It feels like there are parallel Tihanys existing at once. You have the traditional one, with the echo and the farm houses, with the abbey and its two towers that can be recognized from everywhere in Balaton, and all the tourists that come with this. However, that’s not all, as here you can go for a hike to see geyser cones, or surf in the wild greens, end up in a cool restaurant among the tourist traps, or on a hidden waterfront terrace. Between the lavender pillows and the folk cheesiness, Tihany is filled with quite great spots.
If you visit Tihany, you might feel like the place was built especially for tourist by resourceful entrepreneurs who simply wrote its history later to make sure no one suspects that it’s a scam. All the alarming elements are here: lavender vendors, traditional houses with paprika garlands, everything inviting tourists to spend their money. Although there might be some truth to this, if you look around, you’ll find that this is destination that’s worth more than just a quick stop for a photo.
Tihany is located about 165 km and approximately 2 hours away from the Budapest airport. The easiest and most convenient way to get to Tihany is by car. There is a well-defined dual carriageway all the way from the Budapest airport to the village. You can follow the road signs or better yet, get the aid of a sat nav for your ease. You can rent a car in advance and pick it up from the airport, or go to any rental company when you land in Budapest and ask for options.
What to see there?
Benedictine Abbey and Museum (Bences Apatsag)
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.
Lavender House (Levendula Ház)
Here, visitors can have a tour around the Lavender House and learn about the geology of the place. What was once the world of raging volcanos, in time, it transformed into the tamed landscape it is today. The Lavender House is an information centre where you can watch a couple of movies explaining the history of lavender in Tihany. In 1924, Bittera Gyula – renowned European pharmaceutical chemist and herbal expert – installed the first lavender plantation in the Peak Hill in the Abbey. That was the very beginning of Tihany’s established culture of lavender production. After your tour, don’t forget to look around the gift shop and pick up a handmade lavender scented soap on your way out.
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.
And if you still weren’t overdose with lavenders…you can pick your own on lavender fields just behind the village!
Balaton Limnological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Another great spot to visit – there was a time when it was busy with Nobel laureate scientists. Groups can visit the Institute, but they also have an open-day every July.
Right in Tihany city centre, you can have a look at an authentic Paprika House. This is basically a shop where you can find all sort of products made of or with paprika. For example, you can get traditional spicy or smoked paprika spices or paprika infused oil. The Paprika House is easily recognisable due to its hanging hot, dried peppers outside of the entrance
Records from the early 19th century say that words shouted from the Echo hill return from the northern wall of the church building. The earliest Balaton guide-book, issued in 1848, says that guests in Füred take excursions to Tihany to listen to the echo because the church wall cleary returns voices up to 15 syllables. The Echo of Tihany, a topic covered by famous poets, has been gradually fading since the sixties but it can be still enjoyed especially in windless, quiet evenings.
Visiting calvary on a little hill right next to the Echo hill is a lovely idea, too. 🙂
When you’re not exactly into sightseeing and admiring that gorgeous achitecture, this may be for you:
- When it’s not exactly beach weather, hiking in the area is a great idea, especially since Hungary’s very first study trail can be found here, with rare bird species and interesting volcanic formations (geyser cones).
- A few joyous hours can be spent with art here, as Tihany has a surprisingly great selection. It’s safe to say that with the permanent and temporary exhibitions of KOGArt, and the art festival of ARTplacc (from July 21 to August 25), Tihany one of the centers of art in Balaton. Although sometimes one or two paintings go missing, they always turn up under miraculous circumstances.
- Those who love active recreation and heights can either visit the lookout tower that opened in 2016 or go to the adventure park – which is also a great refuge from the heat. If, on the way there, you change mind and decide to cool down in water, you can walk across to the Tihany Gödrös Public Beach. Talking about beaches, you can also splash at Somosi beach or at the beach of Sajkod; the latter has an entry fee, but it’s in a truly wild, green area, so it’s a place that all hardcore Balaton-fans should visit.
- You can also leave the bustling village behind and go to Lake Belső, from where Tihany looks like a postcard, or you can visit Lake Külső to observe greylag goose.
- Barátlakások is another very interesting place to visit as these are the only cave hermit homes in Central Europe that stayed relatively intact all through the decades.
Where to stay?
I recommend you to stay outside Tihany, because everything is so expensive there. Either on its side of Balaton, or nearby Szantód ferry and you’ll get there anytime you want. 🙂
Where to eat?
- Downtown Tihany is undoubtedly charming and it kind of feels like an open-air museum, but that doesn’t mean that all the restaurants are tourist traps. For instance, you can find the recently refurbished Malackrumpli here – and some people are even willing to travel hundreds of kilometers to have lunch in that restaurant.
- Karolina Fűszerkertje Restaurant is another quality eatery, where the amazing terrace is accompanied by amazing meals.
- You can stop by Apáti Restaurant on the way back from the above-mentioned Sajkod beach; due to the location, one might expect deep-frozen fries, but what we really get is duck liver paté marinated in Tokaj wine, served with wine jelly.
- For a more traditional environment, go to Tűzkert, where the goose legs come from the 180 years-old oven of a former fishing house, or stop by the restaurant-museum of Régi Idők Udvara.
- I’d also recommend Tündérsziget for a coffee and cake before the morning beach-time, or for lemonade in the afternoon, while for an afternoon snack, and an absolutely Instagram-friendly view, you can visit Rege Confectionery. And if you crave ice cream, then Levendula Ice-Cream Parlour is the place to go to.
- If you want to cook at home, you can not only buy homegrown vegetables at PIAC Placc, but you can also get various other products here, like tasty truffle sauce. Plus, the lángos of the market was always voted as a Balaton-favorite in the past few years, and the local bistro is always ready for market-goers on the weekend.
I think I wrote down everything you need to know…hmm…if you’d find anything, please address it in the comments so I can add it! 😀
Are you planning on going there? Or have you ever been there? Let me know!ň
oh and yes, enjoy the photos
it was a lil windy I suppose :DD
in a kávéház
my mom 😀
I honestly think products in this paprika shop are way more expensive than in other shops…but quality may be better, idk, I did not notice any differences.
why do I look like 12yo kiddo when I don’t put any makeup on?
ohhh guys these were sold literally everywhere!! I didn’t get any because you know, money, but it can be pretty useful in winter in the colder countries
On the way to one of the lookout towers. I’ll surely dedicate one article to it.
that village you can see is Tihany
I know those boots look horrific with the rest of the outfit but I had to put them on because path to the tower was quite steep, do not judge me!! 😀
Have a nice day everyone!