Published: November 22 2023
Lake Balaton in Hungary is often associated with summertime activities, but there are plenty of year-round delights to explore. From wine tasting and wildlife parks to winter canoeing and Christmas markets, Lake Balaton offers something for everyone, no matter the season.
Delightful Dining and Wine Tasting
While the summer months are known for beachside bars and restaurants, Lake Balaton's vineyards and excellent dining options can be enjoyed throughout the year. Local restaurants use fresh, local ingredients, and the hills surrounding the lake are home to vineyards that produce fantastic wines. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting events, such as the Keszthely Bormustra, or warm up with mulled wine at the XIII. Mulled Wine Brewing Festival in Tihany.
Wildlife Park Retreat
For a peaceful getaway, the Koloska valley wildlife park offers a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature and observe how the forest creatures, such as deers and stags, navigate through the winter months.
Winter Canoeing in Hévíz
While canoeing is typically associated with summer, Hévíz offers a unique experience. Thanks to the thermal waters, the canals in Hévíz remain warm even during the winter months. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing canoe ride along a 10-kilometer section of the stream.
Venturing beyond Lake Balaton, the city of Veszprém offers a range of attractions. From the zoo and top-notch restaurants to museums and the bustling Christmas market, there is something for everyone in Veszprém.
Festive Christmas Markets
Before Christmas, the region around Lake Balaton comes alive with enchanting Christmas markets. Visitors can indulge in traditional chimney cakes and mulled wine while browsing the stalls for unique gifts. Highlights include the Christmas markets in Veszprém and Siófok, as well as smaller-scale fairs like the Advent Market at Folly Arboretum.
Ring in the New Year by the Hungarian Sea
Spending New Year's Eve by Lake Balaton is a beautiful experience. Many guesthouses offer private celebrations, but it is essential to book in advance due to high demand during the holiday season. Additionally, the township of Szigliget welcomes the new year with a unique tradition - locals take a "New Year's dip" in the icy waters, believed to be a remedy for the previous night's festivities.
Stunning Views and Hiking
The Balaton region offers stunning views from every angle, but for a quieter hiking experience, visit the village of Mindszentkálla. A short hike from the village leads to Kopasz Hill, where visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Balaton.
Ice Skating on the Lake
As it is a lake after all, ice skating is a popular winter activity on Lake Balaton. The Slip through Balaton event, held in January, offers a chance to skate across the frozen lake. If the lake has not yet frozen over, visitors can skate in other areas such as Szigliget and Siófok.
Lake Balaton is a year-round destination with an abundance of activities to suit every taste. Whether you prefer wine tasting, exploring wildlife parks, or enjoying winter sports, Lake Balaton has something for everyone, making it a perfect destination anytime you visit.
Questions & Answers
What activities can you do at Lake Balaton in Hungary all year round? There are plenty of activities you can enjoy at Lake Balaton in Hungary throughout the year. Some of these include visiting vineyards and excellent restaurants, trying local wines at wine festivals, visiting the Koloska valley wildlife park, canoeing at Hévíz, exploring the city of Veszprém, visiting Christmas markets, celebrating New Year's Eve by the lake, participating in the "New year's dip" tradition at Szigliget, hiking in Mindszentkálla village for a breathtaking view, and skating on the lake during the Slip through Balaton event.
Are the restaurants and vineyards around Lake Balaton only open in the summer? No, the restaurants and vineyards around Lake Balaton are open year-round. They offer local dishes made with fresh ingredients and fantastic wines from the vineyards in the region.
When can you try mulled wine at Lake Balaton? You can try exquisite mulled wines at the XIII. Mulled Wine Brewing Festival in Tihany on the 9th of December. It is a perfect place to warm your hands and soul in the cold months.
Is canoeing a typical summer sport at Lake Balaton? Canoeing is a typical summer sport, but in Hévíz, you can enjoy canoeing even in the wintertime. Thanks to the thermal waters, the water is warm, allowing you to have a nice canoe ride on an almost 10-kilometer-long section of the stream.
What are some attractions to visit in Veszprém near Lake Balaton? When you have the opportunity to travel, you should visit the city of Veszprém. Some attractions to visit include the zoo, top-notch restaurants, and museums. The city is especially lively before the holidays when the Christmas market opens.
Are there Christmas markets around Lake Balaton? Yes, there are Christmas markets around Lake Balaton. These markets offer delicious chimey cake (kürtőskalács) and mulled wine. Some notable markets are in Veszprém, Siófok, and the Folly Arboretum, which holds their annual Advent Market.
Is celebrating New Year's Eve by the lake a popular choice? Yes, celebrating New Year's Eve by Lake Balaton is a lovely experience. There are plenty of guesthouses perfect for a private celebration. It is advisable to register early as the places tend to fill up rapidly as the holidays approach.
What is the "New year's dip" tradition in Szigliget near Lake Balaton? In Szigliget, people welcome the new year by taking a plunge into the icy waters of Lake Balaton. The "New year's dip" is believed to be an excellent remedy to a rough night. Even if you don't need a remedy, visiting Szigliget is worth it for its gorgeous castle and stunning view of the lake.
Where can you enjoy a less crowded hiking experience near Lake Balaton? If you want to avoid crowds while hiking, you should visit the village of Mindszentkálla near Lake Balaton. From here, a short hike will take you to Kopasz Hill, offering a breathtaking view of the region.
When can you participate in ice skating activities at Lake Balaton? Every January, the Slip through Balaton event is organized, offering winter ice skating activities on the lake. Other places like Szigliget and Siófok also offer opportunities for ice skating.