Lake Balaton has plenty of exciting things to do that are all free of charge. From scenic hikes to concerts by the shore, these activities are just as great as they are budget-friendly.
Fortunately there are still many sections of the shoreline that are free to use, and the official public beaches all have restrooms, buffets and nicely kept grassy areas as well. You can also visit paid-for beaches for free after ticket offices close.
You can visit most of Balaton’s lookout towers free of charge, so all you need is a little dedication and comfortable shoes. In return, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful view of Lake Balaton from above. Multiple free apps are available to ensure that you won’t get lost, while here you can find some great routes to take.
Riding your bicycle around Lake Balaton will help you save money on transport as well as provide a memorable experience. Besides the Bike Ring, which is continuously being developed, you can also take the lesser-known, enchanting roads of the Balaton Uplands, seeing spots you wouldn’t otherwise notice if you were just driving by.
The Klassz a pARTon! events series runs into August, bringing classical concerts to various unique venues on the north shore. Within its framework, you can enjoy classical music in churches, palaces and parks, and even on beaches. Some concerts require more elegant attire, such as the ones at Tihany Abbey or the Mirror Room at Festetics Palace, while others are more casual. You can find the schedule here.
Every farmer’s market has a different atmosphere, with smaller ones, such as Lábdi at the foot of Badacsony, where you can chat with the producers, and more crowded ones, such as Liliomkert. Of course, going to the market won't end up being a free activity: with all the delicious artisanal products on display, you’ll surely be tempted to purchase some of the delicacies.
The park at Festetics Palace is an outstanding piece of garden design. Its history reaches back to the 18th century and it was reconstructed a few years ago, based on its appearance at the end of 19th century. Here you walk under trees hundreds of years old, past statues, fountains and exotic plants.
The villas built around the beginning of the 20th century are integral to many Balaton towns. You can take long walks and admire these beautiful works of architecture in Fonyód, Siófok, Balatonalmádi and Badacsony.
You can visit Kányavári Island all year round and without a professional guide, too. It’s a great excursion spot for families: following the Búbocs Vöcsök Study Trail, you can learn more about the unique flora of these marshlands and admire Kis-Balaton from the Great Lookout Tower, while children can have fun at the playground.
With wine weeks and other events taking place around the lake all summer long, there are plenty of shows you can catch without having to pay for a ticket. Keep an eye on the schedules of events such as Balatonfüred Wine Weeks or the Keszthely Street Festival, but you can also stumble upon live music at eateries such as Kredenc in Balatonfüred, Balaton Bar in Örvényes or Káli-Kapocs in Mindszentkálla.
Balaton sunsets are spectacular, and there are plenty of nice spots to watch it from: atop a hill, from the beach, a wine terrace or a lookout tower, or even from a SUP board or a sailboat gently rocking on the lake. And, if you are a morning person, you might want to catch the sunrise, too, which is just as beautiful as the sunset.