For a while there it wasn’t certain that there would be a summer at Lake Balaton, but Hungary’s great getaway has gradually reopened since May. True, a little differently, a little slower and keeping its distance, but you can still enjoy a walk in the woods or an individual sport on the water. Here are six great tips!
Watch sunrise from a monadnock
You have to get up very, very early in the summer (or stay up until dawn) to catch the first rays of the sun from the top of a solitary hill, but it’s worth it. Once you experience the orange-red half-light over the lake, you will make sure to factor it into every Balaton trip. Any monadnock would do – flip through here for details.
Explore beech forest
Hiking in the shade of the forest is a great idea for summer – and Balaton is surrounded by beech woods. Vászoly behind Balatonudvari rises to an altitude of about 180 metres, the dolomite bedrock of the Balaton Uplands characterised by oak and karst bush, and the beech woods are 600-800 metres high. In the adjoining Pécselyi-medence, beeches cover the steep, north-western slopes with a cooler microclimate, with rest and drinks stops dotted around.
Break out the picnic blanket
Although restaurants around Balaton are open by now, eating in the great outdoors is great thing to do in summer. There are plenty of backgrounds to choose from, from the high bank of Kenese to the slopes of a monadnock and the hills of Káli-medence, but you will also find tables and beautiful clearings in many locations.
Take up an individual sport
Although coronavirus restrictions have been relaxed, the rule of keeping social distancing still apply. If you want to actively relax, hiking, SUP paddling, kayaking, running, cycling, tennis and outdoor gyms are still great exercise options.
Tour Kis-Balaton by bike
Gentle roads, birdsong and convenient beaches underscore any bike trip around Kis-Balaton, the little lake just south-west of Keszthely. Bike rental is available from the Kis-Balaton Ház in Zalavár. You can choose the long route or the short one – westerly Hídvégi-tó suits the easier one. Between Zalavár and Balatonmagyaród, the bike path runs along the lake shore, and from here you can meander on side roads in Zalakaros, Zalakomár, Zalaszabar and Zalavár. The bigger route also goes around Lake Fenéki, then you have to go from Zalavar to Sármellék, from here to Fenékpuszta on the main road 76, then by bike to Balatonszentgyörgy. Finally, traverse roads light with traffic to Balatonmagyaród, to rejoin the small circle. There’s a Hungarian-only bike map here.
Watch sunset from church ruins
In the forests around Lake Balaton, alongside villages, and on the edges of fields, the ruins of many medieval churches have survived for posterity. Visiting them at sunset is like being part of a fantasy. The best examples include Dörgicse, the abandoned tower of Somogyvámos and the ruins of Töttöskál Church in Szentbékkálla.