Keszthely, the splendid Hungarian city situated on Lake Balaton’s shore radiates exuberance, tranquility and carefree laziness with aplomb. Termed as a cyclist’s paradise, this mesmerizing city is enriched with plenty of history. Besides offering an array of interests, the city has on display Arcadian charms, castles and unusual geological phenomena. The modern history of Keszthely dates back over 760 years, this seemingly one-horse town inhabits 21,000 people. The serene town scape offers a myriad of interests such as hiking trails in Keszthely hills, bird watching, water sports, gastronomy, winery visits and biking to name a few. Known as the second biggest town of the Balaton region, Keszthely is deeply enchanting and affords a serene vista which echoes in silence of the times long gone. The city’s archaeological and ethnographic richness can be seen in the Balaton Museum. Keszthely is one of those rare and beautiful places where you might end up wanting to extend your stay. Here are some interesting and thrilling tourist delights placed on the menu card of this city!
1. Balaton Lake
Keszthely’s star attraction is the ineffably placid 77 km long Balaton Lake which is the largest in Central Europe. The lake is popular with families and swimmers. The northern half of the lake is deep which is preferable by the swimmers. The southern half being extremely shallow welcomes bathers of all ages. The average water temperature in summers remains to a comfortable 24 degree Celsius. Balaton is popular with people across all nations who love adventure. Even kids can enjoy here without any risk to life. One of the foremost tourist destinations of Central Europe, Lake Balaton contributes a lot to the state’s treasury. Moreover, the water and mud of the lake are excellent remedies for various health disorders. Keszthely is the oldest settlement of Lake Balaton. Various inns and resorts welcome guests from different parts of the world. Lake Balaton is the spot where Hungary’s youth come out to play water sports. Volleyball, Bungee jumping, sailing, windsurfing, etc are the major attractions.
2. Cycle Tracks
Considered as a cyclist’s paradise, Keszthely contains its own charm when it comes to biking holidays. It is exceedingly popular in Hungary for bicycle tourism. The 200 km of cycle tracks encourage pollution free access, connecting all villages around the lake. The calm, serene winds touching one’s face during a bike ride lend tranquility to the inner soul. A sense of purification, ecstasy and joy prevail over the body.
3. Szigliget Fortress
Dotted with steep pathways, cannons, bastions, crumbling stone walls and chapel; The Szigliget Fortress is a historical marvel in itself. The oldest ruins fondly commemorate King Bela IV regarded as Hungary’s “second founder of the kingdom”. Built by Benedictine monks, the fortress changed hands dozens of times in its strenuous 750 year history. Pride of the people, the scene from the Szigliget fortress is enough to make poets of all. Vast stretches of Lake Balaton in all its glory become the cynosure of all eyes. A bucolic landscape unfolds before the eyes. Neat rows of tiled houses and places of worship nestling among trees leave visitors awestruck!
Szepkilato affords one of the most amazing views and is a highly popular lookout spot. The beautiful sight compels the person to gaze at the breathtaking panorama unblinkingly. The serene vista touches one’s soul in a poignant manner. The view of the Balaton River surrounded by hills on either side makes you ponder over nature’s scenic beauty. You will grow fond of this place within a short span of time.
5. Horse Riding Show
A country renowned for its horse riding heritage, Hungary is home to some of the finest breeds of horses which specialize in sports. The Hungarian Warmblood is a sport horse of particular reverence. The Medieval Horse Riding Show at Castle Sumeg has the ability to send shivers down your spine. This colossal castle has long been a witness to Turkish and Austrian invasions and has been rebuilt several times. The indoor arena has been converted into an area for enactment of gallantry and weaponry skills by horsemen clad in medieval costumes. While watching the show, you can relish your taste buds by enjoying the traditional Hungarian brandy.
6. Festetics Palace
Pride of the Hungarians, the Festetics Palace is the biggest and beautiful baroque castle in Hungary. It was once home to seven generations of the aristocratic Festetics family. Built at first on the foundations of a ruined castle, the Baroque mansion gradually expanded to become Hungary’s third largest with 101 rooms. The palace boasts of three permanent exhibitions and lavishly furnishes a rich oak wood staircase, chandeliers and portraits. Neon colored rooms is the highlight. To add to the magnificence, the spacious Helikon Library, established by Count Gyorgy Festetics has 90, 000 volumes. The beautiful chateau with its ornate wrought iron gate and English park looks fabulous.
7. Shopping Haunt
Keszthely’s shopping haunt; Kossuth Lajos street named after Hungary’s famous Governor-President Lajos Kossuth is lined with trees, coffee shops and eateries. The neo Baroque buildings are worth admiring. It also houses the Regional Council. Dotted with museums, this pedestrian street is exquisitely designed and is never left deserted.
8. Mountain of Badacsony
The 440 m high mountain of Badascony is a geological wonder in itself. The Badascony Mountain looms above the Lake of Balaton and remains a silent reminder of the volcanoes that hit this area millions of years ago. Its fertile soils are home to rare flora and fauna and some rare varieties of grapes are grown such as the white Hungarian variety and robust wine is produced. The mountain has been famous for its viniculture dating back to Roman times. An excellent wine called “Grey Friar” is produced. The terrace of Badascony offers a panoramic view. It is home to one of the most popular restaurants and oldest geological formations. Fossilized lava columns like “basalt organs” can be seen. Vineyards produce excellent wines which go well with the local cuisine.
9. Keszthely Model Railway Museum
The city is not far behind when it comes to museums and galleries. If you are a museum lover with an eye for historical details and finesse, do not miss out on the Keszthely Model Railway Museum which exhibits one of the world’s largest mountain railway layouts. Artificial snow clad mountains with narrow, dingy railway lines underneath and the sight of toy trains passing smoothly is a sheer delight to the visitor’s eyes. The model of railway network in plain grasslands with proper tunneling and lighting has also been depicted. Railway network stretching across cities has not been left behind. A rich collection of artefacts is on display at the museum.
10. Fenekpuszta Castle Ruins
Keszthely strives on castles and the Fenekpuszta castle is a perfect epitome of this. The edifice was built by Romans at Fenekpuszta. In the ancient times, Fenekpuszta fortress served as the center for a 30 km diameter area, where the people buried their dead. Its partially excavated ruins, a basilica, warehouse and gate are still visible. Discovering this ancient monument and unfolding its mysteries while sightseeing might leave you dumbfounded and ecstatic. You better not miss seeing this as it will not leave you disappointed.