Balaton is highly enjoyable whether we’re sitting in it or next to it, but also if we admire it from afar. We rounded up the highest points from where we can marvel in the large body of blue and the beauty of the surroundings while staying clear of any fear of heights. However, a bit of soreness is possible afterwards.
We don't have to take an unusually long walk to reach the tallest observation tower of Balaton, but we might face with a trail steeper than usual. However, the pike will compensate us for our efforts: it almost feels like we can touch the nearby buttes, and the outlines of the south shore and Szigligeti-öböl (Szigliget Bay) are easy to make out. They say that if we only have time to climb one lookout tower at Balatongyörök, then this, the current top of Balaton should be the one.
Up until Batsányi Observation Tower was opened in 2014, this one was the top of Balaton. It's best to start a trip to Kisfaludy Observation Tower from the Szegedy Róza House because the study trail that leads up to the lookout starts there. The tower itself is a pleasant sight with its narrowing and then broadening figure reaching up to the sky. What's more beautiful is the view we worked our muscles for: the 360 degree panorama is well worth it, even with some seriously steep parts on the trail.
Even the locals don’t really know about the lookout tower. The new building in the place of the shabby former one that provided a rather humble view, is the third on the top list of high places in Balaton. Marked with a green triangle in Keszthelyi-hegység (Keszthely Mountains), the trail leads under the huge canopy of trees and ancient looking pines. We can see the dense forest from above, while the blue streak of Lake Balaton is also visible a bit further away.
Located halfway between Dörgicse and Mencshely, this lookout tower is worth exploring even for those who aren't familiar with the adventures of Bear Grylls. The entire Balaton Uplands is visible from up here: Lake Balaton is in front of you, the entire South Bakony is behind your back, and the hike isn't even too sweaty. We can reach the tower through a pleasant walk. Meanwhile we can refresh our knowledge of geological eras along the study trail marked with a blue T.
The lookout tower can be reached on foot, by bicycle, or by car, but the latter doesn't even cross our minds - after all, why would we want to miss out on a pleasant walk in the woods (plus, we can't be sure about the state of the dirt roads). When the weather is clear, we can see half of Dunántúl (Transdanubia) from Zalai-dombság (Zala Hills) to the feet of the Alps. Can you spot that grey stripe? That might just be Mecsek.
Those who don't mind a challenge (as in who aren't rookie hikers) can reach the peak of Csákány-hegy (Csákány Hill) in Csopak following the blue blaze - there are some steep sections, and there's a fair amount of climbing involved. We can rest on the benches next to the lookout, and our reward is the sight of Bakony and the eastern basin of Balaton. We can reach the top pleasantly through Nosztori-völgy (Nosztori Valley), while those who have a lot of time can arrive from the direction of Paloznak, from where a panoramic route leads to here.
There's a brief steep climb in the beginning of the trail, but that's not what takes out breath away: that will be because of the sight of Balatonfüred, Tihany, and the eastern basin of Balaton. Seen from above and this height, Balatonfüred looks like a neat little Lego town, and during sailing competitions, this is almost like a VIP seat. The hillside is flaming red with the smoke bushes, so it's worth to come back after summer as well.
The previous lookout tower of Alsóörs wasn't a lucky one: it was vandalized so many times that in the end it became dangerous. The stone tower, which could easily be in a movie set in medieval times, was raised by another level that adds five more meters to its height. This way we can see over Badacsony, the hills of Somogy, and the holiday resorts of the north shore. It only takes one kilometer if you start your journey from the edge of Felsőörs.
Those who can't go to Rio de Janeiro should visit Fülöp-hegy (Fülöp Hill). The peaks of the area reminded famous Balaton-geographer Jenő Cholnoky of Brazil. “One of the most beautiful landscapes of the world can be seen from Fülöp-hegy in Révfülöp. There are higher hills, larger bodies of water, but the only other place where the many wonderful volcanic cones meet with a broad surface of water is probably on the shores of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro.” Who needs more than that? The lookout tower can be reached in about an hour from the center of Révfülöp. The trail goes through streets for a while, but you'll get a short, steep part in the woods right before the finish line.
Even the many villas that we pass in Fonyód to get up to the steep hill are impressive, and it gets even better afterwards. We are swept away by Nagy-Berek and the emerald green of the western basin that's ruled by nature. We can feel the north shore luring us, or we can spot the next destination on the south shore. Yes, on the south shore. From among the southern contestant, only Várhegyi Lookout Tower managed to get into the top ten in this not so fair competition, due to the buttes and other elevations in the landscape of the north.
It's open all year round and an other goof news is that the four-story lookout is accessible with wheelchairs as well, a stairlift aids people living with disabilities to get to the first level. Those who don't want to hike can reach the tower by car. The entrance fee is 300 HUF.
The altitude is the summation of the elevation and the height of the lookout tower.
Translated by Emma Póli