The Zamárdi we know today
Zamárdi is a quintessential holiday destination on the southern shores of Lake Balaton, and perhaps it is even more than that. It has a wide range of unique attractions, historical monuments and a beautiful natural environment, but Zamárdi is also head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to summer pop music festivals.
It is home to Balaton Sound Festival, a celebration of electronic music that attracts visitors from across Europe, and it also hosts the very popular Strand Festival. In 2023, the town will host ZamJam Festival, for the second time. This event showcases the best Hungarian music has to offer and, based on the popularity of last year’s programme, it will likely continue to be a crowd favourite for many years.
Zamárdi has seen rapid development, and was awarded the status of town in 2008. It has continued to grow and develop since then, and is a great place to visit. Thanks to the large number of local hiking trails and bike routes as well as a varied range of sporting events and water-based adventures, it is the ideal destination for those looking for active relaxation. Zamárdi is situated in the Balatonboglár wine region, and is a great place to enjoy a glass or two of wine in a summer evening.
The vicinity of Lake Balaton and the family-friendly environment make the town a popular holiday destination. It is also home to the cosy Hotel Platán.
The origin and meaning of the name ‘Zamárdi’
The town has a fascinating and long history. Archaeological finds dating to prehistoric times have been unearthed in the surrounding area, and relics bear witness to many other eras as well. Since the time of Turkish occupation, life in the area is well documented.
Even a cursory look into Zamárdi’s history will throw up a host of theories about the origin of the town’s name. Most likely, the then-village was named after its owner, Zamar or Somar. Another popular theory purports that the name comes from the Hungarian for (“szamár”) because the oldest part of the village is on a hillside, and donkeys were used to transport water up and down it. According to this theory, the letter “d” was later appended to the word, resulting in the name “Szamárd”.
The written name of the town first appeared in writing as Schamard, in 1082. Later, the spelling was changed to Zamard in official documents issued after 1171. Over the centuries, the town has been referred to as Somárd, Somárdi (in the 13th century) and even Szamárdi (in the 18th century). The current name was first used in 1828, in the accounts of the local magistrate.
The adventurous history of a town
Zamárdi has a rich history. The archaeological finds and built environment give the impression that the place has always been inhabited, and through living in and developing the town over the centuries, its residents have given it its current shape, turning it into a dynamic, fast-developing and fantastic holiday town right by Lake Balaton.
The area is a real archaeological curiosity, thanks to its rich array of finds starting from prehistoric times and spanning Celtic, Germanic, Roman and Avar inhabitation.
The decades of development
In the 1730s, the town’s development got a real boost thanks to the Abbot of Tihany, who moved 42 serf families there. In 1774, Zamárdi got its very own church, which stands to this day. Growth did not stop there, however. After the railway was extended to the town, local economy boomed. Even in 1927 though, Zamárdi was a small village, later re-classified as a large village, a label it held on to until 2008, when it was awarded the title of town.
Wedged between Szántód and Siófok
Interestingly, Szántód used to be part of Zamárdi, but in a local referendum held in 1995 its residents chose independence. This is why the two settlements are so very close to each other. If you want to hop of the ferry in Szántód to cross the lake to visit Tihany, you won’t have to walk far because Szántód and Zamárdi are essentially a single built-up area. Or head in the opposite direction and you will find Siófok, the capital of Lake Balaton, right on your doorstep.
A fantastic natural environment and beautiful day trip destinations
Lake Balaton is beautiful, and nowhere is that more evident than in Zamárdi. The town offers fantastic views, a rich natural environment and many leisure activities. If you want to explore, your best bet is to start visiting for short or longer breaks in the spring, because this is the best time to enjoy the fantastic local day trip destinations.
Szamárkő (“Donkey Stone”)
This place is of great spiritual significance. It features in several Christian myths, and was also the site for pagan ceremonies by long-forgotten peoples. The stone was already a border marker around the time Magyar tribes first settled in present-day Hungary, and archaeological finds from Celtic era have also been unearthed in its vicinity.
To get the best vistas around Lake Balaton, you should visit Kőhegy Lookout. It is the end point of a hike trail: just follow the yellow signs to the stone cross, and you can get lost in the breath-taking views of the blue waters of the lake and the beautiful Tihany Peninsula.
Accommodation in Zamárdi
This one-of-a-kind town is definitely worth a visit to get more out of your holiday than you ever thought possible. If you are looking for accommodation that matches the rest of the experience, you can’t go wrong by reserving a room in Hotel Platán.