Unofficially called `The Capital of Lake Balaton`, Siofok, on the lake`s southern shore, is the most popular resort town on the lake, and the second most-popular vacation destination in Hungary in terms of visitors per year (over 200,000 each summer alone). Siofok is well-known for its extensive coastline, with 11 miles of beaches stretching to the north and south of town. Siofok Beach, the town`s main beach, is the most popular beach in Hungary. Siofok is home to clusters of hundreds of bars, nightclubs and restaurants, making the vacation destination one of the country`s most exciting nightlife hubs.
Keszthely is the largest city on Lake Balaton, and is positioned on the lake`s western shore. Populated since the time of the Romans, the emergence of a distinct `Keszthely culture` caused the area to flourish in the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries CE. Keszthely is a great place to stay while exploring nearby areas of interest such as the spa town of Héviz and the protected marshland area of Kis-Balaton. Keszthely`s most popular attraction is the 101-room Baroque-era Festetics Palace, one of the three largest country houses in all of Hungary.
Much of Balatonalmádi was built on the site of a large vineyard. When the vineyards died off at the start of the 20th century, the landowners decided to build rental homes to make the area a vacation destination for the middle class. After over 100 years, it is still one of the more popular resort towns on Lake Balaton. There are beaches close to the center of town which offer various water sporting activites, and there is also a state-of-the-art marina for those wanting to enjoy a day (or more) on the water.
The oldest and most popular of the resort towns on Lake Balaton`s northern shore, Balatonfüred is well-known not only for its mineral spas, which have brought travelers to the area for nearly 250 years, but also for its world-class marina and its yachting opportunities. People also travel to Balatonfüred for sun and swimming, as evidenced by the numerous beaches dotting the shoreline, such as Esterházy Beach, Kisfaludy Beach, and Csopak Beach. Visitors are in for a treat if they get a chance to sample the famed local Welschriesling wine.
Hévíz has been known for its thermal lake, the largest in Europe, since the Stone Age. The Romans were the first ones to build baths in the area, and the modern-day Hévíz Thermal Bath was founded in the 18th century by the Festetics family who lived in Keszthely, five miles away. The Hévíz Thermal Bath complex sits on the lake, which never gets colder than 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and can reach temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, meaning it is a popular tourist destination no matter the time of year.
Enjoy some rest and relaxation in Hungary`s newest spa town. Little more than a half-century ago, Zalakaros was a rural hamlet west of Lake Balaton with little in the way of interest to vacationers, save for its proximity to the Kis-Balaton watershed and wildlife refuge. When an oil drilling went awry in the late 1960s, the residents of Zalakaros found that they were sitting on an subterranean thermal spring, as the drillers struck nearly-boiling water! Since then, the hamlet has been marketed as a health and wellness destination.