A 3 hour bus ride from Budapest, along flat plains, brings you to the small town of Heviz. The town itself is cute with its tiny crafts shops, and souvenir stalls seemingly geared towards Russians. While you might ask yourself why you came all the way out here, remember it’s not the town that you are here for, but the healing waters of the lake at the edge of town.
What is so Special About Lake Heviz?
Having one of the largest thermal lakes in the world (The largest that you can swim in), people from all over the world have been coming to this lake for generations. Due to the chemical makeup of the water, the lake has been attributed to helping relieve the symptoms of rheumatic diseases and locomotor disorders, as well as helping with circulatory issues. The composition also contributes to the lakes plethora of living organisms, including water lilies, water fowl, fish, snakes, and all sorts of bacteria. Taking a dive to the bottom of the lake and you will find a mushy and slimy layer of peat that is used during spa treatments that you can receive while at the treatment center. The lakes waters are continually replenished every 72 hours by the gushing spring located at the bottom of the lake. The water comes out at 38 Celsius, making swimming here a year round activity.
What to Expect
Getting access to the lake with cost you between $9 – $14 USD depending on how long you want to stay. Locker rooms here are co-ed, but the locker room has plenty of private changing booths if you feel uncomfortable getting undressed in front of others. Be sure to bring your own towel if you want to save some money and consider renting a float so you can lounge around in the water.
There are three main areas for you to explore. Inside the building positioned in the middle of the lake, there are four pools that you can swim in. These are still apart of the lake so the depth varies (mostly very deep). The pools are great for the winter months as the building seals out any of the cold air, allowing you to enjoy the lake in a warm environment. The pools are divided into two sides. One side, the water is the same as being outdoors while the other side, a milky gray complexion, is much warmer which is quite the treat during the winter months after being outside for a while. However, the reason you come here is to be outside!
The atmosphere during winter is magical as there are less people, and the surface of the lake is covered in steam. While the water is nowhere near being bath tub temperature, only reaching between 23 – 25 Celsius (73 – 77 Fahrenheit) during the winter months, it is comfortable to swim in. It essentially feels like jumping into an indoor pool during the winter months back home. It sucks at first, but your body adjusts to it rather quickly. Swimming around the lake is bliss as you take in the scenery of trees surrounding the lake, watch the sun slowly begin to set, and realize you are swimming comfortably in a lake when its close to freezing outside.
During the winter months, you will not want to spend more than thirty minutes outside at a time as your head will get cold eventually, no mater how many times you duck underwater. This is where the warm pools inside become handy, but every time you warm up, it becomes harder and harder to brave the cold outside. Claire and I spent two days enjoying the lake, buying the 4 hour ticket each day and enjoying the sun setting each day over the lake. We recommend coming later in the day during the winter months, as the air is at its warmest and the lake becomes a magical mirror, reflecting the trees and sun as it begins to get close to the horizon.
Letting Time Slow Down in Heviz
The reason you come to Heviz is to slow down and relax. Outside of the lake, there is not much to do in town, so renting a mini apartment is probably your best bet. This will allow you to cook your own meals as you will plenty of time to do so. Three nights here was plenty, allowing us to relax and enjoy the lake for two full days. While the second day at the lake wasn’t necessary, the lake will most likely be calling you back for more after your first day lazily swimming and lounging around the steamy complex.