Advantages A beautiful part of central Europe, food and accommodation are good value, lots to do and see
Disadvantages May be too quiet in the evenings for some
Lake Balaton is variously described as Hungary's summer playground or Hungary's "inland sea" but it is, most simply, Europe's largest freshwater lake. It measures some 77 kilometres at its longest, 14 kilometres at its widest point and covers an area of 592 square kilometres. The lake was formed about 25,000 years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions and the geological history of the lake contributes a great deal to the tourism in the area with popular attractions including thermal bathing centres and caves.
Although there is some development on the peninsula (most notably the village which is also called Tihany), it's largely unspoiled and the scenery and nature combine to attract walkers, fishing fans, cyclists and photographers. In Tihany village there are a couple of manmade visitor attractions but the great outdoors is what primarily draws tourists to Tihany.The tourist office is a good place to start and you can pick up a double-sided map of Tihany. One side is a useful street map of the village and the roads in and out of the peninsula with various useful services indicated. The other side is a map of the peninsula in terms of natural and historical features; this map is less useful because the suggested walks contradict the ones sign-posted on the footpaths, however it does give you some ideas of what you might want to see. Unfortunately this is only available in English so it's a good idea to bring a guidebook with you.
There are two inland lakes, actually two large caldera, on the peninsula and there are sign-posted walks around both of them which are very pleasant in their own right but a better walk can be made seeing both of them along with some of the other interesting features of the peninsula. The smaller lake is nearer the town and is surrounded by pretty meadows, the larger one is a little further inland but situated much higher and affords terrific views not only across the peninsula but over Balaton too. The larger lake is shallower and has to be cleared of some of its reeds once a year; the reeds are then used to thatch many of the picturesque cottages in Tihany village. The volcanic activity that created the lakes also threw up lava columns (there are more than one hundred of them on the peninsula) which can be seen today and another sign-posted footpath will guide you there; a little climbing is needed for the last few metres.
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