Lake Heviz (Hévíz), with its magnificent azure colours is used by bathers from a beautiful pier. The characteristic towers of the main building provide a pleasant shade, and you can admire the green fauna while relaxing on the pier. If it was a bigger lake, it could be even compared to Lake Como. We visited the rediscovered Heviz, and we’ll show you 7 sights that are worth putting on a pair of shoes.
The surroundings of Lake Balaton offers an astonishing amount of sights and excitement, which, thanks to the wave of renovations that started in the last decade, are not in the shabby, slightly socialist state they used to be. Nowadays you can say that Balaton offers a compatible alternative for family vacation or romantic getaway not only regarding price, but performance too.
👉 After the city of Tihany now we explore Heviz!
Heviz attractions briefly
- Lake Heviz and Festetics Bath House
- Statue Park (park of Lake Spa)
- Farmer’s Market
- Pedestrian street
- Egregy wine cellars
- Mother Theresa lookout tower
- Rezi Castle
- Keszthely city (only briefly)
Heviz by car
One of the cons of traveling inland, is that we can only get from one country town to another by going through Budapest, as the highways are often significantly faster than a simple, singe-lane highway, where you can get stuck in traffic jams.
From Budapest, Hévíz and the western, north-western tip of Lake Balaton can be easily reached via the M7 motorway. If you are planning a weekend getaway, it is worth checking how busy the M7 is, because it can get easily congested. On the other hand, there are countless of “escape” routes, so if you plan the journey in advance, you can easily avoid the frustrating car lines. The 192 km long distance – without stops – can be completed in less than 2 hours.
Approaching with train
Intercity trains to Keszthely depart from Déli train station every two hours, which completes the 190 kilometre distance within two and a half hours. This is not much longer than with car, however exploring the area of Keszthely – especially with family – is easier with a car, or at least with bike, than on foot. The local bus services don’t really meet the needs of tourists.
You can find excellent accommodations in Hévíz and around it. You will find the best offers on booking.com, where a lot of places allow you to cancel for free.
#1 Lake Heviz and Festetics bath house
Arriving in the region of Heviz, one of the most exciting attraction 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, 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 around, so arriving with a car won’t be a problem.
You can get to the lake through the uniquely designed Festetics bath house.
⚠️ Important – especially if you come with family -, that the water is thermal water, it contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, so it for kids it is not recommended to bath for more than 15-20 minutes.
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
Entry and prices
A full day entry for adults is 6.000 Ft, 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 (park of Lake Spa)
Next to the Lake Bath is the Hévíz Statue Park, which commemorates three outstanding figures of Hungarian literature. Zsigmond Móricz, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz and Dániel Berzsenyi were also a fan of the area, so they often visited here for a walk, to drink good wine, or a light dip. They mentioned the city of Hévíz in multiple poems, they wrote about the unparalleled beauty of Lake Balaton.
Their sculptures were handed over in the second half of the 70's, 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, which commemorates the well-known patients recovering in the Lake Bath.
- As well as numerous monuments created for our national holidays, commemorations.
#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 necessary try the full range of all 800 sellers, you can definitely have a good (and cheap) meal here.
The farmer’s market doesn’t differ much from the country’s other markets, at the same time the Hévíz market is driven by a cohesive community that is unparalleled in its kind. 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 organised publicly for the first time this year, with the active participation of buyers and guests.
Here’s a couple of examples of handmade products in the Heviz area:
- Clay pottery made on site: I remember from my childhood, it was so exciting it was to knead, and actually create something.😂 It is especially a good activity for kids, on one hand improves dexterity, on the other hand you can take home a pot (or something like that… 😉 )at the end, which will forever represent a memory (or until someone knocks it down the shelf – also a personal experience).
- Fresh bread
- Carved sculptures, with 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, expanding. The family can surely spend one splendid hour here, so that everyone finds something interesting.
- Distance from the main square of Heviz: 6 minutes on foot
#4 Pedestrian street (Rákóczi Street)
It hasn’t even been 10 years since the mayor has 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 more the famous Füred promenade.
The street is nicely paved, slightly rising terrain, yet it is easy to walk on it, even with a stroller. With the design of the shops the city management’s goal was clearly to stimulate tourism and to provide an extra activity for those who visit here, due to the proximity of Lake Hévíz and Lake Balaton.
If you like to stroll in a pleasant, quiet, but still urban location, sit under the shade of trees, or sit out on a terrace at a café, Rákóczi Street could be an excellent choice. You are able to rent bikes too in the local Tourinform office in 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, and the statue of dr. Károly Moll, known as the father of weight bath in Hungary, and the fountain belonging to it.
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 the weights tied to the legs, however with the help of the arm rests 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, even they knew that it is worth planting grapes here. If you visit with friends, you can finish off the night with some cultured “partying” in a local wine cellar. There are countless of local wineries offering their wines in the area of Egregy. They also operate restaurants and guesthouses to allow visitors to fully discover the wine cellars.
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 mid-August they organise 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 prepared with their own wines, in fact 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 amongst the wine cellars. However, you can visit way more. It is worth to try 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 with car or bike. It is the highest lookout tower in the area, its building is 270 metres above sea level. It was named after Saint Theresa of Calcutta, known as Mother Theresa, who passed away in 1997. The Albanian Roman Catholic nun is the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, received a Noble Peace Prize in 1997.
A beautiful view welcomes you from the lookout tower: the hills of Zalavar, the well-kept environment, the fantastic green colours. At this point I can confidently say, the view is just like Tuscany!
The 12 metres high wooden structure was opened in 2012, and has been renovated ever since. 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 hike 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 metres high Mount Meleg dates back to the XIII. century. First mentioned in 1236 in connection with a land exchange transaction, the ownership of the castle land was acquired by Apor Pécz and his family. The castle wall and towers were built at this time, but the residential tower was built later – probably with a bishop’s contribution.
Until the arrival of the Turks, the castle was passed on amongst Hungarian lords, in 1555 by royal command the castle walls were raised and strengthened, which even reached 9 metres. According to historians, Rezi fell during the siege of the neighbouring Tátika. Rezi was at the time considered a border castle, and it hasn’t been renovated ever since.
Today, only the pedestal and some parts of the wall have remained, which was covered in one area, creating a memorial. If you visit here, you can view the plaque commemorating the armed college students, who gathered here in 1956.
On the website of the castle you can find out more about the detailed history of Rezi Castle, and you watch an excellent 3D video about what the castle used to look like, made by Balázs Szakonyi.
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!
Opening hours and entry
- The castle is free to visit
- Open every day 0-24
You can get to the castle by car or on 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
Heviz with kids
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 of entertaining games.
To the aspiring palaeontologists I would recommend it less, because the place is more based on the Jurassic Park film series, rather than the scientific facts. The park is some kind of adventure park complemented with dinosaurs.
Opening hours and prices
- Every day: between 09:00 - 17:00
- Adult ticket: 5000 Ft
- Children ticket: 4000 Ft (free up to age 3)
- Ticket over the age of 60: 2000 Ft
- The dino park is located about 10 – 15 minutes away from Hévíz by car.
- Website: Dínópark weboldal
Other than the above mentioned attractions, there are numerous other hiking spots and activities in the area. Such as Keszthely, which is located along the Keszthely Bay, on the shore of Lake Balaton. It is worth dropping in while visiting Heviz too, since here you can indulge in some 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.
Heviz in summary
Keszthely and Heviz are located on the furthest corner of Lake Balaton from Budapest. Maybe this is the reason why it is less in the limelight than Balatonfured, Siofok or Balatonszemes.
Lake Heviz, especially since the renovation of the area, became a quite 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 are 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!