An important cultural and economic hub in Western Hungary and a popular tourist destination, Keszthely is a city located in the proximity of Lake Balaton. Keszthely is blessed to be surrounded by forests, rolling hills, plains, as well as the lake. Furthermore, Keszthely is located close to the Kis-Balaton, a natural reserve known for its waterfowl population, as well as Hévíz, a famed spa town.
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How to get to Keszthely
You can get quick and easy access to Keszthely by driving from Budapest. The infrastructure is very good, hence is very easy to find your way, although as always, I recommend the aid of a sat nav just to be on the safe side. If you are making your way from Tapolca, like I did, you will only have to drive for about half an hour, before reaching the city centre.
What to do in Keszthely
This beautiful baroque palace is the highlight of Keszthely and also one of the three largest country houses in Hungary. Festetics Palace belonged to a ducal family of Croatian origin who moved to Hungary in the 17th century. They chose Keszthely to be the centre of their estates and decided to have the palace built, as well as a pharmacy and a hospital. The Festetics Palace was left in 1944 by the last family member to reside in the building, George the IV.
Today, the Festetics Palace is a beautiful gem which must be admired by those wishing to visit Keszthely. The palace and its surrounding gardens and glasshouses are open to the public.
Helikon Castle Museum
If you are interested in coaches and historical items which date from over 200 years ago, then you will really enjoy this place. There isn't much information available in English, however, should you have a smartphone, you can scan the QR codes and find plenty of fun descriptions and drill down to details.
Walk around Keszthely city centre
I loved how clean and well organised the centre of Keszthely was. You can promenade during the evening and shop around the cute boutiques with interesting merchandise and rather unusual clothes. You will find plenty of restaurants around should you get hungry. Make your way towards the Hungarian Notre Dame and should weather permit, take a stroll around the main square and savour some deliciously handcrafted ice cream.
Keszthely Farmers Market
Nothing can beat a farmers market selling local produce and organically grown vegetables. Many sell their homemade bread and cakes, authentic and traditional goodies. Have a stroll around and pick whatever catches your eye. Don't forget to check out the crafted soaps with all different scents.
Before going to the Lake Balaton, it might be wise to pay a visit to the Balaton Museum which explains many interesting things about the culture, history and geology of the region. This is a great chance to learn about the flora and fauna of the Balaton area, especially because everything is translated into English as well.
Where to eat in Keszthely
After walking around Keszthely and admiring all its quirks, I'm sure you will wish to end your evening with some authentic Hungarian food. If you fancy large portions, interesting mixes of meats and fruits, then visit Jobarat Vendeglo, a restaurant located on the East side of the city. Plan your visit in advance, as during peak season this lovely restaurant can be very busy.
Where to sleep in Keszthely
If you wish to spend the night in Keszthely, visit booking.com for great prices and comparison.
Over to you now. What did you love most about Keszthely? Tell me all about your experiences in the comment section below.