In Hungarian, the lake is known as Balaton (nicknamed Balcsi, and sometimes "The Hungarian Sea"); in Latin as Lacus Pelso, in German as Plattensee, in Slovak as Blatenské jazero and in Croatian and Serbian as Blatno jezero.
Its name means approximately "muddy lake" in Slavic ("blato" means "mud" in South-Slavic from earlier Pan-Slavic "bolto"). The Hungarian name Balaton, is also derived from the original Slavic name (Slavic neutrum adjective "bolt?no(-je ezero)" = "muddy (lake)"), but it has no concrete meaning today in Hungarian.
The Romans called the lake Lacus Pelso ("Lake Pelso"). Pelso derives from a local name for the lake, perhaps from the Illyrian language, the Illyrians having once populated the region. Paleolinguists surmise that "Pelso" meant "shallow" in Illyrian, this deduction being based on its probable Proto-Indo-European root *pels-, and on examples such as Plattensee ("shallow sea"), a name given to the lake by the Germanic people in the area through the centuries.
Lake Balaton affects the local area precipitation per annum. The area 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. Lake Balaton region's climate has also made it ideal for growing grapes to make wine. Secondary radiation is emitted from the lake doubling the amount of sunlight that the grapes vines 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 major resorts around the lake are Siófok, Keszthely and Balatonfüred. Siófok is known often as the "Party Capital of Hungary", which attracts many young party goers in summer due to its numerous large discos. Keszthely is the site of the famous Festetics Palace and Balatonfüred is a historical bathing town home to the annual Anna Ball.
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 possible. 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 night life on the south shore. The Tihany Peninsula is an historical district. Badacsony is a famous volcanic mountain and wine growing region as well as a lakeside resort.
Although the peak season at the lake is the summer, lovers of Balaton think that it is also worth visiting the lake in winter, when you can go fishing through ice-holes, or, if the ice is thick enough, brave visitors can even skate, sledge or ice-sail on the lake.