It was a rainy, gray day during the holiday break, and we were looking for a fun outing. The town of Tapolca, Hungary is less than an hour away from Pápa, where we heard about beautiful lake caves we had been wanting to explore. The caves were discovered over 100 years ago and have since been protected and maintained for tourism. It is clear the caves were structurally reinforced for safety and the lights under the water allowed for maximum beauty and appreciation of the space.
When we arrived, we paid the small fee and waited for our entrance time to the museum and caves. The tour through the exhibits was entirely in Hungarian so the guide told us to walk ahead at our own pace. We enjoyed the displays and learned a few things about the area before finding the entrance to the caves and walking down about 3 levels of stairs. We waited our turn to board a small metal boat and floated slowly through a small underground “river.” In some areas I didn’t need to use the paddle, ducking under a low ceiling and pushing my way through off the walls. Its difficult to tell how produced this little tour is, but ultimately any contrived feel didn’t detract from the beauty and uniqueness of the space. We learned that the air in the caves is said to be healing, and to this day, the local hospital, seated above the caves, uses the underground portion of the caverns as a form of therapy for patients. The temperature underground remains constant and comfortable year-around. It was a very cool experience! Perhaps not worth returning to again and again, but definitely worth seeing once.