The autumn by Lake Balaton is so much more than exploring the still open restaurants, clad in wind-proof jackets. Instead of the beach, turn towards the forests: here's a great selection from Kékkút through Szentbékkálla to Balatonederics and the Kis-Balaton. Extinct volcano, the Rózsakő, and many more characters co-existing in peace.
We are well aware of the perks of hiking: fresh air, good company and no cellular reception. If you follow a study trail, you might even pick up some things botanical or geographical.
The Káli Basin is among the Balaton regions of the most beautiful natural gifts, so it is doesn't come as a surprise that it is one of the favourite Balaton destinations of hikers and cyclists. Definitely noone will be left behind hungry or roofless here, since the great restaurants like Miakő and Kővirág, and excellent guest houses like Káli Art Inn have been popping up like crazy.
The Theodora Study Trail in the Balaton Uplands National Park unveils many of Káli Basin's natural treasures from the kingdoms of geology, hydrology and zoology. The 8 km trail starts by the bottling plant of the Kékkúti Ásványvíz Co. and the Theodora Kereki spring and follows the Sásdi-patak towards the Kornyi-tó. The circular trail has 15 stops. A map and a Hungarian leaflet plus English-language signs at the individual stops will assist your exploration of the trail, the surrounding natural treasures and the origin of the Theodora mineral waters.
The little brother of the Theodora Study Trail, the Theodóra-Kékkő Study Trail has been granting tourists a glimpse of the geological treasures of the area since 2006. The 8-km-long, 15-stop walk starts from the Kereki manor and takes you up the Kereki-domb and the Kopasz-hegy, crosses the Kőtenger (Sea of Rocks) in Szentbékkálla and helps you find the traces of a now extinct volcano.
The two study trails are connected by the Trail of Time, where time does not stand still but keeps running. Here, each of your steps takes you 2 million years forward in history, so the 1.1-km trail covers the 4.6 billion Earth years in a breeze. This miniature hike will leave you with a good deal of knowledge of the history of Earth.
At a few steps distance of the Káli Basin, but still close to botany and geology, this study trail in the Badacsony hillside allows you to study the basalt formations and one-time mine walls, for example. The trail is sprinkled with bilingual signs that inform you about the geological, botanical features and landscape use methods of volcanic hills similar to the Badacsony. The 4-km trail starts from the romantic sounding Rózsakő (Rose Stone) and ends at the Tördemici lookout point.
A hill away, you'll still bump into basalt treasures. Similarly to the Badacsony, the Szent György-hegy is also known for more than its wine. The trail to the hilltop on 414 metres above sea-level runs along columns of basalt. Walking at a leisurely pace, it takes to hours to cover the distance of 4 kilometres, while you can expand your knowledge with the help of Hungarian and German informative signs that introduce the geological story of the hill and the protected wildlife of the area, among other facts.
They say that one should keep your eyes up in Venice, since there are only pigeons at your feet, while the most wonderful architectural treasures tower above you. The case of panorama tours is somewhat similar: you are not looking for mushrooms, so the only reason for glancing downwards occasionally is to avoid stumbling on protruding roots. The 600-metre Aranyember útja tanösvény (Road of the Golden Man Study Trail) was justly included in the Countrywide Blue Trail. There are 6 stops where you can catch your breath and enjoy the marvellous view of Lake Balaton.
Running through urban and wooded parts of Szigliget, the Kamon-kő Study Trail combines hiking with sightseeing. The trail starting from Szigliget's church leads you through the pleasant streets of the town, right into the woods, where you can read about the origins, flora and fauna of Lake Balaton thanks to the signs. You could do with some training before, as there is a 300-metre difference in elevation to conquer. The 6-km trail can be done in 2.5-3 hours at a leisurely pace.
It takes quite bit of a stamina to complete the tour of the most beautiful spots and sights of the Tihany Peninsula in one go. The 18-km-long trail that takes cca. 6 hours starts from the Apáti church ruins near Sajkod and leads you through the Apáti-hegy, the Nyereg-hegy and the Csúcs-hegy to the Szarkádi woods, and then passes through the Gejzír-mező to the ancient settlement, before crossing the Kiserdő-tető to reach the Tihany boat stop. This trail was the Hungary's very first study trail and was named after a renown Hungarian geographer from the 19th century.
If you've ever dreamed of living as close to nature as Robinson Crusoe, you might want to get a glimpse of the natural adventures the Kócsag tanösvény (Great Egret Study Trail) offers. The trail teaches you about traditional local fishing, and the flora and fauna of the Kis-Balaton. You can also read a section of a letter (discussing fish caught here) by novelist István Fekete who wrote great youth novels set in the area. The 1.5-km study trail on the Diás-sziget of Fenékpuszta starts from the Kis-Balaton Kutatóház and is only open to visits accompanied by appointed guides.
We'd never even dream of disappointing people with small children, so here's a study trail that is compatible with the tiny and even manages to captivate them. Dad Pele (pele means dormouse) guides his grandchild and the kids along the shorter and longer circular trails between Balatongyörök and Balatonederics. Mr. Pele has fond memories in connection with all 38 stops of the trail, through which he uncovers the natural treasures of the area to his little dormouse and the kids as well. The trail is accessible from the Africa Museum, the Szépkilátó in Balatonederics, the base building of the Csodabogyós Cave and the Bélap-völgy, too. The complete round is 8.5 kilometres, but it is enjoyable in sections as well.