For an inexpensive waterside holiday, Lake Balton is a great choice for the whole family.
The biggest freshwater lake in Europe, stretching for 100km, this gorgeous lake is the ultimate alternative to a beach break. With scores of villages and towns to choose from there is something to suit most tastes. Accommodation is varied and inexpensive, from your own apartment to shoreside camping. We had a great time in Siafok, one of the more popular resorts on the south coast where the grassy promenade stretches for kilometres and the lake was shallow and still as glass. Perfect for kids to play safely and to try out fun new water sports rather like wake-boarding, windsurfing and canoing.
This is a cheap and cheerful experience rather than luxury and the facilities are not currently aimed at English tourists. However great fun for those on a budget. The lake is only 1-2 hours from Budapest depending on where you go and we camped for 2 people with a car and tent for around £9 per night.
Overall the Hungarian people are hugely friendly and welcoming. There was a good naturedness to them and we found a smile and a few words of Hungarian (Hello, Thank you etc.) went down well alonside our pointing and gesturing… We did find quite a few people who spoke English, especially in the hotels and restaurants aimed at tourists. A wide range of European nationalities frequent the lake from Holland and Austria, to Romania and Poland. We met some great people who again were able to communicate with us in our mother tongue. Why are we so useless at languages as a nation. I am ever grateful for the skills of others but am always in awe when I’m surrounded by other people who are all speaking a 2nd or 3rd language. It is amazing.
All the usual Pizza and Pasta favourites are readily available beachside with the hearty, traditional Hungarian food satisfying the biggest of appetites. Think succulent pork knuckles, thick stews laced with paprika and fresh fish straight from the lake. Just resist having both the massive portions of bread and potatoes if you want to keep your waistline in check. This is food designed for hard work and cold so in the hot month and whilst lounging all day, the amount available is sometimes not quite necessary however delicious!
Rejuvenate at one of Hungary’s spas..
Hungary has numerous thermal springs and spas and none is better known than that at Heviz. 6 miles from Keskely the main town on Lake Balton the mineral mud and waters here are world renowned. The largest pool of its kind in the world, this mecca for those looking to heal the bodies largest organ ( the skin) is created from underground rivers of both hot and cold water which meet in a cave 40 ft below the surface. Whilst massages and treatments are available, the benefits of the mud can be derived from just floating in the water, amongst the exquisite lilies which hold the delicate infrastructure of mud together. There is definitely a large proportion of older visitors here, as well as those recovering from operations and other traumas who use it as a medical facility with a course of prescribed treatments. However its a lovely day trip for the whole family with a pool for kids, giant games, an outdoor and indoor gym as well as plenty of loungers to relax on.