Beautiful natural scenery, watersports and historic landmarks are some of the features of a vacation at Lake Balaton. This is central Europe's largest freshwater lake and the region encompasses hills, mountains and lakeside towns and resorts. Hike through the landscape, take a boat cruise across the water and tour a splendid 18th-century Baroque palace.
The lake stretches for approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) and there are many beaches along its shoreline where you can relax and swim. In addition to swimming there are lots of other water-based activities here, including sailing, surfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Stay active when you are back on dry land by cycling along lake-side paths that extend for more than 124 miles (200 kilometers) around the body of water.
Carve out some time to tour the lake’s towns and villages. Explore Balatonfüred on the lake's northern shore. Visit museums housed in old villas, drink from a mineral spring well and walk along the Tagore Promenade. Go to Tihany, located on the Tihany Peninsula for its medieval Benedictine abbey. Nearby is a geyser field.
Journey to Keszthely on the western shore to see the majestic Festetics Palace, an 18th-century masterpiece built for a noble family. Enjoy the party atmosphere at Siófok, the biggest town on the lake. Refresh your body in nearby Heviz, a town famed for its spas.
Take advantage of the lake’s scenic backdrop with some outdoor adventures. Hike through the Balaton Upland National Park, see the large basalt columns of the Káli Basin and try bird watching in the Kis Balaton wetlands area. Among the species you might see are white-tailed eagles and ospreys. In winter, go ice skating, ice sailing and ice windsurfing when the lake freezes over.
Reach Lake Balaton by driving from Budapest, a journey that can take up to 2 hours, depending on which part of the lake you are visiting. There are also train services from the Hungarian capital to several historical and picturesque destinations around the lake.