Siófok: Hungary’s summer haven

~Famous for its beautiful river-fronts, rich cultural history, beautiful architecture, state of the art thermal baths and, most importantly, culinary delights, Hungary, of course, doesn’t need any introduction. However, I should just confess that it did not feature on top of my wishlist as better and bigger ‘bucket list-items’ lured me into different plans, each time I wanted to travel until last year. During the time of our annual summer trip last year, dropping Greece from my list, I picked up Hungary’s most vibrant destination Budapest as I dreaded the maddening crowd in Greece and wanted a bit relaxed holiday instead. Now, I know, Budapest is equally crowded but with lots of tourists a city comes alive but the same can ruin a quiet and naturally beautiful place. So it was just the right thing to do.~

We planned a weeks holiday in Budapest and the city lived up to its reputations and everything from the gorgeous Buda Palace to the much-loved thermal baths was truly impressive. We braved the summer sun and explored everything we could, but the best part of our trip to this city was definitely the eating-out part.

Read more about it here- Budapest on my plate

But, in the end, we did want to get away to someplace quiet and as suggested by a Finnish friend, we decided to explore Lake Balaton which is also the largest lake in Central Europe. The lake is so blue and vast that the Hungarians fondly calls it the Hungarian Sea. Before the recommendation came through, I did not know that the lake is a big favourite with the Finnish population and it is like a pilgrimage for them to go there every year and never get bored of what it has to offer.

Now, talking of the lake, it is so huge that, exploring the whole of it is near impossible, as there are innumerable pretty little towns strewn on both the sides. We choose, Siófok as it was the nearest town from Budapest and it offers a nice getaway from the ever-bustling Budapest. One can stay a day or two at Siófok to explore the nearby towns but a day trip would suffice.

Located at a distance of about 100 kilometers, Siófok is a pretty town lined with pretty beach fronts as well as countless eateries surrounding the lake. A beautiful train ride from Budapest, passing through beautiful sunflower plantations and little villages, takes on about an hour and 15 minutes to reach Siófok and once, you are there, the heaven unfolds itself. But if I have to be honest, there are prettier places in the Balaton area (for example, it’s wine region) to explore but Siófok was a good start to knowing Hungary beyond Budapest.

I am not sure if we would go back to explore more but I regret missing out on exploring the area.

Before going to Siófok, I did not have much time to look up what to expect from it but even when I did there wasn’t much information available on the internet. I wanted to go to Tihany, another town full of lavender plantations and wineries located on the other side of the lake but I could not find a lot of information about it. Upon reaching Siófok, I found out that a ferry trip to Tihany would take about 3 hours to reach and another 3 to come back. Sadly, we were on a day trip and this couldn’t be done at any cost.

Also, since I didn’t google anything, we ended up there on a fine summer morning which soon turned into a very cloudy one. There was the storm brewing in the sky and we the first thing we ended up doing was to order a fish at a restaurant that could actually feed a family of four! But it tasted divine as it is not every day that you get to eat a ‘straight-out-of-a-lake’ kind of fish. I wish I had a better picture to show but there was absolutely no way to take out the camera as it had started raining.

After the failed attempt to finish the fish, we tried to swim a bit in the sea but soon got caught up in a storm, got soaked to our bones with no change of clothes and nowhere else to go! But that did not stop us from nibbling on langos, the most popular street food in Hungary. And after all the shenanigans, guess where we ended up- in a friendly local bar where we spend 5 hours only to dodge the storm, before catching a train back to Budapest. While I admit that we could have at least checked the weather before setting out but had we done that we would have never stepped in that part of Hungary and seen the bluest lake I have ever seen in life. Do you see the fun in impromptu travel now?

The best part of the trip was the lake itself as it is so shallow that even kids can easily swim safely and its visa was so enormous that, indeed, it looked like a calm sea. On a sunny that, is fun to take a boat ride across the lake which we could not. We hired an electric scooter to roam around but the rain played the spoilsport. Had it been a sunny day, I am sure we could have a totally different side of the town.

But before ending this post I should at least write down a few interesting facts about Siófok so that in future if you want to see another side of Hungary,it finds a place on your list.

  1. Siófok is a great place to start your journey around Lake Balaton in search of its lesser known areas.
  2. Having the largest population among towns surrounding the lake, Siófok attracts a huge number of tourists in summers.
  3. Apart from its natural beauty the town is most famous for its night life and party venues.
  4. As much as it attracts summer-time holidaymakers, its thermal spas and wellness resorts also attract wellness-seekers from all over Europe.
  5. Lake Balton area is famous for its wine as one can easily make day trip out of Siófok for a wine tasting tour to its nearest wineries.
  6. A lot of music enthusiasts make a pilgrimage every year in July to the Lake Balaton area (especially Siófok) to attend Balaton Sound, an electronic music festival which is the largest in Central Europe.

So what do you think? Would you care to extend your Budapest trip to explore this region or just stick to the usual plan?

 


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