After exploring Veszprém in spring and tasting six sensational Balaton wines, we continue our “Enyém a Balaton!” campaign: we put on our hiking boots, and dove into the realm of observation and lookout towers in the Balaton region. The necessary features for a decent lookout spot are not overly complicated: all that matters is whether it’s easy to access, and if the panorama awaiting at the top is worth the strenuous climb. We checked out ten towers to see how they measure up to these simple standards.
Observation tower on Soós-hegy – Balatonkenese
This tower is made up of a metal pillar with a spiral staircase wrapped around it and an outer wooden structure with a bunch of telecom antennas tacked onto the top. Standing on the top of the loess wall of Balatonkenese, the tower is the last station of Tátorján Study Trail: it has a great view of Fejér County to one side and the entire eastern basin of Balaton to the other (which is especially stunning during rain storms). The panorama on the south side is blocked only by a couple of cable-holding pillars. Entry is free of charge, and while the tower is open all year round, the stairs can be very slippery in case of snow and sub-zero temperatures.
Siófok Water Tower – Siófok
Situated in the main square of Siófok, the Water Tower is one of the town’s most important sights. The towering attraction was thoroughly renovated between 2010 and 2012. In return for the admission fee, you can either take a stroll around the open terrace, enjoy the amazing panorama of the north shore from the indoor area of the café, or go all the way to the top where you’ll also find a handful of chairs and tables belonging to the coffee shop. Don’t worry if you can feel the floor moving: this part of the structure actually revolves around its axis.
Adult ticket: 850 forints
Gömbkilátó Observation Tower – Balatonboglár
If you ask anyone to name a lookout point around Balaton, there’s a high chance they’ll pick Gömbkilátó. It’s spectacular indeed; according to one of our colleagues, it looks a lot like the Atomium in Brussels. The upward climb from the beach to the tower is not particularly long or difficult. You can’t find many hills of considerable size nearby, but Gömbkilátó has a wonderful view of the monadnocks on the opposite shore. The panorama and the relatively easy ascent make this a best-buy option, but don’t forget that there’s an entry fee.
Adult ticket: 250 forints
Observation tower on Sipos-hegy – Fonyód
The town of Fonyód has several lookout spots: Várhegyi Széplátó is a nice, brand new wooden construction, while Valkó Lookout Point, overlooking Badacsony, is made of stone, and is part of the promenade on top of the loess wall. Last fall we visited the observation tower on Sipos-hegy, and even though we didn’t have to leave the limits of the town, it took as a good 20-30 minutes to climb up to the peak. In exchange we got to enjoy the view of the town’s football “arena”, the marina, the monadnocks of the north shore, and the Nagy-Berek region.
Adult ticket: 150 forints
Berzsenyi Lookout Tower – Vonyarcvashegy
The Keszthely hills are abundant with lookout spots, but Berzsenyi is definitely one of the best in terms of both quality and height. Renovated in 2002, the tower is accessible from the railway station via the trail marked with the red symbol. The forest hike is absolutely worth it: in clear weather, you can apparently see all the way to the Alps and to South Hungary’s Mecsek mountain range.
Szépkilátó Lookout Point – Balatongyörök
Seriously, there are lots of lookout spots in the Keszthely hills. Balatongyörök alone has three: Bél Mátyás, Batsányi, and Szépkilátó. The reason we decided to test Szépkilátó is because it’s close to main road 71 and the Balaton Bike Ring, and you don’t have to climb an actual hill to get there. Of course this isn’t Everest, but the view is much prettier than from the other two options. All you have to do is get out of your car, and the stunning panorama stretching from Badacsony to Fonyód is right there before your eyes.
Kisfaludy Observation Tower – Badacsony
Our photographer recently visited this amazing vantage point in Badacsony, and he couldn’t speak highly enough of the experience. There’s no cable car, ski lift, or bus that you can take to the top of the hill, so prepare yourself for a hike, but don’t worry: it’ll be worthwhile. First of all, there’s the view of the neighboring monadnocks and Lake Balaton from a height of 437 meters; and secondly, you can drop by the surrounding wine cellars on your way down, and return to the starting point with a huge smile on your face.
Jókai Lookout Tower – Balatonfüred
This tower is definitely more challenging to get to: set off in the direction of Lóczy Cave, and follow the hiking trail uphill until you reach the top of 317-meter Tamás-hegy. What they say about a lot of lookout towers is true for this one as well: the view, in this case spanning Tihany to Kenese, is the ultimate consolation prize for every drop of sweat and the sore calf muscles. What’s more, you can make the ascent on a pleasant study trail called Aranyember útja (Hungarian for “road of the man with the golden touch”).
Endrődi Sándor Lookout Tower – Csopak
When hearing the name Csopak, most people think of Riesling and new-wave restaurants, the town’s popular lakefront, or the wooden installations of the Hello Wood team. What they may not know is that Csopak has an impeccably revamped observation tower, too. Located on Csákány Hill, on the Balaton Uplands, the tower is a bit of a hike away from the town center, not too far from main road 73. Similarly to the other spots, the vistas here are fantastic: the horizon stretches to Bakony in the north and at least as far as Siófok in the south.
Óvári-messzelátó Lookout Tower – Balatonalmádi
To reach Óvári messzlátó, follow the blue triangle sign from the town hall of Balatonalmádi. You don’t have to make your way through a forest; you just need to walk all the way up Batthyány Street, and marvel at beautiful Fűzfői Bay as a reward for your efforts. This is not a difficult hike, but there’s a neat little tower at the top; just don’t expect to be able to spot Keszthely in the distance.
Entry to the observation towers is free of charge unless otherwise stated.
This article is part of “Enyém a Balaton!”, the joint campaign of MasterCard® and We Love Balaton.