Badacsony is the godfather of Transdanubian volcanoes.
Geomorphology of Balaton uplands is influenced by half-dozen of extinct volcanoes. scattered accross the Tapolca basin.
The highest, and because of its proximity to the Balaton lake the most prominent one, is Badacsony.
His flat, irregular cone topping NW shore of Balaton lake is one of the Centraleuropean trademarks, together with forementioned Balaton lake (largest freshwater lake of Central Europe).
Badacsony volcano has 11km long circular base, cap of it is a wooded plateau, 1km in diameter. Starting from the lake, elevation gain is only 300m,
easiest route(s) are inside stroll-up scope, making it frequently visited by people willing to enjoy peculiarly shaped results of the volcanic activity at (almost) legoland size.
It is a build-up area; volcano is surrounded by 3 villages;
Badacsonytomaj on the eastern slopes,
Badacsonytordemic on the western ones
Badacsony village juts out on the southern part.
Glimpse into geological and mainstream history
Less then 5 million years ago, whole region stretching from the Carpatian mountains all the way down to Northern Dinarides, was covered by the waters of Pannonian sea.
For almost a million year, a sandy-loamy several thousand feet thick sediment accumulated. Then, some 4 million years ago, glowing magma broke to the surface, building volcanic cones in the shallow water.
Erupting volcanic ashes and basaltic lava gushed onto the sedimented sand and clay of the ex-Panonian inland sea.
After explosions cooled down, weathering started. During the ice-age, surface eroded, loose pannonic sediment was blown away by wind and washed away by water, while basalt bravely whitstood erosion.
Four major volcanoes inside large Tapolca basin stand-out as witnesses to the former surface-level:
46.48 North: 17.30 East
46.50 North: 17.26 East
48.60 North: 22.28 East
46.53 North: 17.30 East
What we can see there?
Small villages surounded by less small vineyards (some of best Hungarian wines can be found here), topped by the basalt lava made collumnar joints or weathered pillars.
Csobánc, Szentgyörgy and Badacsony from a distance resemble coffins.
Cone of Gulacs resemble sugarloaf. The most beautiful examples of solidifying basalt are the Stone Gate of Badacsony and the "basalt organs" of the Szentgyorgy.
At the slopes of Badacsony, huge rock-glaciers and block fields can be found.
First settlements in Badacsony area were Celtic ones, probably dating from 3rd century BC.
During Roman occupation, villas were built on the Badacsony southern slopes. This is when vineyards cultivation started.
In medieval years, Balaton upland area found itself on the frontline of battles between Hungarian and Turkish empire.
Ruins of castles and fortresses scattered accross the Tapolca basin elevation points are reminder of these days.
Badacsony came to it moment of fame when art people start to gather.
Playwriters, poets, and before all painters, hailed it as the most beatiful part of Hungarian landscape.
Moment of truth and sorrow reality, however, occured when industry minded people figured out that basalt lava is good raw material for building purposes.
At the beginning of 20th century, quarrys were opened, crippling continiously the Balaton upland volcanoes for more then six decades.
The basalt of Szentgyörgy and Csobánc was just partly suitable for exploitation and so-called 'pocket-mines' were opened.
The querries of Mt. Gulács and Tóti were closed down at the end of WW II and in the 1950s.
in 1968 Badacsony became the second landscape protection area of the Balaton Uplands.
Geologists start to flock around Tapolca basin volcanoes in 1960s and 1970s.
Tourists start to gather in 1980s.
Route marking frenzy took over in the 1990s. Now charade of routes is leading up and down and around Badacsony.
(For the sake of convinience, route info is halved between this chapter and following Getting there chapter)
It is neither hard or complicated ascent, thus we may skip the idle talk.
Once there, grab youself either Geological map of the Balaton highland1:80000 scale,
or Badacsony 1:12000 scale map.
All Tourist offices have those. Reasonably fit and slightly (over)enthusiatic trekker may visit all the Tapolca basin volcanoes inside a long day, even faster with the little help of your bike (cycling routes also marked).
Normal routes for visitors are either walk up or stroll up ones. Trails are marked either with horizontal white-blue-white or white-red-white stripes. Badacsony, Geological and Botanical Nature Trail is what tourists and organized groups of visitors usually see of Badacsony.
It is a stroll-around, 4km long study path looping back into itself, lined with information boards posted in Hungarian and English. Upper plateau is covered with trees, best viewpoints are wooden Kisfaludy lookout tower(437m) on the NE,
and small area around Ranolder-kereszt, basalt made cross on the SW edge of Badacsony, the latter is offering nice view over the Balaton lake, especially during sunsets.
Best way to get closer view on and more personal touch with Badacsony is scrambling.
Walk around it via regular routes, then cross up the scree sections either on the SW or N side and paddle your own canoe between and up the 30-40 meter high basalt pillars.
South edge of Badacsony is good for views over the Balaton lake, north is perfect for overviewing the rest of the Tapolca basin.
Getting there and away
Extensive railway network loops around the Balaton lake. Most convinient train stops for: getting to west Badacsony;Badacsonytordemic Szigliget train stop, catch with the marked route (blue route) at the postal office infront of the train stop. getting to southwest Badacsony:Badacsonylabdihegy train stop, catch with the marked route (yellow route) on the right side of the train stop. getting to south Badacsony:Badacsony train stop; catch with yellow route up the Roza Szegedy street. Low part of the route zigzags through restorants and inns on the Badacsony southern slopes. Majority of turists are ascending via this one. Crowded, especially on weekends. getting to east Badacsony:Badacsonytomaj train stop. Marked route starts left of the train stop, in Vasut street. west Badacsony: if you have little time extra, take 2 volkanoes at once: take of the train at Nemesgulacs train stop, following blue marked path up the Vasut street, it takes you to the Gulacs volcano from the west. Path does semicircle around Gulacs, then leads down toward south to the wineyards and crosses the main Nemesgulacs-Badacsonytornaj road.
Now, small Harmas hill is on your left, path goes up through even more vineyards, winding right then left and takes you up the western Badacsony till Ko-Kapu where it does meet with other marked paths. Noncrowded, nice walk-up alltoghether. MAV hungarian railways in English language By car: from Bratislava/Slovakia:
drive E 65-E 75 down to Hungary, catch with Wien-Budapest highway, at Gyor leave for road no. 83 to Papa, here either left for Veszprem with road no. 73 for Balatonfured and down the north Balaton road to Badacsony village, or turn right and catch with E 66 till jintersection with road no. 84 and from here turn left for Nemeskeresztur and straight down to Balaton lake. from Wien/Austria:
down the road no.16 till Klingenbach, cross tthe border for Sopron, from Sopron 111km down the road no.84 till Balaton from Graz/Austria:
take road no. 65 for Furstenfeld, bordercross at Heiligenkreuz, road no. 8 till Kormend, at Kormend turn right and catch with road no. 76 for Zalaegerszeg, down the forementioned no.76 via Csacz-bozsok,Zalacsany, Heviz(overrated spa resort) til Keszthely(nice castle there), road no.76 via Vonyarcvashegy,Balatongyorok till Badacsony from Croatia:
by highway to Letenye bordercross, 25 km of E 65-71 till Nagykanizsa, 40km of E 71 till intersection with road no. 68, at junction turn left (road no. 76) for Balatonszentgyorgy and onwards to Kesztely and further to Badacsony via Vonyarcvashegy and Balatongyorok. from Slovenia:
Murska Sobota -->Dolga Vas/Hosszufalu, catch road no.86, at Redics turn right for Lenti, and down the road no.75 via Mumor, Nova, Zalatarnok, Bak, Zalaszentmihaly, Pacsa, Zalaapati, Alsopahok till Kesztely. Rest of it same as posted above... By ferry: Balaton shipping company timetable
Both coastal and accross the lake services. by airforce one
Nearest intl airport is Budapest airport; flight schedules in English
It is a year-round destination.
Thin on the ground, best time to go there is any time but the high season. Ease of access because of good transport connections, makes it favourable destination for seasoned visitors of all types,
regular holliday makers, wannabe sommeliers, wine hunters... Hungary is landlocked and Balaton is serving the community as nationwide riviera. Add to that ferryload of tourists, boarding-off at the neerby port.
Hence Badacsony is covered by decidious trees, best time to spot the basalt stuff is when the leaves are off, late autumn, very early spring just about tip-top.
Please, note that in winter major facilities may be closed and you cannot rely on ferry service(Balaton lake is shallow and frozes quickly.
There are no campsites on Badacsony itself.
Most convinient is this one
East of Badacsony, on the lake shore, very close to Badacsonytomaj railway station. Convinient starting point for the Badacsony east route. (Just cross the railtracks, then up the Iskola utca).
Otherwise, commercial accomodation easily available in the nearby villages.
Several botanical rarities live in the the basalt mountains.
Yellow golden alyssium on the rock and quarry sides, Acidophilic ash-beech forest occurs on the rocky escarpments of the Badacsony in its beech forests we find cyclamen, while in the hornbeam-oak groves hepatica, black bryony, broomrape grow.
On the rocks of the Szentgyörgy Hill a small population of Cheilanthes marantae blooms, with caterack and Lumnitzer carnation.
Csobánc is enriched by Pulsatilla grandis, Saxifragas and lilac.
On the top of the Tóti a picturesque flower field is situated: Orlaya grandiflora mixed with iris, Pulsatillas and Caryophyllaceae. In the cracks of the basalt columns the small scrubs of Cotoneaster matrensis line up.