A quaint village located in a historical district, Tihany is located on the Northern side of the beautiful Lake Balaton. Tihany is a popular destination amongst tourists who are lured in by the village's legends which are still very much kept alive by locals. Outside peak season, Tihany looks like a picturesque sleepy village.
How to get to Tihany
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. You should expect to pay around £20 per day (2016).
What to do in Tihany
Benedictine Abbey and Museum (Bences Apatsag)
Most people come to visit Tihany precisely because of this century old Abbey. Overlooking the Lake Balaton, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful views, where water meets forested hills. You can explore the Abbey and the Museum, enjoy 18th centuries frescoes and have a glance at some of the first Hungarian written words dating back to 1000s.
The Lavender House
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.
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
Eat lots of good ice cream
Though the streets of Tihany, you will find lots of candid ice cream vendors. I wanted to try a healthier version, which replaced sugar with stevia and milk with mineral water. I tried lots of ice cream in Tihany, yet my favourite was green tea, ginger and forest fruit. Go crazy as you will have plenty of flavours to choose from.
Walk by the Lake Balaton
Of course, you didn't come all this way just to admire the lake from above, but you should drive or walk to the Balaton shores. There, you can sit down on a bench and read a book whilst enjoying the quiet during the off-peak season. During summer though, join the locals and splash your way around the lake. Take a boat and ride to the other side of the Balaton, to a place called Szántód.
The Legends of Tihany
Tihany is not just beautiful, but also intriguing with its folk tales. One of the most prominent legends is about the "echo" and the "goats nails". The story has it that once upon a time there was a beautiful but mute princess reigning in Tihany. She had a wonderful flock of golden-haired goats around the hills of Tihany. One day, the King of the Waves raised from the Lake Balaton and asked the beautiful princess for some magical goats milk which was meant to cure his dying son. The princess agreed and the prince recovered from his illness. When he went to thank the princess himself, he fell in love with the beautiful girl and decided to propose to her. As she was mean at heart, she refused him and in the end, the prince died of a broken heart. The King of the Waves became furious and so, he turned the princess into a stone. As she was mute, she couldn't scream for help, but if any passers-by would try to converse with her, she would echo back in pain. She became the echo of Tihany. Without the princess, the goats got devoured by the Lake Balaton. Once in a while, locals can see goats nails by the shores, a sign the story is still very much alive. These goats nails are the remnants of a shell found in the Pannon Sea which used to cover the area about five million years ago.
Where to stay
In order to make the most of your stay I advise skipping the hotels and finding a traditional cottage or a cute little inn. For a rustic experience, try Centrum Vendeghaz, a cute cottage located less than a mile away from the very centre of Tihany. You can check prices and dates here.
Where to eat
Regi Idok Udvara Skanzen Es Etterem is one of the most recommended places to stop and eat in Tihany. Locals swear the food is amazing and authentic, thus we stop and tried it for ourselves. Expect a typical menu full of Hungarian goodies. The taste and the price won't disappoint. During summer time, you should try the Echo Cafe & Restaurant which offers great food and fantastic vies over the Lake Balaton.
Over to you now. Please tell me about your experiences in Tihany. Why would you like to go?