Lake Balaton retains its sunny charm after most holidaymakers have gone home. New restaurants have opened, markets are running and there’s plenty of outdoor adventures to be had in the warmer days of autumn. Here are ten top tips.
Admire the greenery of the Folly Arboretum
The magnificent trees in the Badacsonyörs Arboretum – one of which is more than a century old – are cared for by the fourth generation of the Folly family. Walking under the special pines, cedars and cypresses is therapeutic, but the place is not just about contemplation. There’s the panorama of Lake Balaton from the pine cone-shaped lookout, seasonal dishes at the restaurant and Folly wines cultivated on the estate.
Browse retro art and design
Perhaps there has never been such a large selection of antique and contemporary objects around Balaton as there is now. In addition to the flea markets, you can also hunt for unique items or now trendy works of art from the 1970s at Csigó Malom in Gyulakeszi, the Magazin Galéria in Köveskál and the Közért Bar in Káptalantóti.
Discover a boutique winery
In addition to the large, well-known wineries, it is worth getting to investigating the wines of their up-and-coming competitors. A perfect example is Pláne Badacsony, closely surrounded by many other options.
Enjoy Balaton’s beaches in September
With the last days of September forecast to be warm, you can still head to the beaches around Lake Balaton. Of course, the water will be chillier but still suitable for a splash and a short swim. Don’t move too far from the shore, as the lifeguards have stopped for the year, and don’t expect too many kiosks and outlets to be open. Finally, watch out for fishing lines and hooks as anglers reoccupy the shores where holidaymakers once gathered.
Explore the slopes of Szent György-hegy
Follow a Blue Trail
After Sümeg, the Balaton section of the National Blue Trail for hikers passes through the hills of Keszthely and the Lesence region, then turns to taken in monadnocks and the ridges of Káli-medence, before leaving the Balaton Uplands at Nagyvázsony. There, from Badacsony, another trail leads through Salföld and the Káli-medence to Szentantalva, and then along a line through Balatonszőlős-Balatonfüred-Csopak-Balatonalmádi-Pétfürdő. Whether all in one go or in shorter stages, walking a hiking trail is something everyone should tackle at least once.
Rent a house in a little village
The ideal way to get away from it all, there are plenty of houses for rent in little villages around Balaton, your off-grid experience also coming with birdsong, greenery, hiking and a rewarding evening spritzer on the terrace.
See what’s new in gastro
Restaurants, confectioneries and cafés were among this summer’s new openings, many operating in the autumn and some even year-round. Prime location for exciting ventures is Balatonfüred – see our guide to the best places here.
Soak in an outdoor spa
When the first chillier days arrive, there is nothing better than to immerse yourself in pleasantly warm water and enjoy its healing effects. Hévíz is a unique natural phenomenon, a vast thermal lake that replenishes itself every three-and-a-half days. This constant activity is visible even with the naked eye – the lake is never still, as the spring keeps the water moving. Alternatively, the year-round pool complex at Zalakaros also involves thermal water, plus a sauna section with steam room.
Storm a castle
Lake Balaton is not all beaches and wineries – it also has a castle or two, built centuries ago precisely because of the same panoramic vantage point you can take advantage of today. One of the most beautiful is recently renovated Szigliget, while Sümeg is also impressive. If atmospheric ruins are what you’re after, head to Csobánc, Hegyesd or Tátika or hike to the ruins of Kereki or Zádorvár.