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Keszthely (pronounced Kest-hey) is the oldest town in the Balaton region of Hungary.


It is located at the southern tip of lake Balaton and boasts a history of more than 750 years. As such the town is endowed with a wide range of architectural gems displaying Gothic, baroque, Transylvanian and eclectic styles. The town is compact and may be easily explored on foot. A small tourist train also circulates the town which is a convenient and cheap way to familiarise oneself with its layout.

Festetics Palace
The Festetics Palace, now the Helikon Castle Museum, must rank as the town’s major attraction. It’s construction was started at the beginning of the 18th century, by Kristof Festetics, on the site of the former Petho castle. It obtained it’s final neo-baroque form in 1887. With some 111 halls and rooms, this is one of the largest palaces in Hungary and is maintained in wonderful condition by the Hungarian government. One of the most beautiful rooms and one of the greatest assets of the castle is a magnificent historic two level library housing over 100,000 volumes, which were miraculously saved from destruction during the 2nd world war. The library was started in the 1700’s and its collection includes copies of the earliest printed books, unique prints, scientific and art books together with its music collection of manuscripts by Haydn, Pleyel and Goldmark. The ground floor houses an exhibition of the of the beautiful and precious military arms of Hungary, a loan from the Hungarian National Museum.

The reception wing of the palace is now used as a conference centre and a meeting place for scientific and international conferences. Participants may be accommodated in the 15 quest rooms and 4 suites within the palace. During summer, concerts are held weekly in the grounds

The Festetics were one of the richest aristocratic families in Hungary and had a considerable influence on the development and culture of Keszthely and the surrounding areas. Family members founded pharmacies, hospitals, Grammar schools and in 1779 Count Gyorgy Festetics founded “The Georgikon”, which was Europe’s first Independent Institution of agricultural higher education. It was established with an 11-hectare dendrological garden. Its successor “The Georgikon Faculty of Agronomy”, now functions within the local university on the corner of Deak Ferenc and Szechenyl streets.

A nice feature within the town is the Helikon environmental park, which sits between the town and the lake foreshores. It is prevented from reaching the lake by the railway to Topolca. Across the railway beside Csik Ferenc setany are to be found a large number of outdoor cafes and restaurants much frequented by students from the nearby university. A popular snack served at these cafes is the famous Hungarian Langos, a deep fried potato pancake topped with either garlic dressing or cheese or both. On summer evenings the area is alive with people eating Langos and drinking beer.

The centre of Keszthely is a large square alongside Kossuth Lajos Utica. This square contains two major buildings. The Gothic parish church, built on the site of a former 12th-13th century church by Palatine Istevan Lackfi. Renovations at the end of the 19th century gave the church its neo-gothic tower and rose windows. In 1974 a number of sensational 15th century frescoes were discovered in the sacristy. At the southern end of this square stands the Gymnasium built at the turn of the last century and now housing the successor to the grammar school founded by Count Pal Festetics in 1772. The section of Kossuth Lajos Utica leading from the square to the palace of the Festetics is now a pedestrian mall were one can find a number of fine restaurants which, in season, serve large numbers of alfresco diners.

To the west of the central square is the marketplace set around Piac square. On Saturdays and Wednesdays the square and some surrounding streets fill with market vendor stalls selling a wide variety of wares. Flowers, fruit, vegetables, and of course paprika are available in abundance together with tools, clothes and other paraphernalia. In the spring Cherries and Walnuts are a great buy.

Get in[edit]

keszthely is easily accessed by rail, road and air. Trains run twice daily from Budapest’s keleti station along the southern shore of lake Balaton passing through the lakeside towns of Siofok, balatonfoldvar, Balatonelle, Balatonboglar and Fonyod. Take the first class fare as this provides a more comfortable compartment and is very reasonably priced. The journey of around 175 km takes about 2hrs 30 mins as stops are made at all major towns along the lake. A change of train is also required at Fonyod to pick up the local line to Keszthely and Tapolca.

Keszthely is easily reached by road from Budapest using M7 / E71. This highway bypasses Szekesfehervar and Siofok on the southern flank of Lake Balaton and is relatively traffic free except in the peak tourist months of June, July and August. If you are willing to take a little more time to reach your destination you will be rewarded with a more scenic route using highway 71 along the north shore of lake Balaton. This route will take you through Balatonfured and passes the Tihany peninsula, which is well worth a detour.

The nearest airport is at Sarmellek approximately 10 km south of the city and is served by regional airlines. From the airport Keszthely is easily accessed via route 75.

Get around[edit]

Keszthely is the regional centre for an efficient and cheap bus system, although not always as frequent as one would wish. The main bus terminal is directly outside the railway station. Buses are available from here for Heviz, Fonyod, Tapolca, Badacsony, Nagykanizsa, and Balatonfured.

Local Rail services are also available to towns along the north shore of lake Balaton, and during the summer months lake ferries also service the lakeside towns.

See[edit][add listing]

  • The palace of the Festetics – (The Helikon Castle Museum).
  • The Neo-gothic parish church.
  • The “peasant-baroque” officer’s residence of the Festetics estate.
  • Balaton museum.
  • The Lakeside Baths.
  • Helikon environmental park.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Visit the only remaining Lake Baths on lake Balaton.
  • Attend the concerts in the grounds of the Festetics palace.
  • Walk in the Keszthely Mountains to Rezi castle.
  • Visit the Buddhist sanctuary in Zalaszanto.
  • Attend the various Folk Dance festivals.
  • Visit the doll museum in the pedestrian precinct.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Paprika
  • Cherries
  • Walnuts
  • Caviar

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Hotel Bacchus –Weinmuseum – restaurant

H-8360 Keszthely, Erzsebet Kiralyne u. 18 Tel/Fax 83 – 314 - 097

  • Hungaricum Borhaz restaurant

H8360 Keszthely, Helikon u. 14 Tel 0036 – 83 – 312 – 420

  • Donatello Pizzeria

H 8360 Keszthely, Balaton u. 1/A Tel 0036 – 83 – 315 – 989

  • Hungaria – Gosser – Etterem Sorozo

Keszthely, Kossuth Lajos u. 35 Tel 0036 – 83 – 312 - 265

Drink[edit][add listing]

At the Lakeside Bars and cafes

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Keszthely has a variety of places to stay, ranging from rentable apartments to the 5 star 224 room 8 suite:

  • Danubius Hotel – Helikon at the lakeside.

H 8360 Keszthely, Balatonpart 5 Tel 0036 – 83 – 311 - 330

There are also two heritage hotels - the Hotel Hullam and Hotel Balaton built in 1892 on land reclaimed from the receding waters of lake Balaton.

Mid market accommodation is also available from small hotels such as

  • Pension Kakadu

H 8360 Keszthely, Pazmany u. 14 0036 – 83 –312 – 042 And

  • Pension Admiral

H 8360 Keszthely, Pazmany u. 1 0036 – 83 – 314 - 368


Phone The local area code is 83. The country code for Hungary is +36.

Get out[edit]

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