Explore an ancient thermal lake and enchanting spa town in Hungary this summer

Just 200 km from Budapest, Heviz is a lesser-known resort destination with two affordable spas offering stays amid a magical landscape.

Julie O'Shea

Written by Julie O'Shea Published on 17.07.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 17.07.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

With steam swirling overhead, giving everything a magical glow, you cut through the turquoise water, taking a few unhurried strokes. It’s an early summer morning; you are surrounded by dense greenery and a dazzling array of multicolored water lilies. 

You feel your body begin to relax. Stiff muscles and joints start to loosen. The air is clear, fresh, sweet. Nature is buzzing all around. You’d love to bottle this moment forever. The idea isn't so far-fetched: Lake Heviz is renowned for making time stand still. At least for a few days. 

Roughly 200 km from Budapest along the northern slopes of Mount Keszthely, this geological wonder, which scientists suspect erupted to the Earth’s surface some 20,000 years ago, is the largest swimmable thermal lake in the world. Its healing powers, particularly targeting rheumatic and arthritic diseases, have been attracting visitors to this decadent little spa town since the Middle Ages.

The warm Mediterranean microclimate and the hot spring’s reliable seasonal temperature changes – fluctuating between 33 and 35 degrees Celsius in the summer and dipping to 23 degrees in the winter months – are what make Heviz such a popular year-round holiday spot. 

Vacationing here has never been more affordable. Ensana Hotels has two properties in the resort town. Ensana Thermal Heviz has one of the most colorful and unique spa areas in the region. Ensana Thermal Aqua, meanwhile, prides itself on offering all-inclusive packages that cater to young families, allowing them to have maximum fun without worrying about going over budget. 

Whether you’re interested in a thermal mud face pack and a relaxing massage or a dip in a hypo pool with underwater music and lights, Ensana Hotels has customized packages that will fit everyone’s needs – including the kids (exclusively at Thermal Aqua). 

Spend time chilling in a thermal bath or a Finnish sauna, while your kids are kept busy with animation programs, exciting sports games, quizzes and other creative activities via the hotel chain’s Bubbles Club, which is available at Thermal Aqua.

Make sure to dedicate a morning or afternoon to spend at Lake Heviz. Do a bit of freestyle swimming, float around lazily in a rented inner tube or lounge on the shore with a book or cool beverage.         

While the lake’s rich calcium and magnesium content may have helped put Heviz – a stone’s throw from Hungary’s famous Lake Balaton – on the map, the town is a bustling cultural hub in its own right.

Heviz’s packed summer festival lineup, dedicated to music, food, and drink, is a good starting point. However, if you are more of a plan-as-you-go type, you’ll have plenty to choose from as well.

A miniature train, sure to delight the youngest of passengers, winds through the town, passing all the main sights. For a more unique view of Heviz and its surroundings, you can also book a ride in a hot-air balloon.  

There are many parks to explore. Hiking trails are also in abundance, where you can admire the area’s vibrant wildlife at your leisure.   

The town is lined with fine spa architecture and historical landmarks, like the Egregy Cellars and the ancient Roman Ruin Gardens. Swing by the Tomb of the Roman Soldier and the 13th-century Mary Magdalene Church before taking a walk in the shade of the neighborhood's white alders.  

The 14th-century castle ruins in nearby Rezi will afford you a bird’s eye view of some truly stunning natural scenery from the peak of its dolomite mountain. The Festetics Palace in Keszthely, meanwhile, is the third-largest fortress in Hungary and will leave you truly awestruck. The sprawling baroque property took more than a century to build and now serves as a museum.   

And, of course, let’s not forget about Lake Balaton. The majestic freshwater lake, the largest in Central Europe, is just 6 km from Heviz. Equipped with traditional beaches and cycle paths that circle its lengthy shoreline, the lake is ideal for those traveling with children too young to fully enjoy the benefits of Heviz’s mineral thermal baths.

Book a romantic cruise on this mammoth beauty, affectionately known as the “Hungarian Sea” or head over to Kis-Balaton National Park, a protected wetland that’s home to thousands of nesting birds, for a slightly more lively sightseeing adventure.

Let Ensana Hotels help set the tone of your visit to Hungary’s lush Zala County, with an experience for all generations at one of its top-rated Heviz spa properties – your go-to choice for both leisure stays as well as medical rehabilitation or prevention. 

Here’s an overview of our exclusive recommendations:  

Ensana Thermal Aqua

Ensana Thermal Aqua is the first and only all-inclusive spa and wellness hotel in the region. The package deal includes breakfast, lunch and dinner from the buffet, afternoon tea, and drinks, making the four-star hotel the best choice for families. 

The hotel is equipped with an appealing wellness and pool area, offering medical and leisure swimming pools. There is also a paddling pool, playroom and spacious green park for families. Kids can enjoy an action-packed program and movies via the hotel’s Bubbles Club.

Located just 400 meters from the lake, Ensana Thermal Aqua offers a wide-range of pampering and medical therapies centered around mineral-soaked thermal water, while lake mud is used for face packs and other rejuvenating treatments. 

The on-site medical center has highly trained staff overseeing medical treatments – a perfect hotel for all generations. 

Ensana Thermal Aqua offers beautifully renovated standard and superior rooms.  

Ensana Thermal Heviz

Boasting a 45-year track record, Ensana Thermal Heviz holds the distinction of being the first spa hotel to open in the town. The four-star hotel has its own on-site thermal well as well as medical and leisure swimming pools and a state-of-the-art sauna facility.    

A five-minute walk to the lake, the hotel offers the “ultimate spa experience.” Its wellness programs utilize water, rich in therapeutic minerals, to combat chronic health problems, while mud dredged from the lake bed is used for face packs and other rejuvenating treatments. 

Ensana Thermal Heviz – equipped with standard and superior rooms with spacious balconies, partially overlooking the lake – is the perfect place for relaxation, medical treatments and de-stress programs with doctors and lifestyle specialists. 

Kick off your shoes and go for a swim in the 200 sqm hydro pool with underwater music and light effects.

This article was written in cooperation with the Ensana. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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