With its magnificent azure colours, Lake Heviz (Hévíz) is used by bathers from all over Hungary. The characteristic towers of the main building provide a pleasant shade, while you can admire the green fauna from the pier. It could even be compared to Lake Como if it was a bigger lake.
Heviz is located near Lake Balaton - which is Hungary's biggest lake. The lake's surroundings offer an astonishing number of sights, thanks to the wave of renovations that started in the last decade.
Nowadays, you can say that Balaton offers a compatible alternative for a family vacation or romantic getaway regarding price and performance.
Where is Heviz located?
Heviz is located near Keszthely, on the shore of Lake Balaton, Hungary. It's approximately 2 hours drive from the capital city, Budapest. Keszthely and Hévíz can be easily reached via the M7 motorway.
- Budapest distance: 2 hours / 190 km
Approaching with train
Intercity trains to Keszthely depart from Déli train station (Budapest) every two hours, which completes the 190-kilometre distance within 2,5 hours. This is not much longer than by car; however, exploring the area of Keszthely – especially with family – is easier by car.
From Keszthely, you can take a cab to get there. It's approximately 9 km.
#1 Lake Heviz and Festetics Bathhouse
Arriving in the region of Heviz, one of the most exciting attractions is Lake Heviz itself. The area has a very busy history regarding geological origins. I would only mention a 9 million years short section.
Did you know that as a remaining of the ancient oceans previously, the area of Hungary was covered by the Pannonian Sea, and only the tallest mountains peaked through as islands, such as Mt Matra, Bukk, and Mecsek? Well, Lake Heviz was also created during this time.
One of the main features of the lake is that it’s fed by a hot medicinal water spring emerging from the depths of the earth. The layer of vapour won’t let the water cool down. Therefore you will find warm water both in the summer and winter.
You will find plenty of parking space, so arriving in a car won’t be a problem. You can get to the lake through the uniquely designed Festetics bathhouse.
The lake’s water is used for the treatment of the following diseases
- locomotor diseases
- joint and spinal diseases
- rheumatologic diseases
- skin diseases
- fractures, accidental injuries, surgeries
- A full-day entry for adults is 6.000 HUF. However, I suggest you purchase a 2-3 hour ticket, which is more affordable, and you can easily discover the lake during that.
- It is less busy during Autumn and Spring - when you can avoid the usual crowd.
#2 Statue Park
Next to the Lake Bath is the Hévíz Statue Park, which commemorates three outstanding Hungarian literature figures. Zsigmond Móricz, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, and Dániel Berzsenyi. They mentioned Heviz in multiple poems and wrote about the unparalleled beauty of the untamed Lake Balaton.
Their sculptures were handed over in the second half of the '70s in a park next to Lake Hévíz. In addition, you will find many other statues too in the city, out of which I would like to highlight the most well-known ones:
- two cherubs with wings, the protectors of the lake, above the entrance,
- on the Schulhof Frigyes promenade, the statue of Graf György Festetics, who contributed to the flourishing of the contemporary surroundings with the expansion of Keszthely Castle and his huge private library,
- the “Pantheon” on the wall of the Winter Bath commemorates the well-known patients recovering in the Lake Bath.
- As well as numerous monuments created for our national holidays and commemorations.
You can find the park next to the bath.
#3 Farmer’s market
Checking out the farmer’s market could be especially exciting for those coming from a big city – if you are open to special gastronomical experiences. Even if you don’t necessarily try the full range of all 800 sellers, you can have a good (and cheap) meal here.
The farmer’s market doesn’t differ much from the country’s other markets; simultaneously, the Hévíz market is driven by an unparalleled cohesive community. All the important producers in the area try to bring their goods here, as the event, which is held several times a week, is not only popular with tourists.
During the writing of this article, the ratatouille festival is being held (August), which is organized publicly for the first time this year, with the active participation of buyers and guests.
Here are a couple of examples of handmade products in the Heviz area
- Clay pottery made on site is an especially good activity for kids. On one hand, it improves dexterity; on the other hand, you can take home a pot at the end, which will forever represent a memory.
- Fresh bread
- Carved sculptures, with an on-site presentation
- Painted china
- Bio fruits and vegetables
- Lavender scented products
- Woven products
- Homemade sweets
- Wine specialties
I could go on for ages since the products of the 800 producers are constantly changing and expanding. The family can surely spend one splendid hour here, so everyone finds something interesting.
- Distance from the main square of Heviz: 6 minutes on foot
#4 Rákóczi Street
It hasn’t even been 10 years since the mayor renovated the famous pedestrian street. The previously more socialist-looking Rákóczi Street tempts you to take a walk along its entire length. Nowadays, its design resembles the famous Baatonfüred promenade (Balatonfüred is another city next to Lake Balaton).
The street is nicely paved, with slightly rising terrain, yet it is easy to walk on it, even with a stroller.
You can rent bikes too in the local Tourinform office at the beginning of the street. After walking by the boutiques and the residential houses built as villas in the 1920s, you will reach Fontana Art Movie Theatre.
At the end of the street, you will find the fountain of dr. Károly Moll is known as the father of weight bath in Hungary.
You can experience weight bathing in most spa centres with water, just like in Hévíz. Of course, this is not only wellness: they use this method mostly to relieve the cartilage between the vertebrae and to stretch the spinal column.
The buoyant force helps to compensate for the weights tied to the legs; however, with the help of the armrests, you can stay above the water, thus stretching the spine and torso.
This is not only a nice experience lasting for weeks, but it is nowadays a mandatory part of treatments of many diseases affecting the spine.
#5 Egregy Wine Cellars
Egregy used to be a separate settlement for a long time; the area, located 1,5 kilometres from the centre of Hévíz, was attached to Heviz after the Second World War. Nowadays, it is hard to tell it apart even from Keszthely.
The area is a village-like, hilly place; people have lived here since ancient times. Due to its high sun exposure, they knew it was worth planting grapes here. If you visit with friends, you can finish the night with some cultured “partying” in a local wine cellar. Countless local wineries are offering their wines in the area of Egregy. They also operate restaurants and guesthouses to allow visitors to discover the wine cellars fully.
Due to the traditions – especially on the North shore of Lake Balaton -everything is also written in German; thus, you can get that GDR feeling even while reading the menu; at the same time, the quality has fortunately improved in the past decade. Every year in mid-August, they organize the Hévíz Wine Festival, during which the best wineries around Balaton showcase their products (but, of course, winemakers from all over the country visit here).
In 2019 they chose the Bujdosó Winery’s Kokas Merlot 2015 as the best Balaton wine, but all the wineries are prepared with their wines if you arrive on time, you can even try must and vine grapes.
They chose the Teri Mama Inn, the Római Winery, and the Öreg Harang Wine Bar as the best places among the wine cellars. However, you can visit way more. It is worth trying even just 1 glass of wine at each place.
#6 Mother Theresa Lookout Tower
Teréz Anya kilátó
The Mother Theresa Lookout Tower is easily accessible by car or bike. It is the highest lookout tower in the area, its building is 270 meters above sea level. It was named after Saint Theresa of Calcutta, Mother Theresa, who passed away in 1997. The Albanian Roman Catholic nun is the founder of the Missionaries of Charity and received a Noble Peace Prize in 1997.
A beautiful view welcomes you from the lookout tower: the hills of Zalavar, the well-kept environment, and the fantastic green colours. At this point, I can confidently say the view is just like Tuscany!
The 12 meters high wooden structure was opened in 2012 and has been renovated. From that height, you can see mount Kovácsi, Egerszeg TV Tower, Tátika, and Rezi, moreover, in good weather, you can even see the silhouette of Sümeg Castle. And from the foot of the tower, a hiking path starts, which is maintained by the local Zalaköveskút community.
- Address: Zalaköveskút, 8354
- Distance from the main square of Hévíz: 15 minutes by car
#7 Rezi Castle
You can find Castle Rezi 16 kilometres from the centre of Hévíz, not far from the village of Rezi. The story of the castle ruin located on the 418 meters high Mount Meleg dates back to XIII. century.
First mentioned in 1236 in connection with a land exchange transaction, Apor Pécz and his family acquired the ownership of the castle land. The castle wall and towers were built at this time, but the residential tower was built later – probably with a bishop’s contribution.
There are unparalleled panoramic views of the surroundings from the castle. You can see Lake Balaton, the Castle of Sümeg, and the ruins of Castle Tátika. If someone’s a fan of history and castles, by no means miss it!
- The castle is free to visit.
- Open every day 0-24
- You can get to the castle by car or foot; the road is rocky but easy to walk on.
- Distance from the main square of Heviz: 20 minutes by car
#8 Rezi Dino Park and Adventure Park
Rezi Dinó Park
Not far from the Castle of Rezi is the Rezi Dino Park, where moving, life-size dinosaurs await children and adults young at heart. A cool selfie with the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a scare from the Spinosaurus, and countless entertaining games.
I would recommend it less to aspiring paleontologists because the place is more based on the Jurassic Park film series rather than scientific facts. The park is some kind of adventure park complemented with dinosaurs.
- Every day: between 09:00 - 17:00
- Adult ticket: 5000 HUF
- The dino park is about 10 – 15 minutes away from Hévíz by car.
- Website: Dínópark
Other than the attractions mentioned above, there are numerous other hiking spots and activities in the area. Such as Keszthely, which is located along Keszthely Bay, on the shore of Lake Balaton. It is also worth dropping in while visiting Heviz since you can indulge in lángos and peach-jam-filled crepes on one of the nice, renovated piers.
Keszthely is big on museums too: marzipan, phonograph, Balaton, old-timer cars, model railways and unbeatable exhibitions on the subject of mini-parliament await you.
Keszthely and Heviz are located on the furthest corner of Lake Balaton from Budapest. Maybe this is why it is less in the limelight than Balatonfured, Siofok, or Balatonszemes.
Lake Heviz, especially since the area's renovation, has become quite an exciting travel destination. If you go with family, the bath, hikes, and the market may interest you. If you choose this destination with friends, the historical memorials, the castle, and the wine cellars might inspire you.
Fortunately, it is worth visiting the area anytime between Spring and Autumn, since while Lake Balaton is “open”, these locations also operate at full capacity. At the same time, now that we are starting to rediscover our travel options at home due to the epidemic, there is also a chance that life around Lake Balaton will not stop in winter either. It would be nice to come up with another winter story for the lake besides skating!