After spending a few days in Budapest the second part of our Hungarian adventure was about to start. We picked up a car and headed down the M1 to the Lake Balaton area. Lake Balaton is the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe (not the largest in Europe as Stuart had spent a large portion of his life thinking) and is beautiful. Its one of Hungary’s hot spots for holiday makers, we were early in the season so it hadn’t got too busy but we could see why it was so popular!
The drive down was straightforward and enjoyable despite Hungary’s crazy drivers and I was so pleased with the idea of some downtime and seeing a part of the country not a huge amount of Brits see.
We stayed in the town of Siofok…which we found out from a Hungarian colleague that it was the Ibiza of Hungary. We were on the outskirts of the town in a wonderful boutique hotel, The Mala Garden. It was modelled on Bali and Thailand with a Thai menu, soft furnishings and a small onsite spa. The hotel is on the shorefront of the lake with it’s own jetty and sunbeds.
The room we had was spacious and high quality with a balcony and a great view. We spent many an afternoon lazing on the balcony enjoying the view. The food in the hotel was good but perhaps a little overpriced, the spa free to use and there was even a free massage thrown it so all in all it was great!
We knew the sunsets in the Balaton area were renowned and although it was cloudy most evenings we did get to see the sky a wonderful orange haze.
We divided our time between lazing by the lake (and in the lake) with cocktails and a good book, venturing to Tihany (post to follow) and a mini walking tour of Siofok.
On this wander we did discover the strip in Siofok which looked a little odd out of season but I imagine is rammed in high summer. Full of bars and girls in tight tops it definitely wasn’t our scene but we could now understand why we were told it was Ibiza like!
The great thing about Lake Balaton, and the reason it is so family friendly, is that it’s really shallow! You can walk out for 10 minutes and still only be waist deep. It means the water is really warm and you can play around without getting out of your depth!
The town itself contained several churches, a shopping centre, marina and a water tower. No longer used as a water tower but a tourist attraction including a viewing deck and an oxygen bar. The floor at the very top was revolving, I would have loved to have stayed for a drink but it made me feel very sick so we spent some time on the lower outside deck before picking up our free water on the way out. Always good when a water tower hands out water bottles to their visitors.
It was late in the day but you could see for a fair old distance and as the only ones up there it was peaceful. Siofok isn’t full of a huge amount of things to do, apart from all the fun on the lake, but this is one of the gooduns! It’s even the top rated attraction on TripAdvisor!
Next up on our small walking tour of Siofok was the Lutheran Church which was designed by Imre Makovecz and looks much like an owl. The church was closed when we arrived at dusk but it was worth seeing it just for the outside lit up by lights. I’ve seen all sorts of churches around the world but this has to be up there with one of my favourites just for the uniqueness.
Siofok had a really nice feel to it and was family friendly despite obviously having a wild side. Perhaps we had an unfair perspective due to where we were staying but I will be going back when I want some time to switch off and escape in the sunshine!
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