Lake Balaton Minor (“Kis-Balaton”)




Bird life of Lake Balaton Minor
Since 1949 the nesting of more than 110 bird species has been observed. It’s one of the most important nesting places for herons and cormorants in Hungary. The area became an important migration and winter place for water birds due to the enlarged open water surfaces that came into existence after the water regulation in the 1980’s.
The great egret also known as the heraldic animal of the Hungarian nature protection as well as the little egret, grey, red and night herons can generally be observed here. A number of duck species are also represented, among others the mallard, the garganey and the common pochard. Gulls and terns can be seen often, too. While listening to the beautiful choir of the reed song birds the lucky ones can catch side of osprey, eagle, hobby, little cormorant, squacco, spoonbill, ferruginous duck, kindfisher and bluethroat.

It’s hard to believe but a significant part of Lake Balaton Minor was once a bay of Lake Balaton where stream boats trafficked.

Furthermore an old Hungarian folk song tells the truth as well: “the water surface of Lake Balaton is wide, the bridge on it is narrow”. Nowadays there are no stream boats here but a beautifully arched wooden footbridge that leads to the ‘Kányavár’ Island, home of rare bird species and other wetland animals and plans. Discovering the peaceful animals in the neighbouring Buffalo Reservation must be a great experience for both children and adults, too. Another ideal place for children is the Small Balaton House in Zalavár with its playground where children can learn and play at the same time.
The most part of the Lake Balaton Minor can only be visited with guided tours but there are a number of wetlands for free discovery. The area can be reached by bike as well. From Keszthely it’s about 25 km far so it can be a pleasant full-day program.

Free places to visit on the area of Lake Balaton Minor

Kányavár Island & the ‘Búbos vöcsök” (great crested grebe) nature trail

GPS: 46.615578,17.167849.
The Kányavár Island, part of the Balaton Uplands National Park is one of the most popular places on the Small Balaton area. It can be reached from the road between Zalavár and Balatonmagyaród. The nature trail of the island named after the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) is almost 2 km long and can be visited all year round. The 15 stops of the walking path display the bird life of the Lake Balaton Minor area. Each label shows a group of birds: waterfront birds, songbirds, birds of prey but the rat fauna and the water services of the area are also displayed. It takes about 1-1.5 hour to go along the whole path. Dogs are also allowed on leash only!
The place is free to visit but parking ticket is needed to be bought!

Buffalo Reservation of Kápolnapuszta

GPS: 46.580862,17.200438.
The Buffalo Reservation of Kápolnapuszta plays an important role in survival and genetic conservation of a native Hungarian buffalo. It’s a popular tourist attraction as well. A small exhibition displays the wildlife of the Small Balaton area and another one explains the history of buffalos. There is a walking path with playful elements, resting places and viewpoints with binoculars at visitors’ disposal. Prospects, books, souvenirs and refreshments as well as beef sausage made from buffalo and Hungarian Gray are available in the visitor’s centre.
The entrance ticket of the Reservation is valid for the petting zoo as well. Dogs are allowed only on leash and on the walking path!
Opening hours
1 May – 31 Aug: 9 am. – 7 pm.
1 Sept – 31 Oct: 9 am. – 5 pm.
1 Nov – 31 March: 9 am. – 4 pm.
1 Apr – 30 Apr: 9 am. – 5 pm.
Open also on holidays and festive days!
Entrance fees
Adults: 700 HUF
Discounted: 600 HUF
Children (between 3-14 years): 400 HUF
Tax and accident insurance are included in the prices.
Information: +36 87 555 291

Small Balaton House of Zalavár

The Small Balaton House can be found outside of Zalavár, on the left side of the road leading to Zalaszabar (if you come from Zalavár). The multifunctional building gives home to an interactive exhibition that displays the history of Lake Balaton Minor as follows: History of Lake Balaton Minor and its surroundings; Natural treasures and ethnography of the region; Water protection system of the Small Balaton and its role and significance in the water quality of Lake Balaton.
The memorial column of Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs as well as remains of archaeological excavations and a big playground can be found in the garden of the Small Balaton House.
1 March – 1 Nov every day except Monday 9.00-12.00 and 13.00-17.00
Further information: +36 83 710 002
Entrance fees
Adults: 750 HUF
Discounted: 450 HUF
Family: 1800 HUF

Farmhouse of Vörs

GPS: 46.659952, 17.265351.
The traditional farmhouse of Vörs is a very well-preserved example of folk architecture from the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. Visitors can observe the traditionally used tools of reed and sedge cutters and fishermen as well as the life style of people living in wetlands.
The first and most beautiful room of the house is the so called “clean room” which was not in everyday use, only in case of birth, illness, death or stay of guests. You can guess where the name of peasant house’s kitchen, “smoky kitchen” comes from: smoke lefts the “smoky kitchen” to the attic through a hole on the ceiling. Among fire dog and a spinning-wheel a number of already forgotten household goods can be seen in the pantry. The living room opening from the end of the court gives place to an exhibition about the water life of Lake Balaton Minor.
Open to visitors:
1 May – 27 Sept: 10 am. – 5 pm. (Closed on Mondays)
During Advent season visits can be arranged by prior arrangement!
Information: +36 83 555 291
Entrance fees:
Adult: 500 HUF
Discounted: 400 HUF
Child (between 3-14 years): 300 HUF

Guided programs at Lake Balaton Minor

Guided tours on ‘Diás’ Isle

GPS: 46.700841, 17.23867 
Tel.: +36 30/664-0404, +36 83/315-341
Starting and meeting points of the tours: ‘Vönöczky Schenk Jakab’ Research House in Keszthely-Fenékpuszta
The Diás Isle can be visited only by guide. During the tour the guide represents the wild life, the river Zala, the reeds as well as the history of the landscape and culture of the Small Balaton. Visitors enter to the ‘Fekete István’ Memorial Room and the exhibition on Small Balaton’s natural treasures. The reed ‘Matula’ Hut constructed next to the house recalls the atmosphere of the ‘Tüskevár’ (title of István Fekete’s novel about Small Balaton). Duration of the tour is 1.5-2 hours.
Open: 1 May – 31 Oct
Guided tours: Tue-Fri at 10 am and 1 pm.; Sat 10 am.
Tours are guaranteed at these times independently from number of participants.
Prior arrangement is necessary only in case of big groups.
Participation fee:
Adult: 900 HUF
Discounted: 750 HUF
Children (between 3-14 years): 450 HUF
Information: + 36 30 664 0404; +36 83 315 341

Professional guidance at the Small Balaton

GPS: 46.700841, 17.23867.
Starting and meeting points of the tours: ‘Vönöczky Schenk Jakab’ Research House in Keszthely-Fenékpuszta
The Small Balaton is a strictly protected area that can be visited only with guided tours organised by the Balaton Uplands National Park. The area can be visited in 3 hours and by the visitors’ own vehicle (car or bus). The participants can become acquainted with the unique landscape and natural treasures of the ‘Kis-Balaton’ area. Reeds, sedges, groves, smaller wetlands and rich bird life are represented here.
The route of the tours can be developed as requested: the visitation of the ‘Fekete István’ Memorial Room and the Kányavár Island as well as the Buffalo Reservation and the Small Balaton House can be incorporated into the program.
Guided tours: Mo-Fri 9 am and 1 pm, Sat 9 am
Prior arrangement is definitely needed!
Entrance fee:
3 400 HUF/adult; 2 000 HUF/child; but minimum 9.400 HUF
Prices for groups (guided tour by bus): 16 000 HUF/children’s group; 24 000 HUF/ group of adults
Information: +36 30 664 0404; +36 83 315 341

Nature photography from shelter
Prior arrangement is needed! Enter only with permission!
Information: +36 30 664 0404; +36 83 315 341
The natural treasures of Lake Balaton Minor can be discovered on guided tours organized by the Balaton Uplands National Park. It’s recommended to register 1-2 days before the tours.
Further information: