Lake Balaton is the largest inland lake in Central and Western Europe, although the average depth of the lake is only three meters. That is why you can expect high water temperatures almost all year round. And that guarantees optimal conditions for a beach holiday. In fact, Lake Balaton is the most popular travel destination in Hungary even before the capital, Budapest. Millions of visitors flock to the beaches of Lake Balaton every year. Half of the foreign tourists come, how could it be otherwise, from Germany. It’s a little quieter on the north shore of the lake. Here you will find sandy and grassy beaches, idyllic villages, and beautiful nature. The hinterland of the north bank was formed by volcanoes, the table mountains of which still characterize the landscape today. Wine is grown on the slopes of the hills. Excellent for hiking. Colorful lavender fields adorn the area, cultural institutions attract those interested and thermal baths and lakes provide wellness. In this blog post I will show you seven sights and attractions on the north bank that you can do on your trip to Lake Balaton. I am pleased that you came across my travel blog and hope you enjoy reading my travelogue.
The highlights of Lake Balaton
In this blog post I only report from the north shore of Lake Balaton. Because here you will find a variety of sights and some activities for your vacation in Hungary. For example, there is the Tihany peninsula, which promises a beautiful landscape and lots of attractions. You will also find a breathtaking baroque abbey and a place that is all about lavender. You can also experience lavender and ancient churches in Dörgicse. The beautiful lavender courtyard, which shines in lush purple during blooming, is an absolute highlight at Lake Balaton. In the hinterland of the lake there are basalt mountains that have arisen from extinct volcanoes. There are endless hiking opportunities in the densest volcanic field in Europe, such as the Badacsony mountain. But the bizarre halved volcanic mountain Hegyestű is also a fantastic sight in Hungary. Moreover, you can experience culture and history at Sümeg Castle, which sits enthroned on a limestone mountain and watches over the Balaton region. In addition, the thermal lake Hévíz, the largest biologically active lake in the world, provides wellness offers at Lake Balaton. Of course, you will also find the most beautiful beaches and bathing meadows on Lake Balaton on the north shore. So, you can see that this region of Hungary has a lot to offer and is a wonderful destination for your trip in Hungary. I have marked all the important sights and attractions for you on the map.
How to get to Lake Balaton
Getting here by car
Lake Balaton is very well connected to the transport network. From Budapest the M7 motorway leads to the south bank of the lake. Road 71 runs along the entire north bank. It takes about 3 hours by car to circumnavigate Lake Balaton. There are plenty of parking spaces along the entire lake. Some are free, others require a parking ticket. I have also marked the individual parking options at the sights on the map.
Traveling by public transport
Every place on Lake Balaton can be reached by train. Trains run directly to Lake Balaton from Budapest and all other major cities. You can find timetables and further information on the website of the transport company. There are buses in the villages away from the lake, but not all sights on Lake Balaton can be reached by bus. You can find out more about how to get here in the respective section of the travel destinations presented.
Ferries on Lake Balaton
In many places it is possible to cross over to the opposite bank of the lake by boat. In addition, there is a car ferry between the Tihany peninsula and the south bank, which takes only 10 minutes for the crossing.
If you want to learn more about traveling by car or public transportation in Hungary, check out my travel blog about Hungary.
1. The Tihany peninsula
Lake Balaton has its narrowest point at the height of Tihany and is unofficially divided into the North and South Seas by the peninsula. The small community is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species and was declared the first nature reserve in Hungary. Accordingly, the island offers good hiking opportunities for nature lovers. For example, the two crater lakes Belső-tó and Külső-tó, which were created by volcanism, are popular excursion destinations. But hiking trails also lead to the caves of a hermitage on the Ovár mountain.
The most famous sight on Tihany is the baroque abbey, which is enthroned on a hill on a cliff. Not far from there is the center of the peninsula. Here everything revolves around lavender and many shops, restaurants and cafés invite you to linger. You should definitely try the Hungarian lángos, which consists of yeast dough and sour cream.
Beaches on Tihany
Of course, beaches should not be missing on a trip to Hungary. There are two free beaches on the east side of Tihany. Gödrös Beach is located in the north of the island, while Somos Beach is located south of the center at a beach bar. However, you need a ticket for all other beaches. Mention should be made here of the Harbor beach, the Sajkod beach and the Átrium beach. In general, the water on the north side is slightly deeper than on the south side of Lake Balaton.
Getting to Tihany
The easiest option is to come by car. Parking spaces are plentiful in Tihany, but most of them charge parking fees.
But buses also go to the island. Line 1201 even runs directly from Budapest. Lines 1629, 7355 and 7683 run to the surrounding communities, such as Balatonfüred. You can find timetables on this website.
Short Facts for your Trip
The main season at Lake Balaton lasts from April to October, with June to September being the high season for holidays. During this time all sights are open, and the weather is dry and sunny. The opening times differ in winter. We were in Hungary in July, and it was very hot and dry. Many tourists come at this time, so I recommend the early hours of the morning or the evening to visit the attractions at Lake Balaton.
2. Lavender and ruins in Dörgicse
There are a total of seven churches in the municipality of Dörgicse, some of which are only ruins. An excursion during your trip to Hungary is worthwhile, because the ruins and churches are in a picturesque landscape. A visit can even be combined with a hike. The oldest church is that of Felsődörgicse, which stands next to a farm that is all about lavender. Admission to the Levendula Major is 2000ft and is a bit overpriced in my opinion. A visit is particularly worthwhile between June and August when the lavender is in bloom. But a visit to the beautiful garden is also possible in spring or autumn. In summary, a great attraction at Lake Balaton.
Getting to Dörgicse
This travel destination is easy to get to by car. From the shore road 71 you only have to turn once in Balatonakali onto the road Dörgicse utca. After a few kilometers this road leads through the village. You can park for free directly at the church.
There are many buses from the area to Dörgicse. Lines 7348, 7358, 7673 and 7682 in particular are frequently served. You can find timetables on the website of the transport company.
3. The halved volcano Hegyestű
Hegyestű is an absolute highlight at Lake Balaton. In the hinterland of Lake Balaton, several witness mountains extend over the idyllic landscape. These geological wonders formed once from the solidified lava in the crater of the volcanoes. One of these table mountains is the 337-meter high Hegyestű. The part of the mountain facing away from Lake Balaton was dismantled by a former quarry. This makes the Hegyestű look like it had been cut in half with a giant knife. For sure, this natural spectacle is worth a visit. A visitor center tells about how it was created and a small hiking trail leads to the top of the volcano (see map). From above you have a fantastic view of Lake Balaton and the surrounding volcanic cones. In general, I really enjoyed the visit to this attraction, and I can warmly recommend visiting the basalt mountain on your trip through Hungary.
Entry is 1200 ft including parking ticket. Children pay less. From May to August, the Hegyestű is open from 9 am to 7 pm, while the opening times are shortened by two hours to 5 pm in September and October. The attraction is closed in winter.
Getting to Hegyestű
The city of Zánka is located directly on Lake Balaton, where you leave the road 71 in the direction of Tapolca. After a few kilometers you follow the signs to Monoszló and then to Hegyestű. There are paid parking spaces directly at the volcano, which, however, are already included in the ticket price.
The Hegyestű can also be reached by bus, but you have to take a hike. It is best to take the 7706 or 7369 bus from Zánka and get off at the Zánka, szőlőhegy station. From here a yellow hiking trail leads to Hegyestű. I marked the bus stops and the hiking trail on the map. You can find bus timetables on this website.
4. Badacsony and the mountains in the Balaton Uplands
The entire area north of Lake Balaton is a huge sight, because it is characterized by extinct volcanoes. It is one of the densest volcanic fields in Europe. From solidified lava, basalt mountains formed, which still extend over the region today. These conical mountains form a spectacular landscape that offers excellent hiking opportunities. One of these mountains is the Badacsony whose foothills extend to the shore of Lake Balaton. On this travel blog I present you a nice hike through wine plantations and viewpoints on the Badacsony. The following map shows you the route and the most important points.
If you need more details or are looking for more hikes in Hungary, then take a look at this book. It enabled me to discover great hikes that I would not have found without the book. I personally like this series of hiking guides very much. The book is small and handy, offers useful information about hiking and detailed descriptions of the hikes. The book is in German, but I think the hiking routes are understandable even without knowledge of German.
Hike on the Badacsony
The hike starts from a parking lot in the north of the city of the same name (see map). A road leads steadily uphill past wineries, restaurants, and cafes. At the end of the asphalt road, you reach the first viewpoint over the expanse of Lake Balaton. However, it is possible to drive to the first lookout point by car, but the few parking spaces are quickly occupied.
The viewpoints on the Badacsony
The hiking trail then runs through a forest until you reach Kisfaludy-kilátó at the summit. This 18-meter-high observation tower is an absolute highlight, because it promises a 360-degree view of Lake Balaton and the surrounding witness mountains. Not far from the Kisfaludy Tower is the next lookout point (see map). From here you have a wonderful view of the hinterland of Lake Balaton. The strange basalt mountains stretch across the landscape and conjure up a view that you won’t forget. In my opinion, the mountains in the hinterland are a must on every trip to Hungary.
Getting to Badacsony
By car, turn onto Római út in Badacsonytomaj, which runs parallel to 71. There is a free car park on the road that leads to the basalt mountain. But there are also parking spaces right at the first lookout point, but these are occupied early. I have marked the parking options on the map.
If you are traveling by public transport, your train journey ends at Badacsony station. Unfortunately, there is no bus stop to the start of the route, so you have to walk the way from the train station. It is a 12-minute walk to the first car park.
5. Sümeg Castle
Even before you reach the town of Sümeg, the sight of Sümeg Castle catches your eye. This is enthroned on a 270-meter-high limestone hill in the center of the city. Sümeg Castle was built in the 13th century and its architecture has changed over the centuries. After a fire, only a ruin stood on the hill for 250 years before the castle was rebuilt in the 1950s. Today Sümeg Castle serves tourism in Hungary. Props and replicas can be found in the rooms of the castle and transport you back to the Middle Ages. In addition, events and jousting games take place here on a regular basis. A petting zoo and many activities for children make the excursion particularly interesting for families.
Information about Sümeg Castle
November to March 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
April, May and September, October 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
June to August 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Adults: 1500 ft
Children (6-14): 800 ft
Children under 6: free
Getting to Sümeg Castle
The Sümegi vár is located in the center of the town of the same name, Sümeg, about 20 kilometers north of Lake Balaton. If you are driving in Balatonederics, turn off road 71 onto road 84 heading north. Road 84 runs directly through Sümeg. Free parking spaces are available directly at the castle, but it is also possible to park a little off the road.
Sümeg also has a train station where trains run to and from Lake Balaton. The journey takes about 30 minutes. It is a 20-minute walk from here to the entrance of Sümeg Castle. You can find timetables on the website of the railway company.
6. Wellness at the thermal lake Hévíz
The town of Hévíz, which is famous for the thermal lake of the same name, is located on the north-west bank of Lake Balaton. Hévíz thermal lake is the largest natural and biologically active thermal lake in the world. Its origin goes back to volcanic origin. A spring cave is located at a depth of 38 meters and dispenses over 400 liters of water per second, so that the water of Lake Hévíz is completely exchanged within three days. Depending on the season, the water temperature fluctuates between 24 and 38 degrees Celsius, which is why you can swim all year round. Due to the mineral-rich water and the radioactive properties, the lake has a healing effect and helps with rheumatic and motor diseases. But even without illness, the lake serves to relax and is perfect for a wellness day. Moreover, the Hévíz Spa also has an indoor swimming pool, mud cures, massage rooms and other wellness offers. So, if you need a little relaxation on a trip, you should not miss this highlight in Hungary.
Getting to Hévíz spa
Hévíz is close to the big city of Keszthely and can be easily reached by car. There is paid parking directly at the spa and in the streets nearby. We found a free parking lot by chance, which was actually pretty empty. I marked the parking lot on the map.
There are several bus stops in Hévíz that are served by Keszthely, for example. Most buses go to the Hévíz station north of the thermal lake. You can find timetables on the homepage of the bus company.
If you prefer to travel in a group, there is a possibility to join a guided tour. You don’t have to worry about transportation, excursion planning, or food, but you can completely focus on the beauty of Lake Balaton. I recommend booking a tour through Get Your Guide portal, where countless activities around the world can be booked easily and safely.
7. All beaches on the north shore of Lake Balaton
There are many beautiful beaches on the north shore of Lake Balaton. In contrast to the south bank, the lake is deeper in the north. Therefore, the beaches are good for swimming and water sports. Below you will find a list of all beaches on the north shore of Lake Balaton. The order starts in the west at Keszthely and ends in the east at Balatonfűzfő.
- Városi Strand
- Libás Strand
- Gyenesi Lidóstrand
- Gyenesdiási Strand
- Lido Strand III Pénztár
- Balatongyöröki Strand
- Balatonederics Strand
- Szigliget Beach
- Badacsonytomaj Beach
- Badacsonyörsi Szabadstrand
- Ábrahámhegyi Strand
- Pálkövei Strand
- Császtai strand
- Szepezdfürdői strand
- Központi strand
- Víriusi strand
- Zánkai strand
- Zánkai ifjúsági strand
- Balatonakali Strand
- Fövenyesi strandfürdő
- Balatonudvari strand
- Örvényesi Szabad Strand
- Sajkodi Strand
- Somosi szabadstrand
- Városi Strand
- Gödrösi Strand
- Kisfaludy Strand
- Csopak Strand
- Alsóörs Községi Strand
- Káptalanfüred Strand
- Wesselényi Strand
- Tobruk Strand
- Zagykazetta Szörf Beach
Conclusion on the north shore of Lake Balaton
The Balaton is rightly the most visited region in Hungary. In particular, the north bank offers a variety of sights and attractions. Whether hiking in the hinterland, visiting ancient buildings, wellness offers or water sports and swimming at Lake Balaton, everyone will find their personal highlight here. However, if you are looking for a party holiday, you should better head for the south bank. Personally, I particularly liked the volcanic mountains in the hinterland, but the quiet beaches on the north shore of Lake Balaton also have a special charm. You should definitely plan for Lake Balaton on your trip to Hungary. The nature, beaches and attractions are remembered.
I hope you enjoyed my travelogue about Lake Balaton. On my Hungary blog I show you other beautiful travel destinations in Hungary and share valuable tips and experiences for your trip to Hungary. Did you like my blog post? Was I able to help you? Then I would be happy if you recommend my travel blog, leave a comment, or follow me on Instagram. Thanks for reading and have fun on your vacation in Hungary.
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