Badacsony is the highest of all the volcanic buttes to the north of Lake Balaton, surrounded by a number of natural attractions and cultural points of interests which are worth visiting, come rain or shine. Apart from the lakeshore, amazing lookout towers, bizarre land formations as well as mediterranean vineyards await the visitors. Besides the year-round events in Badacsony, the ongoing attractions offered along the northern lakeshore, the several buttes in the Tapolca Basin as well as all the picturesque villages across the Káli Basin are within easy reach as well.
Badacsony grabs the attention of every visitor already by its stunning beauty. Excellent wines, the well-known hospitability of local people, countless historic sites and the various relics of cultural heritage will all make you want to stay for a longer time.
Badacsony, the sacred mountain of Hungarian vine-growing and wine-making – standing as lord-paramount of the northern shore of Lake Balaton –, is a butte which was formed as a result of several volcanic eruptions. The most famous attractions of Badacsony are, obviously, the vineyards and the wineries. The region’s grape cultivation and wine production looks back on a tradition of more than 2000 years, with the first vines being planted by the Romans. The unique aroma inherent in local wine is largely due to the soil nourished by the volcanic remnants of now eroded basalt rocks as well as the sun-kissed mountainsides with their particularly favourable declination. Basalt reflects sunbeam and protects the growings from the north wind. The area of vineyards stretches from the edge of the basalt ridge to nearly over the lakeshore. Therefore, when in Badacsony, it is strongly recommended that you put wine tasting on your must-do list.
Should you like to get familiar with the surrounds and make an excursion instead of spending your day at the beach or in a winery, we are pleased to draw your attention to our list of sights below.
Museums in Badacsony
The House of Róza Szegedy
Clearly standing out of the hilltop houses from afar, the press house – featuring Hungarian peasant baroque traits as one of the best-known architectural monuments of the Balaton Uplands – once belonged to Róza Szegedy, soon to become her common home with Sándor Kisfaludy after their marriage. Today, the house is home to the local museum of literature, but an exhibition of ethnographic collections is also held within its falls.
József Egry Memorial Museum
József Egry is undisputedly regarded as the greatest painter of Lake Balaton: he was a lover of the lake. The lake’s ever changing lights and colourful appearance greatly influenced his work of paintings and pastels. As one of the most prominent figures of modern Hungarian painting, he lived in Badacsony for a long-long time. The memorial museum has been launched in his old studio flat, where visitors can see a beautiful exhibition of his paintings and graphics.
Fotó: OPhoto - Péter Orbán, OPhoto in Facebook
Rózsakő: the favourite destination of lovers
Rózsakő is one of the most romantic spots around Lake Balaton. It is the name of the basalt block over the Kisfaludy House. The block got its name from Róza Szegedy who – according to the tradition – would often spend time on the rock with her husband, the poet Sándor Kisfaludy. Hence the legend: tradition has it that if a boy and a girl sit down on the rock with their backs to Lake Balaton while holding each other’s hands, they will get engaged in the same year. Morever, if only the girl sits down on the rock and heaves a sigh, then this shall have the same effect on their love.
The gradually deepening gorge running northbound across Badacsony’s plateau is referred to as the Valley of Kőkapu. Its stone columns bear evidence of the immense power of water and wind. Around the still erect basalt towers a sea of stones was formed as a remnant of the shattered and eroded columns. The crystal clear water of the nearby Klastrom well has a temperature of 4-5 Celsius degrees all year round. The Pauline monastery named after Saint Imre once stood here. Tradition has it that the monks who used to live in the monastery were among the first to grow Pino gris, a variety of French origin, also known as Szürkebarát in Hungarian.
With its 464 steps just along the way of the Hungarian Blue Tour, Bujdosók lépcsője (Stairs of the Outcast in English) will put your stamina to the test. Those who can keep up and make it to the lookout tower of Badacsonytördemic, will be rewarded by the breathtaking landscape. There are several stops along Bujdosók lépcsője, most of them named after prominent rebels of the Hungarian independence movement (Miklós Bercsényi, Kelemen Mikes), where you can have a rest. There are stairs on other parts of the mountain as well: over the resting point of Köbölkút, along the track marked with red, then with a red triangle starting from Rózsakő.
Hikers’ House “Rodostó”
The Hikers’ House Rodostó established in memory of Ferenc Rákóczi and his outcast peers, was built in Hungarian style in 1936. It has two plaques on its wall, the one commemorates Ferenc Rákóczi and his outcast peers, the other is in recognition of the services of those saving the mountain, in particular by preventing explosive basalt mining that used to endanger the mountain’ existence.
Ranolder Cross, Harangozó-börc
The huge stone cross standing guard over the southern ledge of Badacsony’s plateau in an elevation of about 400 metres was erected in 1857 by instruction of János Ranolder, the Bishop of Veszprém. The largest parts of the cross were pulled up the mountain with the help of 40 buffalos. Standing besides the cross, the spot offers a breathtaking view upon Lake Balaton. Harangozó-börc is an observation point right beneath the Ranolder cross. The locals nicknamed the basalt columns towering over the land as wool bags. Károly Eötvös, a famous researcher of Lake Balaton wrote: if the stone bench reaching out is hit by a hammer, it has a sound comparable to the ring of a massive bell.
Lookout Tower “Kisfaludy”
The highest lookout tower of Lake Balaton: with its own height of 18 metres the tower oversees the land from a point of elevation at 437 metres on Badacsony. Its terrace provides a stunning view over the Tapolca Basin and the surrounding mountains and hills. On the upper level inside the tower a 360-degree landscape photo helps the orientation among the buttes and valleys. The present lookout tower was erected in 2011 with a design far outshining those of conventional lookout towers. The need for a new lookout higher than its predecessor was justified by the fact that the surrounding trees had outgrown the height of the old one, thus blocking the view on one side.
Daytrip destinations near Badacsony
The Castle of Szigliget
The Castle of Szigliget plays a special part in the life of Lake Balaton, it’s little wonder that it has been awarded the title „the Castle of Lake Balaton”. At present, this is the only castle on the lakeshore which is fully accessible for the public. The 750-year-old fort is home to various musical and cultural events ongoing all year round.
Rókarántó, as the name implies, is a fabulous hill along the eastern side of Szigliget. It is one of the most tranquil spots around Lake Balaton: the kind of picturesque beauty at sundown. The brilliantly white-washed Holy Trinity chapel (or “Kiskápolna”) sits gracefully on the hilltop, with a bunch of vineyards, orchards and holiday homes below surrounded by the heights of Szigliget, which are finely embraced by Lake Balaton. Besides the chapel, you can see a monument erected to the heroes of a US bomber crashed in a nearby location. Take a walk along the winding road leading up to Rókarántó, where you will be amazed at the bizarre eclecticism of recently built villas instead of natural beauties.
Lake Cave of Tapolca
The Lake Cave of Tapolca is the perfect venue for a romantic date or a family boat trip, even in bad weather. The cave was discovered in 1903 when trying to sink a well, and was opened for the public 10 years later. Its curiosity lies in the fact that this is the only cave in Hungary to be navigated by a boat. Since the opening of its brand new visitor centre in January 2015, a real interactive experience has been added to all trips in the Lake Cave. In the reception building visitors can see an exhibition that provides an insight into the miraculous world of karst regions, and another 10 rooms are open for visitors, including the "adventure cavern" where children can crawl, play the "feel the rocks game" or even try the climbing wall.
Festetics Palace – Keszthely
Festetics Palace is Hungary’s third largest palace. The Festetics family is one the most prominent Hungarian families bearing the title count and later duke – its members lived for several centuries in this marvellous building, which was originally built in the Baroque style, only to reach its present form after several reconstruction and upgrading works. The park of the palace is qualified as a nature reserve, comprising a French formal garden with an English garden behind, old and shady trees, joyful flower beds as well as fountains and statutes that take you back in time. A Palm House is also located in the park of the palace, which is full of elegant and exotic plants implying the highest standards of noble lifestyle, including a stock of tropical hibiscus consisting of 4-500 hybrids – much of a rarity across Europe. The palace currently functions as a museum and is home to an interior collection, encompassing a total exhibition area of eighteen rooms, which provides an insight into the high living of the nobility in the 18th–19th century by means of original or authentically reconstructed objects and interiors. Besides, the hunting exhibition, the historic model railway and the carriage showroom seem to offer further curiosities.
Thermal Spa of Hévíz
The healing properties of the thermal spa of Hévíz located in the north-western edge of Lake Balaton were already known by the Romans, but it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the resort gained its present form. The several-thousand-year old spa is supplied by a combination of hot and cold waters breaking out from a 38-metres deep spring cave ritch in mineral resources. The temperature of the water coming directly from the stream is 38.5oC, with water temperatures ranging from 24 to 38oC subject to weather conditions, which makes bathing possible year round. The middle of the lake accommodates a bath house with a total area of 2500 square metres which has been open for the public for more than a century. Lake Hévíz is the world’s largest natural spring lake which recovers the whole of its water reserve within the course of three and a half days. This kind of mixing and stirring is visible even to the naked eye, for the restless lake constantly keeps replenishing the available volumes of spring water. Besides the calming yet refreshing effects of the water, the steady stream of water pampers bathers with a soft massage. The lake has a unique flora: its red water lilies, still blossoming in the late autumn, float marvellously on the surface of the lake.
Landmarks in Káli Basin
The Káli Basin, an area full of romance, tranquillity and countryside idyll, is one of the most precious parts of the Balaton Uplands National Park. Geological formations of extremely high value and the unique flora and fauna are all there to be discovered. The small villages of the Káli Basin offer just as much curiosity as the natural environment does. Small wine cellars, well-kept secular farmhouses, water mills, cosy guesthouses, quality restaurants, Lake Balaton’s number one farmer’s market and the country’s largest polo club – all these waiting for your visit.
Salföld is located at the Balaton-bound gate of the Káli Basin in the heart of the Balaton Uplands National Park, accommodating a considerable degree of geologic, botanic and ethno-architectural remains. In Salföld Manor you have the chance to get familiar with the life of a working farm and the various kinds of indigenous domestic livestock raised there, including racka sheep, mangalitsa, buffalo, Hungarian grey cattle, farmed poultry, as well as shepherd dogs such as puli, pumi and mudi. The manor offering a herd of 40 horses, ponies, horse shows, carriage ride and petting zoo will be a great experience for the young and the old alike. In the manor’s spice and herb garden you can learn about aromatic and medicinal herbs as well as their “miraculous” curative power and application. The manor is the perfect place to have a taste of the countryside: you can have local bread spread with mangalitsa fat, sandwich with buffalo salami and home-made cordials. Once you are in Salföld and craving for fabulous experiences, the ruins of the 700-year-old Pauline monastery is worth visiting. For those seeking more adventures, we recommend discovering the desert landscape of the sand pit in Kisörspuszta.
Lake Kornyi, right in the middle of the Káli Basin, is the legendary location of Miklós Jancsó’s film shootings. It is a peaceful and intact place with rich flora and fauna. In summer months with little or no rainfall the lake might well dry out, but the days of springtime still see the area in its fullest abundance. The lake is accessible from the asphalt road connecting Kővágóőrs with Köveskál, but you can also choose to get there on foot via Theodora educational path leading from Kékkút and Szentbékkálla.
The remarkable-looking basalt columns of Hegyestű recall the silhouette of an ancient volcanic vent, not to mention the breathtaking view from the top. Since 1998 a geographical exhibition site has been in operation there, showcasing the various types of stone to be found in the region. In addition, a monumental open-air stone storage has also been established at the foot of the mountain.