Find out if it is safe to swim in Lake Balaton, how deep it is, and what its water quality is. Tips for tourists.
Before the summer holidays, it’s a good idea to find out every little detail you might want to know, even if you’re very spontaneous. Especially if there are children in the family, you need to be even more careful.
As far as Lake Balaton, we do not have to be afraid of facing the difficulties of the seas or oceans, but there are a few things to note. After all, if you know these, you should not be disappointed.
Where is it suitable to bathe in Lake Balaton?
Lake Balaton is almost one cohesive huge beach. Bathing is possible throughout its entire area, except where bathing is prohibited by signs. Currently, 155 bathing places are designated on Lake Balaton.
In addition to the designated bathing areas, there are a number of free beaches and open shores, which are not officially designated bathing areas but are still used by many. So, you can take a dip almost anywhere in Lake Balaton.
Is it safe to swim in Lake Balaton?
It is safe to swim in Lake Balaton. In the peak season, 300,000 people bathe at Lake Balaton every day, but despite this, there are few accidents or deaths and most could be avoided in most cases.
In 2018, the lake claimed 6 lives, and in 2019 there were 5 deaths. Deaths in 2020 can be avoided…
According to Police Colonel László Horváth:
“In the vast majority of tragedies, human irresponsibility is the primary root cause.
We often find that people who cannot swim and do not know Lake Balaton slip or jump off pedal boats, sports equipment, watercraft, or go to a deep water area where only good swimmers can be safe.
Virtuosity, “over taking,” is also significantly achievable. Among those drowned in water are many adult men who jump into the water without pre-cooling with their heated body.”
How to bathe safely in Lake Balaton?
Accidents in the water, without exception, can be traced back to human irresponsibility.
The current decree of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior on the basic rules of staying in the opened water are as follows:
- In the case of a level II storm signal (yellow light flashing 90 times per minute), it is forbidden to bathe or ride in a boat (except in case of emergency).
- Any child under the age of six and any child under the age of 12 who is unable to swim may bathe in the lake only under the direct supervision of an adult.
- Those who cannot swim, or weak swimmers, should only bathe in shallow water.
- If possible, those drifting with a boat or a bathing device in a growing wind should stay in the boat as long as possible until they reach shallow water or until help arrives.
- Do not swim after drifting toys or floats into deep water.
- Do not drink large amounts of alcohol before bathing or using a bathing device.
- Do not go swimming or bathing immediately after a meal.
- Do not jump into the water when overheated and avoid sudden jumps into water from watercraft or other bathing devices (pedal boats, etc.).
- In an unknown water area, depart from small ships, boats, and other bathing devices carefully (with gradual contact with the water), as well as measure the expected hazards (wind strength, resulting drift, riverbed characteristics, water depth, and water temperature).
- Do not fall asleep in a boat or on a bathing device.
What is worth paying attention to?
In addition, there are signs that if you pay attention, you can see whether it’s worth planning paddling out for a day there or not.
The color of the water
One such sign is the color of the water: if it starts to turn more greenish, even if the sky still looks clear, but the waves are getting stronger, you might want to pay more attention and shorten your swim.
It is likely that there will be a storm soon. I can tell from experience that the storms at Lake Balaton strike suddenly. If you swim too far (you have a pool mattress in vain), the storm will suck you in and you will have a hard time getting ashore!
I was almost gone once…
Another thing to look out for is muddy soil. It can be sunken in some places, suddenly deep, and filled with holes.
So don’t jump into shallow water and instead walk in carefully, as the lake water is less translucent and cloudy so you can never know what is hiding inside.
All in all, I think it can be stated that if you do not jump into it suddenly with an overheated body and you follow the basic rules, then it is very safe to swim in Lake Balaton.
Most accidents are more due to a lack of attention. Despite the warnings, many overestimate their swimming skills, may be inattentive, and get into trouble quickly.
How deep is Lake Balaton?
Lake Balaton is 77 km long. The widest point of the northern and southern shores is 12.7 km long, between Balatonvilágos and Balatonalmádi. Its narrowest point, which is also the deepest, is located at Tihany and is only 1.5 km wide.
The average depth of the lake is 3 meters. Its deepest point is located on the Tihany Peninsula, which is called the Tihany Fountain. It is about 12 meters deep and about 300 meters from the Tihany mainland.
If you’re not an experienced swimmer, this is definitely worth keeping in mind.
How far can you go / swim in Lake Balaton?
The southern coast is much shallower than the northern one, so this can also be a consideration, depending on your swimming ability and whether there are small children in the family.
You should check out my article to find out the difference between the northern and southern shores of Lake Balaton.
The north and south coasts are completely different! It is no coincidence that a decree was issued stating that:
It is not allowed to swim in the area of Lake Balaton without a watercraft belonging to Somogy county (southern shore), 1000 meters from the shore, in the area belonging to Veszprém and Zala counties (northern shore) more than 500 meters from the shore.Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, 46/2001.(XII.27.)
Otherwise, it is important to pay attention to the signs. At 120 cm, boards or buoys are located everywhere, but beyond that only those who can safely swim should venture out.
Then on most beaches, even open beaches, there are lifeguards constantly to warn if you’ve gone too far or if there’s a problem. Beyond that, of course, there are the storm markers, which flash faster to indicate how close a storm is.
What is the climate like on Lake Balaton?
Lake Balaton belongs to a moderately warm climate. In summer, the number of hours of sunshine exceeds 820 hours and its average temperature is also higher compared to most of the country. As for the rain, the average is about 731 mm.
And if there is wind, it is worth highlighting Keszthely, as the average wind strength (1.8 m / s) belonging to the prevailing north wind directions in this area is lower than the values typical of the surrounding areas.
On the north side, the temperature and climate show the transitional features between the continental and the ocean: balanced and pleasant. Of course, sudden and unexpected storms take place here as well. The prevailing wind direction is north, northwest, but the countryside is moderately windy.
On the south side, the average temperature is higher, and the months of July and August are usually both the warmest and rainiest. Like the north, the countryside is moderately windy.
How warm is the water of Lake Balaton?
As Lake Balaton as a whole can be said to have shallow water, it quickly warms up. In summer, it can quickly reach 22-26 degrees Celsius. So you don’t have to be afraid to spend too much time in it lest you catch a cold.
Overall, the number of hours of sunshine a year is nearly 2,000 hours, just like on the French Riviera, making it a truly perfect holiday destination.
It is Lake Balaton clean, and what is its water quality?
It is a huge misconception that the waters of Lake Balaton are objectionable. Since the bottom is muddy and not stony, it can obviously be cloudy.
Think about it! If hundreds of people bathe in it at the same time, they beat up the mud which makes the water look dirty. However, this is not the same as having a problem with the water quality.
Lake Balaton has one of the cleanest bodies of water in Europe. Its water is excellent as it is also replaced every two years. The lake is fed by the river Zala, and the excess water flows into the Danube through the Sió canal.
The muddy soil of Lake Balaton is considered by many to be medicinal. There are also many healing springs in the immediate vicinity of Lake Balaton.
How much algae is in Lake Balaton?
From time to time, some algae problems can occur. This may be due to the disappearing reeds that perform a cleaning function in the water, as well as some human intervention.
Recently, for example, blue algae could be seen on the surface of the lake. It is worth paying attention to this and getting information about the water quality during the given period.
However, it is very reassuring that this is constantly monitored, and if any abnormality occurs, they try to solve it immediately, for example by scraping the sludge. In this case, however, bathing is not recommended. At the very least, you should try not to swallow the water.
Is the water of Lake Balaton suitable to drink?
Do not drink from the shores of Lake Balaton next to the free beaches, where there is crowding or within 1500 meters of the shore. The water in the middle of the lake is much clearer. However, for safety’s sake, don’t drink large amounts of it there either.
As I mentioned, a lot of bathers beat up the mud, so the water around the shores is cloudy. Another problem is the uncontrollable behavior and littering of the bathers, as well as the abundance of sunscreen they bring into the water. They pollute the water locally.
If you want to bathe in a place where the water quality is better, you should definitely avoid the crowd. I can recommend the beach in Örvényes or Sajkod.
Lake Balaton is full of better and better beaches. If you don’t know which one to choose, you’ll find the solution in this article.
Tips for bathing in Lake Balaton
Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid complications.
1. Pay attention to the signs
First of all, pay attention to the announcements and news, as they always indicate if swimming is not recommended on the given beach. But many times there are already visible signs of this such as algae and discoloration.
2. When you are done with the bathing, put on dry clothes
In addition, it is recommended you switch to a dry swimsuit immediately after bathing, as bacteria grows much faster on wet surfaces. Or, if possible, everyone should use their own towel so you can’t pass on or catch any unwanted infection.
3. Pay attention to hygiene in public restrooms
Although public washrooms do not directly depend on the waters of Lake Balaton, the eternal rule lives here too: wash your hands and do not sit on the toilet.
4. Do not go into water with an overheated body
Before and after swimming, a short shower is recommended. This is important for hygienic reasons as well. On the other hand, it is not recommended to go into cold water immediately after sunbathing when you are overheated.
5. Don’t take the storm signal as a joke
In regard to storms, always do what the lifeguards and common sense dictate. If they say you can’t stay in the water or can only stay in a certain part of it, then don’t try to be heroic because it could have a nasty ending.
We can measure this ourselves, as there are storm alarms on every beach, which flash to indicate what is going on. In the case of a first-degree storm alarm, there isn’t much to do, just pay attention. If it flashes more than 45 times per minute, the storm is approaching or intensifying.
Second and third degree storms are no longer a game, and remember, it’s not just deep water that can be dangerous. This is because in the event of a storm, the water is easily “dusted,” meaning a water spray 50-70 inches high is formed on its surface, which makes it difficult to breathe.
6. Don’t go swimming with a full stomach
What we are always used to hearing is to pay attention to not to swim with a full stomach: so just add a little rest after the meal.
7. If the water is cold, go out more often to the shore to warm up
If you feel cold, get out of the water and don’t let your child fool you into thinking that there’s nothing wrong with them, especially if their mouth is already shaking and bluish: these are signs of hypothermia.
8. Be aware of how good a swimmer you are
Measure how good a swimmer you are. If you’re not so good, don’t go into water deeper than your waist. As you go further in, the water temperature will drop as well. A sudden drop in water temperature can cause muscle or heart cramps.
9. Don’t go to bathe alone
Lake Balaton is also full of water sports and other equipment: if you are not a good swimmer, be sure to wear a life jacket when using equipment. Try bathing with others instead; that way, if someone is in trouble, you can help each other or ask for help.
Of course, these rules do not only apply to Lake Balaton. Always pay attention to signs, notices, and professionals as they are there to help us.
If you follow these rules and pay attention to yourself and your environment, there is no cause for concern.
All you have to do is enjoy the wonderful Lake Balaton.