Feeling Young in Hévíz

Hévíz is known worldwide for its lake, the largest biologically active, natural thermal lake in the world. Boasting 4.4 hectares (almost 500 000 sq. ft.) in size and 38 meters in depth, its source is exceptionally powerful, delivering 410 liters per second enabling the entire lake water to be renewed in only three days. Its temperature reaches 38 degrees Celsius in summer, and never drops below 24 degrees Celsius in winter, making it a year-round activity.  During mid-February, we enjoyed the water at 27oC outside and 37 oC inside the pavilion. This magical water is reputed to be good for arthritis, rheumatic, and motor diseases.

Besides the lake, there are many activities we enjoyed during our stay in Hévíz: the quiet provincial city and its colorful churches, the many bicycle tours available (with bicycle paths or not), the beautiful city of Keszthely with its majestic castle only 5km away, and Lake Balaton, to name only a few.

Lake Hévíz
At Hévíz, like many other thermal baths in Hungary such as Gellért or Széchenyi, the menu encompasses several pages,  covering every possibility of timing, age or family size. We arrived within two hours of closing time (3:00-5:00 pm in February), so the fee was only HUF 1,600. We enjoyed the sun casting a soft light upon the lake, the lilies and lotus flowers. As our interest was specifically for the lake and its sulfurous waters, we didn’t need to add the ‘sauna world’ option. Besides, our hotel was fully equipped with sauna and hamam. A complex of several little square houses all intertwined is built on stilts over the lake. From each house, several flights of stairs allow you to access the lake. Since the lake is deep and not everybody comes prepared with ‘noodles’ (foam floating devices) they have installed a few metallic rails that you can hang on to in order to rest. The submerged part of these rails is viscous with algae and when you swim your feet might get tangled in the roots of the lilies. It was wonderful being there off-season, as we felt we had the lake to ourselves.

For warmer water, we swam under the main pavilion, past a half-submerged door of heavy glass and metal, past a plastic curtain. This barrier keeps the source water at almost its original temperature. We were immediately intrigued by some people standing under signs featuring a bell and an arrow, which meant ‘move in this direction when you hear the bell’. So we queued like others to understand why this activity had so much success. They are seven signs and under each sign there is a hot underwater massaging jet. After about three minutes the bell rings softly and everybody moves from one station to the next. The first jet is at calf level, the second jet is at knee level, then thigh, and so on until the last jet reaches your shoulders or neck depending on your height.

The city
Hévíz is a very quiet little city with many pedestrian streets bordered by cafes, restaurants, stores selling swimwear and antiquities. It hosts a farmers market near the lake on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Besides the museum and the Roman ruins, there are four main churches which are very different from each other. In the Egregy part of the city (north), in the middle of vineyards and wine cellars, lays the oldest one from the 13th century, or Arpad time. It is a tiny white church surrounded by a large cemetery. The view on the valley is beautiful from there. The Calvinist church has a triangular façade made of brown stones with a small white tower. Then the two newest churches are green and blue. The Heart of Jesus is apple green with a bright orange roof and shiny copper gutters. The Holy Spirit church is blue and boasts seven towers, symbols of the seven gifts to the Holy Spirit. It was recently consecrated in 1999.


This area is best discovered on bicycle. The Office of Tourism (OT) in Rákóczi Street can give you a free Hévíz Card. The main advantage of the card for us was to get 4 hours of free bicycle rental for one paid day. So we took our bicycles at 11:00 am one day and had them until 3:00 pm the next day for only HUF 2,200 per person (some hotels rent bikes for HUF 800-1,000 per hour). The card also gives discounts at the lake or in restaurants.

The OT gave us a map with many bike tour routes to choose from, depending on the bike paths, length of tour or incline. We first visited Kis-Balaton, or small Balaton Lake, which was a mere 40km tour! To reach it, we cycled through Alsópáhok and Sármellék, both elongated villages with houses lined up along the main street. For some reason, houses on the east side were more rural (animals, farm equipment) while the ones on the west side were more urban (manicured lawns), yet all were of similar architecture. Just before reaching the small lake we saw a strange church with a single pointy black dome surrounded by wings like shark fins. When we reached the lake the wind was bending the reeds along the shore. Fishermen were trying their luck. From there we took the bike lane along the canal, through the nice landscapes of rolling valleys and vineyards, to finally reach Hévíz.

The next day we rode to Keszthely, which is only 5 km from Hévíz. This is the largest city on Lake Balaton. I particularly like the Helikon Castle also known as the Festetics Palace after the name of the Count who built it. The interior is lavishly decorated with original furniture. In the park there is another building hosting a very large display of old wooden aristocratic coaches and sleds. Other buildings will charm model railway and hunting fans.

Lake Balaton
This lake has the particularity of appearing to be of different colors, depending on the weather and your perspective. I’ve seen it clear kaki green on the south side near Zamárdi, creamy turquoise on the north side near Tihany, and blue-grey in Keszthely. Swans are frequent everywhere and they are hungry!


Lotus Therme Hotel
We chose the Lotus Therme Hotel among the many other spa hotels for a number of reasons:
o   Rooms are equipped with a king size bed with a canopy and you get a kettle to make tea.
o   Five pools: one regular pool indoor, one regular pool outdoor, two thermal pools at 36 oC and one thermal pool at 38 oC; sauna, Turkish bath, salt grotto, etc.
o   Full spa services with massages, facials, mani-pedi, etc.
o   Daily gym program every hour.
o   Isolated in a large quiet park and forest, yet only 10 walking minutes away from Lake Hévíz.
o   Best of all: high quality buffets at breakfast and dinner.

To prepare your trip:


The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers, and it is designed to promote blogs with smaller followings (under 200).

liebsterawardThe Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer questions from the nominator.
  • Nominate 11 blogs with a smaller following (under 200 followers).
  • Create 11 questions for your nominees.
  • Let the bloggers know they have been nominated.

Thank you very much to MJ who nominated me to the Liebster Award.This award would be an honor. To be nominated already motivates me to write more. I know I’ve been very silent lately, too busy having many great experiences in Hungary that I now have to blog about! Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.

MJ’s questions to me:


  • How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Between 20 and 30.
  • What are your values and are you being true to them? Don’t do to others what you do not wish them to do to you. Reliability & loyalty.
  • Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? Getting older I do more and more only what I believe in.
  • Where you would like to live if you have a choice to choose? I will probably live in at least 2 countries, if not 3 depending on seasons – at retirement time. Until them I live where my husband’s employer sends us.
  • Are you making decisions for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you? Self determination!
  • What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love? I love good food and being fit. I cook more and walk more (10 000 steps a day)
  • Are you holding on to something you need to let go of? I have too many belongings and trying to reduce them.
  • If you achieved all of your life’s goals how would you feel? How can you feel that along the way? I would feel 100 years old! I have many goals !!!
  • Which is worse, failing or never trying? Never trying.
  • What cuisine you’ve tried and liked that often lingers in your mind? So many: thai, vietnamese, french, italian, mexican, pakistani, senegalese, hungarian. I love to eat!
  • When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing? Just now because you asked!

My nominations (I am new to the blogosphere so I don’t know enough blogs to reach 11 with under 200 followers – not all mention how many they have so I might have nominated people who have too many …):


My questions to nominees:

1 – Where would you like to live and why?
2 – Where would you like to travel the most and why?
3 – Where don’t you wish to go and why?
4 – Besides blogging what other creative activities do you have?
5 – Do you have a favorite color? Is is the same as 10 years ago?
6 – Is there one book that you will always remember?
7 – Would you become vegetarian if you had to kill your own meat?
8 – Are you more mountain/ski or beach/swim?
9 – Are all your life goals really achievable?
10 – What is the activity you would like to do for a living (perhaps already doing it)?
11 – Do you like learning new languages?