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Lake Balaton, Hungary

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Lake Balaton is a lake, around 80km long, that has become one of the premier tourist attractions of Western Hungary, and for good reason. This body of freshwater is surrounded by charming resorts that give access to the recreational possibilities offered by the lake and charm visitors with their mix of modern amenities, cultural attractions and historical offerings. With a mix along its 197km shoreline of modern high-rises, resort towns, volcanic hills and beautiful beaches, Lake Balaton has a lot to offer to all sorts of different holidaymakers.

While the south shore is far busier and has more tourist infrastructure, the north shore of the Lake is all about culture, landscape and history. You will find delightful wine-growing country, several historic settlements and of course, perhaps the crowning jewel of the Lake, the Balaton Uplands National Park, which protects a varied landscape to the north of the Lake.

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Balaton Uplands National Park protects a range of different habitat types. There are many different types of landscape protected, from forested, dolomite mountains, to karstic landscape features, to huge wetlands which are unique in Europe. This national park has seen some of the key triumphs of conservation in Hungary and provides a haven for wildlife as well as for the walkers, hikers and nature-lovers who enjoy the many trails that cross the park.

The surrounding wine country overs up not just the beverage in question but also more pleasing, rural landscapes dotted with small, historic settlements. Outdoor pursuits are not limited to hiking, as those who enjoy transporting themselves on two wheels rather than too feet will find it easy to cycle around the lake, using the separated bike lanes that ring the body of water and join up all the main points of interest. During the summer you can enjoy swimming, boating and other water-based activities on the lake and during the winter, you could choose ice-fishing, skating, sledging and perhaps even ice-sailing when the water freezes over.

Those interested in historic attractions will not be disappointed by the offerings around Lake Balaton. The delightful, historic city of Pecs and the regional delights of Southern Transdanubia are just a couple of hours away. One of the historic highlights in this part of Hungary is Sümeg Castle, a fairytale fortress that looms over the landscape on a limestone cone. In the direct vicinity of the Lake itself there are plenty of historic sites to hold the interest too, for example the Benedictine Abbey Church and Abbey Museum in Tihany, on the Tihany Peninsula that juts across the centre of the lake.

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In contrast to the natural and historical sights of Lake Balaton and its environs, the south side of the lake also offers an entirely different sort of holiday. Here you will find young travellers drawn by cheap prices and large clubs, a lively electronic music festival and other happenings including gastronomic events and a varied and exciting nightlife.

So, whether you are looking for a holiday of culture and history, active recreation in a beautiful, natural setting, or something a little wilder, why not consider a visit to Lake Balaton? TraveleZe

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