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More than just a palace – Top things to do in Keszthely

About Lake Balaton - Articles

Friday, August 11, 2017 — Bernadett Mizsei

Photo: Kiripolszky Csongor - We Love Balaton

Keszthely is a place that divides people – some think it’s overcrowded; others say it’s snobbish or overpriced. Yet this city is like a blank banknote: we can exchange our time here for anything. Keszthely has the best of both worlds with quiet, traditional restaurants and new-wave bistros, with high culture and musical evenings of light entertainment, with sandy shores and the chilly heritage of the ghosts in Festetics Palace.

The question of Lake Balaton’s capital has ignited many arguments in the past. Siófok, Balatonfüred, and Keszthely are constantly battling for the title. Yet it’s an absolutely fruitless argument since Balaton is a special region with a thousand faces so it could easily do with three capitals.

Keszthely is a truly unique place, as it has so much to offer that a lifetime probably wouldn’t be enough to explore it all. One thing is for sure: no one can say that it’s boring. No matter how many times you come back, there’s always something else to discover. Even ancient Romans knew this as they liked to rally in the area, and built a blossoming agricultural and gastronomic life here. Perhaps they already felt how pleasant the climate of this region is: summers aren’t unbearably hot with the closeness of Lake Balaton and the Adriatic Sea, and winters are also a lot milder than anywhere else in the country.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - We Love Balaton

Welcome to the city of museums

  • This is a place visited by many, yet we still don’t know it well enough. The name of the Festetics-family is now forever linked to Keszthely, and if we’re lucky enough, our guide will be Miklós bácsi, the former potato breeder who came here because he wanted to spend a few years of his life in a beautiful place and he didn’t find one more beautiful than this.
  • This city has countless opportunities to explore the past or get to know more about science. They turned the seemingly boring topic of the upper classes’ leisure travel habits into an exciting experience in a recently renovated museum. Here we can step over the cordons and sit into a carriage, or start an old car engine with a starting handle.
  • There isn’t a single boy – or dad – who wouldn’t be interested in the model showing the former railways systems of Zala, Semmering Pass in Austria, and parts of Germany. You can get lost in the bygone steam clouded era of locomotives and carriages.
  • The waves of Lake Balaton, the heavy scent of lángos and pancakes are all familiar, but fortunately there’s a place where we can learn more about the things that happened here in the past 15 thousand years.
  • This is the cradle of agricultural training in Hungary – you’ll take sips of your velvety wine in an entirely different way after learning more about the old profession that helped making it.
  • Where did Júlia Szendrey, the love of renowned Hungarian poet, Sándor Petőfi live? What is the real Cadillac-feeling? What dolls did our grandparents play with? How does the Parliament look like when it’s built from snail shells? We could keep listing the museums of the museum-city, but we already rounded up the ones you should know about.

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Food on the beach, wine in the cellar

  • Dani Bezerics is an emblematic character of the city's gastronomy, because he always comes up with something new. He was the one who started the burger and beach-food fever in Keszthely; since then he represents using local ingredients with his own units and with his every word. He’s the one who made it possible for us to leave the world of Hungariangoulash behind – we can do this at Paletta in summer and at Télikert in winter. But Dani never stops, so this year he started a beach buffet chain as well. 
  • What is it like to chill in the company of 300 types of wine under the arches of a 200 years old cellar? We can experience it in Kastélypince Restaurant and the reopened House of Balaton Wines. It’s a bit like the Festetics-family itself invited us over for dinner, and that’s something you don’t say no to!
  • Looking for something to replace the hake that never swam in Lake Balaton? Vitorlás Bisztró awaits with Zala-style dödölle (potato dumplings) and cold strawberry soup – and yes, all of this on the municipal beach.
  • Végh-Pataki Strudels and Sandwich Mecca is a unique price at the end of a tiring walk in the palace: the place has such unorthodox strudel creations as the one filled with bacon and onion, or the one with vegetable stew.
  • There’s also a place for biker gangs where they have classic flavors and rare fish courses.
  • And if you’d like to take the flavors of this place home, you can fill your stocks at Tulipán.

Photo: Alexandra Heim - We Love Balaton

Hit the beach

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Florence is also near

Photo: Alexandra Heim - We Love Balaton

Choose a path

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Translated by Emma Póli

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