How to visit Lake Balaton from Budapest for FINA 2017 events
Photo : Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Balaton
14/7/2017, 4:08 PM●6-minute article
The world’s best aquatic athletes are coming to Hungary for the 2017 FINA World Championships this summer, and while most of the water-sports competitions are happening in Budapest, the open-water swimming races are being held at Lake Balaton during July 15-21 by the shore of Balatonfüred, a charming and historic resort town offering plenty of activities beyond the FINA fun. We present a guide for getting to Balatonfüred from Budapest to enjoy the long-distance swimming action, and highlight sunshiny attractions to enjoy at “The Hungarian Sea”, including swimming spots and ferryboat rides.
Hungary’s most popular domestic vacation destination is Lake Balaton, where generations of Magyars cherish diverse outdoorsy attractions that welcome visitors for recreation and relaxation along its 236-kilometer-long coastline. Nicknamed “The Hungarian Sea”, Central Europe’s biggest lake is an action-packed place during the hottest months, buzzing with sporty activities like sailing, windsurfing, and cycling – but Lake Balaton is equally appealing for lazy-day pursuits like sunbathing and people-watching.
Whether sipping wine in sunshine on the north shore’s volcanic hills or making a splash by moonlight at a wild south-coast music festival, you’ll find that Lake Balaton truly offers something for everyone – check out WeLoveBalaton.hu for comprehensive and up-to-date English-language info about events, accommodations, and travel tips for the entire Lake Balaton region, including details about the 2017 FINA events in Balatonfüred.
FINA events in Balatonfüred
As the venue for the FINA World Championships in open-water swimming, the waters on Balatonfüred’s shore are a perfect place for the planet’s fastest long-distance swimmers, with a special water-based course set up for 5-kilometer team races, as well as individual men’s and women’s races of 5, 10, and 25 kilometers. Spectators can see this spectacular of swimming stamina from stands set up by the panoramic Tagore Promenade, with races beginning at 10am on July 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th, while the men’s and women’s 25-kilometer finals both begin at 8:30am on July 21st. Check out the official FINA website for complete open-water swimming competition info.
Traveling from Budapest to Balatonfüred
BY TRAIN:Direct rail service is offered daily to several Lake Balaton destinations from Buda’s Déli Station (at Buda’s M2 metro terminus). Direct trains from Budapest to Balatonfüred (full one-way fare: 2,905 HUF) depart daily at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm. Check mav-start.hu for English timetable info.
BY CAR: The easiest way to drive to Lake Balaton is to take motorway M7 west of Buda (don’t forget to purchase a “matrica” highway permit from a gas station before getting on the motorway), which goes directly to Balaton’s south shore; if traveling to Balatonfüred, make sure to exit the M7 at the juncture with main road 71 and turn right, and then follow main road 71 until it takes you directly to Balatonfüred. Be aware that traffic jams between Budapest and Lake Balaton commonly occur in both directions during summertime.
Rich with history and majestic Magyar culture, Balatonfüred was Hungary’s first spa resort and a summer residence for many notable politicians and writers, who built grand villas still standing today. Popular activities here include strolling along the long tree-lined Tagore Promenade or competing in any of the many sailing regattas.
Among other refined amusements, the annual Anna Ball is continually hosted here since 1825. For an escape from civilized society, hike amid the nearby Koloska Valley’s 761 hectares of protected woodland. However, make sure to visit the Vaszary Villa – the former holiday home of a priest that was beautifully restored and converted into an exhibition centre in 2010, which now presents masterful works by contemporary artists.
Naturally, several lakeside parks welcome everyone for swimming and sunbathing at the Balaton shore in and around Balatonfüred. The Kisfaludy Strand is one of Balatonfüred’s best beaches, featuring fun pools, sports fields, and facilities for families and people with limited mobility. In the neighboring town of Csopak, visitors enjoy golden sand, beach volleyball, huge slides, and intriguing wood-sculpture installations at Csopak Beach. Meanwhile, at the nearby Tihany Peninsula, the Sajkod Beach is a friendly, small, and somewhat secluded park found by the foot of Csúcs Hill.
Several nice restaurants and bars can be found in Balatonfüred, many of them featuring locally sourced foods and excellent regional wines. A rural atmosphere mingles with modern kitchen technologies at Baricska Csárda; appetizing goulash and apple pie made with a twist are highlights of the menu. At the Nem Kacsa Restaurant, guests can relax on a terrace near the sailboat harbor while enjoying varied meals and the picturesque panorama over the lovely lake, while the nearby Figula Wine Bar belongs to one of the Balaton region’s leading winemakers – the Figula family – serving good libations with tasty bites.
Exploring Lake Balaton by ferryboat
Thanks to the ferryboat services of the Balaton Shipping Company – aka “Bahart” – it’s easy to travel around “The Hungarian Sea” by ship, with frequent voyages departing from Balatonfüred’s harbor. To learn about the routes, schedules, and ticket prices for traveling around Lake Balaton on the Bahart ferries, check out the English-language information on the official Balaton Shipping Company website.
In addition to the regular ferryboat services, Bahart offers some special excursions featuring unique onboard entertainment for various ages, and this summer all Mastercard or Maestro card holders can enjoy special discounts when joining these cool cruises. To offer nautical delight for kids, the Mastercard Magical Boat has an onboard ensemble of pirates, magicians, and clowns to present a complete show and gifts. This family-friendly excursion departs from ten ports during the summer high season, including ships leaving from Balatonfüred every Wednesday and Friday at 4:30pm – and anyone who buys tickets with a Mastercard or Maestro card will receive a 10% discount. Meanwhile, grown-ups will enjoy moonlit excursions aboard the Mastercard Pleasure Boat – departing every Friday night at 8:30pm from the Siófok port – with cultural programs and performances offered along the way; if passengers buy tickets with a Mastercard or Maestro card, they receive a 50% discount. Also, special fireworks-watching cruises provide sparkling perspectives during Hungary’s August 20th celebrations, and anyone who uses a Mastercard or Maestro card to buy tickets for these brilliant voyages will receive a 10% discount.
Furthermore, anyone who wants to use Bahart’s services repeatedly this summer can receive even more discounts if they purchase a “Joker Card” – allowing holders to pay for multiple ferry rides for varied pre-paid amounts – and passengers who buy a Joker Card with a Mastercard or Maestro card receive even more discounts. Additionally, anyone who uses a Mastercard or Maestro cardto purchase any type of Bahart ferry ticket will receive a 10% discount on food or drinks bought aboard the boat with their Mastercard or Maestro card.
We Love Balaton
To learn even more English-language information about traveling around Lake Balaton – including comprehensive details about accommodations, restaurants, festivals, and more FINA action, check out our sister website WeLoveBalaton.hu, updated daily with fresh tips and insights useful for people with all interests. Whether you are visiting Lake Balaton for FINA or just for a weekend getaway, enjoy diving into the myriad pleasures of “The Hungarian Sea”!