Tihany was created by God when he was happy – or so the story goes among Hungarians. With its enchanting natural beauty, a trip to this peninsula will transport you far away from your everyday problems. Here is a small list of suggestions of what to do if you spend a few days in the area. And while you’re there, check out the restaurants as well.
Since the abbey was rebuilt in the 19th century, the peculiar phenomenon of echoes in the locality has made Tihany well-known across the whole country. If you stand on Echo Hill (a stone helpfully marks the best point) and shout towards the abbey, your voice echoes seven times in two seconds (especially on cold, clear winter days). According to an old and sad tale, a cursed princess is shut within the stones as a punishment for having been proud and hard-hearted: she is obliged to answer every passerby who calls out to her.
Balaton at Tihany/Photo by the author
The abbey has a long history going back a thousand years. The abbey is mentioned in a document dating from 1055; since then it has been a shelter for monks, a castle during Turkish times, an old peoples’ home during the socialist era and, despite all of these tempestuous events, it still stands at the same spot. It is worth visiting the abbey even if you are not a religious person, as there are also art exhibitions to attend.
Opening time: 1st November – 31st March 10am-4pm, 1st April – 30th April 10am-4.30pm, 1st May – 30th September 9am-6pm, 1st – 31st October 10am-5pm, Sundays and feast days from 11.15am
The lavender garden in Tihany was planted by a botanist after the First World War. The lavender was brought straight from France and became a huge success due to its higher volatile oil content. Nowadays, lavender grows across a 100-hectare plot, which is an absolutely stunning sight when in bloom. You can also buy lavender pillows made by a nearby manufacturer. There is small center where you can see an exhibition about the locality’s geological past, how humans and nature have been living here side-by-side and, of course, about lavender.
Center’s opening hours: 14th March – 30th April every day 10am-4pm, 1st – 31st May every day 9am-5pm, 1st June – 31st August every day 9am-7pm, 1st – 30th September every day 10am-5pm 1st October – 15th November every day 10am-4pm, 16th November – 13th March only Sat-Sun 10am-3pm
There is not only Lake Balaton to attract you with its stunning facilities, but there are also the Inner Lake and Outer Lake – both of which lap peacefully within the remnants of a volcanic caldera. A beautiful spot for a long walk, you can even fish or take a boat trip. If you are a nature lover, you can find many rare dragonflies, toads and frogs, even reptiles, such as the European pond turtle. Unusual avian friends you might encounter include the greylag goose, Eurasian bittern, egret and western marsh harrier.
Within a mere 10-minute walk from the Inner Lake there are the smaller and bigger geyser cones, created by volcanic activity a million years ago. The highest one is often referred to as the ‘Golden House’ due to the yellow moss that grows on the surface, giving it a golden hue in sunshine. There is a small cave in the interior, which is a popular place for children to play. You may notice a red cross on one of the small paths; this is the sign for the famous Lóczy Nature Trail; a loop that presents a wealth of natural beauty and, if you are lucky, a number of rare living creatures.
This old castle fort was built between the Bronze and Iron Age, and the remains are still visible. This place has provided shelter for people throughout the centuries. On the east side you can still find some of the caves carved by monks that arrived from the Kievan Rus, accompanying the wife of one of the Hungarian kings. A small well was named after them, bearing the romantic name of Cyprian Spring.
Restaurant and skanzen of old times – the name says it all! For this place is not only a restaurant, but is dedicated to presenting the heritage of times gone by. You can experience how people ate and drank centuries ago, when all the food was prepared in a beehive oven, when wine came straight up from the cool cellar and schnapps (pálinka) was served from a demi-john. You can try to stretch your own strudel, or even practise your archery skills here!
It can be quite enchanting to see all the important parts of this picturesque town while riding on a small train. The whole route is six to eight kilometers long, and the journey takes about 30 minutes. The stops are at the town center, near the abbey, at Rév-Club (where you can cross Lake Balaton and arrive to Siófok) at the boat pier and the Lavender Center. It is worth phoning ahead to check the schedule before your planned excursion.
Near the Inner Lake, there is a park where young and old can spend time pleasurably. A great playground for the children, and a bowling area and mini golf course for grown-ups, guarantees a good time. Don’t worry if you get a little hungry – a nearby stand sells pancakes, sandwiches and local snacks (like tócsi – grated potato and onions baked together) as well as wine from the slopes of Balaton.
Opening times: April-May Mon-Sun 10am-6pm, June-August Mon-Sun 10am-8pm, September Mon-Sun 10am-6pm, October Fri-Sun 10am-5pm
The Institute is part of the Hungarian Scientific Academy and provides a thorough insight into the science behind the creatures that live in and around Lake Balaton. Set in a beautiful environment, it offers opportunities to discover fun facts about animals and their environment. It is necessary to book in advance, and it is better if you can go with a big group (or at least tag along with a few more people), because it is a little pricey for only one or two people.
Address and telephone number: Klebelsberg Kunó street 3 Tihany, Hungary +36 87 448 244