In 2002 one of our readers visited Hungary not knowing what to expect. Completely lost in translation they hit Hévíz and her holiday truly began.

Curious Lakeside Break

In the summer of 2002, my husband Brian and I fancied a lakeside holiday in Europe, and came across a package holiday in Hungary, on Lake Balaton. Curiosity got the better of us and, with no further information, we put our trust in the travel company, were flown to Budapest and transferred in a minibus to the southern tip of Lake Balaton, about 65 miles away. We were the only British guests, the rest being German, Austrian and Hungarian. The hotel was fine, the weather was hot and the lake was very warm.

There were few tourist attractions locally, but the hotel receptionist (the only English speaker in the hotel) suggested we visit the nearby town of Hévíz, noted for its thermal spa and lake. Unfazed by our lack of language skills, we boarded the local bus and, half an hour later, arrived in the small town square. With no signposts to follow in English (Hungarian signs look a lot like a bad rack of Scrabble with no vowels!), we trailed along behind a group of people carrying bags and towels. 

 

Floating Through Time

Moments later, we entered the massive wooden entrance gates to the park and lake, and were transported back a whole century as we came upon the lake and the delightful wooden structure erected across it, complete with turrets—the changing and massage rooms.

The lake covers an area of about an acre surrounded by grassy banks and is an impressive 110 feet deep with a constant temperature of 39C. Its edges are covered in water lilies. Once changed, like most other swimmers, we were given an industrial-sized rubber inner tube, which you place on the lake and lower yourself into from the many wooden steps. You can then lie back in this rubber ring and gently propel yourself among the water lilies in the balmy water.

It was utterly relaxing and made for a very unusual spa—an experience that was immensely enjoyable, and the talking point of our holiday for many years.

Discover secret swimming spots in Hidden Beaches, £14.99.

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