Complain about modern-day stress to your Hungarian friends and the retort may well be: “Why don’t you travel to Hévíz?” The west Hungarian healing location offers about 10,000 guest beds, tourism having made it one of the richest towns in the country. Hévíz isn’t backward in coming forward about itself but are the promises fulfilled?
This is a place that is usually described with heavy words. The professionally designed local website calls the town no less than a “Source of Life”. A promotional film ensures us that we will be in good hands there, and not only during a massage. They talk about caring, helpful locals and fish dishes with a “wow effect”.
The people on the video look very active and free, relaxed and happy. An elderly man is so inspired thanks to his holidays spent in Hévíz that he even manages to carry a young woman in his arms. So is it that people can overcome the laws of nature? Some scenes look like a biblical paradise. Is such a thing possible? Does Hévíz manage to bring heaven down to Earth?
Small town with healing effect
Let’s just let the facts do the talking first. Hévíz (in English: warm water) is a small town in western Hungary with about 4300 inhabitants, just five kilometres or so from Lake Balaton. The main attraction of the healing resort is a thermal lake, at 4.4 hectares the largest of its kind in all Europe.
In summer the water is mostly between 33 and 36 degrees Celsius, so you are advised not to bathe for longer than half an hour. The water contains healing elements such as sulphur, hydrogen carbonate, calcium and magnesium. Bathing can help ease rheumatism, stomach problems and motor disorders.
In winter you can enjoy the 23 to 25 degrees Celsius water of the lake and inhale the steam, which has a positive effect on the health of the vocal cords. A drinking cure is another possible treatment option.
Hévíz receives about 90,000 international visitors a year. The town is especially popular with Germans and recently also with Russians. Its website is in nine languages, though sometimes the translation is a little rough. Walking through the streets it seems there is barely a house without a sign offering “Szoba kiado/Room to let/Zimmer Frei”. So no problem there.
Kornélia Kerekes from Tata is a regular at Hévíz. The high-school teacher has relaxed at the lake more than 20 times already. “The lake is worth visiting in all the seasons,” she says, and you can literally see her enthusiasm.
She describes Hévíz as beautiful, clean, welcoming, green and quiet; just the right place to forget your everyday worries. The regular also knows where it’s worthwhile to fill your empty stomach: “If you would like to listen to traditional Gypsy music while enjoying a delicious meal, I suggest the Magyar Csárda restaurant.
“After eating I like to take a walk to the old Sacred Heart Church in the Egregy district. You can enjoy a nice view over the wine hills from here. In my opinion the best local wine is the Cserszegi Fűszeres (Spicy from Cserszeg).” This dry or half-dry white wine is widely available.
Few critics, vast majority of people satisfied
After listening to this thoroughly positive experience, let’s take a look at the opinions on the internet. Some people complain about overpricing and rude and pushy staff at the lake. But you have to live with the prices and the sometimes uptight employees at almost all touristic locations.
However, the vast majority of reviewers seem to be extremely enthusiastic about Hévíz. Ursula reports about boundless relaxation, eased back pain and decent prices. Jutta describes the personnel as friendly and helpful. The former guest of the Hévíz Lake resort rewarded the experience with 4.5 stars from the possible five on the online portal TripAdvisor. The site awarded the resort a Certificate of Excellence.
In conclusion, Héviz’s own enthusiasm about itself seems to be justified. Nothing stands in the way of biblical healing. József Erdélyi wrote once about the connection of the bathing people and the lake: “This spring flows from deep in my heart, from the warmth of my heart, and this is why it never freezes.”
30 minutes in the gardens without bathing: HUF 700
3 hours/5 hours/daily ticket to the lake:
Wellness area in addition to bathing:
Discounts: for seniors, students,
groups and for season tickets