For most people in Hungary, Lake Balaton is the Riviera. Of course, this is understandable because if we are looking for pleasant freshwater bathing or like to do water sports, we cannot find a place that is more ideal than the largest lake in Central Europe, because of its water quality, water temperature and continuous development of coastal and water infrastructure.
Tours at the Balaton Uplands
This is also certified by the crowd of tourists who come here every year. However, in many cases, the main profile, a proven feature, de-emphasizes other existing values. How sadly few people, for example, remember that a door not only separates spaces but is always there when we need a bottle opener. Not the first option though, but how good, that it is there!
The Balaton Uplands is exactly this beer opener when it comes to spending time at the lake. Of course, anyone who wants to have a holiday here will obviously come for the water, but when there is not even a little place for a rubber mattress on the popular beaches, science doesn’t have to stop there. In fact, where fate closes a door, it opens a window. Or something like that.
The point is that the Balaton Uplands is a magnificently diverse landscape to discover in the shade of the lake that it would be a crime not to wander around. But really, there’s everything here like in the frankfurter. There are forests that are full of mysteriously hidden marshes, crystal clear water springs, geyser cones, basalt organs, and so many geological wonders, which I can’t even spell.
Here you will find the Witness Mountains (Tanúhegyek), which are the hallmarks of the North Shore panorama. The Witness Mountains of Balaton Uplands got their name from the fact that they give us an insight into the state of the area thousands of years ago, including the height of the surface at that time.
For a very long time since then, the surface around the Witness Mountains has been destroyed for such geological reasons, and the mountains have retained their almost original form, thanks to their material.
One of the most special of these is Mount St. George (Szent-György hegy). It was named after the chapel that once stood at its feet. The starting point of the almost 4 kilometers long hikes, which is aiming the 415 meters high mount, is the Polish Chapel (Lengyel-kápolna), which dates back to the 1760s and is still in the original form. It is located next to a settlement called Hegymagas.
Blue tourist signs on the trunk of the trees here – signs of the National Blue Tour – sway us to the start. Following these, we come across memories built at the beginning of the route, but of course, if we are not walking at the signposts, it is only in a transposed sense.
The signs accompanying our constant escort take us out of the populated area, out of the vineyards of the hillside, and gradually drifting us into the wilderness, where, stopping and turning our backs on the mountain, we can delight the wonderful panorama of Lake Balaton.
Reaching the summit, our tired limbs can catch a breath on the bench and take over the brigade of work, as we try to be filled with the vision. The road also goes down along the blue markings.
On the way back, we find the basalt organs of Mount St. George, thirty meters high basalt columns created by the rapid cooling of the hot lava, and the Dragon-hole (Sárkány-lik), a so-called cave formed under the ruins of a collapsed basalt column. A little more descent will make us get back to the starting point of the tour.
Perhaps Badacsony is a more famous witness than Mount St. George. In addition to its natural beauty, the vineyards on the sunny side are of great attraction and the local wineries that minimize the length of the supply chain, lining the road to the Kisfaludy House and making the otherwise complete, unobstructed asphalt road dangerous, especially downwards.
However, just like the Moon, Badacsony has a dark side too. It is less well-known, less for postcards, but perhaps that’s why this part is more interesting. This is what the Basalt Boulevard is about. The 14-kilometer hiking trail has 14 stops on more popular destinations such as the Kisfaludy House and the romantic cult site Rózsakő, which is just above it.
The initial pink atmosphere is also diminished by the more densely tree-covered section of the route to the right of Rózsakő and the blackening of the mountain’s basalt cap, like preparing the hiker for the next stop: soon to arrive at the ruins of a work camp on the mountain, which was operated between 1949 and 1954.
The prisoners housed here laid the stones at the Badacsony basalt mine under inhumane conditions. Today, the ruins are overwhelmingly overgrown with vegetation, but the walls, the remains of the fence, are something of a time when hikers couldn’t get their feet in the area.
The camp is followed by a closed basalt mine, which can be accessed by steep stairs made of basalt blocks by prisoners and miners. Going down the road is less onerous; coming out of the forest, we soon arrive at a settlement called Badacsonytomaj, where the tour ends mainly along built memorials and churches.
The Káli Basin, one of the most popular micro-regions of the Balaton Uplands, does not only decrease in the Fun factor, but at altitude. The Theodora Blue Stone Study Trail leads here in the area of the Balaton Uplands National Park. A pleasant eight-kilometer hike gives us a glimpse into the geography of the Káli Basin and a glimpse of its geological treasure trove.
There are extinct volcanoes, hills, and mountains to be climbed between the 15 stops along the route from the Kereki Major, but there are also rocky sea, vineyards and peaceful herds of gray cattle. Given that the terrain doesn’t mean a particular challenge, it is a great program to explore the nature trail with our family too.
We get a bit of everything by going on one of the most beautiful and varied tours of the country on the Tihany Peninsula. Eleven kilometers of the Great Circuit tour leads through woods, fields, water, above and below, and its moderate difficulty can be overcome by any prepared hiker.
The route gives you the opportunity to roam almost the entire peninsula, touching nature trails, where we can use information boards to find out more interesting information about the area we are trampling, oak forests, lakeside, lavender field, summit on the Csúcs-Mountain.
In the meantime, we can admire a panorama that is seriously compromising the rules of our eyes. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Hungary.
Isn’t it right that Lake Balaton is much more than one of the most popular spas in Central Europe? Of course, splashing is a lot of fun, especially in the heat of summer, but we will miss a lot if we limit our visit just to that.
Not to mention that in Hungary there will probably be four seasons for a couple of more years, and why would we let the heavier ones discourage us from traveling to Lake Balaton? Let’s pack those backpacks and give a chance to the other face of Lake Balaton, we won’t regret it!