Balaton is very crowded this time of year. Accommodation is next to impossible to find, and we recently had to wait two hours for a pizza at a busy restaurant. That’s not what proper relaxation looks like, but despite appearances it’s actually possible to switch off when visiting the lake. You can stay at a rustic guesthouse a bit further from the shore, try lavender-flavored Gugelhupf, or ride your bike to a peaceful jungle toward Almádi. If you need to take a break to meditate or practice yoga on the water, you can do those as well. Let us show you the escape routes.
If peace and quiet are the main words you want to live by on holiday, try to stay away from big hotels and apartments by the promenades because these locations are usually noisy during the day and also at night. Instead you should go for a guesthouse located a little bit further from Balaton; luckily the selection of such establishments is constantly growing. Guesthouses like these are usually located in smaller towns or villages, and they tend to have only a few rooms to guarantee creating a familiar atmosphere and meeting your personal needs.
The inviting Villa Bogart, where you can feel like a modern-day count, is a great example. Sited in the village of Alsóbogát, the former Festetics-Inkey Castle and the adjacent buildings create a cool, historic atmosphere. The renovation of the castle itself is not finished yet, but the estate manager’s house has a couple of lovely, rustic rooms for you to rent, and while you’re there you can also check out the lovely little chapel, the freshly refurbished barn, and the old timer collection. If you want some exercise, you can take a stroll in the surrounding 13-hectare parkland.
Páskom Cottage in Lajoskomárom provides the kind of idyllic tranquility that’s essential for a truly relaxing vacation. Impeccable interior design has become a basic prerequisite for top-notch accommodation providers, and it’s also a given here in the rooms, the restaurant, and even the wellness department, which has everything from a sauna and a pool to comfy sun loungers. If you’re looking to spend your time more actively, you can take a bike ride nearby. After such a trip, you’ll surely be delighted to try the tasty, light dishes served at the restaurant. And the best thing is: the cottage is closer than you’d think, as it’s an hour’s drive from Budapest and no more than 30 minutes from Siófok.
The gastro revolution is going strong at Balaton with more and more establishments joining the movement on the north as well as the south shore. But if you want to stay away from the most popular places, fashionable wine bars, crowded beach food joints, and grill terraces, make sure to ditch the beach promenades, and take a look at less frequented areas.
Found close to Balatonfüred, Lovas offers visitors a special gastro experience at the “home restaurant” called Manduláskert. How does it work? You simply contact Zsófi Rákóczi to sign up, you tell her how many people to expect and what kind of food you want to eat, and then you visit her family, sit down, and sample Zsófi’s fantastic cooking. She doesn’t serve Wiener schnitzel with deep-frozen fries, but uses fresh, seasonal ingredients to prepare healthy, unique creations like melon and peach soup, spicy pasta with garlic and pine nuts, and lavender Gugelhupf. Or pretty much anything you’d like. If you consider that you can have your meal on the terrace, amid the green, fragrant setting of the Balaton Uplands, you can see how this is the perfect choice for those who prefer a peaceful environment and nutritious food.
Nagyi Kertje Tea Shop and Inn in Aszófő is the successor of Sajkod’s legendary Teázó az erdő mélyén (Tea House Deep in the Woods). They specialize in teas and cakes, but they also offer soups and light, savory snacks. Take a walk along Bázsai Bay, admire the natural wildlife of Lake Balaton, and finally visit the tea house that has an intimate, cozy atmosphere reminiscent of grandma’s countryside cottage. You can also rent a room if you want to stay overnight; the inn is open throughout the year.
Wine is an essential part of the Balaton region, and thankfully Balaton winemakers are not difficult to find; they produce Csopak Welschriesling, dry reds, sparkling rosés, and various other kinds at their wine cellars dotting the Balaton landscape. You can strike up a conversation with them, and ask them everything you want to know about their vintages; hearing about the experiences of people who live and breathe so much in synch with nature calms you, recharges you, and takes your mind off everyday matters. Add the blue panorama of Balaton, and you can be sure that all your cares will be blown away. We’ve already rounded up some stunning wine terraces here.
Retreat from the world
Widen your horizon and recharge your batteries without setting foot in bigger towns.
Based in Balatonkeresztúr, Rabten Tashi Ling (aka the Garden of Luck or the Tibetan Cultural Center) awaits believers as well as visitors who are merely interested in finding out a bit more about Buddhist rituals. Buddhist services are held twice a day, and the monks are happy to share their knowledge about the mysteries of meditation. The culture center has a couple of guesthouses for those who want to leave the bustle of world behind for a while and meditate with Andreas, the resident monk. A similar option is visiting the Krishna Valley in Somogyvámos: this is the biggest and most organized organic community in Central Europe. You can join one of their guided tours, or check out the vegetarian restaurant, the stage, or the Indian gift shop. Immerse yourself among this peaceful, self-sustaining bunch, who dedicate their entire life to their religion.
Neked Szabad exudes the same kind of vibe without the religious approach. Located in Révfülöp, this community space is a great venue for all sorts of activities from gardening and outdoor cooking to flea markets and yoga camps. Nothing is guaranteed or conventional, so drop in for a day, show your spontaneous, adventure-seeking side, and join in whatever they’re doing to experience the nurturing atmosphere of togetherness and generosity.
If you have something involving exercise in mind, SUP is a fun alternative to try on a warm, still day. It’s really simple: you just stand on a wide SUP board, use the paddle to propel yourself forward, and enjoy the feeling of gliding on the smooth surface of the water. You can do it alone to move every part of your body and relax your mind, or you can join a group excursion. Tihany-based SUP Center regularly organizes tours to the area of Sajkod, which is found on the less frequently visited side of the Tihany Peninsula. By the way, the beach of Sajkod is one of the most beautiful and tranquil parts of the Balaton shore, but exploring this romantic landscape on a paddle board is even more uplifting. SUP boards are really versatile, and they are also suitable for doing yoga; Linda in Viharsarok Sailing Center, for example, often holds SUP yoga classes on the lake. You’ll see that even the simplest poses are challenging if you have to balance on the board at the same time, but don’t worry if you fall off, just climb back and shake the water off.
Riding 70 kilometers around Balaton is relaxing in itself, but it’s a bonus if you can also explore locations like A Zöld, which are easiest to access on two wheels. Located by the bike road between Balatonalmádi and Veszprém, A Zöld is a rest stop where you can lie in the sun loungers and refresh your body and soul with freshly baked bread lángos, bread and dripping, and homemade syrups. The remote bike trail is a gem in its own right, but together with A Zöld it’s downright unmissable.