When the seasons change, so does Lake Balaton, offering new ways to explore its surroundings. Here are few tips on how to best enjoy autumn around the lake.
In the best-case scenario, the water in Lake Balaton will remain above 20 degrees for a while yet, so you can still go for a swim, especially on warmer days. Even if the water is too cold, you can still visit the now deserted beaches for a picnic or a bit of sunbathing.
One of the best things about autumn is the change of colours and the falling of the leaves, which you can best enjoy in a park. Keszthely’s Helikon Park or the palace gardens are both perfect for this, but the yellowing vineyards of Badacsony, Szent György-hegy and Csopak are also worth a trip.
If you wake up early enough on a foggy day to climb a hill, you’ll be treated to an exceptional view. Choose Haláp first, as it’s a very easy hike or, if there’s a lot of fog, go to Szent György-hegy for a breathtaking sight.
This run of nearly 21 kilometres is definitely not for everyone, but the route of this race taking place on 14 September is very scenic, so it’s worth the effort. The race is dog-friendly and a shorter run is organised for children. The organisers promise other activities such as sauna sessions and dancing, too.
Ultrabalaton Trail makes its debut this year on 12 October with various distances and the chance to run individually or in teams. The race starts and finishes in Csopak.
Balaton Piknik is the biggest music festival of the autumn, taking place under Balatonboglár’s Gömbkilátó over two days, 13 and 14 September. This year’s line-up includes Morcheeba and Roisín Murphy, among many others.
Recharge in the morning with a lazy brunch before heading out to explore Lake Balaton in its autumnal glory. These spots offer great breakfasts and brunches, just make sure to check the opening hours before heading out.
The restaurants of Badacsony together organise an event series called Gasztrohegy, for which they try to show that the region is indeed alive and well during the off-season. The first will be held from 25 to 27 October, with fish in the spotlight.
Many restaurants and wineries join the various gastro festivals being organised around the lake this autumn. You can join Balatoni Kör’s Gasztro Piknik events in Sümeg (28 September) and Badacsony (30 November), Balatonlelle’s Kishegy will be the venue for the Murci Festival on 19 October, the Füred Gastro Festival will be held in November, while Tihany will host the Garda Festival, a traditional celebration of sabrefish.
Autumn is the perfect time to become acquainted with Balaton wines, and there are many wine bars where you can do so. You can check out the renewed Hableány in Badacsony, or Murci at Szent György-hegy, where you might even stumble upon a concert, too.
The often ignored pálinka brandies of Balaton are, in fact, on the rise with many quality craft producers getting involved. You can visit the Zimek and Fenegyerek distilleries on the south shore, or head to the north where you’ll find producers such as Petendi, Reneszánsz and Somló Spirit.
Farmers’ markets remain open even after the high season and it’s always a delight to visit them. Besides Balaton’s best-known Liliomkert and Tihanyi PIAC placc, the one at Balatonföldvár (open until 15 October) and the Agora Market on the north shore are also excellent. And if you're there, make sure to grab a cup of mulled wine to warm you up.
The north shore has many underground crevices big enough for a person to climb into. Visiting these can be a one-of-a-kind experience. Csodabogyós Cave in Balatonederics and Szentgáli-kőlik are both worth investigating.
Autumn is a great time for a cycle tour, and if you decide to take one, sometimes it’s worth leaving the Balaton Bike Ring behind. The Veszprém-Balatonalmádi trail, for example, leads through beautiful woods and meadows along the old rails. If you’re lucky, the charming rest stop, A Zöld will be open, too.
If the weather is holding up, you can still enjoy sports activities at Lake Balaton. Once the water temperature drops below 20 degrees, make sure to wear insulated clothing, and you’re good to go. Here are some routes to try.
Tihany Peninsula is a great spot for hiking – its trails are clearly indicated, with all the information you might need along the way. Plus, there are so many other things to see once you have visited the famous Tihany Abbey and investigated all things lavender-related – there’s a geyser field, a new lookout tower, a forest and a wild lakeshore.
If you are ambitious, you can join Balaton Camino and walk around the lake from 5 to 14 October this year. You can also join the team for sections of the trip, just make sure to check in with them first.
The Vaszary Villa is hosting an exhibition about water in the visual arts until 17 November. The works on display at this Balatonfüred museum are from the likes of Gustave Courbet, Mihály Munkácsy and Pál Szinyei Merse.
Bea Kovács, manager of the Búzalelke Bakery, knows how to bake bread, and you can learn from her at one of her very popular workshops. The dates can usually be found on their Facebook page or you can contact them directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.