If you visit Hungary, you will want to explore Balaton and some charming towns along the lake. One that’s breathtaking is the historical peninsula of Tihany. The peninsula has wineries, lavender fields, caves, trails, and beaches. The quaint historic village has perfectly maintained stone buildings and some of the most charming Hungarian streets I’ve ever seen. A unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural heritage guarantees a fantastic experience.
Located on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, Tihany is a place of picturesque landscapes and rustic charm. Rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture genuinely have something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just passing by, it’s a great place to visit.
We stayed the weekend in June, which is the perfect time to stay in this picturesque town. There is plenty to do, but a day trip is also easy to organize. If you want to experience Tihany as a day trip, you have options for the ferry. You could drive your car or walk if you took a train to Szántód; the walk is thirty minutes to the ferry or six minutes if you drive to it.
Take the ferry across the lake; the ferry runs every forty-five minutes during the summer months. Once on the Tihany peninsula, veer to the right after the big white building where café Énidő Specialty Cafe is and enjoy a coffee or chai latte while you wait for the tourist train, a white and gold-colored train. If you drive, this is a great place to park your car.
The train will take you along the coast of the Tihany peninsula and then drive up to the charming stone village where all the action is. The ride to the center will take forty minutes, costing 4 euro per person in 2023.
Where to go
A key highlight is the Tihany Abbey, a baroque church with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding hills. The church houses the crypt of King Andrew I, who founded the monastery in 1055.
The Echo Hill is a geological marvel that’s not to be missed. Its acoustics used to allow an echo to rebound up to seven times. Due to urbanization, the echo has diminished, but the hill offers a fantastic view of Lake Balaton.
A visit to the Lavender House Visitor Centre, a museum dedicated to the local history of lavender cultivation, is also a must. Here, you can learn about the traditional methods of lavender production and even partake in some lavender-based activities during the lavender festival in July. Look on their website to ensure you know what events are happening and when. This town is very popular, so if you want to come during an event, you will need to book far in advance.
Tihany is a peninsula surrounded by Lake Balaton, inside Tihany. Lake Belső (or Inner Lake) is a small freshwater lake on Hungary’s Tihany Peninsula. It’s one of the two lakes on the peninsula, the other being the Outer Lake (Külső-tó). Both lakes are located within the protected area of the peninsula on a nature reserve.
Surrounded by scenic hills, the Inner Lake is serene and picturesque. It has a surface area of about 2 square kilometers, making it considerably smaller than Lake Balaton but still quite substantial. The lake’s depth varies, but it’s generally relatively shallow, making it an excellent habitat for various aquatic plants and animals. The lake is a popular destination for birdwatchers, with numerous species of waterfowl and migratory birds stopping by throughout the year.
Around the lake, there are several hiking trails, offering a chance to explore the surrounding countryside’s diverse flora and fauna. The area is lovely in spring when wildflowers bloom in abundance. A walk around Lake Belső offers a tranquil experience, and the surrounding hills provide fantastic panoramic views of the Tihany Peninsula and Lake Balaton. What to do
Aside from sightseeing, Tihany offers a wealth of activities for tourists. Those who love the outdoors can partake in hiking or biking along the myriad of scenic trails or enjoy a refreshing swim in Lake Balaton. Wine-tasting and charming cafes can be found all over the town.
If you stay for a few days, consider a sailing lake tour. It’s a perfect way to appreciate the beauty of Tihany from a different perspective.
őrtorony-Kilátó is the best sightseeing tower on the peninsula. The views are amazing!
Walk, or cycle the paths along the road to see the lavender fields on the west and east of the peninsula. Tihanyi oslevandulás and Lavendulamező are both very pretty in mid-June.
For those who enjoy shopping, Tihany will not disappoint. The village is famous for its lavender products, including soaps, perfumes, and even edible treats. There’s also a local crafts market where you can purchase unique handcrafted items from local artisans.
I bought lavender Palinka which is a Hungarian brandy, or as we call it, in the Balkan area, Rakija. The lavender beer at Lavendula Kézmuves Fagylatozó Tihany was terrific! We loved the views from the terrace and the charming shop selling everything lavender.
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Tihany caters to a range of budgets and preferences.
For a luxury stay, the poorly rated Echo Residence All Suite Hotel boasts stunning lake views, gourmet dining, and an infinity pool. OliverLux Aparthotel is near the water and very well-rated; it’s down from the center and would be about a twenty-minute uphill walk to the charming town. Viktória Inn Tihany is near the center, but it’s often booked, so book in advance. Another one you better book early is Centrum Vendégház. Most of the guest houses and hotels are pet friendly. While writing this, I learned that Adler Hotel and Wellness and Tihany Yacht Club are dog friendly; they weren’t available when I booked our stay. We had to book an apartment for my mother and niece so they could keep the dogs, and we stayed in a hotel we hoped would be a lovely romantic stay, but it wasn’t.
We stayed at Hotel Tihany Atrium, a midrange boutique hotel near the water. There are no lake views because a building for the harbor is in front of it. The bed wasn’t great, super thin memory foam mattress with no mosquito nets on the balcony door, so we had to rely on the air conditioning when there would be better air outside.
The Tihany Csopi Panzió is an excellent choice for a pension-style stay. This family-run establishment offers comfortable rooms and a warm, homely atmosphere. There are several apartments to stay in, too—book in advance because it was booked when we looked.
If you’re traveling on a budget, Tihany Hostel provides clean, cozy accommodation at an affordable price. Its central location makes it a convenient base for exploring the village.
Where to Eat
Hungarian cuisine is renowned for its distinctive flavors, and Tihany offers many dining options. Try a traditional Hungarian meal at the Régi Itok Udvara Skanzen és Étterem Restaurant in the heart of the village. For fresh seafood, head to Gulyás udvar Étterem, which serves delicious local fish dishes in an amazing atmosphere.
Kotyogós Kávéterasz is a fantastic café just off Lake Belső; the views are amazing. The coffee and cakes are excellent. They also serve sandwiches and snacks. The crème Brule coffee was terrific, but ask for it to be less sweet if you don’t like super sweet.
Tihanyi Vinarius is located on the northern side of Lake Belső; it’s a beautiful, just fantastic area; the restaurant is a massive brick wine cellar. The views are incredible, and so is the food. Try their wines too!
Remember, Tihany is a protected nature reserve, so always respect local rules and guidelines to help preserve its beauty. English is only widely spoken in the main tourist areas, so picking up a few basic Hungarian phrases can be helpful. And don’t forget your swimsuit – a dip in Lake Balaton is a must-do! Subscribe for more travel posts, and have a lovely day.