Tihany, a village on the peninsula of Lake Balaton, is often hailed as a miraculous destination. Many descriptions overflow with praise, portraying it as a haven of lavender fields, breathtaking views, and the main resort of Lake Balaton. However, let’s uncover the truth about what awaits you, why you should visit, and whether Tihany is worth your attention and time. This guide provides information on how to get there, tips, plenty of photos, and recommendations for your visit.

Tihany: General Information

When reading numerous reports and reviews of Hungary’s attractions, Tihany consistently tops the list. Lavish epithets, lavender fields, stunning vistas, the primary resort of Balaton—all highly exaggerated, but more on that later.

Key Information:

  • Tihany is located on the Tihany Peninsula, the largest peninsula of Lake Balaton, featuring the narrowest point on the lake between its two shores and a ferry crossing.
  • A great overview of Lake Balaton and its resorts, where to go for a beach holiday.
  • Population of the village: approximately 1500 people.
  • Coordinates of Tihany: 46.912977465187645, 17.887808062245842
Lake Balaton and Tihany where
Tihany occupies a small part of the peninsula’s western side.

Useful to know:

In essence, Tihany is a neatly kept Hungarian village. On one side, it preserves Hungarian traditions, buildings, including homes with thatched roofs. On the other side, this is not an ethnographic village or an open-air museum. There are many modern, classic houses, recently built.

Getting There

Tihany is located 130 km from Budapest. As the village is very small, there are no direct public transport routes. By car, on excellent roads, the journey takes about one and a half hours, which requires no further explanation.

Briefly on the bus and train options:

  • Bus: Budapest to Balatonfüred (a major resort town on Balaton) with one transfer. There are 3-5 daily trips, taking approximately 2.5 hours. Ticket price: around 7 euros. Tickets and schedule on the official carrier’s website: https://www.volanbusz.hu/en
  • Train: A less convenient but similar route. You can take a train from Budapest to Balatonfüred, then a bus to Tihany. Alternatively, you can go directly to Aszófő station, the nearest to Tihany, and walk 4.5 km. The advantage is that the route from Aszófő passes through lavender fields. Schedule, prices, and tickets on the Hungarian Railways website https://www.mavcsoport.hu/en
Tihany how to get there bus schedule
Bus schedule from Budapest to Balatonfured. 3 flights daily in winter, usually more in summer

Where to Eat in Tihany

Despite being a small village, Tihany offers a variety of dining options. Most places are closed during winter, but you won’t go hungry – a couple of restaurants in the center are always open. Keep in mind that prices are relatively high. Being a popular tourist destination, the entire village relies on visitors, reflecting in slightly above-average food prices compared to the country’s average.

Here are two recommended restaurants with traditional cuisine, always featuring goulash, halászlé, and pörkölt on the menu. They serve soups in classic Hungarian style, in pots. Portions are decent, not too small, not too large. For a tasty overview of Hungarian cuisine and what to try in Hungary, check the article linked.

Where to Eat in Tihany
A portion of Halászlé soup at Gulyás udvar

Here’s a link to the second restaurant’s website and menu; the menus are quite similar. Feel free to browse for more information.

Sights in Tihany

Now, let’s explore the attractions. Understandably, in a village of 1500 people, you won’t find attractions to fill two days. In Tihany, you’ll find enough to occupy an hour or two. Everything is within walking distance.

  • Catholic Church and Medieval Monastery: Coordinates: 46.91413822122914, 17.889735778425155. This is the symbol of the town and its main attraction, located on a hill, offering a beautiful view of Lake Balaton and the surroundings. There’s a scenic walking path from the church along the hill, about 200 meters.
best places in Tihany what to see
The church and the accompanying monastery are the heart of Tihany, drawing tourists to this charming village. Pay attention to the yellow line, marking the picturesque walking path with stunning views of Lake Balaton. Essentially, the whole of Tihany is captured in this view.
  • Aquarium Garda: 46.91534144859752, 17.885126206827966. A unique place, not large, with around 20-25 aquariums. What sets it apart is that it showcases the underwater world of Lake Balaton. In well-maintained aquariums, instead of exotic fish, you’ll find pike, bream, and perch.
    • Check their website: http://www.gardaakvarium.hu/
    • Open from 10 AM to 4 PM, 2-3 days a week, usually on weekends. Check the schedule on their website.
    • Ticket price: 2.5 euros. There’s also a small Lego museum here, potentially interesting for kids. You can purchase a combined ticket.
    • While it’s a 20-minute attraction, in Tihany, there isn’t much else to see.
Tihany aquarium
One of the aquariums featuring catfish, carp, everything you need for a halászlé soup 🙂
  • Paprika House and Lavender House (Paprika Ház and Levendula Ház).
    • Paprika Ház: 46.91347852150048, 17.888566988803948. A souvenir shop where you can buy Hungarian paprika in various forms, even honey with paprika. It’s impossible to miss, with a fantastic exterior and aromatic ambiance.
    • Levendula Ház: 46.90916348213569, 17.888157157893456. Seemingly inconspicuous from the outside, is the Lavender Museum. It operates only during the high season, with a ticket price of around 4 euros. The exhibition is quite small, with the most interesting part being the apparatus and the process of making lavender oil from lavender.
Tihany paprika house
Paprika House – inside is a souvenir shop, outside is uniquely and unusually designed.

Additionally, Tihany has a wax figure museum, a doll museum, and numerous shops selling lavender products. More information on lavender will be provided below.

  • Don’t forget to descend from the hill to the promenade and take a stroll along Lake Balaton. There are beautiful pedestrian paths right by the water. Use these coordinates as a guide: 46.916422833971474, 17.892978569154007

About Lavender in Hungary

Everywhere, it’s mentioned that Tihany is Hungary’s main lavender region, with more lavender than anywhere else in the country. While this is true, it’s essential to consider that lavender in Hungary is not widespread. Lavender souvenirs are available year-round, and you’ll undoubtedly leave Tihany with some. Here’s what you need to know about lavender fields:

  • All lavender fields are outside Tihany, reachable by foot but more convenient by car.
  • The lavender blooms from mid-June to mid-July. It’s preferable to visit during the peak bloom, which varies every year.
  • Annually, during the lavender bloom, Tihany hosts a lavender festival. The number of vendors selling lavender souvenirs like honey, jam, oil, soap, and pillows increases significantly. All their products come from Tihany’s slopes.
tihany attractions lavender
Souvenirs from Lavender are sold every 50 meters in Tihany.

Biggest Disappointment:

Many tourists, expecting Tihany to be a Hungarian lavender paradise, come here anticipating photos like those from Provence. Don’t expect that; exaggerated expectations lead to significant disappointments.

Tihany doesn’t have lavender fields like in France. It’s simpler here, and the lavender doesn’t bloom as vividly. If you miss the blooming period, you might not even realize there are lavender fields. Here are a few examples to manage expectations:

lavender fields in hungary
This is a typical lavender field in Provence, France. The problem is that when tourists hear “lavender field,” they expect Tihany to look exactly like this.
Tihany lavender fields
This is a lavender field on the outskirts of Tihany. Both photos were taken from the same spot: the top one in late June, the bottom one in October. Any differences from France? 🙂

Below are two locations where, in my opinion, the lavender fields are the most lavender-like. If you visit during peak bloom (around late June), these places should offer the most beautiful views.

where to see lavender in Tihany
Photo from the top lavender field at the coordinates above. This is the maximum you can expect in Tihany.

Tours and excursions to Tihany

Important:

Tihany is a beautiful village, but it’s a maximum of 2 hours. Spending a whole day here is not necessary. If you’re on vacation at one of Lake Balaton’s resorts, come here for half a day to stroll, eat, and buy a lavender pillow. To get the most from this place, come without any expectations. Tihany is excessively praised; it’s simpler and more modest than it seems.

The same goes for excursions. There isn’t a single tour specifically to Tihany. All tours have this town as one of the intermediate points. If there were enough to see here for an entire day, there would be tours solely to Tihany. You get the idea.

  • Find individual or group tours to Balaton, including a stop in Tihany on Viator. All tours go through the best locations at Lake Balaton.
  • Here, you’ll find activities in Tihany like paddleboards, kayaks, yacht rides, and bicycles.

Author’s final advice: If you have 1-2 days, don’t know where to go from Budapest to see Hungary, and were considering Tihany, don’t. There are much better places with more impressions:

And this is far from a complete list of cool locations in Hungary.

In conclusion: Tihany is a very small Hungarian village with stunning views of Lake Balaton. This image will be etched into your memory. Plan for literally 2 hours here during your travel route; that’s more than enough. Lavender fields, if you catch them at their peak, will be a pleasant addition. Lavender souvenirs are sold here year-round.


IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel