Extending roughly 80km like a skinny, lopsided paprika, at first glance Lake Balaton seems to simply be a happy, sunny expanse of opaque tourmaline-coloured water in which to play. But step beyond the beaches of Europe’s biggest and shallowest body of water and you’ll encounter vine-filled forested hills, a national park and a wild peninsula jutting out 4km, nearly cutting the lake in half. Oh, and did we mention Hungary’s most famous porcelain producer and a hilltop fairy-tale fortress?
Then there’s Southern Transdanubia, where whitewashed farmhouses with thatched roofs dominate a countryside that hasn’t changed in centuries. Anchoring its centre is one of Hungary’s most alluring cities, Pécs, where a Mediterranean feel permeates streets filled with relics of Hungary’s Ottoman past and a head-spinning number of exceptional museums. Beyond, a clutch of medieval castles enchant and vineyard cellars beckon you to wine-taste your heart out.