It can be a bit of drag when after a tiring week you go to Lake Balaton in hopes of spending a few relaxing days at the beach, and instead you’re faced with a crowd not unlike the traffic jam you end up stuck in on M7 on Sunday evenings. It’s worth putting some effort into finding a less densely populated stretch of shore, a mission that seems truly impossible from Kenese to Keszthely, but is actually not. In retrospect we may regret divulging these locations, but for now here are some of the secret retreats worth checking out on the north shore.
This township is so tiny and unheard of that most people don’t even realize when they drive through it right after passing Badacsonytomaj, and that is something to cherish in a region swarming with tourists. The village’s proportionately small-sized beach remains hidden from those travelling on the nearby highway, even when beachgoers at other waterfront locations feel like they are perhaps getting a bit too close to each other. And that is not even the only advantage of this spot: the beach is located on a well groomed, grassy field shrouded by beautiful plane trees. You won’t find food stalls, bathrooms and other amenities here, but there’s an impeccable beach volleyball court, and you’ll even be treated to a healthy mud pack on your way in and out of the water – another perk of the isolated spot.
Sajkod is shielded from the crazy weekend crowds due mainly to its location, and driving the few kilometres between the highway and the township is like entering a different dimension, not only because of the moderate number of beachgoers, but also because the beach is situated at the foot of Tihany’s hill, which lends it a romantic vibe – everything you see and feel seems distant and not even real at times.
Sometimes you have to go even further to escape the sweaty bunch at the beach, or to find some genuine peace and quiet: that’s when you need to head to the quarry pond outside Salföld. It's a mere 15-minute drive from Lake Balaton, but it feels like a completely different planet – you have to literally slide down a gigantic sand dune to arrive in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the lunar-like landscape. This is where you’ll find the constantly cool quarry pond where everyone can do as they please (seeing as swimming here is just as forbidden as in any other quarry pond). Feel free to pitch your tent or bring your dog along, but refrain from littering and disturbing the peace, or risk the justified wrath of the locals.
Everyone has heard of the famous heart-shaped tombstones, but thankfully the beach of Balatonudvari is much less well known. A long time ago – in an age when such things were thought to be worth investing in – it was used as a duck pond: farmers from the area used to bring their ducks here every day to swim and splash about. By now the site that was once filled with happy duck memories has been turned into a well equipped and tasteful little beach, and while chances are you’ll bump into quite a few people here, we’ve never seen a crowd.
In Pálköve, which is officially part of Kővágóörs, the number of permanent residents doesn’t even reach 100 – a promising factor in itself. Located at a safe distance from the highway, beyond a forest of oak trees in the Pálkövei Bay, this site is also home to one of the few old-growth reed fields of Balaton still in existence. The village and the beach exude a strong outbackish feel, and nearby hiking destinations, such as the stone field of Kővágóörs or the church ruins of the former village of Ecsér, futher enhance the traditional romance of the Balaton Uplands.