Lake Balaton

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Lake Balaton
Balaton Hungary Landscape.jpg
Lake Balaton
Hungary physical map.svg
Red pog.svg
Lake Balaton
Location of Balaton.PNG
Location of Lake Balaton within Hungary
Location Hungary
Coordinates 46°50′N17°44′E / 46.833°N 17.733°E / 46.833; 17.733 Coordinates: 46°50′N17°44′E / 46.833°N 17.733°E / 46.833; 17.733
Type Rift lake
Primary inflows Zala River
Primary outflows Sió
Catchment area 5,174 km2 (1,998 sq mi) [1]
Basin  countries Hungary
Max. length78 km (48 mi)
Max. width14 km (8.7 mi)
Surface area600 km2 (230 sq mi)
Average depth3.3 m (11 ft)
Max. depth12.2 m (40 ft)
Water volume1.9 km3 (0.46 cu mi)
Residence time 2 years
Shore length1235 km (146 mi)
Surface elevation104.8 m (344 ft)
Settlements Keszthely, Siófok, Balatonfüred (see list )
Designated17 March 1989
Reference no.421 [2]
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Balaton (Hungarian IPA [ˈbɒlɒton], German : Plattensee, Latin : Lacus Pelso, Croatian : Blatno jezero, Slovak : Blatenské jazero) is a freshwater lake in the Transdanubian region of Hungary. It is the largest lake in Central Europe, [3] and one of the region's foremost tourist destinations. The Zala River provides the largest inflow of water to the lake, and the canalised Sió is the only outflow.


The mountainous region of the northern shore is known both for its historic character and as a major wine region, while the flat southern shore is known for its resort towns. Balatonfüred and Hévíz developed early as resorts for the wealthy, but it was not until the late 19th century when landowners, ruined by Phylloxera attacking their grape vines, began building summer homes to rent out to the burgeoning middle classes. [4]


In distinction to all other endonyms for lakes, which universally bear the identifying suffix -tó (“lake”), Lake Balaton is referred to in Hungarian with a definite article, ie. a Balaton (the Balaton). It was called lacus Pelsodis or Pelso by the Romans. [5] The name is Indo-European in origin (cf. Czech pleso ‘sinkhole, deep end of a lake’), later replaced by the Slavic *bolto (Czech bláto, Slovak blato, Polish błoto) meaning 'mud, swamp' (from earlier Proto-Slavic boltьno, Slovene : Blatno jezero, [6] [7] Slovak : Blatenské jazero [8] ).

In January 846 Slavic prince Pribina began to build a fortress as his seat of power and several churches in the region of Lake Balaton, in a territory of modern Zalavár surrounded by forests and swamps along the river Zala. [9] [10] [11] His well fortified castle and capital of Balaton Principality that became known as Blatnohrad or Moosburg ("Swamp Fortress") served as a bulwark both against the Bulgarians and the Moravians. [9] [10] [11]

The German name for the lake is Plattensee. [12] It is unlikely that the Germans named the lake so for being shallow since the adjective platt is a Greek loanword that was borrowed via French and entered the general German vocabulary in the 17th century. [13] [14] It is also noteworthy that the average depth of Balaton (3.2 m [10 ft]) [15] is not extraordinary for the area (cf. the average depth of the neighbouring Neusiedler See, which is roughly 1 m [3.3 ft]). [16]


Map of Balaton in ancient times Ancient balaton.jpg
Map of Balaton in ancient times

Lake Balaton affects the local area precipitation. The area receives approximately 5–7 cm (2–3 in) more precipitation than most of Hungary, resulting in more cloudy days and less extreme temperatures. The lake's surface freezes during winters. The microclimate around Lake Balaton has also made the region ideal for viticulture. The Mediterranean-like climate, combined with the soil (containing volcanic rock), has made the region notable for its production of wines since the Roman period two thousand years ago. [17]


Spread of Seuso at Lake Balaton PELSO.png
Spread of Seuso at Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton 1939 30-as turajolle. Fortepan 25768.jpg
Lake Balaton 1939
Lake Balaton 1939 25-os turajolle. Fortepan 26079.jpg
Lake Balaton 1939

While a few settlements on Lake Balaton, including Balatonfüred and Hévíz, have long been resort centres for the Hungarian aristocracy, it was only in the late 19th century that the Hungarian middle class began to visit the lake. [18] The construction of railways in 1861 and 1909 increased tourism substantially, but the post-war boom of the 1950s was much larger.

By the turn of the 20th century, Balaton had become a center of research by Hungarian biologists, geologists, hydrologists, and other scientists, leading to the country's first biological research institute being built on its shore in 1927. [19]

The last major German offensive of World War II, Operation Frühlingserwachen, was conducted in the region of Lake Balaton in March 1945, being referred to as "the Lake Balaton Offensive" in many British histories of the war. The battle was a German attack by Sepp Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army and the Hungarian Third Army between 6 March and 16 March 1945, and in the end, resulted in a Red Army victory. Several Ilyushin Il-2 wrecks have been pulled out of the lake after having been shot down during the later months of the war. [20] [21]

During the 1960s and 1970s, Balaton became a major tourist destination due to focused government efforts, causing the number of overnight guests in local hotels and campsites to increase from 700,000 in July 1965 to two million in July 1975. Weekend visitors to the region, including tens of thousands from Budapest, reached more than 600,000 by 1975. [19] It was visited by ordinary working Hungarians and especially for subsidised holiday excursions for labor union members.[ citation needed ] It also attracted many East Germans and other residents of the Eastern Bloc. West Germans could also visit, making Balaton a common meeting place for families and friends separated by the Berlin Wall until 1989. [22]


The major resorts around the lake are Siófok, Keszthely, and Balatonfüred. Zamárdi, another resort town on the southern shore, has been the site of Balaton Sound, a notable electronic music festival since 2007. Balatonkenese has hosted numerous traditional gastronomic events. Siófok is known for attracting young people to it because of its large clubs. Keszthely is the site of the Festetics Palace and Balatonfüred is a historical bathing town which hosts the annual Anna Ball.

The peak tourist season extends from June until the end of August. The average water temperature during the summer is 25 °C (77 °F), which makes bathing and swimming popular on the lake. Most of the beaches consist of either grass, rocks, or the silty sand that also makes up most of the bottom of the lake. Many resorts have artificial sandy beaches and all beaches have step access to the water. Other tourist attractions include sailing, fishing, and other water sports, as well as visiting the countryside and hills, wineries on the north coast, and nightlife on the south shore. The Tihany Peninsula is a historical district. Badacsony is a volcanic mountain and wine-growing region as well as a lakeside resort. The lake is almost completely surrounded by separated bike lanes to facilitate bicycle tourism. Although the peak season at the lake is the summer, Balaton is also frequented during the winter, when visitors go ice-fishing or even skate, sledge, or ice-sail on the lake if it freezes over.

Sármellék International Airport provides air service to Balaton (although most service is only seasonal).

Other resort towns include: Balatonalmádi, Balatonboglár, Balatonlelle, Fonyód and Vonyarcvashegy.

Towns and villages

Towns and villages alongside Lake Balaton. Balaton.png
Towns and villages alongside Lake Balaton.
Golden bridge - Balatonkenese Golden bridge.JPG
Golden bridge - Balatonkenese

North shore

From east to west:

Balatonfőkajár - Balatonakarattya - Balatonkenese - Balatonfűzfő - Balatonalmádi - Alsóörs - Paloznak - Csopak - Balatonarács - Balatonfüred - Tihany - Aszófő - Örvényes - Balatonudvari - Fövenyes - Balatonakali - Zánka - Balatonszepezd - Szepezdfürdő - Révfülöp - Pálköve - Ábrahámhegy - Balatonrendes - Badacsonytomaj - Badacsony - Badacsonytördemic - Szigliget - Balatonederics - Balatongyörök - Vonyarcvashegy - Gyenesdiás - Keszthely

South shore

From east to west:

Balatonakarattya - Balatonaliga - Balatonvilágos - Sóstó - Szabadifürdő - Siófok - Széplak - Zamárdi - Szántód - Balatonföldvár - Balatonszárszó - Balatonszemes - Balatonlelle - Balatonboglár - Fonyód - Fonyód–Alsóbélatelep - Bélatelep - Balatonfenyves - Balatonmáriafürdő - Balatonkeresztúr - Balatonberény - Fenékpuszta

Peter Stehlik 2010.09.09 005 2010.09.09 020-8 A images.jpg
Panorama from Balaton and Keszthely

See also

Related Research Articles

Balatonfüred Town in Veszprém, Hungary

Balatonfüred is a resort town in Veszprém county, in Hungary, with a population of 13,000, situated on the northern shore of Lake Balaton. It is considered to be the capital of the Northern lake shore and is a yachting destination. It is also a location for fishing, carp being the most common catch, although the introduction of eels and other non-indigenous species has caused ecological damage in recent years.

Somogy County County of Hungary

Somogy is an administrative county in present Hungary, and also in the former Kingdom of Hungary.

Veszprém County County of Hungary

Veszprém is an administrative county (megye) in Hungary. Veszprém is also the name of the capital city of Veszprém county.

Zala County County of Hungary

Zala is an administrative county in south-western Hungary. It is named after the Zala River. It shares borders with Croatia and Slovenia and the Hungarian counties Vas, Veszprém and Somogy. The capital of Zala county is Zalaegerszeg. Its area is 3,784 square kilometres (1,461 sq mi). Lake Balaton lies partly in the county.

Siófok Town in Southern Transdanubia, Hungary

Siófok is a town in Somogy County, Hungary on the southern bank of Lake Balaton. It is the second largest municipality in Somogy County and the seat of Siófok District. It covers an area of about 124.66 km2 between Lake Balaton, the Mezőföld and the Outer Somogy-Hills. Lying at the firth of the Sió Channel, it serves as the most important logistic station for goods between Lake Balaton and the River Danube.

Hévíz–Balaton Airport airport in Hungary

Hévíz–Balaton Airport, previously also known as Sármellék International Airport, is an international airport in Hungary located west of Lake Balaton, 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) south-southwest of the village of Sármellék, Zala County and Keszthely. It gains importance due to the proximity of Lake Balaton, Hungary's most important holiday resort and the thermal spas of Hévíz and Zalakaros.

Keszthely Town in Western Transdanubia, Hungary

Keszthely is a Hungarian city of 20,895 inhabitants located on the western shore of Lake Balaton. It is the largest city by the lake and one of the more important cultural, educational and economic hubs in the region. Due to its favorable location and accessibility by both road and rail, Keszthely and the surrounding area is a preferred holiday destination.

Badacsony mount in Hungary

Badacsony is the name of a region on the north shore of Lake Balaton in western Hungary, a mountain top and a town in that region.

Balatonboglár Town in Southern Transdanubia, Hungary

Balatonboglár, in Hungary, is a resort town situated on the south shore of Lake Balaton. It is the official centre of the Balatonboglár wine region, and is often called the "town of grapes and wine."

Balatonlelle Town in Southern Transdanubia, Hungary

Balatonlelle is a popular tourist town located in Hungary on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, about 35 km west of Siófok. Attractions include a beach over 3 km long, an aqua-park, go-cart course, and annual wine festival. It is easily reached from Budapest by direct train. It is a family orientated tourist resort in the summer season. There is a paid (sandy) beach and a long public (free) grass beach. It does have a small number of bars but it can be categorised as a quiet resort, ideal for relaxation. The wine festival is often held in the first week of August.

Szigliget Place in Veszprém, Hungary

Szigliget is a village in Veszprém county, Hungary.

Szántód Village in Southern Transdanubia, Hungary

Szántód is a village in Somogy county, Hungary situated between Balatonföldvár and Zamárdi on the shore of the Lake Balaton. The village is famous for its ferry, ferryboats, the stunning view of Tihany from Szántód and the Szántódpuszta Tourist and Cultural Center which is a village museum ("skanzen"). It's just 13.4 km from Siófok, the major town of the area, 65.8 km from Kaposvár, the capital of Somogy County and 117 km from Budapest, the capital of Hungary.

Balaton Uplands National Park national park of Hungary

In 1997 a protected ecological system embracing the adjoining area of the Balaton Uplands was established with the connection of the already protected areas which had been separate for a long time. The area of 56 997 hectares of the Balaton-felvidéki National Park mainly consists of these six landscape protection areas. The national park headquartered in Veszprém, in the largest city of the Balaton area.

Balaton wine region wine region of Hungary

Balaton wine region is one of the seven larger wine regions of Hungary. It consists of six wine regions: Badacsony, Balatonboglár, Balaton-felvidék, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Nagy-Somló and Zala. Its wine regions are spread around Lake Balaton; with these areas having constituted one single wine region back to the 19th century. Wine production was started at the beginning of the 1st century by the Romans. The region is known for its specific white wines showing local particularities; its most widely grown variety is olaszrizling.

Balatonalmádi District District in Veszprém, Hungary

Balatonalmádi is a district in south-eastern part of Veszprém County. Balatonalmádi is also the name of the town where the district seat is found. The district is located in the Central Transdanubia Statistical Region.

Balatonfüred District Districts of Hungary in Veszprém

Balatonfüred is a district in southern part of Veszprém County. Balatonfüred is also the name of the town where the district seat is found. The district is located in the Central Transdanubia Statistical Region.

Tapolca District Districts of Hungary in Veszprém

Tapolca is a district in south-western part of Veszprém County. Tapolca is also the name of the town where the district seat is found. The district is located in the Central Transdanubia Statistical Region.

Fonyód District Districts of Hungary in Southern Transdanubia

Fonyód is a district in northern part of Somogy County. Fonyód is also the name of the town where the district seat is found. The district is located in the Southern Transdanubia Statistical Region.

Siófok District Districts of Hungary in Southern Transdanubia

Siófok is a district in north-eastern part of Somogy County. Siófok is also the name of the town where the district seat is found. The district is located in the Southern Transdanubia Statistical Region.


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