Tapolca is what I would call a pearl underneath the ground, and if you are looking for an unusual adventure, Tapolca is exactly the right place for you! In the town Tapolca you have the chance to dive into the world of geological wonders and discover one of Hungary’s largest cave systems. And this won’t be your average old cave tour, but an exciting experience rowing a boat in the lake cave with the most beautiful turquoise water you’ll ever see! Are you fascinated by geographic phenomena, and brave enough to explore the underground lake caves? Then it’s time to pack your backpack and head to Tapolca!
You will find Tapolca on the northeast side of Lake Balaton, closely situated to Szigliget Castle (you can read the article here https://lifeandtravelhungary.com/2020/08/23/szigliget-castle/), which makes these two activities an ideal day of adventure near Lake Balaton, that you can plan all year round. Szigliget Castle offers you a trip back into medieval Hungary, whereas Tapolca gives you a sight on how the fierce combination of volcanoes and water shaped the country Hungary as we know it today. You can find the lake cave inside the Tapolca Lake Cave Visitor Centre, that allows you to get a broader understanding of the caves. When buying an entrance ticket (2200ft/adult), which can be done at the counter or online, you sign up for a guided tour through an exhibition that will lead you to the lake cave. I would highly recommend to book the tour in advance to save your spot and avoid cues, because the tours get fully booked.
The ‘Wonderful Karst’ exhibition inside the Visitor Centre gives you interesting information on caves and how they started to exist, the geographical know-how of the area and the Tapolca cave system. Unfortunately, the guided tour is only in Hungarian, however, you will be able to find all the information you need on boards in several languages throughout the building. At the end of the interactive tour you have the possibility to watch a short, National Geographic style video about Hungary, after which you will be directed to the lake cave. The lake cave itself is to be found deeply underground, and is part of a large cave system that reaches out far underneath the streets of the charming town Tapolca. The existence of the caves were discovered more than 100 years ago, and still not all passages of the system are discovered yet, until today there are hidden gems waiting to be found.
Only a small part of the entire system is open for visitors because it is a strictly protected area, but you still get an impression on how imposing this underground world must be. One of the things I loved most about the Tapolca Lake Cave is that you are invited to explore it on your own. In pairs of two you can get into a rowing boat to experience the most unique boat trip of your life, rowing on the underground lake. It is an a daring expedition, boating between steep cave walls, sometimes so narrow that you have to bend and maneuver yourselves through the rocky gaps. Meanwhile, you can admire the clear blue water beneath you, thanks to the beautifully designed underwater lighting.
Undoubtedly, the Tapolca Lake Cave Visitor Centre is 100% worth visiting if you are ready for a fascinating adventure, looking for a family excursion or into the mysterious geological underground world. Yet the lake cave is not the only thing worthwhile in Tapolca, because aside this underground wonder, also the overground town center is too charming to pass on! Here you can find the Malom Lake, a picturesque spot with colorful houses, a terrace, ice-cream shops and an old water mill. You can feed the ducks, enjoy a romantic walk in the park or be entertained by the little band that plays jazz in the golden evenings. All in all, Tapolca is a miraculous little town with lots to offer and not many people knowing about it, which makes it the ideal spot to relish in the true life and travel in Hungary.