Relax in style at Lake Balaton

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Káli Basin is the most characteristic part of the Balaton Uplands and with its 9,111 hectares forms an integral part of the Balaton Uplands National Park. It is an easy 2.5-hour drive from Budapest and only 10 minutes by car from the north shore of Lake Balaton. Many church towers, wine cellars and the signs of a variety of agricultural work, vineyards, meadows and ploughlands, constitute a special landscape in the Káli Basin. Village tourism is increasing in the area. There are plenty of restaurants with culinary delights and a huge number of nice and comfortable inns where you can relax in style. Here are some recommendations I tried out and loved during the long weekend I spent in the Káli Basin with my husband.

Where to stay

In this nature reserve of the Balaton Uplands there is a picturesque tiny little village far away from everyday civilization by the name of Köveskál. On the main street of the village you can find a hotel-restaurant-spa-garden all under one “roof”. This is Káli Art Inn where you can relax in style. This beautiful place was made with taste but not in a gimmicky way. It has a stunning atmosphere of tranquility and serenity. The accommodations are luxuriously comfortable, clean, and inviting. The hotel rooms are at the back of the property detached from the main building so that you have to walk through the cozy gardens (which could be an adorable scene for a wedding ceremony by the way) to go to the restaurant.

The cuisine is close to home-made, using carefully selected materials. They use fresh ingredients and herbs either from the inn’s garden or from various sources from nearby farms and producers in the countryside. The fact that some of the food comes from the inn’s garden is a lovely touch. The daily dinner menu varies every day and always a surprise for all the guests and visitors, but is delicious and served on old-fashioned porcelain plates. And try the breakfast served on the grand terrace. There is always fresh fruit, yogurt and freshly baked rolls, homemade fruit jam and you can ask for various egg dishes, too. The coffee drinks are also very good.

Though it is a pricey place, the food is excellent, as is the service, and the view of the garden is quite magnificent, especially in the evening. A pool, a sauna and a library are all at your disposal to relax in style. For the young guests there is a playground, sandbox and pond beckons. I spent only an extended weekend there, but I enthusiastically recommend to anyone traveling in Hungary and looking for something special around Lake Balaton.

Where to eat

In the idyllic Káli Basin Restaurant Mi a Kő is also an „all under one roof” place. It is a wine store, a wine bar, a restaurant and a stylish inn with 3 comfy rooms on the main street of Köveskál, close to the charming Káli Art Inn. The restaurant’s atmosphere is friendly and cozy. The simple and light interior with wooden chairs and tables, a fireplace and lace tablecloths, put emphasis on renovated antique furniture which is truly charming. On sunny days you can enjoy the sunshine best on the terrace, as we did.

The menu is short and depends on available seasonal ingredients, because the food is prepared from local ingredients. There are daily offers as well, written on a board, but asking the waiter about their special offers is always a good idea. I had duck breast with polenta and fruit chutney which was super delicious as it goes by the book. My husband, who is a chef and a hard case, had lamb shank with mashed potato and he was also satisfied with it. During our extended weekend we tried many restaurants in the Káli Basin. This is the one I liked the most.

What to do

Visit Tapolca, a town in Veszprem county, close to Lake Balaton, and spend a few hours at a lake cave like an eco-tourist. The Tapolca Lake Cave was discovered more than 100 years ago, in 1903. It turned out soon that a 5 km long tortuous cave system is hiding underneath the streets and houses of the town at 15–20 m below. This includes the 3.3 km long Lake Cave, where you can make a unique boat trip on the lit, bluish water. There is a new visitor center opened next to the cave 2 years ago. I explored the entire exhibition with all the 10 rooms, the crawling squeeze, the ‘feel-the-rocks’ game, the 3D cinema, the boating and all. I mostly enjoyed the exciting boat trip under the streets of the town.

Visit Tihany and its Abbey. For more information read the article about what you can do if you have only one day at Lake Balaton.

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