Best things to do in Lake Balaton
Find out more about those top places in Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton is Eastern Europe’s playground. Historically a favorite retreat for leaders of the Soviet Union, today the lake is where landlocked Hungarians go to escape the sweltering summer temperatures in Budapest. Lake Balaton, which is Europe’s biggest and shallowest lake, is home to some of the continent’s best beaches and provides countless opportunities for water-sports of all kinds. However, beyond the lakeside the surrounding countryside is home to Hungary’s hidden gems with ancient Transdanubian villages producing the country’s finest wine, ancient monasteries that still show the scars of the country’s Ottoman occupation and the spectacular Balaton Uplands National Park.
Set spectacularly on the shores of Lake Balaton, Tihanyi Bencés Apátság is one of Central Europe’s most historic Benedictine monasteries having been founded in 1055. Tihanyi’s main draws are undoubtedly the crypt-like tomb of King Andrew, the only intact grave of a medieval Hungarian monarch in existence, and the twin-spired baroque abbey that dates from 18th century.
Peppered with dormant volcanoes, wetlands of international importance and subterranean cave systems, the Balaton Uplands National Park encompasses Hungary’s most dramatic landscapes. Highlights of the park include the Orange Trail, which leads visitors high into the volcanic crags to underground Greek Orthodox chapels, and Kis-Balaton, a vast wetland home to some of Europe’s unique birdlife.
Lake Balaton is one of Europe’s largest expanses of fresh water and during the summer it is criss-crossed by boats offering enchanting cruises. The most popular starting point for cruises is the stylish fin-de-siècle resort town of Balatonfüred where boats whisk visitors to the lake’s many nature reserves and historic monuments.