It feels like there are parallel Tihanys existing at once. You have the traditional one, with the echo and the farm houses, with the abbey and its two towers that can be recognized from everywhere in Balaton, and all the tourists that come with this. However, that’s not all, as here you can go for a hike to see geyser cones, or surf in the wild greens, end up in a cool restaurant among the tourist traps, or on a hidden waterfront terrace. Between the lavender pillows and the folk cheesiness, Tihany is filled with quite great places.
If you visit Tihany, you might feel like the place was built especially for tourist by resourceful entrepreneurs who simply wrote its history later to make sure no one suspects that it’s a scam. All the alarming elements are here: lavender vendors, traditional houses with paprika garlands, everything inviting tourists to spend their money. Although there might be some truth to this, if we look around, we’ll find that this is destination that’s worth more than just a quick stop for a photo.
When it’s not exactly beach weather, hiking in the area is a great idea, especially since Hungary’s very first study trail can be found here, with rare bird species and interesting volcanic formations (geyser cones). What’s more, when we hiked these woods last fall, we bumped into an American guy barbecuing at a campfire, but that might just have been a one-of-a-kind case.
A few joyous hours can be spent with art here, as Tihany has a surprisingly great selection. It’s safe to say that with the permanent and temporary exhibitions of KOGArt, and the art festival of ARTplacc (from July 21 to August 25 this year), Tihany one of the centers of art in Balaton. Although sometimes one or two paintings go missing, they always turn up under miraculous circumstances.
Those who love active recreation and heights can either visit the lookout tower that opened in 2016 or go to the adventure park – which is also a great refuge from the heat. If, on the way there, we change our minds and decide to cool down in water, we can walk across to the Tihany Gödrös Public Beach. Talking about beaches, we can also splash at Somosi beach or at the beach of Sajkod; the latter has an entry fee, but it’s in a truly wild, green area, so it’s a place that all hardcore Balaton-fans should visit.
You can also leave the bustling village behind and go to Lake Belső, from where Tihany looks like a postcard, or you can visit Lake Külső to observe greylag goose.
Visitors of Tihany might feel like the village is all about lavender and that everyone is trying to get rich from it. Lavender is used for everything here from ice cream to scented candles; Levendula Ház is not only a place where you can taste lavender syrups, but here you can also make lavender soap balls, learn more about the wildlife of the Balaton Uplands, volcanoes, marshes, and many other things, so it’s definitely worth to stop by, even with children. And if you still won’t have a lavender-overdose after this, you can even pick your own at the lavender field.
The Balaton Limnological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is another great spot to visit – there was a time when it wasbusy with Nobel laureate scientists. Groups can visit the Institute, but they also have an open-day every July.
Downtown Tihany is undoubtedly charming and it kind of feels like an open-air museum, but that doesn’t mean that all the restaurants are tourist traps. For instance, we can find the recently refurbished Malackrumpli here – and some people are even willing to travel hundreds of kilometers to have lunch in that restaurant.
We can stop by Apáti Restauranton the way back from the above-mentioned Sajkod beach; due to the location, one might expect deep-frozen fries, but what we really get is duck liver paté marinated in Tokaj wine, served with wine jelly.
For a more traditional environment, go to Tűzkert, where the goose legs come from the 180 years-old oven of a former fishing house, or stop by the restaurant-museum of Régi Idők Udvara.
We would recommend Tündérsziget for a coffee and cake before the morning beach-time, or for lemonade in the afternoon, while for an afternoon snack, and an absolutely Instagram-friendly view, we can visit Rege Confectionery. And if we crave ice cream, then Levendula Ice-Cream Parlour is the place to go to.
If we want to cook at home, we can not only buy homegrown vegetables at PIAC Placc, but we can also get various other products here, like tasty truffle sauce. Plus, the lángos of the market was always voted as a Balaton-favorite in the past few years, and the local bistro is always ready for market-goers on the weekend.
Tihany has a great selection of sports as well. SUP Center Balaton is for paddle boarding (we can rent a board for an hour for 3,200 forints), or we can do yoga in the middle of the lake – or paddle into THE Bar. As an outsider, this place is only approachable on water, but if we do so, we can have a great lunch on the waterfront.
We left Tihany Abbey for last on purpose – this is a place everyone who visits the area should see as there are some great guided tours here, plus there’s the famous echo no one can miss. Although popular belief is that the echo is gone, it’s still there – but, according to the head of the abbey, it doesn’t like the noise.
Barátlakások is another very interesting place to visit as these are the only cave hermit homes in Central Europe that stayed relatively intact all through the decades.