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Lake Balaton offers a long shoreline dotted with family resorts on the southern side and welcoming vineyards to the north. With its green and silky water, the lake is Hungary’s favourite summer retreat. However, there is much more to do all year around than just lounge around at the lakeside. Each waterfront town has its own unique character, from the cultural centre of Keszthely at the western tip to the elegant spa resort of Balatonfüred. Situated a little over 120 kilometres southwest of Budapest, Lake Balaton stretches out diagonally from the capital as a kind of lumpy oblong for 77 kilometres. The most interesting statistic of the lake is its depth, or rather lack of it as the average depth is just 3.3 metres. Especially along the southeastern shore, you have to wade out a long, long way before the water comes up to your knees. For this reason, the lake is extremely popular with families with young children. Lake Balaton also offers a surprising range of entertainment possibilities. While Siófok on the southern coast attracts the young, party-loving disco crowd, it also offers all around family fun as well. The north bank around Balatonfüred is a little more sedate and populated with artist colonies, but it is also a perfect choise for families. The most family-friendly beach around the Lake is situated in Balatonfüred, the Eszterházy Strand. The craggy outcrops of Badacsony are covered with vineyards and the healing waters are good both for drinking (Kékkuti) and bathing (Hévíz). The gastronomy around the Balaton has being improved in the region. Recently more and more restaurants has used local ingredients and new method to prepare the dishes. The bistros and Fröccsterrace have been appered in the small villages as in the 3 big towns as well, where you can taste beach food also, such as waterdog or Balcsi Bagel.
Lake Balaton is a real Hungarian treasure, offering a long shoreline dotted with family resorts on the southern side and welcoming vineyards to the north. With its green and silky water, the lake is Hungary’s favourite summer retreat. However, there is much more to do all year around than just lounge around at the lakeside. Each waterfront town has its own unique character, from the cultural centre of Keszthely at the western tip to the elegant spa resort of Balatonfüred. Situated a little over 120 kilometres southwest of Budapest, Lake Balaton stretches out diagonally from the capital as a kind of lumpy oblong for 77 kilometres. The most interesting statistic of the lake is its depth, or rather lack of it as the average depth is just 3.3 metres. Especially along the southeastern shore, you have to wade out a long, long way before the water comes up to your knees. For this reason, the lake is extremely popular with families with young children. Lake Balaton also offers a surprising range of entertainment possibilities. While Siófok on the southern coast attracts the young, party-loving disco crowd, it also offers all around family fun at the annual Coca Cola Beach House. The north bank around Balatonfüred is a little more sedate and populated with artist colonies. The craggy outcrops of Badacsony are covered with vineyards and the healing waters are good both for drinking (Kékkuti) and bathing (Hévíz).
Lake Balaton is a gourmet’s heaven. The lake is surrounded with resorts devoted entirely to entertainment and leisure. Resorts such as Balatonfüred, Keszthely and Siófok are crammed with restaurants, bars, cafés and nightclubs offering mostly sturdy, meaty Hungarian cuisine, although Italian restaurants are extremely popular also. The lake is home to 40 different kinds of fish and many of these make their way onto the table. The volcanic soil around Badacsony produces some of the best white grapes in the country and the wine makes a superb accompaniment to fish suppers.
The entire circumference of Lake Balaton is filled with resort towns, which makes for a plethora of bars, cafés and places to taste the delicious wines and life-enhancing mineral waters from the region.
Lake Balaton’s bars have delightful terraces in the spring and summer overlooking the waterside and an excellent spot for sipping on local chardonnay and chilling out. The main Balaton destination for party-goers is Siófok. This resort is entirely given over to hedonism, especially in the warmer months, when ravers stay up until dawn, often rounding the night off in style with a dip in the lake. The resort of Balatonfüred, on the northern shore opposite is more sedate, however it too lets its hair down during the many wine festivals in the autumn.
Lake Balaton is a holiday and relaxation destination with an abundance of hotels, restaurants and swimming pools but very few opportunities for shopping. Keszthely’s main street has a few supermarkets where you can pick up all the necessities and a lively market on Wednesdays and Saturdays where you can find everything from clothes to food and wine. Keszthely also has a Tesco superstore if you forget anything from home. There are 11 Tescos around the Lake Balaton altogether. The only Mall around the Lake Balaton is situated in Siófok. There is a cinema inside as well. On Sundays all of the supermarkets are closed. Tihany has many shops selling souvenirs, not just tacky objects but hand-crafted goods such as embroidered tablecloths, carved wooden toys, ceramics and folk items. From one of the many wine cellars in the Badacsony region, visitors can purchase home-made wine to take away. Balatonfüred also has many good souvenir shops and stalls along the shoreline where you can buy beach towels, sunglasses and suntan lotion. When the wine festival takes place in Balatonfüred, it is also possible to buy many excellent local wines at bargain prices. If you prefer natural produces you have to visit one of the many cosy Farmer's Markets round the Lake, where you are able to buy tasty vegetables and fruits, diary products, eggs, smoked meat, cheeses, honey and jams. The mood is always great at the markets. You can find Farmer's markets in Káptalantóti, Hévíz, Vászoly,
Although Balaton is a region and not a city as such. The compostite facilities and amenities of a thriving city can be found spread across the numerous settlements all around the lake shore. Health facilities, sports grounds, entertainment and even a dedicated airport are all near the lake, though one must not forget that it is 77km long, so travelling from one end to the other can take a while, especially by public transport.
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