What is the difference between the northern and southern shores of Lake Balaton? For whom are these two beaches recommended and why? I will show you which you prefer according to your needs.
I have to spoil it from the beginning: both the north and south shores are very cool. However, the two shores of Lake Balaton are popular for different reasons, so the target audience is also different.
If you can’t decide to discover the northern or southern shore of Lake Balaton first, I’ll give you a little help now.
All you have to do is decide what your main goal is: a party, relaxation, or a trip? One thing is for sure, everything is possible at Lake Balaton.
What is the difference between the northern and southern shores of Lake Balaton?
Of course, before I list the main attractions and program options, it’s important to clarify the main differences between the two shores.
From time immemorial, people have lived and traded on the shores of Lake Balaton, and the two shores have always been competing with each other. Which shore of Lake Balaton is better, more exciting, or more beautiful?
However, no distinction should really be made, as the northern and southern shores of Lake Balaton are both beautiful and special, they only offer different things.
The northern shore of Lake Balaton is surrounded by beautiful mountains. The hilly area has a very pleasant microclimate. Thanks to this, high-quality wines are made here which are worth tasting. The highest point of the Balaton Uplands is Mount Som, which is 440 meters high.
The southern shore of Lake Balaton, on the other hand, is flat but much better built. Countless restaurants, cafes, and entertainment opportunities await us.
Differences also occur in water. The water has cooler and much deeper sections on the north shore, while those living on the south shore can imitate walking on smooth water, the water level there is so shallow many times.
So, if you want to swim, be sure to choose one of the settlements on the north coast as your destination. For those who, for example, travel with a small child and are a little wary of deep water, the south coast may be the winner. Children can often go the water up to 150-200 meters without covering them.
The northern shore of Lake Balaton is recommended for those who like climbing and hiking. It’s no coincidence that there’s a mountain waiting to be climbed in every bush there, but at least there’s definitely a hill you can go up to and admire the view.
For the more comfortable types who want, say a leisurely bike ride where there is no need to roll up to some unconscious height, the south coast is a good choice.
It may be surprising, but there is even a difference between the wines, if only because of the natural endowment: different grape varieties are grown in both regions. In the north, white wines are more popular, while in the south, reds. In addition to a semi-sweet or fruity Balatonboglár merlot (southern shore), we can find full-bodied red wines that anyone would envy.
The north coast is cooler than the south, and the composition of the soil is different, so wines with lower alcohol and acidity are typical there. In the north, smaller, family wineries and traditional wines are more prevalent, while in the south, more emphasis is placed on large-scale production and modern innovations.
Although in the past a large number of apartments, motels, and hotels were more available on the south coast, and people also preferred to invest in the real estate market, today this seems to be leveling off.
More and more development has started in this region as well, and now there are at least as many good places on the north coast as in the south.
Differences between the two shores of Lake Balaton – Summary
|Hilly mountain area
|Cooler deeper water
|Warmer shallow water
|Quality white wines
|Mainly red wines
|Rather paid beaches
|Lots of free beaches
|Fewer historical sights
|More entertainment options
|Harder to reach
Is the northern or southern shore of Lake Balaton better?
There is no exact answer to this question. Like I said, both coasts are super.
Why is the north coast better?
What the people on the north shore tend to argue with is its history. The northern shore truly has a really patinated past, as, where were the parties in Siófok, when people were dancing at the Anna Ball in Balatonfüred.
The mountainous shore of Balatonfüred and its somewhat Mediterranean character exude an amazing atmosphere. You won’t find it anywhere else, just on the north shore.
Then, on the north shore, there is the Tihany Abbey, which was built in 1055 by King Andrew I and rebuilt in 1719. The Benedictine Abbey survived the Tartar invasion and the Turkish occupation. However, in 1683, it was destroyed in a fire.
Of course, in addition to these, there are many historical sights on the northern shore, such as the Szigliget Castle. So for those who want to immerse themselves a bit in the historical sights, I recommend the northern shore of Lake Balaton.
Why is the south coast better?
The advantage of the south coast is the easy access. Thanks to the M7 motorway and, of course, Siófok, which is only a spit away from the capital, can be reached in about an hour. On the south shore, the rare free beaches are also attractive, as it doesn’t matter to our wallets what we spend on, say, on a week vacation.
Zamárdi, Siófok… these places don’t even have to be presented to young people, there is always a party, festival or concert. Members of Generations Y and Z are almost certain to prefer the busier south coast.
To the north, to the south – the part of the coast to choose is tailored individually
Let’s take a closer look at who has which beach recommended and why. Or what are the programs and attractions that are sure to be listed on that stretch of coastline?
Who should choose the south coast?
Water sports enthusiasts and young children
On the southern shore of Lake Balaton, as I mentioned, the water is much shallower. This is not only good for families with small children but also comes in handy for learners of sports such as Windsurfing.
If we fall into the water from here, we can hardly be in trouble and maybe have less fear in us by throwing ourselves into the bigger foams. Moreover, if we drift off the south coast, we do so not toward deep water but toward safe land.
And of course, there’s the issue of clarity: while the lights have been on for a long time on the north shore, it’s still bright on the south shore.
Let’s not forget the beautiful sunset that we can only admire in this way from this side. The certain “golden bridge” that the sun paints on the water of Lake Balaton gives an unforgettable experience.
In winter, let’s say the dice turns, just like the Earth does, but in summer you enjoy the long days better.
While undoubtedly the rich history of the north coast is hard to surpass, the Southerners should not be ashamed either.
Although the south coast has been inhabited since Roman times, most monuments have survived from the Middle Ages. Suffice it to mention only sights such as the Somogyvámos Church or the Árpádian Church in Gugy, and history buffs can already have a fever.
Well, the view is one of the indisputably good points of the south coast: from here a breathtaking view opens straight to the north coast.
Although the countryside is more flat, there is a height from which we can admire the mountains on the other side and Lake Balaton, which is always changing and has a thousand faces.
For this purpose, we can walk along the Panorama Promenade, to one of the lookouts in Fonyód.
Another option is to climb the Gömbkilátó (Spherical Lookout Tower) in Balatonboglár, and if we don’t want to move so much, we should make ourselves comfortable on the Ferris wheel in Siófok.
It is worth knowing about the Spherical Lookout Tower that it is located on the 60-meter-high Várdomb (Castle Hill) and is 15 meters in diameter, and of course, offers a wonderful view of Lake Balaton.
In Balatonföldvár, we can walk along the 1 km long Kvassay promenade in a unique way.
Party and fun
And what the Northerners can’t really compete with is the South Coast parties. There is the Balaton Sound and the Beach Festival in Zamárdi.
But there is no summer night when Siófok is not full of young people who want to party. We can dance all night long at the Palace Dance Club or the Captain Morgan party boat.
There is, of course, the Plázs, which is a super-duper beach during the day with all its accessories, and a place for huge parties and concerts at night.
As soon as you see the famous Petőfi promenade, you will understand straight away why young people like the south coast so much. There are nightclubs and vendors lined up next to each other and the crowd is rolling here day and night.
If anything, the south coast is beating the north high in the number of free beaches, and the good news is that many of them have been renewed.
I would definitely highlight the free beaches of the Siófok Gold and Silver Coast or the Siófok-Balatonszabadi-Sóstó free beach. Good quality and clear water awaits visitors, which does not deepen suddenly, making it a real family paradise.
But it is also worth highlighting the free beaches of Balatonboglár and Balatonlelle, where we can not only relax but also choose from several buffets if we are hungry.
If you like retro, head to Balatonszemes, where a real pioneering camp feeling awaits, there is a playground here and you can also rent kayaks and boats.
Zamárdi has the longest free beach on Lake Balaton, from where it is not in front of us like the Tihany Peninsula. There is a basketball and volleyball court here, plus there are no opening hours, so even the braver ones can splash at night.
Recommended sights on the southern shore of Lake Balaton
There are still plenty of unparalleled attractions on the south coast. There is the Kőröshegy Lavender as a romantic program, where hundreds of pilgrims go every harvest, and then the lavender scent is full of many homes.
Also worth a visit is the water tower in Siófok, which is one of the iconic buildings on Lake Balaton in the middle of the city.
Although the northern shore jumps more from the winery, wine lovers should not miss Kishegy either, which is an outstanding wine-producing region with its cozy little cellars.
Who should choose the north coast?
When it comes to excursions, big historical tours, and the wines of Lake Balaton: then you have to turn back to the northern shore.
Culture and history lovers
What speaks for the North Shore is undoubtedly culture and history. Here, almost every major city has such big names and stories that our chin falls off.
Keszthely with the Festetics Castle and its park is a really impressive sight. We can get an insight into the life of the former aristocracy, the rare book collection, and the park also has a palm house and a chariot museum.
Sights of Keszthely and its surroundings – where you will be shot by the sight
There are several cultural opportunities in the city in the form of theaters and museums, but there are always some concerts and performances.
Balatonfüred was a popular holiday destination for many Hungarian writers, and it is no wonder looking at the still vibrant Tagore promenade.
If you are sure you want to come back here, don’t forget to stroke the boots of the Ferret and Fisherman statue at the harbor.
The Tihany Peninsula may not need to be introduced to many, the magnificent lavender fields, the abbey, and the panorama: in a word, a must-see program.
Of course, if you are already here, don’t forget to listen to the Tihany echo, as well as discover the many old buildings, sometimes hundreds of years old, and the open-air museum.
While for many, the easily accessible south shore is more inviting, it’s still worth doing that extra few kilometers. Not only because of the inimitable and rich environment, but also because the historical sights are worth a visit.
There is, for example, the Szigliget Castle, which is exciting in itself, but if we connect it with a tour in the area, it will be even more memorable.
Szigliget– the pearl of Balaton
Swimmers and gliders
Although most of the beaches on the north coast are not free, and we are not talking about surprisingly high prices.
On average, there is a ticket around 600 HUF. Anyone who really comes to Lake Balaton to swim and do water sports will choose this stretch of coast, as this stretch of coast is not as shallow as the south.
The northern shore is full of good hiking trails: the educational trail in Tátorja, starting from Balatonkenese, leads to the top of the Loess Wall. And here, in addition to the great view, real tranquility awaits us. If you want real relaxation and silence, be sure to get this out of the way.
On the north coast, you can not only enjoy swimming, but also discover the area and the traditions that characterize this region. Only 17 km from Zirc is Bakonybél, which has real natural treasures and is a must-see for nature lovers. This small village in the valley has several limestone caves as well as plenty of springs in the forest.
Visit the area once you are here and discover the Odvaskői Cave or the Gerence Creek. And the mountain coasts of the north coast still have plenty to see.
One of the most attractive “commodities” of the northern coast is Badacsony and its surroundings and of course those good Badacsony wines. Real cozy and inimitable wine cellars, vineyards everywhere, which makes us find ourselves in a very Mediterranean environment.
Badacsonytomaj with its good restaurants and wineries can be one of the best destinations. And the Folly Arbotérum promises not only wonderful and rare plants, but also wine tasting.
Well equipped beaches
There are many excellent and well-rated beaches here, such as the Vonyarcvashegyi. Here you can even go wakeboarding, SUPing or canoeing, and in the city you can rent an electric chopper, a bike or even an airwheel.
Recommended sights and programs on the northern shore of Lake Balaton
Although Balatonvilágos is more of a southern shore, it is so at the tip that it is called an intermediate area, but it is unmissable due to the panorama. From here, you can see almost everything, if we are lucky we can even see Badacsony too.
For those who vote for a good ice cream, bobsleigh track, and breathtaking views for three, I recommend Balatonfűzfő. Not only a bobsleigh, but also an adventure park and archery can be found here, one of the best programs for children.
Which shore is better? – Summary
The northern and southern shores are connected by only one very important thing, Lake Balaton, so we cannot go very far with any of them.
What is missing from the north coast is found in the south and vice versa. The slowly deepening and shallow waters of the south coast can certainly benefit families with small children, not to mention the many free beaches, which throws a lot on the budget.
And if you want to have fun specifically, there is no question that the south coast is for you. The north coast is more for those who really want to relax, explore, and for nature lovers. It is such a diverse and breathtaking countryside that you simply have to see. Be it a hike in the mountains or exploring the wine region.
And if you really want to enjoy Lake Balaton, so you can swim, not just relax on the beach, you must also come to the north shore. The point is to be aware of our exact plans and ideas and to choose the beach section that we like accordingly, we can’t really go wrong anyway.