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Lake Balaton
Location Hungary
Coordinates 46°50′N 17°44′E / 46.833°N 17.733°E / 46.833; 17.733Coordinates: 46°50′N 17°44′E / 46.833°N 17.733°E / 46.833; 17.733
Lake type Rift lake
Primary inflows Zala River
Primary outflows Sió
Catchment area 5,181 km²
Basin countries Hungary
Max. length 77 km
Max. width 14 km
Surface area 592 km²
Average depth 3.2 m
Max. depth 12.2 m
Water volume 1.9 km³
Residence time 2 years
Shore length1 236 km
Surface elevation 104.8 m
Settlements Keszthely, Siófok, Balatonfüred (see list))
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
Location of Lake Balaton within Hungary

Lake Balaton, in the Transdanubian region of Hungary, is the largest lake in Central Europe[1], and one of its foremost tourist destinations. As Hungary is landlocked, it is often affectionately called the "Hungarian Sea". The Zala River provides the largest inflow of water to the lake, and the canalized Sió is the only outflow.

Contents

Name

In Hungarian, the lake is known as Balaton (nicknamed Balcsi). This name derives from the Slavic blato, mud (from earlier Pan-Slavic boltьno), and has no meaning in Hungarian. The Romans called the lake Lacus Pelso ("Lake Pelso"). Pelso derives from a local name for the lake, perhaps from the Illyrian language, as the Illyrians once populated the region. Paleolinguists surmise that "Pelso" meant "shallow" in Illyrian; this deduction is based on a surmised Proto-Indo-European root *pels-, and on examples such as the German name Plattensee ("shallow sea"), a name given to the lake by the Germanic people in the area through the centuries.

Climate

Map of Balaton in ancient times

Lake Balaton affects the local area precipitation per annum. The area receives approximately two to three inches (5-7 cm) more precipitation than most of Hungary, resulting in more cloudy days, and less extreme temperatures. The lake's surface freezes during colder winters. The climate around Lake Balaton has also made the region ideal for viniculture. The lake, acting as a mirror, greatly increases the amount of sunlight that the grapevines of the region receive[citation needed]. The Mediterranean climate combined with the soil (containing volcanic rock) has made the region notable for its production of wines since the Roman period two thousand years ago.[1]

Tourist information

The major resorts around the lake are Siófok, Keszthely and Balatonfüred. Siófok is known often as the "Party Capital of Hungary", which attracts many young party goers in summer due to its numerous large clubs. Keszthely is the site of the famous Festetics Palace and Balatonfüred is a historical bathing town home to the annual Anna Ball.

The high tourist season extends from June until the end of August. The average water temperature during the summer is 25°C, which makes bathing and swimming possible. Most of the beaches consist of either grass, rocks or the silty sand that also makes up most of the bottom of the lake. Many resorts have artificial sandy beaches and all beaches have step access to the water. Other tourist attractions include sailing, fishing and other water sports, as well as visiting the countryside and hills; wineries on the north coast and night life on the south shore. The Tihany Peninsula is an historical district. Badacsony is a famous volcanic mountain and wine growing region as well as a lakeside resort.

Although the peak season at the lake is the summer, lovers of Balaton think that it is also worth visiting the lake in winter, when you can go fishing through ice-holes, or, if the ice is thick enough, brave visitors can even skate, sledge or ice-sail on the lake.

Balaton is served by Sármellék International Airport. (Closed since autumn 2009)

Chief resorts include:

Badacsony - Balatonalmádi - Balatonboglár - Balatonfüred - Balatonlelle - Fonyód - Keszthely - Siófok - Tihany - Vonyarcvashegy

Trivia

Towns and villages

Towns and villages alongside Lake Balaton.

North shore

From east to west:

Balatonfőkajár - Balatonakarattya - Balatonkenese - Balatonfűzfő - Balatonalmádi - Alsóörs - Paloznak - Csopak - Balatonarács - Balatonfüred - Tihany - Aszófő - Örvényes - Balatonudvari - Fövenyes - Balatonakali - Zánka - Balatonszepezd - Szepezdfürdő - Révfülöp - Pálköve - Ábrahámhegy - Balatonrendes - Badacsonytomaj - Badacsony - Badacsonytördemic - Szigliget - Balatonederics - Balatongyörök - Vonyarcvashegy - Gyenesdiás - Keszthely

South shore

From east to west:

Balatonakarattya - Balatonaliga - Balatonvilágos - Sóstó - Szabadifürdő - Siófok - Széplak - Zamárdi - Szántód - Balatonföldvár - Balatonszárszó - Balatonszemes - Balatonlelle - Balatonboglár - Fonyód - Bélatelep - Balatonfenyves - Balatonmáriafürdő - Balatonkeresztúr - Balatonberény - Fenékpuszta

See also

References

  1. ^ "Lake Balaton". Encyclopædia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011913/Lake-Balaton. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 

Gallery

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Central Europe : Hungary : Lake Balaton

Balaton (Plattensee in German) is major lake in Hungary and the biggest lake in Central Europe.

Get In

Frequent trains from Budapest Déli and Budapest Keleti run down the south side of Lake Balaton. Intercity trains stop at main stations such as Siófok, Balatonföldvár and Fonyód. Slower trains stop at all stations. Allow between 2.5 and 4 hours for the journey, and about 3000HUF (approx €13) for the one way fare (First Class). There are discounts for families (33%) and students (65%). Not all ticket windows at the main terminals accept credit cards so you should check the signs.

Flybalaton airport at Sármellék (SOB) at the south-west end of the lake is about 20 minutes drive from Keszthely and Balatonmáriafürdő. The airport is no longer served by international airlines.

Get around

Major cities around

  • Siófok - one city competing for the title "Capital of Balaton"
  • Balatonfüred - the other city competing for the title "Capital of Balaton"
  • Fonyód
  • Keszthely
  • Tapolca - Nice small town, Cave Lake.

Other places of interest around

  • Tihany - nice peninsula with an inner lake and church visible from most of the lake.
  • Szigliget - with the ruins of a Castle on the hilltop.
  • Badacsony - most famous winehill for its wine, on the northern coast, but rather touristic.
  • Szent György-hegy - perfect for hiking, visit the basalt organs.
  • Hévíz - Hungary's no.1 thermal spa.

See

The Balaton Uplands National Park [1] is located about 40 km from Zalaegerszeg, to the north of Lake Balaton, the largest (more than 70 km long) freshwater lake of Central Europe.
Exhitibion Sites: Arboretum Zirc, House of Forests Bakonybél, Lóczy Cave Balatonfüred, Hegyestű Geological Exhibition Site Monoszló, Manor Salföld, Lake Cave of Tapolca, Kotsy Watermill Zalaszántó, Matula Hut and István Fekete Memorial Site Diás Island, Folk House Vörs, Buffalo Reserve Kápolnapuszta, Csodabogyós Cave Balatonederics, Kőlik Cave of Szentgál,Disused Sand Quarry Várpalota

  • Hiking in the northern hills.
  • Exploring wine cellars. A well worn trail is the climb up Badacsony Hill, which is peppered with small wine growers selling their wines by the glass and bottle. Much of it is mediocre but you may find some gems. Treat it like a pub crawl and have fun.
  • Cross-Balaton Swim Contest. [2] In 2010 it will be held on 24 July(Saturday), with the first people starting at 0800 and the last starters at 1400. Over 8000 people are expected. The race goes from Révfülop on the north shore to Balatonboglár, about 5.3km. It may be cancelled in case of bad weather, so better check weather forecasts in advance. If you're taking part you can get discounts on the ferry back. The organisers transport your clothes across, so you can change when you arrive.
  • Relaxing in thermal spas. The two best known are at Héviz [3] and Csisztapuszta (just south of Fonyód).
  • Sailing. There are several annual sailing races for those prefering competition. For boat rental Fonyod, Balatonlelle and Balatonfüred are the best places. A 8m yacht from about HUF 70,000/day.
  • Swimming. Summer water temperatures range from about 16C to the mid 30s; because the lake is shallow, yesterday's air temperature will be a good guide to the warmth of today's water. There are many places to go down waterslides and just take in a bit of shallow bathing, but be aware that the shallow banks of Balaton are very murky. You can scarcely avoid getting silt everywhere. Beaches on the north shore tend to have more facilities, but have an entrance fee.The shore here tends to be rocky and the water deepens rapidly to a mximum of about 14 metres. Most beaches on the southern shore are free, though large sections of the shore are privately owned by hotels and campsites. The lake shelves slowly, so you can walk out for 500m or more before you are out of your depth, so it's very safe for children. Large free beaches are at Zamárdi, Balatonboglár, Fonyód and Balatonfenyves. There are many hundreds of access points to the shore, so you are unlikely to have to walk far to find a pleasant place to swim.

Since the lake is shallow, summer storms can create very large waves, and people have drowned in most years. A system of warning beacons around the lake alerts bathers to expected strong winds and storms: 30 flashes/minute, colour white/yellow means winds 40-60 km/h, and you should move close to the shore. 60 flashes red/white means winds over 60 km/h. Time to get out quickly!

  • Kite surfing. On windy days this is an exciting sport, but it takes a few days to learn to stop falling off. Needs a reasonable level of fitness. Centres are Balatonboglár and Balatonfenyves.

Buy

Buy wine of course!

Eat

One kind of local food is lángos, a bread-like pastry usually sold on beaches. It is offered with different toppings like cheese, sour cream, and ham, or often plain just with garlic-sauce on top. Another common "beach food" is cooked corn on the cob (főtt kukorica), grilled sausages (sült kolbász) and of course, ice cream (fagylalt, or more colloquially, fagyi).

You can also try a special Lake Balaton fish called fogas (pike-perch or Zander), served roasted.

Drink

The hills north from Balaton are know for their wine. The best you can do is going for a wine spotting tour.

Sleep

Lake Balaton has been the holiday playground of ordinary Hungarians for over a century, and most of the accommodation is in private houses and apartments rented by the owners, often through agencies. All along the road there are signs for "Tourist information" which are really agents for accommodation and tours, rather than the official tourist offices (called Tourinform). Many visitors arrive without booking and can usually find rooms for around Euro 15 per person/night. Costs for a house with 3 bedrooms can run from about Euro300/week to over 1,000 (luxury house right on lake shore).

It's worth to book the accommodation before arriving because in July and August most of the places are totally full and it is hard to find a free room.

High season for Hungarians is the school holidays, from mid-June to the end of August, but many people go home by St Stephen's Day (20 August). The whole place becomes very much quieter by mid-August, and you can easily find accommodation. On the downside, lakeside bars and restaurants also close for the season.

  • Tourinform Keszthely, 8360, Kossuth L. u. 28., Tel./Fax: 83/314-144, Tel.: 83/511-660, E-mail: keszthely@tourinform.hu, http://www.keszthely.hu
  • Tourinform Hévíz, 8380 Rákóczi u. 2., Tel.: (83)540-131, Fax: )83)540-132, Email: heviz@tourinform.hu, http://www.heviz.hu
  • Tourinform Zalakaros, 8749, Gyógyfürdő tér 10., Tel/Fax: 93/340-421, E-mail: zalakaros@tourinform.hu, http://www.zalakaros.hu
  • Tourinform Badacsony, 8261 Badacsony, Park u. 6., Tel/Fax: 87/431-046, E-mail: badacsony@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Balatonalmádi, 8220 Balatonalmádi, Városház tér 4., Tel: 88/594-081 Fax: 88/594-080, E-mail: balatonalmadi@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Balatonfüred, 8230 Balatonfüred, Petőfi S. u. 68., Tel: 87/580-480 Fax: 87/580-481,E-mail: balatonfured@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Balatonkenese, 8174 Balatonkenese, Táncsics M. u. 24., Tel/Fax: 88/594-645, E-mail: balatonkenese@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Balatonvilágos, 8171 Balatonvilágos, Aligai út 1., Tel/Fax: 88/446-034, E-mail: balatonvilagos@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Révfülöp, 8253 Révfülöp, Villa Filip tér 8., Tel/Fax: 87/463-092, E-mail: revfulop@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Tapolca, 8300 Tapolca, Fő tér 17., Tel: 87/510-777 Fax: 87/510-778, E-mail: tapolca@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Tihany, 8237 Tihany,Kossuth u. 20., Tel/Fax: 87/448-804, E-mail:tihany@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Alsóőrs, 8226 Alsóörs, Sirály park 1., Tel/Fax: 87/575-001,
  • Tourinform Balatonboglár, 8630 Balatonboglár, Erzsébet u. 12-14., Tel./fax: 85/550-168, e-mail: balatonboglar@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Balatonföldvár, 8623 Balatonföldvár, Széchenyi Imre. u. 2.

Tel.: 84/700-036, Tel./fax: 540-220, 8623 Kőröshegyi út 1 Tel.: 84/700-036, Tel./fax: 540-220, Fax: 84/340-916, e-mail: balatonfoldvar@tourinform.hu

  • Tourinform Buzsák, 8695 Buzsák, Fő tér 1/a., Tel./fax: 85/530-070, buzsak@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Fonyód, 8640 Fonyód, Ady E. u. 1., Tel./fax: 85/363-170, e-mail: fonyod@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Siófok, Siófok, Víztorony Pf. 75., Tel.: 84/315-355, Fax: 84/310-117, e-mail: siofok@tourinform.hu
  • Tourinform Zamárdi, 8621 Zamárdi, Kossuth u. 16., Tel: 84/345-291, fax: 84/345-290, e-mail: zamardi@tourinform.hu
Jetty in the sunset
Jetty in the sunset
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