You don’t keep going back to a place because it is expensive and elegant, or because that is where your grandma used to take you for lángos in 1986. What makes a good place then? Everyone has a different answer to that question. We compiled a list of the top 100 spots we think are worth checking out around Lake Balaton for one reason or another: the waiting staff are passionate about their job, there is excellent coffee, it is the perfect place to kill an hour or even half a day. We definitely left some important ones out, and there are places that won’t make it onto our list next year. Here are our top 100 favourite haunts around the Balaton.

Around Keszthely and Hévíz

  • Vinoteca Cocktail Bar & Fröccs Terrace – Keszthely is no Badacsony, but you won’t have to settle for fröccs made from lousy wine when you are roaming the market stall lined lakeside promenades. Keszthely, Balaton-part 1.
  • Balaton Museum – Hake and lángos as museum exhibits? Keszthely, Múzeum utca 2.
  • Helikon Palace Museum/Festetics Palace – One of the obligatory and boring stops of class trips has turned into an exciting venue. And not only because we have grown up in the meantime. Keszthely, Kastély utca 1.
  • Végh-Pataki Strudels and Sandwich Mecca – Strudels galore. Keszthely, Sopron utca 5.
  • Öreg Harang Tavern – The tavern of the year according to Gault&Millau. Hévíz-Egregy, 2830 hrsz.
  • Balaton Fish and Farmers Market – One of the oldest farmers markets, offering fish, which is a rarity. Gyenesdiás, Kárpáti korzó.
  • Vonyarcvashegy Water Ski and Wakeboard Course – Waterskiing with a motorboat is generally forbidden on the lake, but everything is allowed on one of the most popular wake courses of the Balaton. Vonyarcvashegy, Fürdő utca 1./Strand
  • Bock Bistro Balaton – Master chef Lajos Bíró has finally arrived at the lake this year. We have been waiting for this for a long time. Vonyarcvashegy, Helikon u. 22.

Badacsony and the Káli Basin

  • Oszi bácsi's Bream Fry Joint – Oszi bácsi must be the most popular fish fryer around Lake Balaton. And that is not even his real name. Szigliget, Soponya utca/Strand
  • Attila Bakos’ Family Restaurant – A restaurant that is its own museum, with unique dishes and photos of famous regulars. Szigliget, Iharos u. 4.
  • Laposa Winery – One of the most active young Hungarian winemakers, his sister and their estate on the Badacsony Hills are not to be missed if you are in the area. Badacsony, Bogyai Lajos utca 1.
  • Patent Hostel – You have had a bit to drink in Badacsony, but you don’t feel like a Zimmer Feri? The pallet couch under the string lights is just the place for you. Badacsonytomaj, Füge köz 12.

  • Gyulakeszi Car Stop – This place doesn’t have a proper name or address, but the marrow on toast they serve is to die for. Gyulakeszi, at the end of Kossuth utca.
  • Istvándy Winery – The popularity of the Istvándy wines is only surpassed by the popularity of the family’s picture-perfect estate, exuding a typical farm vibe. Káptalantóti, Hegymög dűlő.
  • Liliomkert Market – The most cultic Balaton market. Despite the sword of Damocles hanging over it due to the constant threat of closure, the market is swarming with visitors from the Káli Basin every Sunday. Káptalantóti, on the edge of the village toward Zánka.
  • Tóth Vendéglő – A worthy representative of the Gyula Krúdy heritage, checkered tablecloths, lung stew and all. Révfülöp, Kacsajtósi út 16.
  • Hullám Hostel – The universally successful hostel recipe applied to Lake Balaton, with all the obligatory details from weary globetrotters to friendly bartenders. Révfülöp, Füredi út 6.

  • Miakő - The House of Káli-medence's Wines – The newest creation of sculptor-winemaker Tamás Trombitás is not a sculpture, but a spectacularly successful restaurant and wine bar. Köveskál, Fő utca 25.
  • Kővirág Pension and Restaurant – Budapest locals from the area find their way here by car with their eyes closed. Köveskál, Fő utca 9/A.
  • Káli Art Inn – People sometimes embark on a mission to make the frilly-romantic-rustic dreams of others come true. This is how Káli Art Inn was born. Köveskál, Fő utca 8.
  • Káli Kövek Winery – It is worth leaving Budapest parties and the management of a sports equipment manufacturing company behind. At least that is what we can tell from the Rieslings of winemaker Gyula Szabó. Köveskál, Fő utca 11.
  • Pálffy Wine Cellar – It is easy to experience the Hungarian version of Tuscany: grab a glass of wine, and settle down on the hillside next to the wine cellar. Köveskál, Fő út 40.

  • KerékBár – A roadhouse for bikers with elderflower cordial and bread and dripping. One of the most popular bike rest stops. Köveskál, Kővágóörsi út 10.
  • Pajta Gallery Restaurant and Guesthouse – The quintessence of the Káli Basin, a guesthouse and gallery with photos and grilled food. Salföld, Petőfi utca 9.
  • Ivóka Restaurant – The cooking of Olga Popovics is almost as famous as the songs of Tamás Cseh, who used to frequent this place. (A bit of an exaggeration, but still.) Kővágóörs, Rétsarki út 1.
  • Royal Balaton Golf Club – The only thing more elite than golfing is golfing on a course with black pine groves and a Balaton panorama. Balatonudvari, Vászolyi utca.
  • Fövenyes Outdoor Cinema – The Los Angeles-Fövenyes-axis: Hollywood releases a new film, and it immediately makes it onto the screen of a solitary Balaton outdoor cinema. No joke! Balatonudvari-Fövenyes, Gesztenye sor 5.