When we think about the Balaton area, the most trivial thing that comes to mind is the breathtaking view. Yet, after spending a summer looking for the best spots of the region, we often realized while we were on the road that the scenery itself is worth a trip, with its empty and gorgeous roads, vineyards, and all the shades of green. In this subjective selection we show you the nicest roads that are recommended for everyone, not just for those with convertibles.
The roads we travelled – the best panoramic routes of the Balaton region
We believe that the best way to explore the Balaton region is on foot, by bike, on horse-back, on a SUP board, or longboard, so basically as actively as possible. However, given the current traffic conditions, there’s no doubt that the fastest and most effective way to get around the lakeside is by car. To ride among the hills of Somogy or the valleys of Balaton Uplands, with the windows down is really not a bad thing, and those who love to drive around will find the Balaton region the land of possibilities. Here are the areas and roads we travelled last summer, with an emphasis on the most spectacular sections.
On the road between northern peaks
If we talk about the northern shore, we must start with the 116 kilometers long Road 71, the spine road of the coast. The road that goes from Lepsény to Keszthely-Fenékpuszta has multiple striking sections, which is not surprising, given that it goes only a few hundred meters (rarely a kilometer) away from the shore of Lake Balaton. One of these eye-catching sections is Lesence Valley between Szigliget and Balatonederics. If we’re going towards Keszthely, we can admire the wooded ridges of the Keszthely Mountains; if we’re heading to the other direction, then the sight of the Castle of Szigliget and the fantastic buttes is there to astonish us with a view like this:
Between Örvényes and Aszófő
Since we’re talking about Road 71, the route from Balatonakali to Tihany is another lovely part, from which we would highlight the section between Örvényes and Aszófő. Riding along this road we can see the vineyard covered hills, the bell towers of the tiny villages, and of course the bay of Sajkod, surrounded by the hills of Tihany.
There’re plenty of typical, post-card worthy section of Road 71 through the Balaton Uplands. The “main road” of Káli Basin is one of them, stretching from Köveskál to Gyulakeszi, but we would like to highlight the road between Kővágóörs and Köveskál with a picture. The straight road goes through a pretty, undulating landscape, with grass-covered hills to the left and to the right, while we can also spot the Káli Basin’s well-known group of statues next to the surrounding hills.
The cliché word of picturesque describes Nivegy Valley the best, the road between Zánka and Mencshely. A number of tiny villages lie along the road, like Szentfalva, Tagyon, or Óbudavár. The settlements are all nice, organized, the road is renovated and smooth as glass, the vineyards stand straight on the slopes, and we haven’t even mentioned the wooded hills.
Pécselyi Basin is the new Káli Basin – or so we were implying in our article last summer, and this statement is true regarding the roads, too. It was especially hard to decide which section of the road we should show here. The forests of the road between Balatonudvari and Vászoly, the hills, the view, and the exceptional quality of the road from Vászoly to Pécsely, and the combination of all of the above on the Aszófő-Pécsely-Tótvázsony route makes this area so nice. We decided to feature the second option, showing the view that greets those who descend into the valley from the direction of Vászoly.
Kapolcs and Vigántpetend
The surroundings of Kapolcs are not bad either; Road 77 ribbons through fairytale-like landscapes, and gives a compact driving experience (although we must note that there’s an acute risk of accidents, as, despite the fact that the road is narrow, curvy, with lots of bends, many people drive around with a speed of 100-120 kilometers per hour). However, we would like to highlight something else from the Kapolcs-area instead of Road 77, and that is an engineering design that’s rare around Balaton: a serpentine at Vigántpetend. The view is amazing from the hilltop, from where we can descend to the village through ten bends, seven of them are the perfect examples of a hairpin turn. Power-assisted steering is a big plus here.
Tihany Peninsula couldn’t be left out from a list like this, and those who ever visited Balaton by car probably already drove through either the super and super-narrow coastal road, or the route that climbs the hill on one side and descends on the other. Here we featured the latter, as after we pass the end of Tihany sign, we are greeted by a splendid view of Lake Külső and its basin. As a bonus, we also get a touch of purple in June, when the blooming of lavender is at its height.
Csopak, Paloznak, Lovas
The Csopak wine region is not an ugly sight either, especially if we can catch a glimpse of it from a higher vantage point. There’s a long section of the road, one that’s not a quick route, yet it’s perfect for those who want to avoid the busy Road 71 during the high season: this route starts from Aszófő, then goes through the upper parts of Balatonfüred, then Csopak, Paloznak, and Lovas, and then finally turns upwards and comes to and end in Felsőörs (you can also roll down to Balatonalmádi from here, but that’s really a big detour). The section between Csopak and Lovas provides a truly pleasant driving experience, we can gently steer while driving through the roller-coaster of hills. The rest is the usual: Lake Balaton below, vineyards and forests above.
Gliding on the waves of the south
We start with the spine road of the south shore, just like we did with in north. No, this doesn’t mean Road 7, which goes through mainly residential areas and/or plains, but highway M7, hidden in Somogy. This is the only road with a fee on our list (check prices here), but if we already have a highway sticker, it definitely pays off to fly through it. We would highlight two sections of it: one is the area of the Balatonszentgyörgy junction, which is especially beautiful if you arrive from the direction of Zala, as this is the place where the highway descends from the hills to the lake. This means that even the drivers have the chance to admire the view, as half of Lake Balaton is right in front of them.
Kőröshegy Viaduct is the other wonderful section of M7. Those who love to admire the scenery got lucky with the 1.5 kilometers long giant, as back when the planning took place, the authorities almost decided to go through the valley by drilling two tunnels in the hills. For some reason, they decided not to do that, and the panoramic route won. Despite the tall and sturdy railings, the view is spectacular from the viaduct, especially if we sit on a bus, and not low in a car.
Between Balatonszentgyörgy and Kéthely
Going back to the region of Balatonszentgyörgy, there are plenty of amazing routes there. The parts of Road 68 and 76 that run close to Lake Balaton are especially nice, either because of the valley of Zala and Kis-Balaton, or because of the wooded hillsides. A bend in Road 76, near Panoráma Restaurant is a spot we would highlight, as from here there’s a magnificent view of Keszthely and its surroundings as well as the western basin of the lake. Major road constructions were in progress when we were there last summer, but hopefully it’s all finished by now, so nothing spoils the view.
Between Lengyeltóti and Buzsák
A road connects the sleepy town of Lengyeltóti, located on the other side of Nagy-Berek, with Buzsák, the Mecca of German tourists. Although it’s far from Lake Balaton, the road that leads to the neat little village (the spa, Csisztapuszta also belongs to it) goes through a lovely valley with fishponds.
The Szántód-Kaposvár route
Countless roads start at Lake Balaton and descend towards Kaposvár through the wooded, hilly lands of Somogy,like Road 67, starting from Balatonlelle, or the above mentioned route that goes from Fonyód to Kaposvár through Lengyeltóti, or the one pictured here, the Szántód-Kapoly-Andocs-Igal-Kaposvár route. The parts north from Andocs, and the ones near Kőröshegy are especially beautiful, you can see large areas, and Kőröshegy Viaduct is also there, stretching through the landscape.
+1: Balatonlelle, Kishegyi Road
We list this less important road as a bonus among the ones on the south shore – this road is absolutely irrelevant from the perspective of traffic, and it’s just a simple little lane, probably maintained by the local municipality. Yet it has a touristic importance, as it connects Balatonlelle with Kishegy, which belongs to the town. And Kishegy is a truly charming place, with many wineries and restaurants, so there’s plenty to eat and drink – well, only if we aren’t the drivers, of course. Descending from the hill, we are greeted by the captivating view of an allée with Lake Balaton in the background.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to drive through all the routes, so if we left out a beautiful section, let us know in the comments!