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While a few settlements on Lake Balaton, including Balatonfüred and Hévíz, have long been resort centres for the Hungarian aristocracy, it was only in the late 19th century that the Hungarian middle class began to visit the lake. The construction of railways in 1861 and 1909 increased tourism substantially, but the post-war boom of the 1950s was exponentially larger.
Operation Frühlingserwachen was conducted in the region of Lake Balaton in March 1945, being referred to as "the Lake Balaton Offensive" in many British histories of the Second World War. The battle was a German attack by Sepp Dietrich's 6th Panzer Army between 6 March and 16 March 1945, and in the end, resulted in a Red Army victory. Several Ilyushin Il-2 wrecks have been pulled out of the lake after having been shot down during the latter months of the war.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Balaton became a major tourist destination for ordinary working Hungarians and especially for subsidised holiday excursions for union members. It also attracted many East Germans and other residents of the Eastern Bloc. West Germans could also visit, making Balaton a common meeting place for families and friends separated by the Berlin Wall until 1989. The collapse of Communism after 1991 and the dismantling of the unions saw the gradual but steady reduction in numbers of lower-paid Hungarians.
 Tourist information
The major resorts around the lake are Siófok, Keszthely, and Balatonfüred. Siófok is known often as the "Party Capital of Hungary", which attracts many young partygoers in summer due to its numerous large clubs. Zamárdi, a resort town on the southern shore, is the site of Balaton Sound, a major electronic music festival since 2007. Keszthely is the site of the famous Festetics Palace and Balatonfüred is a historical bathing town home to the annual Anna Ball.
The high tourist season extends from June until the end of August. The average water temperature during the summer is 25°C, which makes bathing and swimming pleasant. Most of the beaches consist of either grass, rocks, or the silty sand that also makes up most of the bottom of the lake. Many resorts have artificial sandy beaches and all beaches have step access to the water. Other tourist attractions include sailing, fishing, and other water sports, as well as visiting the countryside and hills, wineries on the north coast, and nightlife on the south shore. The Tihany Peninsula is a historical district. Badacsony is a famous volcanic mountain and wine-growing region as well as a lakeside resort. The lake is almost completely surrounded by separated bike lanes to facilitate bicycle tourism.
Visitors of Balatonkenese can enjoy the gastronomic, traditional events.
Although the peak season at the lake is the summer, Balaton is also frequented during the winter, when visitors go ice-fishing or even skate, sledge, or ice-sail on the lake if it freezes over.
Balaton was served by Sármellék International Airport (Fly Balaton) until 2009.
Chief resorts include: Badacsony - Balatonalmádi - Balatonboglár - Balatonfüred - Balatonlelle - Fonyód - Keszthely - Siófok - Tihany - Vonyarcvashegy
February 28th, 2012
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