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Zalakaros is reputed by its healing thermal waters. The components of the water is well used in treatment of people suffering from locomotor, chronic inflammatory, and degenerative articular diseases, nervous system problems, problems of the heart and the circulatory system, metabolism disturbances, chronic gynaecological and periodontal diseases.

Recent history goes back to 1962 when during a search for crude oil, 96 degree Centigrade thermal water rich in minerals was discovered at a depth of some 2000 metres. The medicinal bath built around the thermal waters was opened in 1965. Over time, it was complemented by a treatment centre, thermal bathing area, covered pool, sauna complex and a fun pool equipped with fitness and wellness elements. The Zalakaros thermal, located in beautifully landscaped surroundings, is today the sixth most visited thermal facility in Hungary.

Zalakaros was designated a large town in 1984 and gradually became the centre of the region. The number of available beds for holidaymakers increased continually and the settlement was granted city status on 1st July 1997. Local natural heritage of the area includes Chestnut Hill (Gesztenyés-hegy), about 0.4 hectares of sweet chestnut trees growing within an area of protected beech forest.