If a place has a soul, then Tihany’s tries with all its might to break visitors away from their normal lives, and send them back with a gift, whose mysterious lavender smell will attract its wearer back over and over again!
Why am I recommending exactly Tihany to you?
Whether we are talking about a summer or winter holiday, hiding away from the world or the exact opposite, busy places, any of our wishes can come true at Tihany and its area. This is exactly why travelers love this spot so much, both in the country and foreigners too.
Other than poetic there isn’t another more corny way to describe the Peninsula, but the fact that many artists have chosen this as the location of their art gives us the right to use this description. We don’t even have to arrive with a plan list here, it’s enough to trust your own mood, and the area takes care of everything else.
The legend of the Tihany “goat hooves” (prehistoric claims)
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. This princess had a golden furred goat mother grazing on the slopes of Tihany. The only thing prettier than the herd was the royal lady herself. However, no one could hear her voice, as her lips were sealed by the locks of muteness.
The fairy of Lake Balaton and the old King of the wave had a son, but he was very ill. The king asked for a cup of fresh goat milk from the princess, so his son could get better, and in exchange, he offered to give her a voice. The princess brought a cup of milk to the king, and upon seeing his son’s healing, he fixed her voice as he had promised.
The voice the princess got was so beautiful, so mesmerizing that anybody who heard it fell in love with her straight away. However, the princess, after hearing the beauty of her own voice, became arrogant and didn’t want to share this treasure with anyone else, she only sang for herself.
As it happened, the son of Balaton’s King fell in love with the princess, who in her own vanity, broke the boy’s heart and he died from this pain. The gray-haired king got really angry and requested the Tihany crag to curse the girl and her golden herd.
The crag listened and set its stones on fire. The mountain burned for three days and three nights, making the herd run into the lake and perished. The lake is still washing up goat hooves to this day.
The crag locked up the girl in a cave, where no one could see or touch her. She paid for her arrogance with her voice for causing the death of the Lake’s King’s son, and for abusing this gift so profoundly; she had to answer as an echo for anyone who called for her.
The explanation of mysterious phenomena in Tihany
Thanks to János Garay, a poet in the 19th century, for his explanations on two of the mysterious phenomena at Balaton. The echo at Tihany and the washed-up goat hooves always played with visitors’ fantasies. But as usual, when it’s about something strange or scary, the conspiracy theories appeared here too.
One of these wild ideas is that the explanation behind the echo is the construction of the 18th century Benedictine Abbey of Tihany, which bounces back the sound from the Visszhang-domb (Echo-hill) and vice versa.
They try to explain the washed-up goat hooves with the theory that the goat hooves aren’t actually goat hooves, but a type of prehistoric clams abraded by the waves, which used to live in the then known Pannonian-Sea, which gradually made its way to the freshwater of Balaton 5 million years ago. That’s just insane!
Tihany, the natural beauty
Tihany’s popularity with both Hungarian and foreign visitors isn’t only due to its rich legends. One of the prettiest Hungarian cities is located on the Tihany Peninsula, which has been named an island before and has also been a part of the southern coast.
We don’t have to get stuck on the little details, though, more than likely thought the cartographers, who we can thank for the “Vándortihany-phenomenon”, and in their defense, regarding the available cartographic tools and knowledge in the 16th century, it’s already something that they added the Peninsula to the map at all.
Tihanyi landscape protection area
And once it made it on the map, it became higher on the list of potential destinations amid the multitude of colorful thumbtacks.
Tihany’s attractiveness is greatly enhanced by the nearby water banks and the mountains, the diverse flora and fauna. There aren’t a lot of places in Hungary where this many of nature’s specials can be found all within walking distance.
It’s no coincidence that this is where they established the country’s first landscape protection area and this is also where the Lóczy-gejzír tanösvény (training trail) runs, which is also the first of its kind.
The 18km long trail connects the Peninsula’s natural and cultural elements, rewarding its walkers with unique bird breeds and plants, as well as with volcanic formations. On request, we can get to know all of this area’s secrets through a guided tour.
As it is a Peninsula, the nearness to the banks of Balaton isn’t shocking because it isn’t the only water that we can find in the area. The crater of a former volcano, which forms the base of the Peninsula, is where the Outer Lake formed, which in reality is a swampy depression.
Back in the day, they would have drained the area, and after that, decades of reconstruction were needed to make it into what it once was, a wild, wetland habitat.
Today it is a strictly protected area, where many waterfowl and reed birds nest, but we can catch a glimpse of rarities like a graylag goose as well. Due to its strict protection, it isn’t open for visitors, but it can be easily seen from the viewpoints in the area.
Unlike the Outer Lake, the Inner Lake – let’s appreciate the not too complicated naming convention! – and its surroundings are easily accessible. If we want to get away for a while from the tourist floods that happen so often, this place is going to be the perfect haven.
There are usually two anglers near the reed-hugging lake: besides Homo sapiens, the Ardea alba also visits here for a bit of food.
We can rent a boat too, if we really want to get away from all the noise, or if we would like to catch the lake’s biggest fish.
At the Lavender-house (Levendula-ház) through an interactive exhibition, we can get to know the area’s, and the lavender plant’s history, which are the area’s most typical sights and symbols.
Enjoying the beach in Tihany
If it’s the banks of Lake Balaton, then it’s time to enjoy the beach. (If you know a more striking cliche, then keep it to yourself!
In Tihany and its area, we have more than one opportunity to soak our curves in natural water. The best-known one is perhaps the Gödrösi szabadstrand.
It’s a pretty long, narrow section of the beach, just in front of the coastal road, but we don’t even notice this while bathing in the lake. This bathing spot is liked by the locals too and is free of charge, not the parking though, and there are buffets at the other side of the road. And if we are bored with the water, let’s head to the adventure park just across from us!
Its twin is the Somosi szabadstrand, regarding its offered services and its location, there isn’t too much difference between the two beaches – a secret favorite, the not so well-known Sajkodi strand hiding at the west corner of the Peninsula.
It’s not easy to find it, but the reward for preservation is a unique experience: the bay is in front of us, the impossibly green Csúcs-mountain is behind us, and under our feet is the soft grass.
What to see in Tihany?
Looking at these characteristics, not many get shocked when they find out that people have been living here since prehistoric times; Tihany and its surroundings have been a liked area during the Bronze and Iron Age.
By the Roman Times, there was already a water-crossing here. The city was established in 1055 when King András I decided that it would be an ideal resting place for the deceased members of the royal family.
This is also when the Benedictine Monastery was built and became a certificate-issuing establishment during the 13th century.
The monastery, which was used as a fortress in the 16th century due to a large number of aggressive Turkish visitors, was burnt down at the end of the 17th century, then with the end of the Turkish wars there was no need for its defense, so it was demolished.
During the 18th century, they rebuilt it in a Baroque style and became the symbol of the city. The Tihany Benedictine Monastery isn’t only the home of monks today but also hosts constant and temporary exhibits about the history of the church and the monastic order and the connecting Hungarian history in the museum. Constant fine art exhibitions are held at its gallery.
Not far from the abbey is the Tihany Calvary, which was recently rebuilt after its demolition in 1960 and which commemorates Jesus’ sufferings. Besides this work at the Echo-hill, it’s also worth visiting for the view from the hill.
The Tihany skanzen provides a peek inside the city’s history, through its unique buildings to the everyday life of people of various occupations. At the restaurant, we can try dishes prepared with traditional tools and methods, moreover, we can stretch strudel here ourselves, which we can bake ready at the outdoor oven.
Besides these, we can find a pirate museum, royal panopticon, and even an Indian museum (NOT a native Indians of Tihany museum!) 😀 .
Something is always going down at Tihany – Festivals and Events
You may be right if you are wondering “is this all, really?”, I have bad news: NO! Tihany never sleeps; the all-year-round festivals don’t let the mood calm down here.
The season starts in February with the Farkas farka-Téltemetés (Tail of the Wolf, Winter burying) Festival, and then the Húsvéti nyuszi-buli (Easter bunny-party) will really bring spring.
In May during the Kecskeköröm Ünnep és Tavaszi Népzenei Találkozó (Goat hooves Celebrations and Spring Folk Music Meeting) all kinds of traditional and folk art activities are organized, along with a cooking competition and the traditional races. Oh, and you can also get some of that goat hooves from the legends!
In June, during the Tihanyi Pünkösdi Pálinka Piknik (Tihany Pentecost Pálinka Picnic) goat milk ISN’T the focal point. Hand-crafting activities, concerts, Pentecost programs interrupt the various pálinka tastings.
I didn’t even sober up yet, and the yearly Levendula Fesztivál és Levendula Hetek (Lavender Festival and Lavender Weeks) are already here, where we can meet Tihany and all of its surroundings thanks to the various programs, tours, and markets.
Not mentioning everything, there is also a beer festival, Echo-festival, Harvest Days, Garda Festival, gastronomy events and markets, and many other events until the end of December, and then it starts all over again.