Earth : Europe : Central Europe : Hungary : Lake Balaton : Balatonfüred
Balatonfüred is a town on the Northern shore of Lake Balaton in Hungary. It is the third largest town on the lake, after the brash party town of Siófok on the Southern Shore and Keszthely on the Westen Shore. Luckily, Balatonfüred's Baroque elegance and traditional old town keep it from becoming too commercialised. Be that as it may, there is still plenty to do in one of Hungary's oldest tourist spots. Due to the beautiful old town a few minutes from the lake shore, this area is possibly one of the nicest resorts along the lake shore. Its beautiful promenades, tree-lined avenues and stunning views of the Tihany Peninsula make this town the finest on the Balaton shore. To catch Baltonfüred at its best, visit during the summer months of May - August.
The national language of Hungary is Hungarian, a difficult language to understand and even attempt to grasp. Fortunately, many of the restaurant menus are also in English and as are many of the signs, yet finding people in the area that can speak English well is a difficulty.
German is the second language to many at the lake. English is simply not on the cards for many, particularly those of the older generation, so learn your one word phrases well. Thse will come in handy, particularly at the train station where simple words like "Egy retur" (Return ticket) might save you on your holiday.
Fly Balaton airport on the Lake Balaton is accessible from Füred. It has operated as a public airport since 1991 and became the second international airport of the country on May 15, 2002 (after Budapest Ferihegy International Airport). It frequently operates charter flights to Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig and Düsseldorf in Germany, Billund and Copenhagen in Denmark, Amsterdam in The Netherlands and Moscow in Russia. Ryanair also operate flights from Düsseldorf-Weeze, Frankfurt-Hahn and London-Stansted. Many flights are also available at Budapest Ferihegy Airport from destinations across the world.
There are many ferries that set sail from many ports along the lake, heading for Balatonüred. Regular Ferries from Siófok, the main city on the southern shore, operate many times a day. The port is in the heart of the new town.
Trains are one of the best ways to access Balatonfüred. If you are in Budapest, the Déli Railway Station on the Buda side is the main train station for the South with regular trains to the lake. This station can be accessed on the M2 metro line in Budapest and is the last stop on the line. Tickets are not expensive, coming in at around €14 return from Budapest for an adult.Hungarian Railways are, for the most part, reliable and on time.
Due to its size, walking around Balatonfüred is easy. There are excellent footpaths and tree-lined promenades. Even better, the Hungarians in Füred are very polite when it comes to pedestrians. They will almost always stop to let you pass the street, unlike the Italians and indeed the French. Indeed, the fact that Balatonfüred is amazingly well sign-posted, walking through the streets is pure simplicity. Of course, while in Füred you will notice that many people choose to get around on bikes, which is an excellent idea due to the abundance of high quality cycle paths. Also, roller-blading and of course skooters are hugely popular.
Ferries to other parts of Balaton, including the stunning Tihany Peninsula and the party town of Siófok across the lake are available many times a day.
Balatonfüred, the yachting capital of the Lake, is a hub for water sports. Along the beaches, there are many paddling boats to be rented (2500HUF for an hour, c. €10) and sail boats. There really is no shortage to the amount of water-fun one can have in the Lake. There are NO jet skis nor motorbotats ALLOWED on Lake Balaton, the exception being the local ferry service and law enforcement officials.
Land activities, including the tennis courts throughout the town, the Aqua Park  and of course the cycling, blading and jogging are hugely enjoyable. However, one of the greatest activities is a hike into the hilly surroundings of the town. The stunning countryside filled with vineyards and rolling hills is the perfect place for a picnic or indeed a quiet country stroll. The views of the lake are also a treat.
There are many festivals in Füred, includig the wine tasting festival every August and of course its most famous Anna Ball, one of the most unique balls in Hungary. This classic social function has been organised annually since 1825 and its date is always set on the weekend closest to 26th July, Anna day. Nowadays the traditional venue for the ball is the Anna Grand Hotel. There are also many music festivals, including the Guitar Festival in June.
Originally one of Hungary's Spa towns, Balatonfüred remains as a spa haven. Spas and wellness centres can be found throughout the town and are a real treat. Its mineral springs are both theraputic and extremely relaxing.
There are a large selection of restaurants in Füred. However, along the lake shore you are notcertain to find anything particularly Hungarian. The restaurants there tend to be of an average quality, serving mostly fish and other popular dishes. However, if you go away from the lake and into the old town or simply a short stroll up from the lake, the restaurans become better and more authentic.
Much like the other tourist destinations, there is an abundance of high quality accommodation in the town of Balatonfüred. Villas and self catering apartments are a popular choice for many families, many of which have a private pool. They can range in size from small cottages to large eight bedroomed houses.
Of course, hotels are also very popular in Füred and there are many beautiful hotels within the immediate vicinity of the lakeshore.
Balatonfüred is a very safe place.
Dogs roam the town at all hours and, as it seems, everyone in Balatonfüred owns a dog which they keep in their gated houses. Indeed, walking past these houses is sure to send you up the wall as the silence is interrupted by the sudden barking! Nonetheless, while the vast majority of these dogs are on leashes and gated up, beware of what you or your children pet.
There are places of worship all over the town. Your hotel or local tourist office should be able to guide you to one nearby. If not, though, the following are centrally located.
Due to Balatonfüred's excellent central European position, it is ideal for the exploration of many major European destinations such as Vienna and indeed Bratislava. The best way to get to these places would obviously be by train, as frequent trains leave Füred for many major destinations in Europe. The city a few minutes across the lake, Siófok, has direct trains to Croatia's Capital, Zagreb, which arrive in under four hours!