We moved to Hungary 3 years ago coming from “unpredictable weather” England! Now we can plan our days out as the summer weather is predictably hot! Today we are visiting the beach, the Hungarians call it “Strand” and my trusty camera will make some photographic memories.
All my younger life I had associated beaches with sand, I had never considered beaches with grass before. Hungary offers plenty of beaches around Lake Balaton some sandy and some with grass. Eric and I have not actually swam in the lake before so it was to be our “virgin visit”! Our son has visited and swam in the lake so I asked him what he thought about grassed beaches. He actually said the experience of visiting the beach with grass was ace, far better than with sand. The grass was cool on his feet, there was shade if he wanted it and access to the water was easy.
We were excited to visit Lake Balaton and take a swim in “The Hungarian Sea”. As you can see I made some preparations, then prepared a packed lunch and finally into the car before 9.30 am.
Using our elderly SatNav we managed to negotiate Siófok city centre and reached our destination around 11.00 am. Free parking was available in the many side streets and paid parking was situated right next to the entrance….we choose paid parking, working out at 50p an hour. The beach was reasonably quiet at this point and there was no admission charge (some beaches charge an entrance fee).
We made our way through the many trees and found a spot close to the waterfront. We wanted shade and sun. This beach seemed popular with families with small children and their little areas had been set up with tents, towels and many inflatables. No dogs were allowed on this particular beach but there are others that catered specifically for dogs dotted around the Lake.
It was very noticeable that everyone spoke Hungarian, no foreign tourists just yet. Sadly the world pandemic has affected the tourism industry in every country, not just Hungary. It was good though that finally people can get out and about and enjoy the Hungarian summer. There was a definite air of fun with laughter in the air, splashing in the water and music drifting in the wind. Great atmosphere!
As we are retired we have no restrictions when we have a day out so we try to go midweek in the hope it will be less busy. We visited on a Friday and it was pleasantly full. We sat on the grass and social distanced ourselves as much as possible. Nobody wore masks. Difficult to social distance on the chairs and parasols as they were so close together.
This couple spent a very long time inflating dinghies and floatables to take into the lake. Eventually they were all set to go. There were many activities on offer for messing about on the water…the paddle boarding appeared popular working out at about £7.50 an hour.
Away from the lake shore was a large collection of shaded marquees and eating establishments to cater for every taste. On this occasion we did not try the food as I had made a picnic packed lunch. For future visits we will definitely try the food.
There was a huge seating area outside this restaurant and inside too. I noticed how clean everything was, no litter anywhere which was nice to see. Inside they were serving fast food similar to McDonalds.
There were tents selling ice cold beers, fruity ice creams, pizza and pastas, langos, various coffees, soft drinks in fully stocked fridges, lots of variety.
The WC block was easy to spot, immaculately clean with a lady on the door taking coins for toilet tissue. Inside there were also shower facilities if needed.
As the morning turned into afternoon and the temperatures were soaring past 33 degrees celsius it was imperative we had a swim. Metal staircases jut into the lake with railings to help you get in the cooling water. We walked for a long way out as the water was shallow, perfect for children as the floor of the lake was soft and sandy.
My husband and son had another dip a bit later whilst I “People Watched” and took more photographs.
My opinion has been changed, Hungarian beaches are beautiful, well maintained and in my opinion better than sandy beaches where you scold your feet, eat the sand with your dinner and get it in your eyes!
The only negative would be….and we did not experience this, is as there were so many trees around it could be a problem with bugs and pesky mosquitoes in the early evening.
By 3.00 pm we had had enough and prepared for the long drive home. The car park by now was full to capacity and we were glad we had parked close by. I think my tip would be: Get there early!
Finally, I took this short video so you are able to appreciate the pretty beach side surroundings of Siófok Szabadstrand. It is certainly worth a visit if you find yourself travelling around Lake Balaton in Hungary.