They say that the best part of the south shore is that it has a nice view of the north shore. Than can pass as a joke, but only once, because we only have to glance around to realize that this statement is unfair. Inspecting three closely set towns of the south shore will verify this. Boglár and Lelle are worth a few days in themselves, but once we add the wineries of nearby Kishegy and the lookout towers of Fonyód, we have a whole long weekend planned.
Balatonlelle, Balatonboglár, and Fonyód. Three bastions on the south shore that pull towards west – in every sense. First of all, they are located on the western part of the coast, but there’s also the fact that they are open to innovations that are typical of the western part of Europe. Here we can find the south shore’s serious wine county, wines and champagnes that are renowned not only nationwide but also on an international level, there’re multiple sandy beaches reminding of seashores; we can also find quality ports here, and, if we know where to seek them, we will stumble upon some decent restaurants as well.
Of course the past is still present in the form of holiday homes from the communist era, zimmer frei signs, lángos shops, and paddle boats, but they mingle with the signs of innovation. We rounded up the best things to do amid this eclectic atmosphere.
For active recreation
- We can find one of the many adventure parks of Lake Balaton here: Balatonboglár Adventure Park and Bobsleigh Park provides the same thrill as its siblings. We might think that it’s a place where children can have fun, but we will soon realize that it’s just as entertaining for adults.
- Gömbkilátó observation tower in Boglár is a must-see attraction, where we can not only admire the north shore, but we can also let our artistic sides flourish while trying to capture the various elements of the structure on camera. The uniqueness of this structure that reminds of a military radar is that whatever direction we choose to gaze at, we will always see the lookout tower itself.
- Staying in Boglár, we can found the Balaton Csavargőzös ("Screw Steamer" in English), the second oldest steam boat of Lake Balaton, at the port. Built in 1872, the deck is now the home of an exhibition about sailing, and if they manage to get funds for refurbishment, it could be moving back on the water in a few years, along with the exhibition.
- Those who like the architecture style of the turn of the century should seek out the villa districts of Fonyód and Bélatelep – here we can experience the bygone world of bath-culture. Hidden in the hillside, the row of buildings won an award in 2010 for a reason. We previously wrote about the renowned but unfortunately continuously decaying building of Hotel Sirály – built during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s time, the elegant hotel remained in the same state until the '60s when it was remodeled. The hotel that used to be the venue of the Anna-ball operated as a disco at nights in the '90s, and then about a decade later it was sold. It's been in private hands since then and is awaiting investors with sufficient assets.
- Although it isn’t exactly a part of the villa district, Kripta Villa still deserves some attention for its story that is often told by firesides – the monument testifying the endless love of Ödön Abrudbányai-Rédinger is scary and fascinating at once.
- If we took the time to climb the hill, we can also visit the lookout towers of Fonyód. To pick the best out of them is something everyone has to do for themselves. It can be the one that’s currently closed down called Walkó Lookout Tower, or the lookout tower on Sipos-hegy, which, according to geographer Jenő Cholnoky has the most beautiful view in Europe, or the well equipped Várhegyi Széplátó.
- Those who would like to buy some local products can find one of Balaton’s largest markets in Fonyód. You can fill your baskets with good cheese and fresh vegetables here.
- Lelle’s outdoor cinema is a place where we can watch movies even if it rains due to the covered seats. Make sure to bring some pillows and blankets with you to feel cozy.
There’s a little treasure box not far from Balatonlelle. We just have to climb up the hill. Kishegy isn’t unknown among the locals and those who come here regularly, yet it’s not as crowded as the promenade with all its inflatable crocodiles and Baywatch-towels. We are surrounded by greenery and vineyards all around, while the view with Szent Donát Chapel makes it all perfect. This gallery shows all the great reasons why it’s worth coming up here.
- If we get thirsty, we can ponder about the state of the world on the terrace of Majthényi Press House. Managed by the Konyári-family, their classic kitchen is great, but what’s really memorable is the view.
- We can eat at Hegyi Csárda up on the hill – their oven produces great homely meals from grilled goose leg to pork ribs. Their Irsai Olivér grape-pálinka is also something else, and it proves that it’s possible to make quality grappa in Hungary as well.
- We already mentioned Konyári Wine Cellar briefly – their estate is on the hill as well; there we can not only taste and buy wines, but we can also sleep in their Mediterranean-style guesthouse.
- Pócz Winery with its wine terrace is only a stone’s throw away from there; here we recommend our secret favorite, the Kokas-hegyi Chardonnay. To maximize the romance, we should sip it during sunset.
- Once we’ve broken the rules of wine drinking by smuggling in some pálinka, it’s time to taste the champagne of Garamvári Vineyard. Managed by Vencel Garamvári, the family winery makes champagnes from Balaton-grapes according to the traditional Champagne-method in Budaörs – and they already won multiple awards with the product.
- We can stumble upon Bujdosó Winery on the way to Kishegy – everyone in the area knows this winery. They are so essentially Balaton that when they aren’t making wine, they are probably sailing on the lake. They compete in Kékszalag as well and many of their wines are named after iconic Balaton-sailboats.
- Légli-family is also well-known in the area, yet only a few people are aware that two of the brothers are into winemaking. The oldest, Ottó manages Légli Vineyard, and his wines can be found in supermarkets and on the shelves of the most highbrow vinotecas as well. Look them up in Boglár if you want to buy some of their wines.
- The youngest Légli-brother’s name is connected to Kislaki wines. On Fridays and Saturdays during summer, Géza can be found at Kislaki Borkert, his estate in Szőlőskislak – here we can taste his artisan wines. Géza’s guesthouses are also worth a word: he refurbished two farmhouses at the nearby János-hegy that are equipped with solar panels. Staying here is far from an ordinary experience.
Let’s go to the beach
- Everyone has their favorite spot along the shore and in this area we can find some nice, hidden beaches. From an objective point of view, Napfény Beach in Balatonlelle is obviously among one of the bests – after all, it was given the recognition of a five star “Blue Flag” beach for a reason. Don’t be fooled by the social-realistic style building: the beach is sandy, and there’s a wave slide and an aqua park inside.
- Balatonboglár’s Platán Beach is also among the top-three: it’s a free beach that’s ideal for families because it has some children-friendly services (as in the Buborék Water Park).
- If we just want to enjoy the view of the north shore from the water, then the best choice is Panoráma Beach in Fonyód. Its only problem is that the choices are pretty limited food-wise, and we can’t really recommend anything other than classic beach foods like lángos and hake.
- Personally, we would recommend the Fonyód Bélatelep Beach. The view speaks for itself, the water is deep, and because of this we are willing to forgive for how busy it is during summer.
cBasalt Burger for lunch, catfish stew for dinner
- Paletta Bistrobar & Vinoteca in Boglár was blown here by the winds of change (we are, after all, at the port), and its selection is similar to the one in Keszthely. The basalt burger of Dani Bezerics is always a good choice.
- Staying in Balatonboglár: for catfish stew and noodles with curd cheese we should go to Ibolya Buffet – and we can even take our four-legged friends with us. It looks like a buffet from outside, but inside it’s a quality Hungarian-style restaurant.
- We can also have great ice cream in Boglár at Árkád Ice Cream Parlour. Its owner has been making ice creams without additives for 50 years.
- If we go to Lelle, we can’t miss Rock Burger along Road 7: homemade buns and great meat in the arbor of a vintage inn.
- Lelle’s promenade has everything a place like that needs: bazaars, lángos and gyros buffets, and many, many people. Mango Restaurant & Café is a quality spot, especially since they have a new chef. Their main courses are worth a try.
- Sailors and ports usually seem inaccessible, but that’s not the case in Balatonlelle. BL Yachtclub is a good example of this, as anyone can come by for dinner. BL is a huge complex where we can rent apartments, enjoy their wellness amenities, and their manager is always thinking up something new – from public elephant-bathing in Lake Balaton and vintage car races to ice skate rinks for winter. They opened a new accommodation this summer called BL Garden: it’s an old holiday home remodeled into a hotel.
- Balatonlelle has it good on the sweet-front as well, so let’s start with Márton Confectionery. Their ice creams, made from homegrown organic fruits, never disappoint, and their desserts follow the classic genre – and they’ve been doing that in a quality way for a long time.
- Geleta Confectionery shows us what’s it like when the student innovates and starts to compete with the master. This is only seemingly a contest as Márton and Geleta get on well. The desserts of the owner became popular among locals and holiday-goers as well – the counter is filled with classic Hungarian desserts and foreign stars alike.
- Coming to Fonyód, we would highlight a beach buffet that opened at a surprising location, namely at the dog beach. This is where Balaton’s renowned culinary figure, Dani Bezerics opened his buffet of the south shore called Pavilon – here they serve burgers, sausages, and other similar, simple beach foods. The buffet thought about the four-legged ones as well: there’re snacks for dogs on the counter, and bowls of water on the floor.
Translated by Emma Póli