Located on the western shore of Lake Balaton is the beautiful Hungarian town of Keszthely. This tranquil town has plenty to offer; castles and museums, natural attractions, unusual geological phenomena and historical buildings, among others. It is the ideal place for those interested in hiking, bird watching, biking and water sports. Keszthely is said to be the second biggest town in the region of Balaton and is a popular tourist hot spot. Keszthely is also an important cultural and educational center. A great way to see the town is on foot or bicycle; especially since it is quite small and compact. Keszthely is considered a cyclist’s paradise; and is home to 200 kilometres of cycle tracks. The town is quite popular in Hungary when it comes to biking holidays and bicycle tourism. Muslim visitors must be aware that it will be quite difficult to locate prayer areas and Halal restaurants in Keszthely.The Balaton Lake is Keszthely’s star attraction. This 77 kilometre long lake is said to be the largest one in Central Europe and is popular among tourists and locals alike. It is a great place to swim and is also frequented by those looking to relax on its shores. Lake Balaton also offers a variety of other attractions including; bungee jumping, windsurfing, volleyball and sailing. The water and mud found in the area is also said to help with a variety of health problems.
One stop that must be on every visitor’s itinerary is the Castle of Festetics, now known as the Helikon Castle Museum. This Baroque palace was built on the foundations of a ruined castle in 1745. It is said to be the biggest and most beautiful Baroque castle in Hungary. Once home to seven generations of the aristocratic Festetics family; this castle is now home to three permanent exhibitions as well as lavish furnishings, antiques and 101 rooms. Festetics castle also houses the Helikon Library which is known to have over 80,000 books. The castle also has a lovely English-style garden which offers a stunning view of Lake Balaton.
Another must-visit when in Keszthely is Helikon Park. This beautiful area is the modern leisure center of Keszthely and the biggest green area in town. The park has numerous shops as well as areas for sports and a beach. Those visiting the park will come across the Helikon Monument, which is situated in the middle of the park. Located across Helikon Park is the promenade which stretches to the bank of Lake Balaton, the bath and the port.
Those looking to get in a bit of shopping when in Keszthely must pay a visit to Kossuth Lajos Street, which was named after the famous Governor-President Lajos Kossuth of Hungary. The area is filled with coffee shops and eateries, as well as greenery, gorgeous neo Baroque buildings and the Regional Council. This pedestrian street and shopping haunt also has numerous museums that will be of interest to all.
Other must-visit’s include; Balaton Museum, City Hall, the Keszthely Model Railway Museum, Fenekpuszta Castle Ruins, the only remaining Lake Baths on Lake Balaton and Helikon beach.
There are quite a few international and domestic airports located near Keszthely, however, these are located in Croatia, Austria and Slovakia. The closest major airport, located in Hungary is Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. This international airport, located in Budapest, is approximately 170 kilometres from the center of Keszthely. The airport is easily accessible and tourists can travel to Keszthely by public transport which includes the train and bus. For those comfortable with both means of transport, traveling by rail to Keszthely is the better option since it is more convenient.
Finding Halal food in Keszthely will be challenging since there are no known Halal restaurants in the area. However, Muslim visitors can dine at local seafood or vegetarian restaurants after making sure the dishes served do not consist of any non-Halal items. They should be aware that restaurants in Keszthely do serve alcohol. If visitors are able to locate a Halal meat shop in Keszthely and they have the facilities to prepare their own meals, this would be the best option.
There are no known Islamic Centers or mosques in Keszthely, and therefore Muslim travelers will find it difficult to locate prayer facilities in the city. The best option is to offer their prayers in the privacy of their hotel room or to simply enquire with locals for a private area in the vicinity that can be made use of when traveling outdoors.