26 December 2023 / Dániel Ercsey / Translated by Sue Tolson DipWSET / Photos by Bulcsú Böröczky Copy actual URL Facebook share Twitter share

Head to Lake Balaton in winter!

5+1 great tips to have fun in winter at the Balaton

The winegrowers and restaurateurs around Lake Balaton, better known as the Balaton Circle, have been striving for a decade to prolong its summer season. Lake Balaton is not just a shallow lake where you can swim, although this certainly shouldn’t be discounted, but rather a cultural landscape where you can find things to do not only in summer, but also from autumn to spring. What we are trying to say is that you don’t have to give up the Balcsi – as the lake is known affectionately by the Hungarians - in winter. So, be brave, set off, book some accommodation, find a restaurant, pack warm clothes and even skis in your car and head for Lake Balaton in winter.


1. Talking of skis, let’s start with the fact that the Skiarena Vibe Park Eplény is just a long hop from Veszprém and Balatonfűzfő. It’s worth finding out about prices and opening times in advance, but thanks to snow cannons, if it’s cold enough, the Eplény piste is sure of snow. Moreover, it’s close to Veszprém, so if you start to feel cold, you can go to the ‘Queen’s City’ for a good jazz concert or to the kinetic art exhibition at the Dubniczay Palace. The city and its surroundings are a great choice for a whole weekend, with cafés and restaurants besides the skiing and museums to tempt the weary tourist.


2. There are several ice rinks around Lake Balaton, but we’re going to arbitrarily highlight one of them, our personal favourite in Balatonboglár. The location is perfect, firstly because it offers the best view of the magnificent silhouette of the northern shore, and secondly because it is the easiest place from which to take a trip to Kis Hill after skating and visit one of the wineries there on the border between Balatonlelle and Balatonboglár. Of course, it’s worth finding out in advance who is open, but even if nobody is, it’s still worth going up the hill for the view. The perhaps best-known restaurant on Lake Balaton, Kistücsök, is not far away. They are open all year round and, besides food, also offer accommodation.


3. Did you know that the Folly Arboretum in Badacsonyörs is hosting events every Saturday in Advent? A walk in the garden at noon, a walk in the garden after sunset with light painting, an escape room in between, and occasionally even a wine dinner! There’s an advent market in the restaurant, so if you are staying in the vicinity, don’t miss it. The nearby Hableány restaurant will also be open at weekends, so check out the ever-changing weekend menu and the restaurant’s legendary gin selection.


4. Winter paddling on the Hévíz stream is becoming an increasingly popular activity, which is no wonder, as if you’re lucky, you can paddle along the warm, steaming water through a snow-covered landscape. It’s worth dressing warmly and considering the type of paddling you want to do. For beginners, a canoe is probably the best choice, but you should bear in mind that the helmsman should preferably be somebody who has also steered a canoe in less extreme conditions. You can go much faster if you choose the sea kayak option, but you also sit much closer to the water, so it’s worth dressing warmly, because in these extreme conditions, the cold will feel even colder! Once you’ve finished paddling, you can then take a dip in the warm waters of Lake Hévíz.


5. Take an advent stroll in the capital of Lake Balaton, Balatonfüred, sip mulled wine, admire the Tagore Promenade, take in one of the town’s many museums, then visit a winery in Balatonfüred, Csopak or Arács, sit down for short chat, pop into a pastry shop and enjoy the winter view of Lake Balaton. The Balaton and its surroundings are just like Veszprém, you can spend a whole weekend here without getting bored for a single moment. Don’t forget to try at least one Olaszrizling from the area, as the local winemakers believe that they make the best Olaszrizling in the world, which may be true, as an Olaszrizling from Balatonfüred (Zelna Winery) recently won a platinum medal at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards,


+1. On 1 January 2024, the New Year’s bathing will take place at Hotel Magistern on Siófok’s Aranypart, at the beach in front of the hotel. You should gather at 1 pm that day at the hotel. There is no fee to participate but you have to register in advance. Those who take the plunge into the ice-cold water will be rewarded with a certificate. A full day of activities also awaits everyone at the Szigliget beach, which is celebrating its eleventh anniversary. Besides live music, guests can enjoy hot tea, wine and mulled wine, bean goulash, lángos and chimney cake. Anyone can join the splashing around, but only those who get the go-ahead after an examination by a local doctor can take a dip in Lake Balaton. There will also be a race for a Christmas tree set up in the water, with a prize for the winner.


We hope that this small compilation will inspire you to take a winter trip to the Balaton, but the Hungarian Sea offers far more programmes and opportunities, so it’s worth forgetting your prejudices and overcoming decades of obsession with the summer season and heading to Lake Balaton for a weekend in December!

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