The range of hills embracing the Lake Ferto look down on salt water soaked saline grassland which surrounds a large clump of reeds dissected by a labyrinth of canals. This countryside is the gateway to the world of uniquely rich flora and fauna in the Hanság’s alder bogs and marshes, water meadows lining the river and woods with snowflake flowerbeds. The natural and cultural rarities along the Hungarian and Austrian sides of Lake Ferto (known as Neusiedlersee across the border) earned it a place on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2001. But still before in 1979 the area was announced a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO-MAB program, and from 1989 on it is a Ramsar site.
Lake Ferto is the western-most representative of the Eurasian steppe lakes, and is the largest natron lake on alkali flatland in Europe. The individual character of the lake derives from the interlinked reedy patches which, together with the open water surfaces, have created a special salt-water habitat unusual in Europe. It differs in more than one respect from other fishing lakes in Hungary: large fluctuations occur in the water level, the water is on the whole remarkably shallow, the average depth being some 80 to 90 cm (about three feets), the salt content is high. Over the centuries the lake has dried out more than once, leading to the destruction of the fish. Each time the fish have returned in the course of nature from the Hanság Region and from the flood waters of the Danube.
Towns and villages around the lake was formed in the 12th and 13th centuries. The mid-13th century Tatar invasion left this area unharmed, and it enjoyed uninterrupted development throughout medieval times until the Turkish conquest in the late 16th century. The remarkable rural architecture of the villages surrounding the lake dates back to 18th- and 19th-century. The palaces built here also in this period – Széchenyi Palace in Nagycenk and Esterhazy Palace in Fertod – add to the area’s considerable cultural interest.
The area has an extremely rich fauna and flora. Rare plants, and pubescent oaks can also be found here, together with numerous butterfly species. The thick reed beds around the lake form a bird paradise of great importance even on a European scale. Regarding both nesting birds and migratory birds, it is one of the most significant bird habitats in the Carpathian Basin, which is visited by almost all the species of European water birds during the migration period. Most of the lake is surrounded by reeds which serve as a habitat for wildlife and are harvested in winter as soon as the ice is solid enough. Reeds are used by people here to build their enchanting thached roof houses, dominate the villages’s scenery.
At the lake there are beaches, you can swim, kayak or kenoe on the lake, or enjoy panoramic cruises in the season. Around the Lake Ferto bikers find a new bykeroad, only for them.