Lake Balaton is surrounded by beaches, scores of them, some with all manner of play facilities, others equipped with sports courts, several known for the food they offer. Many now charge admission, with a few free ones dotted around the north and south shores. Here, using the Balaton Association’s Blue Wave Flag ratings as our guide, we present the ten best. Note that Hungarians have flocked to Balaton this summer in even bigger numbers so keep social distancing in mind.
Balatonberény községi strand
At family-friendly Berényi Beach, you feel as if time has stood still but, woven in with the nostalgia, the services and facilities on offer here as you would expect from a beach along a calmer section of south shore. There is a special area for parents with small children, quiet, shaded groves, a large playground and a children's pool. Those who play sports can take over the outdoor fitness machines, and on Saturdays, sports events take place as part of the Balaton Move! series.
Balatonföldvár Keleti strand
East of the local harbour, halfway between Balatonföldvár and Szántód-Kőröshegy stations, this popular destination saw a 42-metre-long, 1,000-square-meter pebble beach open here in 2017, near the Viharsarok Sailing Centre where you can catamaran or surf. The street-side part of the shaded area is occupied by sandy sports courts – basketball, beach volleyball, football – and many beachgoers are attracted by the nine-metre-high slide, more than 80 metres long. The only downside is the relative lack of parking spaces.
Balatonfüred Esterházy strand
Esterházy Beach, located at the eastern end of Tagore Promenade, sits in the exclusive category along the north shore, thanks to the landscaped plaza, the Tihany panorama, the adventure pool, the relaxation terraces and sports courts. And, of course, the elegant atmosphere: even aristocrats and adventurers holidaying here in the 1800s would have dipped in the cooling waters here if they could have done.
Balatonfüred Kisfaludy strand
Located along Aranyhíd sétány, Kisfaludy Beach has found a way to retain its homely atmosphere, while expanding its range of attractions and facilities. Children will love its slide park, fun pool and playground, while those looking for a place of peace can visit the library, too. In addition, there’s a guarded bicycle storage, a mother-and-baby room, as well as wheelchair-accessible infrastructure to raise this beach from the plethora of average ones.
According to popular opinion, this beach has the most wonderful panorama on the north shore (maybe with the exception of the recently renovated Balatonederics Beach), with a great view of Szigliget Castle and the highlands. There’s a playground with a small theme park for children, while adults can enjoy water aerobics and surf. Beachgoers will not only find the classic lángos, hake and pancake options, but new-wave bistro foods as well. Try Mango Beach, Party Csóka or Black Sheep, which offers both gluten-free and vegan lángos.
Here at one of the most expensive beaches at Lake Balaton, admission 1,600 forints (!), you’ll find the largest shore-side slide, starting from a height of more than ten metres. Despite the steep prices, it’s still worth arriving in the morning, as crowds come thick and fast to fill this expansive, grassy beach space, spots under natural or man-made shade taken pretty quickly. Dining and drinking options are varied, with sports courts for volleyball and football located at the far end.
Gyenesdiás Diási Játékstrand
It is no coincidence that the place is called Play Beach: all all age groups can find an activity to enjoy, whether it’s on land or in the water. In addition to beach soccer and streetball courts, there’s also Teqball, table tennis, football tennis, pétanque, outdoor chess and ball games in the water. Animators roam the facility, inviting adventurous beachgoers to take part in sports competitions. Judges of the Balaton Association’s Blue Wave Flag awarded this beach the highest points for 2020.
For many, Szigliget Beach is not just a holiday destination, but the love of a lifetime. Despite the fact that you can find more spacious and busier places to find around Balaton, its panorama, beautifully kept lawn, bike-storing facilities and shaded trees make it one of our ultimate favourite spots, not to mention the amazing fish fry-up joint of Oszi Bácsi. You can visit in winter, too, skate on the ice, warm up in a sauna or make a splash on New Year’s Day.
Equipped with a sandy beach and a superb infrastructure, Vonyarcvashegy Lido offers a variety of water and land sports, and there’s almost always some kind of a match at the beach volleyball courts. You can also learn how to surf here if there’s a wind, and there’s SUP and wakeboard, too. Shaded spots on the beach go like hot cakes at weekends, so get here early.
There’s more than three kilometres of beach here, so you can find a place even on the busiest weekend. The view of the Tihany Peninsula is outstanding, the water is shallow and you can jog on the long promenade in the early morning. If you want to eat well, orientate yourself to the end of the beach towards Szántód, where the winner of the 2019 Beach Food Competition, Tiki Beach Bistro, is located.