It is the venue of the Balaton Átúszás, a popular 5.2K cross-lake swimming competition starts at Révfülöp port and finishes at Platan beach in Balatonboglár.
The mountainous region of the northern shore is known both for its historic character and as a major wine region, while the flat southern shore is known for its resort towns.
In Hungarian, the lake is known as Balaton. This name derives from the Slavic blato meaning 'mud' or 'swamp' (from earlier Pan-Slavic boltьno).
The area around Lake Balaton receives approximately two to three inches (5–7 cm) more precipitation than most of Hungary, resulting in more cloudy days and less extreme temperatures. The lake's surface freezes during colder winters. The climate around Lake Balaton has also made the region ideal for viniculture. The lake, acting as a mirror, greatly increases the amount of sunlight that the grapevines of the region receive. The Mediterranean climate, combined with the soil (containing volcanic rock), has made the region notable for its production of wines since the Roman period two thousand years ago.
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.
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.