The Hungarian Guide - Investing and retiring in Hungary

  • A stunning capital with unique setting A stunning capital with unique setting
  • walking and birdwatching paradise walking and birdwatching paradise
  • undisturbed nature rich in rare species undisturbed nature rich in rare species
  • enjoy the 144 mile lakeside cycle track enjoy the 144 mile lakeside cycle track
  • Teeming with History Teeming with History
  • over 300 Thermal Health Spas and warm lakes over 300 Thermal Health Spas and warm lakes
  • picturesque lakes with Carp weighing over 100 lb picturesque lakes with Carp weighing over 100 lb
  • Feast on delicious sunripened local fruit Feast on delicious sunripened local fruit
  • Lake Balaton gets as warm as the Caribbean in the summer Lake Balaton gets as warm as the Caribbean in the summer
  • Tranquil Lake Balaton Tranquil Lake Balaton
  • Lush rolling hills of western Hungary Lush rolling hills of western Hungary
  • buy a thatched cottage for under £30 000.. buy a thatched cottage for under £30 000..
  • horsemen and nature lovers paradise horsemen and nature lovers paradise
  • Europe's second largest freshwater lake Europe's second largest freshwater lake
  • A paradise for watersport enthusiasts A paradise for watersport enthusiasts
  • Tihany peninsula- a pearl of history and nature Tihany peninsula- a pearl of history and nature

About Lake Balaton

balaton by v31s70

Lake Balaton is the main holiday resort of Hungary. It hasn’t really been discovered by the British or Irish, but is popular among Germans, Danes and the Dutch. It is 48 miles long and around 8 miles wide making it around 40 times the size of Windermere. The water is warm in summer, Caribbean temperatures, and becomes Europe’s biggest ice rink in winter. It hosts lots of sporting activities in and around the lake including fishing, sailing, windsurfing, horse riding to name but a few, making owning a holiday home on or close to Lake Balaton not just great value, but great fun. There are no motorised watersports available on the lake.


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The lake was created 5 million years ago by volcanic activity, leaving ideal soil for winemaking and lovely basalt mountains on the northern shore. It first became a health centre in the 19th century when the healing springs of Balatonfüred were discovered and the first heart hospital opened. State Hospital for Cardiology in Balatonfüred boasts the largest cardiac-rehabilitation centre in Hungary, and has brought visitors requiring treatment from all over the world, the most famous perhaps the Nobel-laureate Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Soon after the quiet fishing villages of Balaton were developed into holiday resorts providing bathing and water sports. During the communist era, Lake Balaton became the number one holiday destination for separated German families, as both East and west Germans could travel to Hungary. Many wealthy Hungarians now own a holiday home around the lake and since Hungary joined the EU in 2004 many other western Europeans have decided to buy properity too. In fact more and more are making the move permanent. Some ex-patriates move when they retire, others decide to retire early attracted by the low cost of living and high interest rates for savings. A few others start up buinesses like running B&Bs, travel agencies, or consultation services. Native Hungarians who can speak English are usually prepared to teach Hungarian to the ex pat British community.
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North of the lake is very rich in historic and natural treasures. The ragged volcanic mountains are covered in vineyards and most of the area belongs to the Balaton Uplands National Park. You can go on beautiful walks, watch birds and visit geological sites. Tihany peninsula is probably the most special place, with two inner lakes, a bird reserve, fields of lavender, unique red wine, a thousand year old abbey and listed thatched cottages built of black basalt. If you go on a viewing trip you will most likely stay in Tihany in a lovely B&B.
Along the shore you find cute holiday villages and historic towns, like Balatonfüred, Tihany, Badacsony and Keszthely. Keszthely has a georgeous barque chateaux, the Festetics Palace. It has an amazing library with over 80 000 books. Count Festetics also founded the first collage of agriculture in Hungary, and the Georgikon museum is really great fun for all, with steam tractors, historic tools, and a show farm.

 Balatonfüred  the capital of the Northern lake shore and has significant yachting life. It is also a favourite location for coarse fishing, carp being the most common catch. The town has two marinas, a string of medicinal carbonated mineral water springs, listed buildings from the middle of the 18th and the 19th centuries and fine restaurants.  The State Hospital for Cardiology in Balatonfüred boasts the largest cardiac-rehabilitation centre in Hungary. The hospital is built on the lake shore and is flanked by the Tagore promenade with lovely restaurants and cafés, named after the Nobel-laureate Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was treated here. Many other famous and ordinary patients come here to heal and recuperate year-round thanks to the carbonated springs and baths, which are one of the best-known healing agents in Balatonfüred since the 17th century, see the statutes and memorial stones on the promenade. The town was officially declared a spa in 1772. The Kossuth Spring and other springs near the hospital supply water containing free and bound carbon dioxide as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, hydro-carbonate, calcium, sodium, sulphur and other minerals. The city organises a beauty contest called “Anna Ball” on the day of St Anne, and there are many sailing competitions and wine tasting events during the summer.

The southern shore is more of a family holiday destination as the lake is quite shallow on that part which make it safe for small children. There are gentle green rolling hills with rich soil and beautiful produce and great wines. The main city is Siófok with many hotels, restaurants and clubs.
Szántód is a lovely town right opposite the Tihany peninsula, with stunning views of Tihany and frequent car ferries across the lake. Szántódpuszta is a gorgeous village museum where you can find an 18th century farm, 30 farmhouses are displayed with horseshows, ethnographic exhibitions and craft and folk dancing displays. There is also an aquarium where you can see the native fish and other water creatures of the lake.

The Little Balaton (Kis Balaton) nature reserve is at the western tip of the lake. It is a protected wetland area which is very popular with birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. You can see geese, ducks, terns, cormorants, white and black storks, herons. For a detailed list visit birdwatchinghungary.com. There is also a black buffalo reserve at the southern end of Little Balaton called kápolnapusztai Bivalyrezervátum.