It's an easy walk to reach one of the oldest fortresses at Lake Balaton, Óvár. Once you’re there, ramparts thousands of years old provide the perfect vantage point for a splendid view.
Although categorised as a castle, Óvár in Tihany doesn’t really look the part. It was never a stone fortress, therefore there aren’t any towers to keep an eye out for as you drive towards the centre of Tihany.
It’s best to start your hike from the centre of Tihany, following the greenery, but you can also walk up on the road that starts from the bus stop by the football pitch and then turn left towards the trail before reaching the intersection of Árpád and Felsővári utca.
Óvár is the name of both the fortress and the hill located north-west of Tihany. The hill is 214 metres high, one kilometre long and 400 metres wide, with ramparts stretching over 1,100-1,200 metres on the edge towards the inner peninsula. It’s a very old fortress, originally built sometime around 1000-800 BC, at the end of the Bronze Age and at the beginning of the Iron Age. The terrain visibly rises gradually from the west. The entrance to the fort was probably where today’s Felsővári utca begins – graves that suggest this were found during excavations.
The fortifications consist of one longer and one smaller, U-shaped rampart. The latter was probably built later – it’s taller than the other – presumably built during the Árpád era when the hill fort was still in use. Due to the steep shore wall, there was no fortification on the lake’s side – the cave homes of the monks, who settled here in the 11th century, were carved into this side of the hill.
There’s a Tihany trail, starting at the abbey, that is about 4.5 kilometres long and will lead you through Visszhang-hegy and the Calvary of Tihany. It’s a pleasant walk that runs to the hill fort, but you can also go directly to it: just follow the hill’s western edge from the intersection of Árpád and Felsővári utca until you reach the stairs leading to the cave homes.
Once you reach the highest point of Óvár, a beautiful view greets you: you can see most of the Tihany-félsziget, including Lake Belső and Lake Külső, patches of Lake Balaton, and many forests, fields, villages, the Balaton Uplands and the hills of Bakony. This is one of the best views of Tihany and it’s usually not too crowded – the perfect choice for a weekend excursion.