There may be restaurants a-plenty around the lake, but the real Balaton experience lies in spreading out the picnic blanket, breaking out the basket and taking in the view. Here we suggest eight ideal locations – with tips on where to get the right ingredients for the perfect picnic.
Balatonakarattya High Bank
The Akarattya High Bank, also known as Kisfaludy Promenade or Seaside Beach, is one of the most beautiful and natural lookout points in the eastern basin of Lake Balaton. From 50-60 metres up, you can see the Balatonkenese shore, Balatonfűzfő bay, Balatonalmádi, Káptalanfüred, the upper shores of Balatonaliga and Balatonvilágos and the hotels in Siófok. You can find your picnic ingredients at the Nekem a Balaton delicatessen, quality coffee poured for you by the baristas of the nearby Rusty Coffee Box .
You can also enjoy a picnic in one of the busiest towns at Lake Balaton: the spacious park, ‘the lungs of Balatonfüred’, near Szív Hospital. Originally landscaped in the English fashion in the late 18th century, by the 1800s it was an important meeting place for influential writers and public figures who holidayed here as Hungary dreamed of independence. Today, it is an ancient wooded park where you can escape the heat and crowds. Tables, rest areas and toilets have also been set up here, ideal for a comfortable picnic. For shopping, try the nearby Villa Delikát and Péklány bakery .
Here you can combine a picnic with a tour of a medieval castle by heading for the barren heights of Csobánc. The view from here is breathtaking, with plenty of other hiking options nearby for a similar vantage point. It’s worth investigating Haláp, Szent György-hegy, Badacsony or the smaller slopes around Káli-medence, such as Kopasz Hill . If you’re sticking with Csobánc, then you can fill your picnic basket at the Kávéház a Vörös Lóhoz delicatessen.
There are barbecue grills, benches, rain shelters and a playground in this forest clearing, where you can boil up a cauldron of goulash and sizzle meat. This is the starting point of many a hiking trail, to the Festetics Lookout Tower, Berzseny Lookout Tower , Vadlánlik and many other hiking destinations in the Keszthely hills. For your picnic goodies, have a browse around the Hévíz Farmers’ Market.
Human Comedy statues
Strange sculptures gaze down over Káli-medence from the shores of Lake Kornyi by the road linking Kővágóörs and Köveskál. Imre Veszprémi’s figures two to three metres high made of steel and limestone give a slightly dramatic, but Instagram-friendly backdrop for a nice little picnic. The place is ideal not only for alfresco snacking, but also for summer evenings over wine and debate. The sculptures inspired renowned Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó for several of his films. Source your picnic from Liliomkert Market and Káli-kapocs .
This little hill rises behind the Badacsony of the south shore, Balatonlelle. Here, St Donat's Chapel is one of the most romantic places at Lake Balaton, but the wine terraces and restaurants make it even more worthwhile. If you arrive with a picnic blanket, you can find everything you need at Spájz in Balatonboglár.
This lesser-known landmark of the Balaton Uplands can be approached from several directions. From this 406-metre-high lookout point, you can see monadnocks, the south coast, Somló and even distant Kab Hill. The view is so beautiful that you won’t want to move on from here even if all the goodies are gone. And where to shop for all this? Gyenesdiás market.
The grounds around the Panoramic Globe on top of Várdomb in Balatonboglár is a real mecca for picnic enthusiasts, and the venue for the first two September Balaton Picnics . The area brimming with pine trees was not only the ideal setting for the live performances by big-name artists but a prime location for star-watching from your picnic blanket. You can top up your picnic basket at Spájz.