Travel to Tihany means to reach at once the most beautiful and historically a very interesting and authentic part of Lake Balaton.
Tihany is a small town located on a volcanic peninsula, on the northern shore of Lake Balaton. Its natural location is an excellent point to enjoy the most beautiful views of the lake. Since this peninsula goes into the lake direction, you can enjoy magnificent views from inside to any direction by experiencing the real touch of the lake.
We arrived there in the early afternoon after two hours of driving from Budapest. It was summer, and as every moment during the peak season, the town looked like a super crowded spot as actually it is.
Besides driving you can get there by bus, train or car from Budapest, the capital of Hungary. You can also rent and travel by private sailing boats or buy a ticket for public boats that are going based on their daily schedules from and to some towns located around the lake.
Also, there is a ferry ride between Tihany and Szántód, that besides the transport provides an outstanding panorama. There is even a popular bike route that goes around the whole lake. The total length of this bike path is approximately 210 km, so at normal speed, it’s possible to complete it comfortably within 3-4 days, and you can find many campings and hostels dedicated for bikers on this route for the nights.
That was in 2019, so the pandemic was not even on the horizon yet. We drove up to the upper center hoping to find a place to park. Every piece forward of the narrow streets seemed to be even fuller with tourists, especially with Hungarians since it’s a super popular spot for local tourism, due to its amazing views, the neverending lavender fields, the authentic paprika houses, and its famous restaurants.
Not to mention the Echo of Tihany. “Records from the early 19th century say that words shouted from the Echo hill return from the northern wall of the church building. The earliest Balaton guide-book, issued in 1848, says that guests in Füred take excursions to Tihany to listen to the echo because the church wall clearly returns voices up to 15 syllables. The Echo of Tihany, a topic covered by famous poets, has been gradually fading since the sixties but it can be still enjoyed especially in windless, quiet evenings.”
I have never heard about Tihany before. And that obviously shows how much ignorance I had. We parked near the church and we started to take a stroll along with the white traditional houses. I felt immediately in love with the town. The vibe, the cool old school looking like restaurants, its vibe, and the paprika garlands outside the traditional products shops.
I know it was just a very superficial feeling, maybe a cliché. Nevertheless, I have gone some times to Balaton and Tihany is still one of my favourite spots. Definitely, the town has reasons for that.
Probably, the gem of any visit could be the Tihany Abbey. This is the oldest monument town, since there is no evidence about Tihany before the construction of the abbey. It was built by King Andrew I of Hungary in 1055, and his tomb is still inside the crypt. In the same century, some Greek monks dug their cells in the stone of the northern part of the peninsula. It is possible to visit these caves’ dwellings and a church close to them.
If you are very much into history, there is for you the Skanzen Ethnographic Open Air Museum. This complex has a set of traditional houses, some of which date back to the 19th century. The museum includes houses and everyday working tools and instruments that peasants and Balaton fishermen used in the 19th century.
Tihany is part of the Balaton Highlands National Park, an area full of beautiful landscapes. All around the town, there are many activities to do. You can walk and or even bike. One of the most recommended routes is the Lóczy route, a journey that will take you to a field of geysers, where you can enjoy a truly supernatural landscape. Not to mention you can enjoy all the lake-related activities, taking a bath or windsurfing, eating lángos on the beach, and enjoy a perfect relaxed day.
Local restaurants serve spectacular local fish dishes and infinite Hungarian specialties with paprika, or not to mention the local Lavendar or Poppyseed icecream selection, or one of the most delicious Hungarian desserts, the túrógombóc. To drink you should not miss the local wines.
However, what I will never forget are the magnificent views of the lake, from the top of the town. Anna and I, smiling with a fruity alcohol-free cocktail (it’s called Limonádé in Hungarian) in our hands, after sharing a túrógombóc, and admiring the white sailing boats on the most bluish water of the whole planet.
P.S. By the way, did you know that U.S. President Joe Biden spent his honeymoon on Lake Balaton in the 70s? If not, you must click here!