Balatonfüred, the Hungarian Riviera

Sun, sea and long avenues to flaunt around and about in your most charming dress, it sounds like a description of any other luxurious beach town. Saint Tropez, Cannes, next in line; Balatonfüred! Now, Lake Balaton is our sea and those luxurious beaches are made of grass, but still, in summer time Balatonfüred is the place to be. Dine with the riches with a panoramic view over the lake, go cruising with a yacht and feel the vacation vibes.

Balatonfüred’s “sun, sea and beaches” is staged front of a charming historical background and in a rich culture package, turning it into an even more attractive holiday destination. There is an unique old town center to discover with handcraft shops and adorable coffeehouses, impressive historical buildings, eclectic mansions, churches and beautifully designed parks. Being on the Northern side of Balaton, Balatonfüred also plays a part in the rich wine culture, resulting in a wine festival every summer with a wide arrangement of different types of Hungarian wines from the region. Imagine the long avenue next to the lakeside filled with small, traditional wooden houses, every one representing a different local winery. Let the owners advise you, pick your favorites and enjoy your personally selected wine tasting from one of the benches with a beautiful view over Lake Balaton.

Balatonfüred, unlike your typical Riviera,  is not only for the higher classes to enjoy, but you can also find some low-budget places as a good alternative. Balatonfüred is already worth a visit to just stroll around the historical town, and instead of a yacht you can easily rent a paddle boat! If you come to Balatonfüred to relax, then a tourist boat excursion could be another good alternative to still catch the feeling of the “Hungarian sea”. If you are looking for a place to swim, be aware of the fact that most beaches throughout the whole northern side of Lake Balaton require a small entrance fee, which usually means that no dogs are allowed, free beaches can be found on the southern part of the lake, or you can choose to visit the Aquapark.

As in any other place in the world, it is always good to keep in mind when you sit down in a restaurant or at a terrace, that at place with a view on the lake you usually end up paying already more than average, but a simple pizza will never be too overpriced. From personal experience I could recommend Il Lago Restaurante, a great Italian place next to the water, but if you don’t mind the view and wish to pay a little bit less, then Arany Csillag is just as great of a choice, on five minutes walking from the city center. If you like the Italian cuisine, you will easily find a place to eat, as most places around Lake Balaton tend to offer Italian food, rather than Hungarian dishes.

If you wish to add some more culture to your visit, you have plenty of options here. You can visit the beautiful memorial house of Jókai Mór, one of Hungary’s most celebrated poets, or check out the Vaszváry Gallery, both of them are to be found in the historical town center of Balatonfüred. If you like to get to know more about the traditions and history from this area, you will find everything you need in the Helytörténeti Gyűjtemény (Museum of Local History).

As strange as it sounds, a place you absolutely mustn’t miss is the Cardiology Hospital of Balatonfüred. At the end of the idyllic avenue you will find a neatly arranged park, which leads to the square on which one of the most beautiful hospitals of Hungary is situated. It is an extraordinary spot, not only because of the unexpected function of this dignified building, but also because right in front of it, you will find a drinking fountain with thermal spring water. The water from this fountain is claimed to be healing water, as it contains carbonic acids due to the area’s volcanic history, and is especially effective against heart problems. This is why the Cardiology Hospital also uses the water coming from the spring. Bring an empty bottle, so you can get a taste of the magical water from Balatonfüred!

All in all, Balatonfüred is much more than just the Hungarian Riviera. If you wish, this is the place you will find yachts and fancy places, but it is also a town which is rich in culture, and has its own characteristic face. For wine lovers and swim fanatics, yacht owners and paddle boat fans, foodies and culture enthusiasts, in summer time Balatonfüred is the place to be.

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