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Gastronomy

Small but fiery Kishegy (‘Little Hill’) on the southern shore of Lake Balaton

  • Szabó Sára
Fiery wines formed by thousands of years of viticulture, friendly gastronomic festivals and great wineries with one of the most beautiful views of Lake Balaton. The atmosphere of Kishegy in Balatonlelle, in a beautiful natural setting, can easily capture your heart. The hill and its region is also known as “Badacsony of the southern coast”, not by chance, as it has the highest density of cultural and gastronomic establishments per square metre, with the unique wines of the Kishegy in the lead.
Fiery wines formed by thousands of years of viticulture, friendly gastronomic festivals and great wineries with one of the most beautiful views of Lake Balaton. The atmosphere of Kishegy in Balatonlelle, in a beautiful natural setting, can easily capture your heart. The hill and its region is also known as “Badacsony of the southern coast”, not by chance, as it has the highest density of cultural and gastronomic establishments per square metre, with the unique wines of the Kishegy in the lead.

Adventuring on the Gamási-hát

Although the area of Kishegy is relatively small, it is worth taking a whole day to explore it. This adventurous, wild and rugged region has a lot to offer, whether you plan to explore it on foot or on two wheels. From Balatonlelle, you can follow the yellow tourist signposts all the way to Gyugy, but if you don’t want to walk that far, you should start your backpacking tour at the foot of the 300-metre-high Kishegy. Just in front of the hill, you can see the Garamvári Wine Estate, and a few hundred metres further on, you will find the heron well, one of the cultural legacies of the area. The old building survived from villages abandoned during the Turkish occupation.

Continuing our way, we will soon arrive at one of the most beautiful historic chapels in Somogy County, but before that it is worth looking to the side: the holes carved into the side of the loess wall are the nesting places of the bee eaters. If you visit this place in June, you can catch these colourful birds dancing, as this is their breeding season. Keep walking and you will soon reach the chapel of St. Donat, the patron saint of vine-growers, who was also considered to be the patron saint against hail and lightning. According to legend, thousand after the death of the bishop his relics were transported to Germany, and the accompanying priest was struck by lightning on the way but he suffered no injury. The Baroque building, built in the mid-1700’s, adorns the hillside like a little jewel, where you can relax on a wooden altar after a “climb”. From here it’s worth peering backwards for the view! Continuing on, you will soon reach the other landmark of Kishegy, the Park Forest. The recently renovated forest area offers outdoor games and a pleasant place to relax, as well as one of the most beautiful panoramas of the Balaton coast from the 20 square metre observation terrace.

Kishegy is bursting with great catering establishments

Already on the way up, you could notice that on this pretty little hill (it’s really just a hill), there are several charming wineries. No wonder, as this is one of the most important wine-producing regions in Hungary, and the wines from here rival the best in the country. From the lookout, wind your way back (or if you have already wandered uphill, so much the better) to the Pócz or Konyári Wineries. The Konyári Estate is a two-generation family business, where traditional, world varieties and some old, medieval Hungarian varieties are produced using the so called “gravity flow” grape processing technology. And in the winery of József Pócz, you can sip the best Pócz wines on the panoramic terrace, accompanied by a hearty cellar platter. Also worth a visit is the Hegyi Tavern restaurant, where the food is prepared on skewers. Our personal favourite is the Majthényi Press House next to the chapel. Along with a delicious roast pork, wild boar stew or duck liver, you can enjoy an unparalleled panoramic experience from your table on the terrace of the press house. Anyone who has dined here knows that our eyes can dart between our plate and the view – we just can’t stop taking photos!

The Kishegy is not only worth a visit in the summer season. In April, the Kortyok and Falatok (‘Sips and Bites’) festival “opens the year”, and at the end of October, the Murci Festival offers a taste of Balaton gastronomy, thanks to the best restaurants, wineries and bakeries in the area. Both events have a very informal, family atmosphere, where you can easily start conversations accompanied with great food – it might be beacause of the wine, but it could also be the atmosphere of the mountain.

After a busy weekend, we can rest easy

The “Badacsony of the southern coast” is small but, as you can see, strong on all fronts. We can fill up on hiking experiences, great food and wine, and try to get our fill of the magnificent views of Kishegy. No wonder you don't really want to go home – but you don’t have to! You can dream away at The Green Door House, for example, where there’s a garden cinema in the warmer months, a magical atmosphere in winter and our own wines are always on hand. You can also stay in the apartments of the Pócz Winery. As we mentioned earlier, the winery offers wine tasting, picnics, horse riding and a sightseeing train stop for a pleasant stroll around the area.