There are some places in Hungary that draw hundreds of thousands of people to them every, both foreigners and locals, and one such place is Zalakaros. The special thing is that the town of Zalakaros has nothing to offer, except from hot springs and lots of hotels.
Zalakaros is the tiniest of all cities in Hungary. Once you arrive you will understand why because all the city has to offer is a couple of streets. No big grocery stores, no fashion shops, no giant discos… only lots of hotels and places offering accommodation and the famous thermal bath. The thermal bath is a big one, and it is divided into two main sections. The cheapest entrance fee is available for those who only want to relax in some traditional hot springs indoor (this is the old section of the thermal bath). The more expensive entrance fee which also includes entrance to the much bigger and funnier section of the thermal bath is probably what you should go for if you decide to visit Zalakaros. The entrance fee is about 3000 HUF for the latter option.
Is the thermal bath in Zalakaros worth visiting?
I had the joy of visiting the thermal bath in Zalakaros a while back in time and on that day it was crowded with people. That was not the best, because at times I had to stand in line to get into the sauna and it was crowded in the pools. On most normal weekdays and weekends I believe it is better, but as we were there on December 30th I believe it was extremely crowded because of the holiday season.
What I enjoyed the most in the thermal bath in Zalakaros was the black hole slide. It takes place in the dark and you do the ride into the hole in a black rubber ring. Worth trying if you visit Zalakaros. Still my first experience with the complex itself was disappointing. The distances between the pools where to big and somehow it did not catch a place in my heart. Personally I would rather go to Szechenyi Fürdő in Budapest than to visit the thermal bath in Zalakaros. But, during summer season there are tons of outdoor pools, slides and other fun, so the experience would probably have been better in the warmer seasons of the year.
Zalakaros thermal bath information
Opening times: 9.00 – 17.00 (sometimes until 18.00 and 19.00)
Entrance fee: about 3000 HUF (entrance to entire complex)
The most important in Zalakaros
If you plan on visiting Zalakaros what is very important is to book a great hotel. Since you will spend most of your time inside the four walls of the hotel or walking outside in the empty streets, you should invest money in finding a place to stay with half-board and lots of available indoor activities. If you go for the hotels with 4 or 5 stars you do not even need to visit the thermal bath, because some of these hotels have all facilities you need and hot springs available inside the hotel area.
If you are attacked by an urge to go shopping while in Zalakaros, you can best visit Nagykanizsa about 20km from Zalakaros. There you can find some traditional fashion shops and you can also buy groceries in Tesco and have a BigMac in McDonalds.