A Day at the Beach
Csopak is a thriving village due to its location along the shore of Lake Balaton, Less than 10 km (6 miles) from nearby Balatonfüred, water and wine have been central to the growth of this village with a population of just over 1,500.
Most visitors rush towards the waterfront, taking little time to notice the multiple waterwheels that dot the village. These are the historic remnants of the watermills that once thrived in the community. Six of these mills – built up to the early 20th century – can still be found scattered throughout the village today.
Earlier historical times were not so kind to Csopak. The Ottomán Turks nearly obliterated the settlement. Following a period of resettlement, wine production – which was first documented here in 1082 – began to flourish.
In the 19th century though, the dreaded phylloxera plague put most of the vineyards out of business. Yet Csopak vintners were able to reconstitute production slowly in the following decades.
Today one of the major economic engines of the village is once again the wine industry. Csopak is one of the top places in Hungary for the growth of Olaszrizling, an ancient variety of white grape.
The wines made from these are known for their complexity and acidic strength. This is definitely a place to try at least a glass or two or three.
Yet the main reason most visitors come to Csopak is for the beach. In a landlocked nation, Lake Balaton affords Hungarians the opportunity to frolic in the “Hungarian Sea.” Perhaps Hungarians greatly value “the Balaton” (as they like to call it), for the precise fact that they do not have a coastline along an ocean or sea.
Almost 80 kilometers (49 miles) long and up to 14 kilometers (8.5 miles) at its widest point, the lake certainly suffices as a substitute. As the largest freshwater lake in the whole of Central Europe, it holds a special place in the hearts of Hungarians. It’s easy to see why.
The greenish tinged waters of Balaton seem to glitter and glow depending upon the angle of the sun. They act as a magnet to those longing for relaxation.
Csopak offers one of the first spots along Balaton’s northern shore for visitors to test the waters.
Even though this side of the lake is the deepest, it still only averages three meters (10 feet) in depth. The water is also a bit cooler, but visitors can still swim here for at least five months a year. A tough day at the beach is usually followed up with a visit to one of the many pinces (wine cellars).
What could be more appealing than a day at the beach, followed by an evening with great food and exceptional wine. That’s an experience worth traveling for.
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