of the establishment to hash out the details of the storage service and to find out what services are included in the annual fee. In general, every berth comes with water, electricity and a cable television hook-up, but certain marinas charge extra for air conditioning and Wi-Fi. Ask if winter storage is included in the price, and inquire about the conditions as well (i.e. whether the storage space is covered or open, guarded or unguarded). Make sure to find out if craning and ship cleaning at the beginning and end of the season are the marina’s responsibility, or if you should make arrangements yourself. You may feel like you’re being too fussy, but it’ll save you a lot of trouble if you clear things up in advance.
Storage fees usually depend on the size of the boat, and you should keep in mind that width is a crucial dimension for the berths, as it cannot be modified. This could be important for bigger boats because parking can be super difficult if you only have 10 cm on each side.
The marinas of BAHART tend to have uniform fees, and can accommodate a wide range of ship sizes, that is why the prices you can see below vary so much. Considering the dimensions of your boat, go through the price lists on the websites of the marinas to see what your options are.
If you don’t have your own ship, but you want to take a trip on the water, you’ll probably want to know the exact fee of staying overnight at a random marina. We’ve collected the relevant prices for your, but make sure to call the leader of your destination marina before you set out on your journey: find out if they have any free guest berths at all, so you won’t be stranded out in the open water when you arrive, and ask where the guest berths are located exactly. Upon arrival, check in at the harbour master, who’ll sort out the necessary paperwork as well.
Balaton has two networks of marinas: one of them is made up of marinas run by BAHART (Balaton Shipping Co.), including Siófok, Balatonföldvár and an additional nine marinas. If your ship is moored at any of these locations, you’ll get a sticker, making you eligible for taking advantage of the services at other BAHART marinas at a discount price. The other network is called Kikötőlánc (which translates to Marina Chain) and comprises six members, all of which offer the guests of the other marinas free nights during the season. If you like hiking and exploring Balaton towns with the help of a sailing boat, it’s worth giving this option a go.
Some marinas have guest berths of various sizes (for a range of fees) – enquiring in advance is a great idea, especially with bigger boats, to make sure that the berth reserved for you doesn’t end up being too small.
Cranes are available at all of the above-mentioned bigger marinas, but moving ships with a rented mobile crane is possible at any marina around the lake. For most ships, craning is only necessary twice a year, at the beginning and end of the season, but it might also be needed for cleaning the bilge, demasting and remasting, and performing various repair works. The basic tools for repairing a boat can be found at every marina, while some facilities even have a sail repair workshop (e.g. Hajógyári Marina, Kenese Marina Port) should you need it.
The water is about 2-2.5 metres deep at every one of the marinas we’ve mentioned so far, meaning that ships of average size and weight will have no problem sailing in and out. Drier and hotter summers or the opening of the Sió Channel can reduce the water’s depth, but the north shore is less of a problem because of the soft mud at the bottom of the lake. If you want to sail closer to the south shore with a boat that has a large draught, ask the locals whether it’s safe to do so. Don’t panic if you get stuck a little bit: restart the engine, try to tip the boat as much to the side as possible, and try to reverse off the lakebed slowly, but firmly.
Every marina has some kind of a restaurant in order to cater to hungry and thirsty sailors. Depending on the style of the marina, the eateries can range from simple food stands to fine dining establishments. Restaurants at all of the bigger marinas offer various menus, so they are perfectly suitable for grabbing a bite for dinner. For truly excellent gastronomy, go to BL Bavaria Marina in Balatonlelle or Hajógyári Marina, or the restaurant of Vonyarc Marina called Balaton A La Carte, which is going to be built on water – we’re really looking forward to checking it out.
The owners of the ships moored at Balaton marinas usually live and sleep on board, using their prized possessions as floating summer residences. But if you’re looking for somewhere to stay on dry land, you’ll find rooms or apartments at the marina or in a hotel nearby.
Both Vonyarc Marina in Vonyarcvashegy and Fenyves Yacht Club are under construction: the map shows the planned types of restaurant and accommodation. Vonyarc Marina will open this September, while the Fenyves establishment, whose history so far has been fraught with vehement protests, sharp criticism and even a complaint to the police, will not debut until spring 2016.
Most marinas have a small playground or playing corner for the little ones. At Hajógyári Marina, you can let the kids loose in the outdoor play area or the indoor playroom, Kenese Marina Port has its own playground too, and on the tiny beach adjacent to the Siófok marina there’s a children’s pool, a sandpit and slide. Most marinas take advantage of the water’s proximity, and have their own grassy beach on site. As the water is very shallow on the south shore, all of the beaches there are safe for the little adventurers, but on the north shore you should keep an eye on your kids at all times because the water gets deep really quickly.
Dogs aren’t banned from any of the marinas, especially when it comes to the canine friends of those renting a berth, but make sure that your four-legged companion is well-behaved and kept on a leash.
Marinas tend to be closed to outsiders, which means that passers-by and tourists are not allowed near the boats. Marina restaurants usually welcome anyone who checks with the receptionist, but even then you’ll be prohibited from going near the boats, as they are expensive private properties. The only exceptions are marinas like the one at the main pier of Balatonfüred or in Balatonföldvár because these serve as stops for scheduled boats or cruise ships. You can view the sailing boats moored by these piers up close, but going aboard is strictly prohibited.